Tuesday, September 25, 2007

German Links

Jill Mills

German Bodybuilder

VW Ad...very cool. Pick the right one

Fight Girls on Oxygen

Looks like a decent show.

I Love Lucy

Not Every Bodybuilders is a Personal Trainer

UC dean has clear views

CORRYVILLE - Valerie Hardcastle is trained as a philosopher with a specialty in areas such as cognitive neuropsychology.

She's an amateur bodybuilder who says she has done her last show.

That might make her an unlikely candidate to be a college dean. Yet as Hardcastle says, here she is, the new dean of the University of Cincinnati's biggest academic unit, the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.

"I always thought I'd just be a professor and teach my students," says Hardcastle, 43. "And here I am."

She came to UC from Virginia Tech, where she was associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Raised in Texas, she earned her doctoral degree in philosophy and cognitive science from the University of California at San Diego in 1994. She spent a year at UC in the late 1990s as a Taft Fellow.

Hardcastle sits now in one of the toughest spots at UC. The College of Arts and Sciences provides nearly 40 percent of the university's instructional load and touches virtually every undergraduate student during their stay. Overall enrollment included about 6,200 students last year.

UC started classes Wednesday with about 36,500 students and 4,150 freshmen on the main campus, both records.

With bigger and bigger classes expected during the next several years, the load carried by Arts and Sciences will only increase.

At the same time, Hardcastle is under the same budget-cutting mandate as every other UC department, making her job even more difficult.

"This increased enrollment this fall is putting immense demands on Arts and Sciences because those are the portal courses," UC President Nancy Zimpher says.

Hardcastle says every big university has budget constraints but controlling costs within a particular academic year doesn't allow smooth transitions.

"There's no fat here to cut," says Hardcastle, who receives $210,000 a year as dean. "When you have large budgets to cut here in a short period of time, it's impossible to do it strategically."

The other theme of Hardcastle's first year at UC will be new interdisciplinary programs, another trend throughout the university. The college is planning a neuroscience major as soon as fall 2008.

The college is also expanding its journalism offerings and will start a Media Studies program in cooperation with the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, Hardcastle says.

Students also will find her in the campus recreation center working out. She says she won't do bodybuilding shows anymore but still works out nearly every day.

"I mainly just did it for a hobby," she says of the bodybuilding shows.

Hardcastle acknowledges becoming a dean is an unusual career path for philosophers.

"I think some of the traits of a good philosopher can make you a good dean," she said.

"What philosophers want to do is see the big picture. That's what deans want to do."

Cypress P.E. teacher goes for Ms. Olympia title

Cypress P.E. teacher goes for Ms. Olympia title

Instructor will compete this weekend in Las Vegas bodybuilding contest.

The Orange County Register

CYPRESS – She remembers setting foot in the gym for the first time – a skinny girl with little confidence in her physical strength.

Squatting under a 20-pound straight bar, her legs shook and she woke the next morning to the dull pain of muscle fatigue.

MaryJo Cooke Elliot, 31, is a far cry from the fitness-challenged girl she was eight years ago.

She will compete this weekend in Las Vegas against about 25 other women in the most prestigious bodybuilding competition in the world – Ms. Olympia.

"Stepping out on that stage is achieving one of the greatest dreams you can achieve in this sport," Elliot said. "The Olympia is such an honor."

The term "bodybuilder" doesn't come to mind looking at Elliot – every muscle in her body is toned, not bulging, and she maintains a soft femininity in her look.

She will compete in the figure category, introduced to Ms. Olympia in 2003. The women are evaluated on muscularity, balance and definition.

Competitors have to place in the top three in a professional show during the season to qualify for a spot. Elliot, who turned pro in 2006, has qualified twice this year, taking second in the Colorado Pro and the California State Pro.

Her road to Ms. Figure Olympia has been grueling – filled with unforgiving training schedules and a strict nutrition program.

She strength trains twice a day and fits a cardio routine in at 4 a.m. every morning. She also trains in Temecula twice a week to work with her trainer, Kim Oddo.

"Every goal I've ever set in life, I've taken steps to achieve it," she said. "I am 100 percent self-made."

Surrounding herself with positive influences, such as her manager and trainer, has helped push her along the way.

Her greatest mentor is her husband, David – the man who introduced her to fitness.

"If there is one person that has been a role model in my life, it's him," she said. "That's where I get my strength."

"I am just so impressed by her," David Elliot said. "I just support her 100 percent and help her with whatever she needs."

Although bodybuilding is a passion for Elliot, it is not her entire world.

She teaches physical education and serves as the athletic director for Lexington Junior High in Cypress.

She brings the lessons she has learned through her fitness journey to inspire her students and build their self-esteem.

"I teach them about persistence – that there is nothing wrong with failing because you get to get up and try again," she said.

Her students said they look to emulate Elliot's positive outlook and determined attitude.

"I think it takes a lot of will power to do what she does," said Chesli Civitelli. "It's encouraging."

The kids also agree that they wouldn't mind one day having Elliot's physique and fitness know-how.

"I want to be really buff and have abs of steel too," said Montana McLead, 12. "I'm working on it."

Newsflash: TV Health Expert is Hot

This link brings you to the text article but check out the video. This expert is in pretty good shape.


Further Proof

Bodybuilding will soon have no choice but to go the natural root. Federal authorities have been hitting the bodybuilding community hard in recent months. It's not too hard to find information online on message boards where users are getting their supply. Here's some information about one of the biggest busts in recent years.


Don't Call it a Comeback.....or if you want to it's cool too

Intense quest
Comeback will culminate on Ms. Olympia stage

adn.com story photo
Valentina Chepiga of Anchorage will compete in the Ms. Olympia competition in Las Vegas Sept. 28, 2007. (ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News)

adn.com story photo
Valentina Chepiga of Anchorage will compete in the Ms. Olympia competition in Las Vegas Sept. 28, 2007. Chepiga, a nine-year bodybuilding veteran with a list of accomplishments as long and detailed as her workout routine, is returning to the sport after taking two years off. (ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News)

adn.com story photo
Valentina Chepiga of Anchorage will compete in the Ms. Olympia competition in Las Vegas Sept. 28, 2007. (ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News)

adn.com story photo
Valentina Chepiga of Anchorage strikes a rear lateral spread pose after a workout Sept. 11 at World Gym. Chepiga is one of the 14 competitors at this year's Ms. Olympia and a woman who was once the best in her sport on the globe. "It doesn't matter how much I lift," she says. "I am not a power lifter, and I am not trying to make records. If I use 5 pounds and I can make my body change, that's what's important." (ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News)


(Published: September 25, 2007)

Everybody who works in the produce department at the midtown Fred Meyer knows Valentina Chepiga.

And if everything goes as planned, the rest of Alaska soon will too.

The Anchorage bodybuilder is aiming to become Alaska's first winner -- she's already its first contestant -- at Friday's Ms. Olympia contest in Las Vegas.

That's right, Ms. Olympia.

As in those striated, oiled-up figures that grace the magazine covers a few aisles from where Chepiga shops to support her largely vegetables-and-meat diet.

Chepiga's fiance, Timothy Kirby, is a Fred Meyer produce clerk and the one who encouraged Chepiga, the 2000 Ms. Olympia heavyweight champion, to make a comeback at age 45.

"Everybody (at Fred Meyer) knows Valentina," Kirby said. "They're all following her to the contest. They're all bodybuilder educated -- the whole store."

Chepiga, a Ukrainian citizen who moved to Anchorage a year and a half ago, is a 5-foot-4, 140-pounder who can eat five chicken breasts and two steaks as part of one of her five daily meals for the four months leading up to the contest.

Chepiga is one of two professional bodybuilders in Anchorage, joining Karen Patten, a fitness and figure pro.

Patten turned pro last year. Chepiga is a nine-year veteran with a list of accomplishments as long and detailed as her workout routine.

She was named 2002 Ms. International at the Arnold Classic, considered by some to be bodybuilding's second-biggest event -- following the Olympia Weekend.

She also won the World Amateur Championships and the European Championships in 1997 as a middleweight.

Now at 5 percent body fat -- which she hopes will drop to 4.5 percent by show time -- Chepiga is out to prove whether she can return after two years off to dethrone Californian Iris Kyle, the woman at the top of the female bodybuilding universe. Her age is not a detriment at that level -- fellow competitor Betty Pariso is 51.

"That's Fred Meyer veggies right there," Kirby said, pointing to Chepiga as she practiced posing two weeks ago at World Gym. "She goes in and wrecks the place."


Somebody as ripped as Chepiga is a rare sight.

Her abs look ready to pop off her 24- 1/2 inch waist with each breath. Veins twist down her back. Striations bulge from her shoulders. Calves any 200-pound man would be proud of look ready to burst from her skin.

Sometimes people wander over to Chepiga at World Gym, where she works out, to ask if she competes at local bodybuilding shows.

Chepiga and Kirby share a laugh. She is one of the 14 competitors at this year's Ms. Olympia and a woman who was once the best in her sport on the globe.

"Valentina is the only athlete in the IFBB to ever come from Alaska to compete in Olympia," said Kirby, a longtime amateur bodybuilding judge. "This is history-making for Alaska."

This particular day is shoulder day in a workout routine that includes weights five to six days a week and intense cardio every day.

First comes the military press, which involves lifting and lowering a barbell overhead from a seated position.

After a couple of warm-up sets she moves to 65 pounds; her face trembles and her lips are pressed together as she completes her set.

At 85 pounds, her whole head shakes and her face contorts

At 95 pounds, she asks for help from Kirby and takes two quick gasps of air to eke out her eighth and final repetition.

"Let's try for eight again," she tells Kirby, who stands ready to assist her. "Not too fast, not slow. When the weight comes down, get your hands out of the way."

The first four reps look as if they hurt. But Chepiga's only halfway there.

Rep 5: "No, No!" she hisses as Kirby tries to help her.

Rep 6: "I'm good."

Rep 7: "Help!"

Rep 8: "Help!" she screams again when she can't finish under her own power.

The sheer weight Chepiga lifts is not what's impressive. It's the strict form and concentration, the mind-muscle connection that results in a contraction powerful enough to stimulate muscle growth.

"It doesn't matter how much I lift," she says. "I am not a power lifter, and I am not trying to make records. If I use 5 pounds and I can make my body change, that's what's important."

From there, it's on to shoulder raises, an exercise in which she lifts her arms out to the side and front, holding a 15-pound dumbbell.

Minutes later, the individual bundles of muscle fibers bulge and she's "all blooded out," her muscles swelling.

Building bigger shoulders was a goal to help widen the "V" from her waist. As she poses between sets, the "V" is so pronounced Chepiga almost looks like a comic-book figure.

"She's more massive than she's ever been," Kirby says.

She is so intense by this point she's giving one-word answers to questions and has removed her engagement ring because it's in the way.

She finishes with a last set of shoulder raises and some decline abdominal crunches, the skin around her abs so tight it wrinkles from top to bottom.


Kirby and Chepiga met over dinner at the 2005 Ms. Olympia, around the time Chepiga was contemplating leaving the sport. After coming to Alaska briefly in December of 2005, the former Washington resident moved to Anchorage permanently in February of 2006 -- as a retired bodybuilder.

A short time later, the couple, who plan to get married in the spring, were watching a Web cast of the Ms. Olympia competition and the couple thought Chepiga could challenge or beat most of the competitors.

"I saw it in her eyes, the desire to come back," Kirby said. "It was like a Doberman drooling over a steak."

"He just encouraged and made me believe in myself that I can do it and do it great," Chepiga said.

She began to train full time again, starting a year ago.

"She's genetically gifted," said Patten, a former fitness and figure pro with the IFBB. "It's an astronomical accomplishment (to win Ms. Olympia).

Patten pulled out of the IFBB after just one show and has joined Fitness America because she is "excited to compete in an organization that claims it's drug free and follows that up with drug testing."

Chepiga said she's never used steroids and thinks she is in good enough shape to seriously challenge for another title. She just finished making an expensive hand-made crystal-studded suit and spent $250 to get her hair styled.

"Given her history (and) her making a comeback, I am excited to see how she is going to do," Patten said.


Friday: Ms. Olympia Web cast replays available at www.bodybuilding.com/fun/2007olympia.htm

Oct. 20: Chepiga will be the featured guest poser at the 2007 Anchorage National Physique Committee Crystal Cup Championships at Egan Center.

How she does it


Breakfast, 7-8 a.m.: Oatmeal (when consuming carbohydrates) and a 6-to-8-egg-white omelet. Steamed potatoes, flavored with a little salsa.

Lunch, 11 a.m.: Top sirloin steak or two chicken breasts with a green salad (cucumbers, mixed baby greens and tomato) and one and a half cups of vegetables.

Meal No. 3, 2-3 p.m.: Another green salad plus steamed chicken or turkey breasts mixed with a combination of yellow squash, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, green peas, green beans, bell pepper and carrots.

Dinner, 6 p.m.: Four Kashi Foods multi-grain cookies with rice and chicken breasts.

Meal No. 5, 8 p.m.: Entire bag of prepackaged salad with raw vegetables and either chicken breasts, fish or large, lean steak.


60-90 minutes a day, 5-6 days a week; 8-10 reps on free weights and 12-15 reps on cables.

Monday, shoulders: Military press (90 pounds), side raises (15-20), and a variety of self-designed exercises using cables ropes and benches.

Tuesday, legs: (All 15 reps) Mixture of squats (135-150 pounds), leg press (500), leg extensions (100), lunges (150), hack squats (140) and calf raises (weight varies).

Thursday, chest: Incline barbell press (135 pounds), single-arm machine press (60-70) and occasionally chest dips.

Friday, back: Pullups (100 pounds of bodyweight), Bent-over barbell rows (95-100), Seated cable rows (80-90), one-arm dumbbell row (45-50) and bent over dumbbell rows (30 pounds).

Saturday, arms: Barbell curls (70 pounds), concentration curls (25), one-arm preacher curl (25), barbell preacher curl (45), french press (70), seated triceps extension (50-60 with two arms, 25-30 with one), cable pushdowns (20 pounds), one-arm cable extension (20), kickbacks (20) and overhand grip barbell curls (40) or single arm hammer curls (20).

Daily: 30-45 minutes of cardio on the elliptical machine at full inline and full resistance and 130 strides per minute.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

At 51, Establishing a New Body of Work

September 21, 2007
At 51, Establishing a New Body of Work

ATLANTIC CITY — Eva Birath strolled along the boardwalk, past shops and stands selling pungent varieties of junk food that she would never allow herself to eat. Birath is a 5-foot-11 Swedish woman with blond hair, blue eyes and chiseled muscles. Birath, wearing a spandex tank top and sweat pants, has become accustomed to standing out in a crowd.

“What do you bench press?” a man sitting nearby asked. It was nothing, Birath said, that she had not heard before. In Sweden, she often hears much worse. The man asked again; Birath continued to ignore him.

Blunt questions and curious looks are the price Birath pays for making such a striking career change. Four and a half years ago, at 47, she was a harried marketing executive who had been through two divorces. She made 45,000 krona (about $6,700) a month, often flew to Stockholm on business trips, chatted constantly on her cellphone and lived with her two children in a large house in Goteborg. It was, she says, a very normal high-pressure corporate existence.

And then, in December 2002, she was laid off.

Birath sold her house and moved into an apartment. She sold her car. She had no idea what to do next. She began going to a nearby gym, where one of the regulars told her she had a good physique for bodybuilding. She found out about a tournament to be held the following December and she signed up, despite knowing virtually nothing about the sport — how to diet, how to train, how to pose.

“It was very unusual for someone to begin bodybuilding at my age, but I thought my age was one bit of the challenge,” said Birath, who is now 51. “I think all people have preconceptions, like that bodybuilders are all stupid. I think I probably thought bodybuilders were a bit stupid, too.”

At that first tournament, Birath faced one other competitor in the heavyweight division and finished first. It was, she says now, a bit of a fluke, but it was enough to persuade her to commit to her training as an amateur bodybuilder.

She finished fourth last year at the Swedish national championships, and despite the fact that she is 10 or more years older than most of her competitors, she is one of the favorites to win this year’s event, Oct. 13-14 in Vasteras. As she accompanied her friend and training partner Irene Andersen to a professional tournament here in mid-September (the trips were paid for by a sponsor), she was already cutting down on her carbohydrates to prepare for the Swedish nationals.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how Eva will look next year,” said Andersen, 41. “Another year, and she will be even better.”

It is not unheard of for women older than 50 to succeed as bodybuilders, whether as amateurs like Birath, or on rare occasions as professionals. But it is still very uncommon, according to Magnus Branzen, who works for BODY, a Swedish fitness magazine. And most who do succeed have been training for decades.

“Indeed, there aren’t many female competitors her age in Sweden, even historically,” Branzen wrote in an e-mail message. “Especially since she started competing late in life.”

Birath said she took to the sport’s grueling regimen almost immediately; she attributes some of her success to genetics. She began adhering to a strict diet — porridge for breakfast; chicken or fish, rice and vegetables for lunch and dinner; and no butter, milk, or animal fats — in early 2003.

She allows herself to “cheat” on certain Saturday afternoons with a cheese sandwich or an occasional piece of licorice.

In the process, Birath changed her lifestyle, letting go of many of her possessions and embracing a love of painting she had cultivated since attending art school as a young woman.

She says she makes enough money selling her paintings to get by from day to day, and that her daughter, Victoria, 27, and son, Andreas, 20, have been supportive. Her son is eager to train with her, but Birath says he often strains himself trying to lift the same weights as his mother.

Birath has also discovered that not everyone is accepting of her new self. There are still certain perceptions about bodybuilders, Birath says, that are not always easy to combat, especially in Sweden, where “people get uncomfortable with it.”

One of her former co-workers, upon seeing photographs of her, told Birath that two questions ran through his mind: “Is she on steroids?” and “Is she a lesbian?”

“The hardest part is people’s attitudes,” she says. “You know how you have those circle of people who are your friends? Suddenly, I wasn’t invited to those parties anymore. I think they thought I was strange, but I don’t care.”

Birath insists she has never used steroids or performance-enhancing drugs; she says she has been tested at all her events, and that steroid use is much more prevalent on the professional level.

Birath says she has no plans to turn professional, in part because of the expense of training, and in part because of her late start.

At some level, she says she is not concerned about how she may be judged at competitions; she is doing this for her well-being.

“My life now is so much better,” she said. “I’ve stopped searching for a job because I realize I don’t want it. I do what I love now: I paint and I train.”

Thursday, September 13, 2007

ESPN Stories

A couple of good steroid related articles on ESPN.com today. Not necessarily bodybuilding relates but a warning to those men and women who can't go to the gym without them.

These deaths and I'm sure there will be more to come in the WWE will eventually make wrestling more about the athleticism and less about the larger than life competitors. After wrestling goes natual. What's next? The goverment already monitors many of the bodybuilding boards and it's not hard to figure out who uses.



Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Area mom turns bodybuilding hobby into worldly competition

Sunday, September 9, 2007 11:27 PM CDT

BLOOMINGTON — Like many first-time mothers, the thought of becoming a stay-at-home mom is something that is embraced.

But the sudden change after delivering a child for Cathy Vail of Bloomington was a little too difficult.

“That was pretty hard for me,” Vail said. “I kind of lost my identity.”

In that, a new challenge was born.

After deciding to become a stay-at-home mom following the birth of her daughter, Madison, Vail said she felt lost with her teaching career suddenly gone, and she looked for something new to stay satisfied.

Continuing to visit her favorite recreational place — the weight room — following child birth, Vail, 36, became enthralled watching bodybuilding competitions. Seven years later and after the past five months of intense training, Vail reached the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation Universe Competition in Overland Park, Kan., this past weekend.

“I think it’s been successful,” Vail said. “It’s neat to watch the changes your body can do.”

But these changes are totally natural, she said.

In order to compete in the WNBF, all participants must remain substance-free for at least seven years prior to the competition. This means no steroids, human-growth hormones or ephedrine. Also, prior to the show, each competitor must take a polygraph test and submit a urine sample.

“For me, it’s not difficult because I’ve had no interest in taking anything like that,” Vail said. “I’ve always felt a sense of pride to know it’s my hard work. It helps me to get where I am.”

Vail began preparing for the competition 20 weeks ago. Aside from constant visits to the gym for weight and cardio training, she had a strict diet that limited her to about 1,300 calories per day — 700 fewer than the recommended allotment.

“That’s the toughest part,” said Vail, who also is a personal trainer at Gold’s Gym in Bloomington. “The diet is really hard. It takes a lot of discipline.”

To build muscle mass and keep the caloric intake down, Vail sliced her diet three ways. She put 50 percent of her diet into proteins, 30 percent into “healthy fats” and the other 20 percent into carbohydrates. Vail used supplements as a way of changing her hum-drum diet.

“Supplements you definitely don’t even need,” Vail said. “That’s why they call them supplements. I learned that it got pretty boring eating chicken breasts four or five times a day.”

Still, no matter how much time she puts in or sacrifices she makes, people will still question the “natural” part of this competition.

“It doesn’t really bother me,” Vail said. “Most people who know me well enough know I’m natural anyway. That’s what matters to me.”

So does getting back a regular life.

“I’m looking forward returning to normal,” Vail said.

Copyright © 2007, Pantagraph Publishing Co. All rights reserved.

Ms. Muscle

Article published Sep 10, 2007
Ms. Muscle
Interest in strength training is building among women
The Associated Press

Britt McDermott has no trouble picking up her 7-year-old, 53-pound son. Carrying loads of groceries for her four children isn't a big deal either. Running up hills is easier than it used to be, too.

The reason is simple: muscles.

Not big, bulging ones, but strong, supple muscles that she's developed through a regular routine of strength training.

She doesn't fit the stereotypical image of a husky male weight-trainer trying to bulk up. McDermott is a 38-year-old Carmel, Ind., mother of four and a certified public accountant who has kept in good cardio shape through running.

But she does fit the profile of a growing number of women getting into strength training - using anything from free weights and machines to resistance bands, stability balls and weight bars. Men, too, seek health benefits, in addition to being motivated by six-pack abs.

Trainers now are pushing so-called "functional" strength training, developing and toning muscles for day-to-day activities - going up steps, carrying groceries and kids, golfing. It also helps maintain balance to prevent falls, lower body fat or prevent increases, curtail bone loss, boost metabolism and even lower blood pressure.

"It has made a huge difference in how I feel and how my clothes fit," says McDermott. "I wasn't muscular when I started. My upper body was weak. Now, I get comments on my shoulders all the time. They ask, 'Do you work out?' " she says.

But it doesn't take a lot of time to get results, say personal trainers. Two or three times a week, 25 to 40 minutes, is plenty. And people of any age, even in their 70s, can start and benefit from strength training, given no other health issues.

Since January 2005, McDermott has done an hour of strength training twice a week at Better Bodies in Zionsville, Ind., with owner Mitch Schroder.

She's among the 17.5 percent of women who do at least twice-a-week workouts, according to a federal study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That 2004 figure is up from 14.5 percent in 1998.

The study, tracking strength training among more than 30,000 adults nationally, showed nearly one out of five U.S. adults do it, including 22 percent of men. Their rate has held fairly steady.

What's holding back more?

Many fear getting bulky
"There are still a lot of people who look at strength training as something that men do who want to get big and bulky," says Brian Holdsworth, personal trainer and owner of Anytime Fitness in Zionsville. "They don't look at the health benefits of strength training."

For women, the fear of getting bulky is unfounded because they don't have enough of the hormone testosterone, he says.

When you build muscle through strength training, Schroder says, the added muscle burns more calories daily, which can help you lose weight or maintain weight loss.

Muscle lost with age
Exercise, like walking, does not stave off the loss of muscle that often accompanies aging about 7 pounds per decade for men and 5 pounds per decade for women, according to the American Association of Retired Persons. This slows down resting metabolism.

Much of that decline in muscle mass can be halted, and even reversed, by strength training typically recommended along with cardio and flexibility exercises.

For Victoria Wesseler, 53, all she has to do is look in the mirror for motivation to continue strength training. At age 50, she gained about 12 pounds, despite spending an hour a day on the treadmill.

"It was frightening," says Wesseler, who is winding down her consulting firm on business ethics and compliance. "I wanted to lose the weight, but I wanted to be stronger, too."

So she enlisted Jason Stuckey, co-owner of PUSH Fitness for Women, to set up a strength-training program she could do in her basement with free weights and resistance bands three days a week, followed by a treadmill workout. She started taking Pilates and changed her diet, eliminating all refined sugar, flour, alcohol and processed foods.

"I feel the best I've ever felt in my life. I can see my biceps. My arms are getting firmer."

And she can do 30 regular push-ups, not the kind balancing on your knees. "That was my tah-dah moment. I could do a real push-up. There's a real feeling of power

Trainers say more lifting, less cardio

By Patti Ghezzi

Cox News Service

September 11, 2007


Amy Jones used to think of a strenuous workout as a long run on the treadmill. Then she joined her husband at CrossFit, a gym he belongs to that stresses Olympic-style weightlifting and other strength moves over cardio.

Within a few sessions, she was hooked. "I'm more toned, I have more energy and more endurance," she said. "I've turned fat into muscle, and my clothes fit better."

She has no intention of returning to the treadmill.

Almost 40 years after Dr. Kenneth Cooper coined the term "aerobics," a concept that would later spawn a generation of spandex-clad cardio junkies, some trainers are steering their clients away from traditional cardio-intensive workouts and toward mostly strength moves.

The reasons: Many exercises that are good for the heart are hard on the joints. And cardio training without muscle conditioning can lead to loss of muscle and bone density, experts say.

Even Cooper now believes strength training is important. Some people -- those fighting aging and those with injuries -- benefit from more time on muscle conditioning than cardiovascular exercise, he said in an interview from his Texas clinic.

He cites Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman, a onetime cardio king who shifted to more intense weight training. (Aikman said through a spokesman he does not think cardio is overrated, but he cut way back on his once daily 4-mile runs because he didn't want to further tax his body. He dropped body fat when he made the change, he said.)

Cooper does not believe cardio is a bad habit to be kicked. "If you go strictly muscular-skeletal conditioning, it's a major mistake," he said. "You'll wear out."

Cooper's belief is not shared by Jim Karas, author of "The Cardio-Free Diet." Karas believes cardio workouts overstress the body and work against those trying to lose weight.

Karas, who helped Diane Sawyer get svelte, experienced a revelation in the '80s when he was an aerobics instructor. He saw shocking amounts of excess flesh, even on those who came to class religiously. Then he looked in the sparsely populated weight room. "Everyone was so lean!" he said in an interview from his Chicago studio. Karas changed his approach and found he and his clients could keep weight off more easily with strength training rather than aerobics.

The book jacket of "The Cardio-Free Diet" promises "real results" with just 60 minutes of exercise a week. But Karas said he works out 40 minutes, five days a week. The added time in the gym is to relieve stress, he said. Karas walks most everywhere -- a form of cardiovascular exercise, he acknowledged, adding that he encourages clients to take stairs instead of elevators.

- - -

Training tips

Cardio and strength training each have a place in a fit lifestyle. Here's what Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the Texas doctor who coined the term "aerobics" in the late 1960s, advises his patients:

* In your 30s: 80 percent aerobic/20 percent muscular conditioning.

* 40s: 70 percent aerobics/30 percent muscular conditioning.

* 50s: 60 percent aerobics/40 percent muscular conditioning.

* 60s: 55 percent aerobics/45 percent muscular conditioning.

Cooper, 76, suggests shifting to even more strength work as you age.

-- Cox News Service

Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

Monday, September 3, 2007

Undefeated & counting

By Chad Scarsbrook

Dominique Pujo's 3-for-3. Perfect. A batting average of 1.000. And she's barely a sophomore, being in the game for a little over a year.

Pujo competed in her first bodybuilding event -- the provincial novice championship in March of last year, winning the women's figures short class.

She placed first again later that summer at the Manitoba Bodybuilding Championship.

After bearing down for a year, she competed in the National World Qualifier in Toronto representing Manitoba. Another first-place finish in the body fitness short class had others taking notice.


Take the Canadian Bodybuilding Federation, for instance. They asked her to represent the country as one of the top figure competitors at the Women's World Bodybuilding, Fitness & Body Fitness Championship later this month in Santa Susanna, Spain.

Pujo will join Lauren Arnold as one of two 'Tobans to make the trek.

"I obviously said yes," the enthusiastic 32 year old said earlier this week. "It's been a tough go. Training for this has been the hardest thing."

Whether you're working out to compete in an international competition or you're a novice hitting the gym for your own personal well being, having the will power to keep going isn't always easy. Just ask Pujo.

"There were a lot of times I wanted to quit," she admitted. "I was at the point where I thought I had enough. I'm tired, I'm hungry and self-doubting.

"You're up at 5:30 or 6 o'clock doing cardio, then you work a full day before meeting your trainer after work. Then there's weight training," she continued, noting her favourite workouts are arms and shoulders because it's easy to see results.

"You're basically doing a robotic routine six days a week and at the end of the day you're exhausted."

Fitting working out in to your busy schedule can be a major challenge, as is eating right.

"I have an extreme addiction to peanut butter I have to fight off," laughed Pujo. "I finally brought it back into my diet -- I have one tablespoon per day -- and it's in there to keep me sane."


After the world qualifier in June, Pujo took a couple weeks off and has been training for Spain ever since.

"I've put a lot of pressure on myself about Spain," she said. "I'm undefeated in Canada, I've won every show I've competed in. That in itself is huge. I'm just trying to enjoy the moment versus trying to figure out what to do in the future.

"My trainer (Darren Mehling), my family and everyone who has been there through the ups and downs ... a lot of people have put up with a lot."

Spain's world championship is from Sept. 20-24.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Last minute effort helps local woman to realize her dream


Of the Keizertimes Any chance Mah-Ann Mendoza had of qualifying for the Ms. Olympia contest hinged on a few hours of hard work, buckets of sweat and a little de-accessorizing.

These three components of bodybuilding were called upon at the Europa Supershow held in Dallas, Texas, and allowed Mendoza to drop four pounds in a few hours. Her first weigh-in of the day – one that was unofficial – had her at 139 pounds, four pounds over the maximum 135 pounds allowed in the lightweight division.

"I did two hours of cardio plus sat in the hot tub to get rid of the extra weight," she said.

The first of two official weigh-ins had her at 136 pounds. This left her with two hours before the second and final official weigh-in.

"So, off I go to do another hour of cardio just to weigh in at 135.2, and had to run up and down the street and stairs to lose that extra two-tenths," she said. "After all that, and after taking off my earrings and necklaces, I was right on the dot."

A sigh of relief notwithstanding, and with participation assured, Mendoza then concentrated her efforts on replenishing lost carbohydrates.

"I had to set my alarm for every two hours to put the carbs back in my body since I had to put that on hold until I (made) weight," she said. "What a journey."

The journey was worth it. Mendoza, 47, placed first in her division and claimed the overall title. She also qualified for Ms. Olympia, which is set for Sept. 28 in Las Vegas. The "Super Bowl" of bodybuilding is an open competition. Contestants are judged on four criteria: mandatory posing, muscularity, conditioning and free posing.

Mental conditioning plays an important role as well.

"I'm the one that they (judges) want." Mendoza said of her mindset when taking center stage. "The goal is to have better symmetry, balance and conditioning than the other competitors. But that's the same thing my competitors think. That's what they're working for."

Mendoza said she relies on instinct and experience to dictate her training routine.

"You can't worry about what judges think. There are no set standards, no uniformity. Every judge is different," she said. "You want to be the best you can be. You have to make your own decisions."

The decision to continue competing while closing in on the half-century mark is not one shared by most bodybuilders.

"By the time most people reach my age they will have quit," she said. "It's a hard sport. It's a tough sport. It requires discipline. At the same time you're dieting, you're building muscles, and it takes years to build muscles."

A personal trainer for years, Mendoza opened her studio, Pro Fitness on River Road four years ago. It was time, she said, to go her own way. While some clients compete, others do not. Her clients range in age from 16 through 70.

"The best reward is to see the transformation that comes when one betters (oneself) through fitness," she said.

Mendoza moved to the area at 17. She began her career as an aerobic instructor, but switched to bodybuilding because of the challenges and discipline it required. She earned her pro card from the International Federation of Bodybuilders in 2001.

Mendoza's victory at the Europa Supershow was her second at the pro level, having won this same event in 2004