Monday, July 13, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
Tonight a TV documentary reveals the Irish mum who puts beauty and brawn into the world of body building
By Celine Naughton
Tuesday June 16 2009
Sophia McNamara is a muscle mama with plenty of pecs appeal -- and even if the 34-year-old mother-of-two from Corbally, Co Limerick has fab abs that Vin Diesel would be proud of, she's all woman and make no mistake.
"I'm known in the gym as the 'Pink Lady' because I'm such a girly girl!" says Sophia, one of the subjects featured in tonight's TV3 documentary, Supersized Shes, a day-in-the-life look at two women preparing to compete in the Republic of Ireland Bodybuilding Federation Championships.
Sophia is no stranger to the world of protein shakes and intensive workouts -- her mother, Angela McNamara, was a bodybuilder when the first wave of Irish muscle women emerged in the 1980s -- but the dark-haired beauty is a latecomer to the competitive sport.
"I only got into it last year after a lot of people, particularly Sean Bullman who trained my mother, urged me to give it a go.
"There are two kinds of competition -- the Figure event, where you just walk on, do a few quarter turns and walk off again, and the Physique event, for which you need to have more muscle and really perform.
"My first competition was a Figure event -- and I hated it! I came second, but I felt nervous and uncomfortable on stage and it took me months to rebuild my confidence."
But when Sophia's confidence returned, something extraordinary happened. "I was persuaded to go for the Physique competition and once I went out on stage, the audience went wild. I posed and did a dance routine to music and enjoyed every minute. It was a great evening."
Sophia was crowned Irish Champion Spring Classic Miss Physique and is now planning to enter up to four more competitions this year.
Her training schedule may sound gruelling to most of us softies, but Sophia embraces the regime. "Before a competition, I need to gain weight, because during training the body burns muscle if there's no fat. So I carb up for six weeks, eating lots of pasta, rice, bread and vegetables. That's followed by four weeks of protein. I have seven meals a day including red meat, chicken, fish and high-protein drinks. I don't count calories or measure portions. I know my body and what works for me. For the final week before a competition I eat nothing but fish, chicken and vegetables."
She also hits the gym for two hours of pumping iron and intensive exercise. "That's the bit I love!" says Sophia. "Even if I never entered another competition, I would still work out."
To present those toned muscles to perfection, some bodybuilders apply fake tan with a paint-roller, but Sophia favours a more precise procedure. "The night before the show, I apply a first coat of fake tan and wash it off at 6am, then apply a second coat and let it dry, then a third. Then, when I have my costume on, I rub Maybelline shimmer bronzer all over."
While the lure of professional competition may seem enticing to some, Sophia plans to stick to her night job as a carer for physically and mentally disabled adults, and being mum to daughter Kim (13) and son Shane (7). "I love being a bodybuilder, but it's just a hobby and that's the way I plan to keep it," she says.
The other subject of tonight's documentary is 26-year-old Inga Beinare, a stunning, 5'9" Latvian blonde who weighed just 8.5 stone when she first came to Ireland five years ago. Now she is delighted to have gained a stone and, while the rest of us struggle to shed the pounds, Inga dreams of building up to 11.5 stone of pure, lean muscle.
"I wasn't a bodybuilder when I met my boyfriend Barry, so he had no idea what was ahead, but he's been very supportive since I started training a year ago," says Inga who competes as a figure bodybuilder when not working as a barber in a Dublin salon.
"Barry helped me with my diet which, for eight weeks before each competition, is free of all fat, sugar, wheat and dairy -- and no alcohol for three months in advance."
If you're wondering what's left, that's right -- carbs and protein.
"For breakfast I have a bowl of porridge and six egg whites," says Inga. "At 11am, it's a high protein drink, then chicken and rice for lunch followed by another protein drink in the afternoon, chicken and potatoes for dinner, a protein drink in the evening and another before bedtime. I try to eat every two to three hours.
"I do cardio training for one hour five mornings a week and weight training for one-and-a-half hours six evenings a week. I have many friends in the gym. Everybody knows me there.
"In Latvia, I saw some pictures of female bodybuilders and thought they looked great. When I came here, people encouraged me to compete and I'm so glad I did. I would love to become a professional bodybuilder and compete internationally. That is my goal."
Supersized Shes is on TV3 at 8.00pm tonight
- Celine Naughton
Bodybuilder at 56
The initial goal was to get fit, but Jeannette Stemmer went further
By Kristin Holtz
Meet Jeannette Stemmer.
She’s a 56-year-old grandma with two grown children and a wonderful
Born and raised in Shakopee, Stemmer has worked at Rosemount Emerson in Chanhassen for 17 years, training employees how to use the company’s equipment. She loves sewing, quilting and traveling with her husband, Pete, to classic car shows.
And she’s a bodybuilder.
Stemmer might not be your prototypical bodybuilder lifting weights on the sand of some California beach with the setting sun gleaming off her sweating muscles, but Stemmer has already seen some success in her training exploits, recently earning impressive honors in a state competition.
“It’s just a goal I really wanted to do and I feel great,” she said.
Stemmer competed at the Mr. and Mrs. Natural Minnesota Body Building Competition May 16. The competition included posing and a 60-second choreographed form routine. At age 56, Stemmer, the oldest participant at the competition, earned third place in the over-45 division and second in novice, which included competitors of every age group.
“I just wanted to say I did it and I’m 56,” she said. “And I won two trophies.”
What might surprise you is that Stemmer never entered a gym until turning 50. Not a self-described athlete, Stemmer began working out casually in the hopes of getting fit. It wasn’t until she teamed with personal trainer Monique Weinandt in fall 2006 that she got serious about her fitness.
Stemmer’s later interest in exercising isn’t all that unusual, local gym trainers say.
Travis Karlen, a recreation supervisor at the Shakopee Community Center, said the facility has seen a big increase in recent years of older adults coming in to work out.
“I think people are a little more aware that being active and keeping active is going to prolong their health,” Karlen said.
Insurance reimbursement programs are a top reason fitness clubs are seeing older adults. The Community Center, for example, offers Silver Sneakers, a fitness program for adults 65 years or older who have insurance with Medica or Humana. Karlen said the center has about 80 seniors involved in the program.
Chris Hawkinson, general manager of Gold’s Gym in Shakopee, said his club also has a seniors’ program and has seen an increase in older adults working out.
As baby boomers continue to inch closer to senior status, Karlen expects to see older faces and bodies working out in the gym.
Losing weight and getting fit were Stemmer’s original goal in working out with Weinandt
Then, in May 2008, Stemmer went to watch a bodybuilding competition and a new thought flickered — maybe she could be a bodybuilder. In January, she took the plunge and signed up for a competition.
“It was really hard to go back from our goal because now you have to change [what you’re doing] when you wanted to weigh less,” Weinandt said.
Instead of concentrating on cutting body fat, Stemmer poured all her effort into building muscle. She focused primarily on lifting — exercises like dumbbell curls, bench presses and squats.
Each day after work, Stemmer stopped at Gold’s Gym for an hour-and-a-half lifting session, often accompanied by her nephew, Tim Schmitt, and on Fridays met up with Weinandt at her personal Shakopee gym. Weinandt tried to incorporate non-weight exercises to help prevent injuries and keep it from being boring, but most of the plan was all about reps, sets, pounds, form and safety.
“Jeannette did everything I would ask her to do,” Weinandt said. “She pays so much attention to detail.”
“I made the commitment and I wanted to be the best which I could be,” Stemmer said.
The hardest part, Stemmer recalled, had nothing to do with the gym. Weinandt had Stemmer eating six to seven meals a day — “I even had to get up in the night,” she said — since building muscle speeds up metabolism.
On the day before the competition, Stemmer was down to 108 pounds and 15.1 percent body fat. In order to make her muscles show the best, she dehydrated herself the day of the competition, which thins the skin and makes the muscles show. Stemmer and Weinandt recall going through a quick set of crazy of stretches backstage to get the blood pumping through the veins.
Stemmer doesn’t believe she would have gone through with the competition had it not been for the support of her family, all of whom were at the competition in May. While they were a little surprised at her goal, they have been alongside cheering her on all the way, she said.
“I’m very proud of her,” Pete Stemmer said.
“She is such an inspiration to me and countless other women to lead longer healthier lives and it's not too late to start,” Stemmer’s niece Tammy Shovelson of Eden Prairie said. “I am so proud of my aunt.”
Stemmer plans to compete in another bodybuilding competition in October. Not only has she lost weight and built her muscles, she’s also feeling more confident in herself having achieved the goal she set out for.
“You’ve always had confidence,” Weinandt told Stemmer while the two chatted about the competition in Weinandt’s gym one recent Friday morning. “But now you look like you’ve just blossomed. Like ‘This where I’m supposed to be.’”
Kristin Holtz can be reached at 952-345-6678 or email@example.com .
Local guys and gals set to muscle up in Toms River
By CHRIS JORDAN
What can physique competition fans expect at the NPC Northeast Grandprix, which takes place Saturday at Toms River High School North?
"Freaks — a lot of freaks," quipped co-promoter Robert Samborsky of Manalapan. "In bodybuilding terms freaks is a positive word. They're going to get guys as big as houses and ripped beyond ripped and walking around with three and four percent body fat."
Are big and ripped guys all there's going to be?
"There's going to be a little bit of eye candy for everyone as there's going to be semi-naked women on stage competing in figure and bikini (contests)," said Samborsky with his Popeye-sized forearms bulging from his short-sleeved shirt. "I'm a big fan of that. Hopefully I'll be a presenter for that."
There will be multiple weight classes for the guys and the aforementioned figure, bikini and fitness contests for the gals. The contests are qualifiers for the NPC (National Physique Committee) national amateur championship later in the year and are open to contestants from across the country. Yet the majority of the competitors come from the East Coast, said Samborsky, co-owner of the Apollon Gym in Edison.
Six-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates will be on hand as a judge.
"Hopefully, I'll at least place," said up-and-coming competitor Dana Scott, 25, of Edison.
"Mark my words, there will be a trophy here next week, no doubt about it," Samborsky said of Scott's chances.
The show will include a special presentation from physique star Irina Veselova and the mixed martial artists of the Jersey Fight Club.
"I am a professional physique competitor but I always like to surprise," said the Russian-born Veselova through a translator about her MMA work.
Will Veselova of Old Bridge be getting into the ring?
"They'd have to pay me a lot of money to do that," Veselova said. "I think I'm strong enough to knock someone out but I'd rather not do it."Additional Facts
11 a.m. prejudging and 6 p.m. finals on Saturday Toms River High School North, 1245 Old Freehold Road $15 prejudging/$25-$35 finals 732-985-8576 or www.npcnewjersey.com