1) Please introduce yourself? What makes you special? Who is Kanani Gonzales?
My name is Kanani. I'm originally from Hawaii, born and raised on the island of Oahu. I've lived in Las Vegas long enough to be impressioned by the culture and dynamic for which this city thrives, however, I am still an an island girl at heart.
3) How did you start competing in figure?
Before I even started competing in figure, I did my first show as a bikini competitor in 2011 as a personal challenge to see if I had what it took to 1) put in the work and 2) have the balls to get up on that stage. It was a good experience and definitely got my feet wet to the whole "competition world" but doing bikini didn't feel natural to me although I was quickly infatuated with the manipulation over our bodies and the dramatic changes a focused precise diet can have on the body. I knew I had to look deeper into this sport and find my place. 4 months later I met with my first trainer and found my direction. 8 months later I competed in the same show I did previously, only this time as a Figure competitor. I placed 4th at this show and went on to do another show 4 weeks later, placing 1st in my class.
My personal perspective on the shape I need to come in for a show has changed with each show I've done. I realize that my conditioning becomes more and more of a focus with each prep. Muscularity as far as size goes hasn't been a big concern for me; whereas building up certain parts of my body continues to be a main focus Personally I believe I naturally carry a more muscular build and have been fortunate that my body has responded well to the work I've put in to improve my overall physique and shape.
5) What is your idea of what judges want in a Figure competitor? Do you think judges are clear enough with competitors about how they want you on stage? It seems in Europe they are very clear unlike in the USA and now in Canada things are confusing.
Interestingly enough, I am still stumped on what the judges want to see on stage in a figure competitor. I have some ideas on the basic "look" a figure competitor should have on stage, wide shoulders, tapered back, tiny waist, tight glutes, and an overall symetrical physique thats tight but not overly shredded. I do believe that judging criteria is determined by the overall look of the competitors at each show. Meaning, if the majority of competitors come in very hard and well conditioned then that drives the judging criteria for that show. While on the flip side, if the overall conditioning of the competitors appear to be a softer look then the judging on conditioning may not be weighted as heavily given the competitors in the show.
I have always been concerned about my conditioning going into shows, specifically my lower body. I need to work on bringing my lower body conditioning in better shape to match my upper body. I've worked on a tighter smaller waist with more ab definition and plan to continue to improve upon that area. My legs will be a main focus to improve their conditioning and tone. I also want to build up my lats more so they have a thicker appearance and my slightly build on my shoulders.
A typical training day would include 3-4 exercises per body part shooting for 12-15 reps at a weight that makes the last few reps a struggle. I'll increase the weight on each set most of the time. I normally train back, shoulders, and arms individually super setting the last exercise at times. When training legs, I pair hamstrings with glutes and hit quads hard on a separate day, starting with squats on the free bar rack with reps at 20 maxing out the weight. Cardio training changes through the course of my prep as does the type of cardio I do. Generally, I start my prep off at 30 minutes on the Stairmill (or elliptically) and over the course of prep it gradually increases depending on how lean I am and how much leaner I need to be. My last prep ended up increasing to an hour during the last month. The Stair Mill has been a constant source of cardio during every prep I've had.
8) What is your pre-contest diet? (per day, 1 week before the show)
Similar to my cardio training during contest prep, my diet can also change throughout the course of my prep as well. I have had diet plans that consisted of only fish and asparagus six times a day for several weeks and have had diets during prep that included steak and chicken with only one fish meal and a couple protein shakes as well. Most recently my diet manly consisted of chicken, egg whites, tuna and protein powder, with beans/brown rice/ezekiel bread with the first two meals of the day. Depletion week and pulling water the week leading up to the show is contingent on where I'm at and how much tighter I need to be. I've experienced both sides of the spectrum where depletion has been minimal in changes and started only a day or two before the show. But I have also endured more grueling depletions requiring extremely low carbs and dropping water much sooner in the week. It all depends on where I am at when that week starts and where I need to be by show time.
Generally when I pull water it entails reducing my water intake gradually anywhere from 2-4 days before the show ending with only sipping water here and there on the day of the show. If I am still consuming carbs during this week, drier sources of protein are substituted such as eating my oats dry instead of cooked, pulling out egg whites, and substituting out proteins for other sources such as steak instead of chicken or fish or grilling it for a drier consistency.
I can’t really think of any experience out of the order or strange that has happened to me during any of my shows. The most nerve racking experience I can think of was when I almost missed prejudging because I was in the back of the audience working with my coach’s friend to pump up and tighten my glutes and didn’t realize my class was already lined up behind the back of the stage. Running to get into place and then having to walk out on stage as calm and collective was not easy, but I guess I pulled it off because that was my first place win.
I have met many amazing and inspirational people throughout my journey through the competition world. I believe there is a huge stereotypical ideology society in general has with regards to the fitness industry and those who are involved in it. Some of these mentalities have some truth to it, while others are just fabricated impressions of ignorant people who usually don’t know enough about the industry to make shallow assumptions that bodybuilders and fitness minded individuals get a bad rap for. I have met many competitors that are sweet and down to earth and show no glimpse of what society’s impression is of people who stay fit or have an “unnatural” amount of definition, muscularity, or shape to their bodies that society as a whole can’t seem to grasp the idea that hard work, dedication, discipline, and sacrifice are required to get to this level of fitness. I hope to see the overall impression of the fitness world by society to change and become more positive outlooks on the kind of lifestyle most of us lead and be seen in a good way.
The hardest challenge is always finding time to get into the gym. Being a single mom with 4 kids, putting in the time needed during prep is always a juggling act. I've had to wake up early enough to get my fasted cardio in before getting my kids off to school or their summer jobs, train during my lunch breaks, and go back for more cardio at night in between picking up and dropping off my kids at their practices. At times it has is required me to leave the gym so I could pick up my kids, and then return back to finish out my cardio. Finding a balance in my day to train and still be there to handle my responsibilities as a mother also while working a full time 9-5 job is and always will be the hardest challenge for me when it comes to contest prep.
14) Did you make any changes to your contest prep for your last show? Water intake, carbing up, etc...
I worked with a new coach this last prep in which she handled only my diet, supplement, and dry out plans and was the first time I did not physically work with a trainer in the gym at least once a week. My diet was completely different but so was my training and cardio, one reason being I stayed within 5 pounds of my stage weight during off season.
I think the bikini division is an interesting class that has a broad spectrum of what "look" is the industry standard. Personally, I have never been able to determine what the judges base their scoring criteria on how they differentiate that look over so many competitors that compete in this category. I don't believe i was ever cut out for "bikini" and could never master their style of posing. But its always a fun class to watch.
16) What are your favorite foods to eat right after you compete on a Saturday night?
Post show cheat meals have included sushi, Cheesecake Factory, and Denny's. But the real cheat meal comes the next morning when I always indulge in pancakes. My cheat meal of choice is always breakfast food, specifically pancakes or stuff french toast.
17) Please tell us about how you were raised and did you have any interesting experiences while growing up?
I was raised with a pretty traditional family life besides the fact I came from a very big family. However, I did have to grow up quickly when I had my first child at 14 and my second child at 16 and then married and was on my own with two small children. I refused to become a statistic or allow the fact that I was a teenage mother of two to influence what I saw for myself and my future. I moved my young family to go back to my college prep high school and graduate and immediately attended college after graduation at UNLV.
I've been asked many times what sports I've played while growing up. Apparently I appear to have a very athletic build so it's always funny to see the expressions of people when I tell them i didn't play any sports growing up and have no athletic background to speak of. I was too busy raising my boys and didn't have the time to participate in anything else.
19) What is a typical day in the life of Kanani Gonzales? From waking up to until going to bed?
A typical day for me includes waking up my two youngest kids and getting them moving and out the door for school. Mornings didn't always go smoothly when my daughter isn't a morning person and generally refuses to wear whatever outfit I've chosen for her that day. So you can imagine how happy she was when it came time to fix her hair and make her breakfast choice, while also trying to get myself ready for work during this process and get my meals cooked and/or packed for the day. My two older kids have full time jobs and are generally gone by the time we wake up to start our day. When I have to do morning cardio, well that just means I wake up earlier before the kids to be back in time to get everyone up, ready and out the door in time for school and for me to get to work. Once the kids are off to school, I'm heading out the door to the office until 5pm. After my work day is complete, if there is cheer or football practice, then I'm picking up and dropping them off to their practice and if practice times allow, I will try to get my training in then. Otherwise, I may have 30 minutes of down time to myself before I'm shuffling out the door again to pick them up. Once the kids are home, fed, and showering, I am able to hit the gym finally. I may train anywhere from 1-3 hours and when I get home, if meals need to be prepped, I will do it then. By this time my older ones are usually around and I spend some time talking with them about their day and/or schedules for the upcoming days. Then its shower and my time to unwind and relax from the grinds of my day, in which I call it a day. Then, rinse, recycle, and repeat.
I am a paralegal by day for a civil litigation firm. I assist 2-3 litigation attorneys in my firm out of 6 litigators. My job requires me to keep their court hearings scheduled, organize their case files, prepare and file their civil pleadings, coordinate depositions and delivery of documents to judges' chambers, prepare and process summons and complaints, and serve any documents necessary on opposing counsel when needed. I also handle the arbitration cases for one of the attorney's I assist and bill time for each attorney I am responsible for assisting. I open new case files, work with the clerks office, other law offices involved in our cases, schedule client meetings, and prepare all trial binders when a case is set to go to trial. I've been in the legal field for over 9 years and I enjoy what I do. Litigation work I've found to be very interesting, especially when a case goes to trial. Although these are the times i am the most busy and usually require long days at the office prepping the exhibit binders that will be used in trail. I've always been interested with legal proceedings and wanted to go to law school myself since I was a young girl. Working in an office has also allowed me the advantage of getting my meals in when I'm prepping for a show and since I sit for most of my day, my body is ready to be active when its time to hit the gym.