Issue #13


by Juan Carlos Lopez

20 questions with our cover model: Diana Crandall

Video Interview Cover Model: NPC Fitness Diana Crandall

April Jacobs: Her Journey to the IFBB Fitness Pro Ranks
by April Jacobs

A Twisted Year of Fate: My Road To Fitness Nationals
by Katie Madden

Diana Crandall, Catherine Boushizen, Holly Nicholson, Houng Arcinas and Tara Gooch

Video Interview:
NPC Figure Stephanie Middleton

Gymnastics & Skills Pt. 2
by Linda

Video Interview:
IFBB Figure Pro Trish Mayberry

Interview with Lynda Thoresen Winner of the Excalibur

Video Interview:
IFBB Fitness Pro Kim Seeley

A Twisted Year of Fate Part 2: My Trip to the Heart of the Fitness Industry
by Kaisa Piippo

Sport Specific Training and Conditioning: Utilizing your Heart Rate Monitor
by Traci Redding


Katie Madden

It was a long haul, but I made it. I competed in the NPC Fitness Nationals Atlanta in November 2005. This marked a 3 year anniversary since my last NPC National show, with one significant difference...Bodybuilding vs. Fitness! My last article to Hard Fitness highlighted my decision to make this switch to Fitness. I competed in my first Fitness show in June 2004, but knew I still needed to improve my game. I continued to work diligently on my skills, and in January 2005, consulted with a choreography team out of Ohio...Em & Heather. I spent the better part of 2 days with them absorbing all I could of this new routine.

So it is January, 2005, and I'm driving back to Illinois, very pumped and excited at the prospect of this new performance from Em and Heather. It is my plan to take it to the stage by April. I immediately started to practice...soon realizing what an immense challenge this was going to be! Admittedly it was very difficult to organize this routine in harmony with my skills & personality. Without a background in dance or gymnastics, I was facing quite a hurdle, but my determination to clear this hurdle was my driving force! I would have to make some adjustments in the choreography to match my style, and that is when things began to fall into place.

February, 2005...an unexpected twist presents itself, which threatened my professional career in Mortgage Lending. Weighing all the factors, I made a bold decision that it was time to make a move, to a new area. I needed to find an area that presented bigger horizons than Central Illinois. I had some good leads in the Phoenix, Arizona vicinity, so I took a 6 day trip to begin my networking. I felt an immediate connection to this part of the country, and realized that my life was about to change dramatically.

March, 2005...I officially resign from my employer of 11 years, and announce my plans of moving to Scottsdale, Arizona. My Fitness training continues, but I also must focus on my quest to move across the country. This obviously would cause a disruption in my plans to compete, but I knew it was more important to establish my new career path first.

April, 2005, my packing and training consume my life. Also, please note, that it is in April, 2005 that I received a most sincere email from a girl named Kaisa Piippo, a resident of Finland. She tells me of her passion for fitness, and of her plans to be in the Phoenix area for a few months starting in June. She had seen on my website of my intentions to move to this area, so she was curious about the possibility to meet me. We therefore agreed to arrange a meeting after her arrival. Little did I know how my life would be sweetly enhanced by this stranger........as you will see.

May, 2005, I make my move to Scottsdale, Arizona...pulling out of Illinois on May 20th. Upon arrival, I set my sites again to compete...in September at the Europa in Dallas. It is hard for me to focus, as this break in my regimen wreaks havoc on my training...having to find new work, new friends, new gym, new gymnastics center, new doctors, blah blah blah! This process is rarely fun, and can really disrupt the rhythm of life.

June, 2005...I have located a gym close to home for my own training, while pursuing a change in my career...going from AVP in Mortgage Loans to Personal Trainer. I immediately find an opportunity with Pure Fitness in East Scottsdale, and no sooner had I begun, when I receive an improved offer in Phoenix. I accept the offer, and agree to begin in July.
Footnote: My diet begins for the Europa show.

July, 2005...I begin my new Personal Training assignment and feel that I made a good decision to take this position. I am on target with my training and diet...and forge ahead toward my goal. Approximately midway through July, Kaisa Piippo contacts me, and we decide to meet for a workout soon.

August, 2005...I am delivered a setback with my new Training position. My hours are drastically reduced, due to some unexpected changes with the organization. Stressed and anxious, I quickly realize that the September Europa Show has just become very unrealistic. Without financial support nor companionship in my life, I knew that traveling long distance was not feasible. I turned my focus to find a local regional NPC show...which turned out to be in November in Phoenix. This becomes my decisive target.
On a lighter note, I am pleased for the opportunity to finally meet this girl from Finland, Kaisa Piippo. She and her boyfriend meet me for a workout. This marks the beginning of a very strong friendship.

September, 2005....this month marks some deeper strides to prepare for my competition. As I map out my training tactics, the load is quite hefty. Per chance, I stumble upon a choreographic coach, David...who helps out at the gymnastics center I had been using for periodic practice. We have a brief conversation, and he asks to see the outlines of my routine. After his initial preview of my performance, he feels I need to work on my presentation skills. It is apparent to me that David carries a respectable talent, so I make a crucial commitment to hire this coach to help see me to the stage.
On a different "coaching" chapter...my new friend Kaisa has decided to take a few "training" sessions from me, so that she can begin to adopt some skill tactics in Fitness. Our friendship solidifies a bit more this month.

October, 2005...This month demands a great deal of "balance". During peak preparation, a fitness athlete must typically incorporate all of the following in her day and/or week: RESISTANCE TRAINING ALL BODY PARTS, STRETCHING DAILY, PLYOMETRICS, CARDIO (often twice a day), ROUTINE PRACTICE, MASSAGE THERAPY (for all those nagging injuries that finally decide to rear up and bite you in the ass, literally), EAT 8 MEALS A DAY, and finally - 8 HOURS OF SLEEP (yeah, right!)
All of this, while holding down a "regular" job too.

So, it is this process that brings with it a GREAT deal of respect for ALL the athletes, but particularly the Fitness athlete...my hat goes off to all of you! This clearly is the most difficult challenge I have ever faced. I meet with the "routine" coach twice a week, and often, my friend Kaisa attends these practice sessions, taking pictures to measure each step to the show. Her passion and dedication is very impressive to me...rarely have I seen anyone so driven to learn every angle of this sport.
October also brings the trip to Vegas for the Olympia, full of photo shoots and training. It is here, in Vegas, that my competition plans are challenged ... once again. I am exactly 4 weeks out from my show, and I see Mike Davies, my trainer of almost 2 years. In our conversation, I ask if he feels I look ready to compete in 4 weeks? His comment to me has a profound impact:
"You look like you'll be ready in 10 days...so Katie, it's time to quit dinkin' around with these small regional shows, and get your butt to Nationals, cuz that's where you belong!"
OK, so the eyebrows go up, and the challenge is on. This statement was the ultimate compliment to me, especially coming from Mike! I am inspired to somehow accomplish this quest, but in just 5 short weeks?
The following day, I shared the news of my "potential change in plans" with a few friends and clients. Though unintentional, my enthusiastic choice of conversation proved to be a most important one. I am humbled to say that this is one of those moments in life when we can discover the warmth and generosity of friends and loved ones that surround us. To my COMPLETE astonishment, 2 very important friends offered to sponsor the bulk of my costs to Nationals! I did not solicit them, they offered of their own generous hearts. They felt I had worked very hard, and that I deserved to compete in Atlanta. To say I was humbled was an understatement. The financial support expanded even more, and with this reality right in front of me, I could not say no!

November, 2005...The countdown begins, but not without a snag or two. The posing suits I had rented from a friend were beautiful, HOWEVER, in these final days before the show, my size had really come down. I was sending pictures periodically to Mike, who would assess my progress. But - my latest pictures revealed irreconcilable differences between me and the 2 piece.
OH GREAT... I start dialing frantically my local friends in the industry. I am referred to Norma of Bilbo Baggs! My friend Kaisa meets me there, and Norma has a fairly priced suit on display that is stunning...problem solved! I am exceptionally grateful at this moment for the sponsorships, without them, this would not have been possible.
My training and practice is relentless, yet buffered in a sense...for Kaisa has become an incredibly important factor to my support and morale! Not only was she there for many of my practice sessions, but she had gone to great effort to secure her way to accompany me to Nationals. This was monumental!
Only one week to go, and I am on my way to meet and practice with the choreography coach. Upon arrival, I receive a devastating blow...David is no longer affiliated with the gymnastics center...he won't be there to help me! WHAT? Are you joking? A phone call would have been nice...but such is life. In this moment I realize - the mental strength coaching brings to us can crumble in an instant. It takes me a couple of days to regroup...and I call on friends Kaisa and Jackie ...yes, as in former Olympia Bodybuilding Pro Jackie Paisley. Once again, a moment when you see what real friendship is all about. They gather to watch and critique my routine ... and push me through 3 full-out performances. It is this type of endurance training that will make it seem easy on stage.
I am as ready as I'll ever be!

November 17, 2005...Kaisa and I board a plane to Atlanta, loaded down with luggage...and nerves! Kaisa is a very protective traveling partner, more so than most men would be! Wow, what a refreshing gift. She is there for me at every turn, making sure that I have all that I need. We arrive in Atlanta, and it is FREEZING - an abrupt adjustment from Phoenix, but Kaisa makes sure I am protected from the cold!
From this point forward, it becomes a whirlwind ... of nerves and schedules.

November 18, 2005...Friday night is the first round, and Mike Davies comes to my room early in the day, he is VERY pleased with my physique, but very distraught on another matter. He announces that the judges have flipped the rounds, and that one piece will be first. He is upset because this typically makes the girls that are tighter look more "muscular", which could work against me. Nothing I can do, so I proceed to Colette Nelsons room, for hair and makeup, then hit the stage.
I receive 3rd callout...indicative of mediocre news. Once off the stage, I go back to the room and rest, tomorrow is a HUGE day.

November 19, 2005...A.M., the day begins very early. Up at 5 for hair and makeup again with Colette. Then to the performance stage to practice my routine. My nerves are electrified. Then back to the room, to dress in my routine outfit, and return backstage to WAIT... and WAIT... and WAIT.....#33, #34, #35...ok, OH...WAIT, no, I'm not ready...PLEASE, not yet. OK, this is IT - all reality sinks in. These next 2 minutes will reflect the prior 9 months of training ... "just get me through this" I said to myself...and I did it, I nailed all of my strength moves, without fail. I race off the stage, and feel the "post performance" adrenaline hit. Wow, this is a rush to beat all...but I am happy it is over. Time to relax.
P.M. Finals: 2 Piece Round - prior to stepping on stage, all competitors are informed of their placement after the first 2 rounds. Only the top 5 in each of 3 classes will come back and perform their routine again. I gracefully accept I will not be in this group.
It is now where things truly fall into perspective for me. Why am I here? Because I am a great Fitness Athlete.
Do I fit in? Yes...absolutely I do, as I look around - absorbing the fact that I have competed among 54 very beautiful women. This was my first National Fitness appearance. The importance of "placement" diminishes, realizing it is so much more than a physical assessment for a judge panel to decide. This is a personal achievement first and foremost! It is a "process" of perseverance for all of us to do our best. We must prove our worth and value not only to the judges, but to ourselves. We must step up proudly next to all these contenders, beaming with a sense of accomplishment! My eyes wide open to the learning curve, I walk away happy with myself, yet eager to set my sites to my next appearance.
So my overall placement was 14th, and at 46 years old, I am proud, for I was absolutely the best I could be!

It is here that I wish to extend a deep message to ALL of the readers here. Moral support to an athlete (I feel) is priceless, worth more than any other contribution in the process of a competition. Kaisa smoothed the pavement considerably to Atlanta, and I ultimately wish to acknowledge her efforts here, to all of you! She is a rare breed and a true friend. I only hope I have the opportunity to provide her with the same type of support when she steps on stage. I have all the confidence that she will be a force to reckon with!

Katie Madden and Kaisa Piippo



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About the Author...

Katie Madden

NPC Fitness Athlete, former National Level Bodybuilder

I am in the process of moving to Scottsdale, Arizona....but you can continue to stay in touch with me through my website, at www.katiemadden.com
I extend my best to all of you, and hope to see you at some upcoming events. Thanks JC for your great website. You have created a fantastic avenue for all of us in the industry.

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