Issue #56


by Juan Carlos Lope

2009 Europa Super Show Photos and Results

2009 Europa Super Show Review

2009 North Americans Photos and Results

2009 North Americans Review

20 Questions with NPC Figure Tiffany Ryan

Video Interview with IFBB Fitness Pro Tonya Burkhardt

Interview with IFBB Figure Pro Nicole Pitcher -Scott

Video Interview NPC Bodybuilder Kirsten Haratyk

Tiffany Ryan, Abby Marie, Angela Salvagno, Emily Nicholson, Jennifer Hoffman

Interview with European Amateur IFBB Alevtyna Titarenko
by Anne Pietila

Video Interview with IFBB Figure Pro Irina Veselova and Trainer Robert Samborsky Part 2

Video Interview with IFBB Fitness Pro Leslie Rae Newton


20 Questions with Cover Model and NPC Figure Tiffany Ryan

Tiffany Ryan

1) Please introduce yourself? What makes you special? Who is Tiffany Ryan?

Hello, my name is Tiffany S. Ryan.  I am the mother of a teenager, Alexis & wife of Todd. I graduated from Hope High in 1993, and from Henderson State in 2000, and Alexis and I moved to Fort Worth in 2000 so I could teach school.  I have taught 2nd grade all subjects, 3rd grade math, middle school and high school strength and conditioning, and elementary P.E., and have even been a substitute for grades K-8.  Though I quit teaching, we stayed in Fort Worth and I have been a personal trainer for the last 8 years.  I work in a small personal training studio, located 4 blocks from my home, and it’s owned by a very good friend of mine

2) Please tell us a bit about your family, friends and surroundings?

All of my family resides in southwest Arkansas, where I am from originally. Alexis and I go up for visits every couple of months.  My mother, Judi, raised my younger brother, Cody, and me.  She and my Aunt Janet were my role models while growing up, actually they still are.  While I was growing up, my mom worked on a speaker factory line for almost 20 years. My aunt was an elementary teacher.  My daughter, Alexis, is a sophomore, makes good grades on the honor’s track, and this year is heavily involved in the school’s yearbook.  My husband Todd, of five years, is a full-time student and participates in the Air Force Reserves.  He aspires to be a physician’s assistant and has three years left of school.  I have two dogs, Chloe and Sandy, and six cats.  I get my love for animals from my mom.

3) How did you start competing in figure?

In 2001, Herman Steele, a personal trainer currently at Stroud’s gym in Hurst, TX, suggested I compete in figure.  I let him train me for a few shows and did well.  Prior to that, I was just an average gym rat!  My first two shows were in OK.  I was placed third, then second, respectively.  Not long after, I saw an ad for a show giving notice of a pro figure division and then set a goal of becoming a professional figure competitor.

4) What is your personal policy (not what the judges want) about conditioning and muscularity when coming into a show? Soft or hard?

Personally, I prefer an athletic look coming into a show.  Not super hard or muscled, but I think an example of excellence is the body of Monica Brant.  I think a limited-muscled, or soft look reflects lack of daily hard work and nutritional discipline.  Because an athletic look is much more difficult to achieve than just being soft or small, that is what sets the competitors apart from the spectators.  The spectators paid for the ticket to go watch the show for entertainment and encouragement…for something to inspire them.  It’s ridiculous to see winners of a competition look less athletic than the crowd that came to watch.  I would rather place lower and look better, than win and have people wonder why I won.

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.

I think the judges of the NPC are very random in whom they choose to place in figure shows.  I’ve talked to many people who agree that when comparing the girls that place, there seems to be no pattern in what they are looking for, from show to show, and even within the same show and class for that sake.  Also, the rules posted on their website are very vague in what the judges are looking for.  And from my own experience, sometimes the judges don’t extend accurate critiques on the competitors that they are supposed to be watching. I understand that bodybuilding is subjective, but more consistency in judging would be helpful.

6) For the next shows what do you think you need to work on physique-wise/conditioning-wise? If anything!

For the next show I do, I will work on doing less weight training on my upper body, and maintaining my conditioning and leg development.  I will also work on my stage presence (which is vitally important)!

Tiffany Ryan

7) What is your typical training routine in the gym (per day, include sets and reps!) How much cardio do you do before a show?

My typical training program has been to work 1-3 body parts hard with weights 5 days per week.  I do lower body 2 days per week, and upper 3 days.  My sets and reps are changed every week. One week I may do 15 total sets of 8-12 reps, then another week maybe just one exercise for 15 minutes, no stopping. Sets of 100 are very common in my routines.  I do only 1 day of cardio per week off- season, then the last 6 weeks I incorporate more cardio, beginning with 15 minute sessions, and progress to 30-40 minute sessions.  The last 10 days I cardio everyday in my sauna suit.

8) What is your pre-contest diet? (per day, 1 week before the show)

The last week before the show, I eat about 1,500 calories per day.  Breakfast includes eggs and a hot cereal, pre-workout a whey shake, post-workout tuna and a starch, later chicken breast and veggies, later tilapia and a salad, then another shake before bed.  Additionally, I snack on raw almonds when I need something!

9) How do you go about dropping your water before the day of the show? How much water do you drink the day of the show. Please be specific.

I drink about three quarters of a gallon of water each day until Friday.  Friday I cut back to half a gallon, and Saturday a little less.

10) What motivates you to train/diet and compete? Are there any competitors you looked up to?

I’m a very goal-oriented person.  I set a goal years ago of becoming a pro.  Each show I do is a stepping-stone to that goal.  Competing keeps me pushing myself and keeps me focused on being healthy and strong.  I enjoy the challenge, and really enjoy the feeling of bringing my trophies back to my gym each show.  I look up to: Monica Brant, Adela Garcia, and Jen Hendershot.  I also look up to some amateur competitors that are friends of mine:  Steve Frazier, Chris Jilali, Holly Chambliss, and Armon Adibi.

11) Please tell us an interesting experience you had at a show recently, be it a fun thing or something rather not so fun?

Once at Jr. Nationals, while on stage performing, I felt my shoe doing something weird.  I improvised until I was able to get off stage and found that the whole bottom of my brand new posing shoe had come unattached.  It was like I was wearing high-heeled flip-flops!  Luckily, I had packed duct tape in my suitcase (which is silver, the color of the shoe).  I wrapped the tape around the whole bottom of my shoe to keep it together.  How “rigged-up” is that!?  And my husband still always asks, “Why do you pack so much stuff?”  Well, because you never know what you may need!

Tiffany Ryan

12) What is your personal opinion about the figure, fitness, bodybuilding industry we are in? Anything you would like to see changed?  

I would love to see a perfect world where the figure, fitness, bodybuilding industry was always fair and square.  No politics, no drugs, nothing shady or suspiscious.  Just blind justice every show that gave merit to the best natural bodies on stage that day!  I guess that would be too easy!

13) What has been your hardest challenge to overcome either in your personal life or competing career?

The biggest challenge for me as a competitor has always been lack of money.  The first two years, I was a single parent.  The last five years have been difficult because though I did get married, Todd has been a full time student and a part time worker, and the personal training business is a turbulent one.  It’s hard to make a small amount of money spread all the way around like you would like it to.

14) Did you make any changes to your contest prep for your last show? Water intake, carbing up, etc...

At the Europa, the last show I did, I decided to try water and carb depleting beginning Monday before the show.  I had never done that and wanted to see what that would do to me.  I only did that for three days.  The last two days I found myself having to eat everything in sight to fill me back up.  In that short amount of time, I became extremely lean and hard.  So, now I know not to do that again…it was too much for my body.  I also got advise from a new makeup artist and bought a load of product from her.  After pre-judging, I saw pictures of my face and it was way too light!  I was really mad, but it was too late!

15) So I hear your husband is extremely supportive about this sport, how does that help you in your competitive career? Many competitors don't have that supportive spouse, how did you find the right one that lets you compete and also makes you a better person?

A now X-boyfriend introduced me to Herman Steele at what later became The Gym for Health & Fitness in 2001.  The owner of that gym was a married man named Todd Ryan!  I trained under Herman to prep for a few shows and over that time, Todd and I both had called it off with our mates.  Not long after that, he and I started dating, then got married, then closed our gym down for good and Todd took over training me.  Since I’ve known Todd, he and I both have been in the health & fitness industry.  I think he understood that when marrying me, he was marrying a competitor and all that came with that.  His gym was full of competitors, which is what drew me to it in the first place.  Though he had never wanted to compete, he obviously had an appreciation for the sport.  He has stood by me ever since and we’ve been Team Ryan.  Todd is also pursuing his goals of becoming a physician’s assistance and owner of Muscularsynergy.com.  So we support each other in all the madness that is.  Our passions are really quite similar and that is what has always made this work.  We aren’t going in 2 separate directions.  However, we are both trainers and as such, often we do butt heads.  It’s not always calm waters!  But we have each other’s best interests in heart.  In addition to workouts and nutrition plans, Todd has been my right-hand man when it comes to Pro-tanning, oiling, and bikini biting, etc.  And I often refer to him for advise on the business side of the industry.  Competing is MY passion, so sometimes he can think more level and business minded when I may have my head in the clouds!  He’s saved me a couple of times from making mistakes.  There are many times I can tell he is ready to throw the towel in out of frustration with me or with the industry.  He puts hard work in my training too.  When I win a trophy, I like to refer to it as ours.  And when I travel to compete, there’s nothing more assuring and comforting than having him near.  I don’t know what I’d do without him.  He’s a smart guy and he is my rock.  I love him dearly. 

Tiffany Ryan

16) Have you ever thought about doing bodybuilding more seriously? You have done one show before? Any thoughts? What are your plans regarding that?

I decided to try competing in bodybuilding once last year.  I placed 1st & overall in Novice and 2nd in Open.  The preparation really made me appreciate what it took to get ready for figure.  To me, the hardest part was practicing holding poses.  I felt like I had been in a car wreck after each session!  It was one of the hardest things I had ever done, but I didn’t mind that. And on contest day, doing the routine was so much fun for me.  I really enjoyed entertaining the crowd.  When the audience roared after seeing me do a back double bicep, I was elated. I couldn’t believe it. I had never been so praised before for doing all that work!  It was a moment in time I’ll remember forever.  I was really proud of myself for trying something new and that hard.  My challenge is that I will not be satisfied with competing only at the local level.  I must further myself or quit all together.  Without using drugs, I cannot see myself continuing to do well at national shows in bodybuilding.  Drugs are too common place there and I would not be willing to make those kinds of sacrifices to the body (my tool) I’ve so nurtured all these years.  For me to be happy, I must always stay true to myself, and that is being female. 

17) Please tell us about how you were raised and did you have any interesting experiences while growing up? 18) Do you have an athletic background? Gymnastics, soccer, volleyball or what?

I was raised in Hope, AR (pop. About 10,000). Our mother raised my brother & me.  I got my first job at a pizza parlor at age 15.  In elementary school I took ballet.  In middle school I played the flute in our school band.  In high school, I wanted to run track and play tennis, but because of our financial hardship, I decided to work instead.  I loved English class.  I took Agri also.  I was our school’s FFA Sweetheart my senior year, as well as on the Key Club Sweetheart Court. In High School, I was part of the Future Business Leaders of America, FFA, SADD, and a student council representative.  I graduated from Hope High in ’93, had Alexis the following spring.  I was a single parent for 10 years.

19) What is a typical day in the life of Tiffany Ryan? From waking up to until going to bed?

A typical day of my life:  wake up around 6:30, shower & get ready, check e-mails, make sure Alexis & I have breakfast, take her to school, go to work & train 3-6 clients (depending on the day).  Lift, eat, tan, go run my or family errands, pick up Alexis from school, after school snack, house work, feed animals, go back to work to train 4-7 people.  Go home, dinner, watch Oprah & news, and get ready for bed, bed by 10:00!

20) What is your current occupation? Please tell us more about it, what do you specifically do in your job?

Since 2001, I have been a personal fitness trainer.  For most of that time, I’ve been an independent contractor.  Currently, my business is at Ultimate Physique Training Studio.  I work with clients of any age, gender or background to achieve their personal health & fitness goals.  I educate each client about their bodies, their goals, & the methods I choose to get them to their goals.  I hold them accountable for making each workout, while providing superior customer service, creativity, & energy to each session.  This year, I have taken clients out to TCU on Saturday mornings to run bleechers and track with them.  We also ran a 5K race (most of my clients placing first in their age divisions), & did a 25-mile bike race with them!

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