Training for the Emerald Cup and Interview by Karen Patten
My philosophy about training is a little different than most, so accordingly, my training and preparation for the Emerald Cup was likely a little different as well. I have always made activity and exercise a part of my life, but it has only been in the last year that I have trained with weights. It had never seemed very interesting to me to spend time indoors simply moving weight around. I am very goal orientated, and could never get very excited about setting and achieving goals that had no practical or real-life purpose. As I spent much of my childhood competing in gymnastics, I am largely motivated by performance and competition. Once I discovered the sport of fitness, I was excited to once again have an athletic outlet. Now that I could define my goals as body shaping, gaining strength, and building endurance for my fitness routine, moving weights around didn't seem nearly so futile.
Being so new to the sport, my training is constantly evolving. This past year has been such a learning experience, and the biggest lesson I've learned is that I have much, much more to learn. I have settled into a fairly consistent routine, but continue to improve on familiar exercises and discover new exercises at almost every workout. I am trying to add mass to my upper body, so I work back, chest, shoulders, and arms twice a week. I am trying to develop better definition in my legs, so I train them hard once a week, and not so hard once a week. I also run, as nothing seems to define my legs like running. I train my abs every day. This schedule has been in place for a while now, and is what I did in the months prior to the Emerald Cup. Nutritionally, I needed help, so I had the wonderful opportunity to work with Pete Grubbs from Max Muscle of Bellevue. He made adjustments to my nutritional plan over the course of my preparation for the Emerald Cup, adjusting my protein, carbs, and water intake accordingly. Living in Alaska, all our communication was via e-mail, and it was such fun to finally spend some time with Pete and his family during Emerald Cup weekend. I was lucky enough to have Tanji Johnson visit Alaska and offer her posing seminar, which was one of the best things I could have done to prepare. I urge everyone I know to take her seminar or purchase her DVD, as there is sooooo much more to posing and stage presence than meets the eye. Even in my limited experience, I have seen women with fabulous physiques score low simply because they did not know how to pose- it really makes or breaks an athlete in the physique rounds.
I train because I love to challenge my body, and I compete because I love to challenge my performance. I have never done a show and been fully satisfied with myself or my performance. It is the nature of any successful individual, whether in sports or anything else, to continually strive for improvement and ultimately perfection. In this sport, nobody will ever achieve perfection, and everybody has room for improvement. I am working every day to improve my body and develop a better fitness routine. Whenever I compete, I never challenge myself to achieve a certain ranking. Instead, I challenge myself to do the best I can do; by the time a competition arrives, as my father in law would have said, “the hay’s in the barn.“ As long as I perform as well as I can and learn something, I have succeeded in reaching my goals.
1) Please introduce yourself, tell us something about you outside of the fitness world.
Outside the fitness world, I'm simply a hard-working mother. I have three beautiful daughters who I stay home to raise, and a wonderful husband who fully supports my decision to do so. I believe my biggest responsibility is to teach and empower my children to prepare them for the time when they will step out into the world. I can’t think of a better way to make the world a better place than to help my children become the best they can be!
2) How is it living in Alaska?
Alaska is simply the most beautiful place in the world! I live two blocks away from the ocean, and on a clear day I can see all the way to Mt. McKinley! Right now, we have over nineteen hours of daylight each day. The trees are in full bloom, flowers are everywhere, and the wildlife is abundant. Bald eagles soar through the skies, salmon fishing is in full swing, and not a day goes by that I don't see at least one moose meandering through the streets. Last week, my parents had a moose deliver twin babies in their backyard!! Whenever I can, I run, bike, or roller blade outside. I've encountered moose, coyote, lynx, and a mother bear with twin cubs (that one really got my heart rate up!!). In the winter, the snow creates a peaceful blanket over the city. Every Christmas is a White Christmas, the air is crisp and clean, and the northern lights cast a mystical glow in the skies. My family loves to ski and ice skate, and we have plenty of opportunities to do so. The people are friendly, and everyone is willing to help each other when the need arises. I wouldn't leave Alaska for anything!!
3) Is there a fitness/bodybuilding scene in Alaska? How many shows per year?
The NPC hosts three shows each year. In March, Tony Weaver (our NPC chairman) and Derek Snelson (of Performance Productions) put on the Alaska State Bodybuilding, Fitness, and Figure Expo. This is the biggest show of the year, and will be featured in the NPC News sometime later this year. Towards the end of summer, Derek Snelson hosts the Northern Lights Classic in Fairbanks, and in October, he oversees the Anchorage Bodybuilding Championships. Interest in fitness and figure is increasing, and this March, there were as many figure competitors as there were bodybuilders. I hope to continue to see an increase in the number of fitness and figure competitors, and am excited to help promote the sport!
4) Do you find hard to find supplement, protein powder in stores locally?
No, we have many sources for quality products. There is a fairly strong population of people interested in health and body shaping/development, so much so that some local coffee shops have even recently added protein shakes to their menus!
5) How does your diet differ from off-season and on-season?
I like to eat clean year-round. I am much more regimented during competition season and eat more frequently. The thing I enjoy most during off-season is eating lots of fruit!
6) What improvements have you seen since your first competition?
I was very unprepared and even ignorant in my first competition. I had joined a gym just three weeks prior, found out about the show, threw myself into creating a routine, and went for it. I wore regular bathing suits, didn't know how to pose, and had only three weeks of training under my belt! There was room for nothing but improvement.
7) What do you like/dislike about our current industry?
I love having a competitive outlet. Having grown up a gymnast, I spent many years after retirement where I was unable to enjoy my childhood sport. I envied my friends who grew up playing hockey, skiing, ice skating, playing volleyball, etc, because they were able to continue to train and compete. Unfortunately, it took until I was in my thirties that I discovered this sport, but I'm making up for lost time now!! I don't like how some athletes use steroids as an unfair advantage. I hate to see people harming their bodies (possibly permanently) in order to achieve a short term goal.
8) For your next show what are your expectations?
The same as for any show; I want to do my best! I have been working on improving the dynamics and tumbling in my routine, and have put on about three pounds of muscle. I never set ranking goals, as the sport is so subjective, and there's no telling what kind of physique will be rewarded. I definitely respect and admire the judges, because their job is so hard; I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to sort physiques, especially at the national level, where everyone looks fantastic.
9) I just came back from Jr. Nationals and it seems your physique and conditioning would have been the best out there. What do you envision the future of fitness to be? Last year at 2004 Dallas Fitness Nationals they rewarded some less muscular physiques.
Wow. First of all, I am incredibly flattered by that remark. As for the future of fitness, I can’t even begin to predict how the sport will evolve. I'm hoping that feminine muscularity will continue to be the ideal, although not necessarily to the extent that it has in the past. Fitness athletes need a certain amount of muscle in order to be able to perform the required strength moves and make it through the 2- minute routine. My non-scientific (and probably biased) observation has been that muscularity has been rewarded more in fitness than in figure, and I can only assume that the judges take it into consideration that more muscle is necessary for the fitness athletes. Every body is different as to how much muscle can be added without compromising ones ability to effectively execute the strength moves. I haven't yet found that limit, where I weigh too much to be able to move as I need to, so I've got a little bit of wiggle room, where I can add or take away muscle as the sport requires.
10) Tell us what are some of the competitors you look up to? And why you chose them?
Tanji Johnson has inspired me more than anyone. I had the pleasure of meeting her last year, and she has motivated me to step out into the regional and national competition scene. She has found the perfect balance between athleticism and femininity, and her routines are dynamite! Most importantly, she is one of the kindest and most supportive people I have met. Tanji is eager to share the sport she so clearly loves, communicates that to everyone, and has no hesitation about encouraging others.