1) Please introduce yourself? What makes you special? Who is Erika Kikuchi?
I'm an athlete and an attorney, which makes for an interesting mix and long hours! I love trail (running) races, road races, lifting, mountain hiking, snowshoe racing, travel, yoga, kayaking, soccer, stunt kites, dark chocolate and onsen (not necessarily in that order).
2) Please tell us a bit about your family, friends and surroundings?
I grew up in Michigan, went to UofM, lived and worked in Japan for a while, went to law school in Boston and moved to California in '04. I love living in California and plan to stay. I now work at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati as a corporate attorney (mergers, venture financing, etc.) and I just bought a house in Woodside, which I love very much. I'm having fun this summer learning the Woodside trails and making the new house into a home. My boyfriend, Jason, and I spend most of our time traveling to various races (both local and out of state) and hanging out with our running friends. Our most recent trip took us to my second favorite state, Colorado, for the Pike's Peak Marathon, which I hope to do every year.
3) How did you start competing in figure?
I was aware of figure competitions because several runners have crossed over to the sport. I've always liked lifting weights so when I broke my ankle last fall and had to take a break from running, it seemed natural to spend more time in the gym lifting. After I found my awesome trainer, Matt Allen, the path was clear. Check out his website at www.mattallenonline.com.
4) What is your personal policy (not what the judges want) about conditioning and muscularity when coming into a show? Soft or hard?
I aim to be in the physical condition that is most flattering for my body structure. That tends to be a little bit on the harder side. I do not like backing off my training to get softer for what some say is desirable for a show, so I don't.
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 am so new to figure that it is difficult for me to say at this point. I think the judges are clear about certain aspects of what they look for and less clear about others. This may be a transition phase in the sport during which the judges themselves are still developing the criteria they wish to promote, and which will work best for the sport in the U.S.
6) For the next shows what do you think you need to work on physique-wise/conditioning-wise? If anything!
Physique and conditioning-wise, I think I need to continue working hard as I have done for previous shows. Since I'm new, I still find being on stage and being judged rather nerve-racking so the real thing I need to work on is getting rid of the nerves, relaxing and letting my strengths shine on the stage. This is my major challenge for the next show.
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?
To detail my entire work-out plan would take pages, but generally, I'll hit back one day, legs one day and chest/shoulders one day, probably with 3-5 sets of 15-20 reps per weight. I'll cycle through these more or less frequently depending on how things are looking and what my trainer feels is appropriate. Pre-show I'd definitely do at least one session of cardio per day and possibly two. My trainer advises laying off the races pre-show, which is the most difficult pre-show challenge for me because I love racing so much! ;)
8) What is your pre-contest diet? (per day, 1 week before the show)
Generally, lots of fish and low carbs. One week out I like to eat foods that are easy to digest so I cut down on chicken, red meat and veggies.
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.
10) What motivates you to train/diet and compete? Are there any competitors you looked up to?
11) Please tell us an interesting experience you had at a show recently, be it a fun thing or something rather not so fun?
Nothing specific stands out, but I love meeting all the women there and making new friends. Everyone is so amazing. No matter what the results, everyone there has already won before the show even starts. The USAs did make for an interesting first trip to Vegas, however… ;)
12) What is your personal opinion about the figure, fitness, bodybuilding industry we are in? Anything you would like to see changed?
Being new, I haven't had much time to assess the industry as a whole. At this point, my hope is that figure leans toward a harder, more cut and athletic look, rather than heading toward a softer look. I also hope that the industry does everything in its power to promote natural bodybuilding - drugs have no place in a world of athletes striving for physical perfection!
13) What has been your hardest challenge to overcome either in your personal life or competing career?
With respect to figure competition, the challenge for me is finding the time and the balance between training and everything else I want to do - I'd say the trick is to pick an on-season and off-season, and devote yourself to figure completely while you're on-season… but I'm still working on that!
14) Did you make any changes to your contest prep for your last show? Water intake, carbing up, etc...
I did. In the few days before the show, I did not have red meat as I previously did. It was too hard to digest and I think cutting that out helped a lot.
15) What do you think of bikini division?
I like it! I think the girls work hard and look great, and it adds a fun element to the entire show.
16) What are your favorite foods to eat right after you compete on a Saturday night?
Ironically, the thing I want most after a show is not food but sleep! The next day I'm game for a good burger though. ;)
17) Please tell us about how you were raised and did you have any interesting experiences while growing up?
I'd say I was raised by liberal parents in a traditional suburbia. They let me pick my own path. I'm thankful for that.
18) Do you have an athletic background? Gymnastics, soccer, volleyball or what?
When I was very little I did gymnastic. I wish I had stuck with that - it was so much fun! I grew up playing soccer (and recently started playing again). I also had a few seasons of track, basketball, cross country and volleyball mixed in, and I dabbled in some other sports like Tae Kwon Do along the way. I'm also a certified BodyPump instructor and like doing BodyPump classes a lot. I've always considered myself an athlete, though I've certainly gone through periods where I was focused on other things like school and work.
19) What is a typical day in the life of Erika Kikuchi? From waking up to until going to bed?
When I'm not training for a show, I decide day by day what type of work-out I want to do. I like to mix it up. I generally wake up early and do some sort of work-out, whether it be weights, or a run through the hills or a swim in the pool. After that, I hit the office. On the way home, I do a different work-out from the morning or decide to take it easy. I especially like to do double race weekends, with a longer trail race on Saturday morning followed by a short road race Sunday morning. In '08, my first year of running, I ran 69 races and in '09, I ran 88 races (with more than 3 months off due to the broken foot)! The races vary from track meets to trail 50ks. I hope to keep running until I die. It's my favorite way to explore nature, meet people and stay in shape.
20) What is your current occupation? Please tell us more about it, what do you specifically do in your job?
I mostly counsel private company clients in all stages of their growth from angel investments through M&A or IPO liquidation exits. The job is almost as intense as preparing for a figure competition! ;)