20 Questions with our Cover Model Karen Zaremba
1) Please introduce yourself? What makes you special? Who is Karen Zaremba?
I am 41 years old and a wife and Mother. I've been married 12 years this Fall and have two awesome kids. I have a good balance in my life between my family and training/competing and being a fitness model. No matter what , my husband and kids always come first.
2) Please tell us a bit about your family and your surroundings?
I live in Clinton Twp. MI. I love Spring thru Fall but hate the winter. I get in a funk when it's cold and gray outside. I have some great friends, mostly from the gym that are fun to be around and very supportive. I'm surrounded by my family all except one brother that lives out in CA. My husbands family are a bit more scattered.
3) Tell us about your musical taste, what are you and your husband Dan's favorite bands? I hear you two enjoy one of my favorite bands Iron Maiden, any favorite songs?
Dan and I are total headbangers. We love Iron Maiden. My favorite songs are The Trooper, Run to the Hills, and Number of the Beast. I had 8th row, center tickets to Ozzfest but passed on going because it was the Thursday before the Team U. Maiden was there along with Black Sabbath, another of my favorite bands. It was worth missing since I won my pro card...I think...(smile)!!
4) What is your personal policy (not what the judges want) about conditioning and muscularity when coming into a show? Soft or hard?
I personally don't think Figure competitors should be soft. How do train to and diet to be soft? When I step on stage I want to look like I made a huge effort and sacrifice to get myself in that kind of shape. It's a sport so I want to look like a muscular and lean athlete not a bikini model.
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? I must admit it has gotten harder to tell who is the winner from behind the camera.
I don't think it will ever be clear exactly what a competitor should like like. I think they look for great shape meaning the lines of the body flow nicely from head to toe. You need the taper, a small waist and full legs to get that shape. The only thing I can figure out is that someone who has a very tiny waist genetically doesn't need to be that muscular to get the V taper. I don't have a super tiny waist so I have to build my shoulders, back and quads to achieve that physique. That's the only way I can explain why there is such a mixture of hard and soft physiques in a top 5 line up. Who really knows this is just my theory. I would love to see a judge answer this question!
6) For the next shows what do you think you need to work on physique-wise/conditioning-wise? If anything!
For my first pro show I will do everything the same. Keep working on my back and legs to keep them full. I was told at the Figure Nationals that my abs were too developed and I got marked down for it. I may back of training my abs a bit even though I love them.
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 training routine goes something like this.
8) What is your pre-contest diet? (per day, 1 week before the show)
My pre contest diet goes like this. 10-8 weeks out all
high carb days, 200g of carbs and 140-150g of protein broken down into
5 meals. 5 weeks out 3:1 high/low. Low carb day is 100g of carbs keeping
the protein the same. 4-2 weeks out 2:1 high/low.
9) How do you go about dropping your water before the day of the show? Please be specific.
Up until the final week I drink at least 1 gallon of water/day. Starting the Wed. before the contest I increase it to 2 gallons/day of sodium free Spring water. Friday back to 1 gallon from morning till noon. From noon till 9pm 1/2 gallon. No more water after 9pm, only sips. I set aside 16oz to sip on Friday night until after prejudging. Along with cutting water I also deplete sodium. All my food is sodium free starting after my 4th meal on Wed. My chicken is all natural and boiled to get out all the sodium.
10) What motivates you to train/diet and compete? Are there any competitors you look up to?
I'm motivated simply by how I look and feel as a result of training and eating clean regularly. What motivates me to compete is the challenge and the journey of getting myself in the absolute best shape possible, as close to perfect as I can get. Being on stage at the end of the journey is such a rush for me. People always ask me if it's worth all the hard work and I answer,without a doubt,yes! Competitors that I look up to are the ones that are more muscular. My favorite is Monica Brant.
11) Please tell us an interesting experience you had at a show recently, be it a fun thing or something rather not so fun?
Everything about being in a contest is an interesting and exciting experience. A few highlights this year are meeting Susie Oatmeyer who will be a life long friend of mine and who will be one of the best pros around soon. Meeting Mo in Chicago and sharing half my food with him because he had none, long story! Meeting JC and working with him. Meeting several people from WPW and doing a lot of work with them. I think the best experience for me was hanging out with Susie and her friends at the Team U. Susie, Maggie, Alia and Cynthia all treated me like one of the gang. They shared my excitement of winning my pro card. My husband was there but I didn't have the rest of my family or my friends back home to celebrate with. I had them and they have no idea how special they made that night for me and I am very grateful to all of them. Thanks to their trainer Randy too!
12) What is your personal opinion about the figure, fitness, bodybuilding industry we are in? Anything you would like to see changed?
The Fitness industry is crazy that's all I can say. Be a part of it because you enjoy it and like the challenge of it but I certainly wouldn't "drop everything" for the industry in the hopes of making it big. There is no future in the business. It is short lived and the athletes don't make money from it, pro or not. It should be a small part of your life, something great to look back on but it should never be your whole life at the expense of a real future.
13) You are a very experienced model. What could you tell other girls that are starting to do photoshoots any advice about preparing for a shoot?
I would never do a photo shoot unprepared! All the images you take will show up somewhere and you wouldn't want bad pics of you popping up. Take it seriously as doing a shoot is a great opportunity. I prepare for a shoot much like a contest, except for the strict dieting. I pay attention to detail with hair, makeup, nails etc. I always tan so I have nice color. I always bring several outfits and shoes. Bottom line, be professional but have fun with it and never do anything you're not comfortable with. I also recommend taking someone with you to a shoot especially if it's a photographer you don't know.
14) From Jr. USA's to Jr. Nationals what changes did you make in your body? What about from Jr. Nationals to Team Universe Figure Nationals?
I went into the Jr. USA's very tight and lean. I weighed about 120lbs. Got great feedback but maybe I could have been a tad bit softer, a couple pounds heavier but that was a "maybe"?? For Jr. Nats I went in fuller and not as lean. I weighed about 122-123lbs. Did great there too. Troponin and I agreed that we like my physique better being full, tight and lean not softer so I went into the Team U tighter and leaner than I've ever been. It's a good look for me.
15) What is your opinion about the 20% rule the IFBB issued to some female athletes? Why do you think they did it? Do you think competitors will follow it? Or it will get lost around somewhere?
The 20% rule may save the sport of Female Bodybuilding Many woman left the sport because they weren't willing to do what it takes to be competitive Nationally. It's a look that some woman don't want. From what I've seen judges are looking for 20% less and awarding them. Same goes for Figure. Hopefully that will stay consistent so competitors are clear on how to get ready for a contest. having said that I do feel bad for the woman who have achieved a pro physique through years of hard work before the 20% rule and are now being penalized for it.
16) Personally I get to shoot with many competitors and I must admit you are one of my favorite ones to work with. Not only do you have a great physique and pretty face but your personality is so easy to be around. What is the secret to your success?
There really is no secret. I'm just doing what I have a passion for. I'm being myself, what you see is what you get with me, goofy and all. I am a very happy, secure and confident person and I make the most of any opportunities that come my way. I always give 100% in the things I do.
17) Please tell us about how you were raised and did you have any interesting experiences while growing up?
I was born and raised in Detroit MI with my parents and two brothers and two sisters. I'm the middle child. My Dad is a retired Detroit police officer and my Mom stayed home with us. We all went to a Catholic school. My parents were strict but I had a great childhood with lots of great memories. We are a very close family, I'm lucky.
18) Do you have an athletic background? Gymnastics, soccer, volleyball or what?
What didn't I do? I was a cheerleader, I started running track in the 6th grade. I played basketball and volleyball from Elementary school through HS. I was awarded the best female athlete my Senior year. I got a scholarship to college for track and field, indoor and outdoor. I also ended up running cross country for the first time and was the captain of my team and the top runner my Senior year.
19) What is a typical day in the life of Karen Zaremba? From waking up to until going to bed?
My days are quite full. After I get the kids to school I go to the gym. After that I get my errands done. I go home, clean up the house, do laundry and make dinner. I get it all done so when my kids come home they get all my attention. After the kids are in bed I enjoy my alone time with Dan. I also take art classes at the Community College when I can. Another one of my passions!
20) Last one I promise... What is your current occupation? Please tell us more about it, what do specifically do in your job?
My current occupation is Stay home Mom! I have a BS degree in Biology and before I had kids worked as a Cytogenetic Technologist, chromosome analysis for prenatal diagnosis. I worked for the Wayne State School of Medicine then for the Detroit Medical Center. Raising my two kids and being the best wife and Mother I can be is my full time job now and boy what a rewarding job it is!!!