20 Questions with Cover Model and Pro Figure Darlene Escano
1) Please introduce yourself? What makes you special? Who is Darlene Escano?
Darlene Escano-Williams (I married my soul mate in 2011) is a Filipino Australian living in South Australia.
I guess what makes me special is that I am the first Australian to ever win the amateur overall figure title at the Arnold Classic. I achieved this in 2011, which won me my pro card. This was such a huge achievement as I have only been in the competitive circuit for a short time.
2) Please tell us a bit about your family, friends and surroundings?
I was born in Philippines, grew up in Papua New Guinea and moved to Australia when I was 8 years old.
I am one of three children of a very close family. I moved to South Australia 3 years ago to be with my now husband. We met on Facebook :)
I have met so many wonderful people in my life who have made such a positive impact in so many different ways. I try to surround myself with like minded positive people.
3) How did you start competing in figure?
An ex boyfriend took me to a body building show where I saw a beautiful line up of figure girls. I was instantly inspired and was so envious of how fit, toned and stunning they looked on stage. It was the motivation that I needed to step up my training at the time.
I went on to compete in my first competition 1 year after.
4) What is your personal policy (not what the judges want) about conditioning and muscularity when coming into a show? Soft or hard?
As hard as my contest prep can be I have to enjoy it. That is my only policy. I came into competing because I love the sport. Once it becomes a chore I tend to lose focus and get stressed. My goal is to come in lean, hard and confident with my condition.
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.
Some times it is hard to know what the judges are looking for. It seems to be slightly different at different shows. I have heard the European judges like the leaner harder look. It would make it easier if there was consistency across the board.
What I tend to do is look at the top 5 of the previous winners of each show and try to figure out what condition these judges would look for in the next show.
6) For the next shows what do you think you need to work on physique-wise/conditioning-wise? If anything!
I was happy with my Arnolds condition in 2011 and aim to be in the similar condition in my next show. I felt I was too smooth in my Olympia debut last year. I certainly learnt my lesson for my future competitions.
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?
In the off season I train 4-5 days a week. Cardio every other day. During comp. I train 5-6 days a week. Cardio twice a day approximately 40-60 mins in one session depending on how I look.
With my training in the off season I tend to go with how I feel. I mainly train one body part a session, 3-4 sets, 10-12 reps.
Leading up to a comp. I will train one body part of a large muscle group and also small muscle group a session, 3-4 sets, 12 -15 reps.
The key is to keep the intensity up. I go into the gym to train and get out to eat and recover.
8) What is your pre-contest diet? (per day, 1 week before the show)
Typically one week before my comp. I will have 30g of oats in the morning and the rest of my 4 meals will be fish and greens.
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.
The day before the show I sip as I need maximum 1 litre throughout the day including show day. Backstage 1 hour before the show I will drink a bottle of Gatorade with L-Arginine to increase blood flow to my muscles.
10) What motivates you to train/diet and compete? Are there any competitors you looked up to?
My main motivation is to do the best I can, challenge myself mentally and physically and I want to make my husband, family and friends proud.
There are so many figure competitors I look up to. They all inspire me in different ways. Years ago I saw a picture of Monica Brant in a BSN protein ad. Her physique was just stunning and made me want to be just like her.
11) Please tell us an interesting experience you had at a show recently, be it a fun thing or something rather not so fun?
Meeting Arnold after the show in Columbus Ohio was a surreal experience. I was glad that my husband was there to share it with me.
Also at the Olympia remember sitting in the change rooms with the other figure pros like Felicia Romero, Ava Cowan, Larissa Reis and more thinking, wow, I can't believe I'm here with these amazing women. I've admired these women and their physiques for years in magazines and I am her amongst them!
12) What is your personal opinion about the figure, fitness, bodybuilding industry we are in? Anything you would like to see changed?
Consistency in knowing what the judges are looking for whether it is a state, national or international show.
13) What has been your hardest challenge to overcome either in your personal life or competing career?
My hardest challenge would have to be sticking to my diet.
14) Did you make any changes to your contest prep for your last show? Water intake, carbing up, etc...
I found I cut my sodium too early in my last show which made me hold water and smoothed me out. I took this as a learning experience.
15) What do you think of bikini division?
I think the bikini girls are proving to be quite popular. These girls train and diet as hard as the other competitors and deserve to be up there on stage at their best. I do think some competitors look border line figure and I'm not too sure what the judges look for.
16) What are your favorite foods to eat right after you compete on a Saturday night?
I crave all sorts of foods after a show. I had a Thurminator (a massive hamburger named after Arnold) at the Thurman Cafe in Ohio after the Arnolds. I couldn't even finish half of it!
17) Please tell us about how you were raised and did you have any interesting experiences while growing up?
Being the middle child and first born girl in the house I grew up helping my mother around the house a lot. Back then I felt I was being hard done by compared to my brother and sister but when I look back at it now I am grateful for what my mother had taught me.
18) Do you have an athletic background? Gymnastics, soccer, volleyball or what?
I used to play all sorts of sport when I was young and in high school. When I was little my parents enrolled me in ballet and dance school but I was too much of a tomboy to continue. I played competitive tennis and loved track and field.
19) What is a typical day in the life of Darlene Escano? From waking up to until going to bed?
On a typical day I would be up at 4:30 or 5am and start my day doing cardio either at home or at the gym. Feed my two beautiful Stafford shire dogs, get ready for work and out the door by 7:15am and at work by 8:15. As soon as 5pm hits I'm out the door and in the gym by 5:30pm. Out the gym by 6:45 and home by 8. I prepare my last meal of the day and also my meals for the following day. If there isn't any thing interesting on the TV I'll be in bed by 10.
20) What is your current occupation? Please tell us more about it, what do you specifically do in your job?
I currently work in administration at the University of South Australia. I help students with all things regarding their education.
My hours are 9 to 5. As soon as the clock strikes 5 I'm out the door and can think about myself and my training.
Previously I was working as a personal trainer but found my own training suffered too much. Working in a non gym environment gives me balance.