Future Fitness Star: Mandy Polk 19 years old
I have been training to compete in fitness shows for three years now, ever since I was seventeen years old. My story is very similar to that of many other girls who compete in fitness and figure; I saw contest coverage in a magazine while I was doing my cardio, and decided “I want to do that.” What makes me different from a lot of the other girls who compete is that I wanted to do it at such an early age. By the end of my junior year in high school, while other kids were eating french fries and pizza in the cafeteria and talking about who was going to go to what party that night, I was drinking my protein shake or eating a chicken breast and planning what I was going to do for my leg training after school, knowing I would need to get my rest so I could get up early and go to a cardio class.
I participated in gymnastics when I was very young and started cheerleading when I was a freshman in high school. I would estimate that's when I acquired my strong work ethic I believe I have today. My coach, Kenya Hill, has coached many teams to UCA National Championship titles, and her coaching skill is what is responsible for these wins. We would do extensive running and conditioning (including bodyweight strength movements) at every practice, in addition to routine training, tumbling, and stunting skills. I was part of two national championship squads under her tutelage until I was on the varsity team my junior year of high school. Because Kenya crafted such skill in her athletes, the varsity coach was not as demanding because he had so much talent on his squads. That was great for us girls because we could focus more on challenging stunts and strong routines, but unfortunately for me, as with others, I put on a little weight.
I resolved to lose the weight by running before or after practice, but after a while, I begged my mother to get me a gym membership so I could stay out of the Memphis heat while I did my cardio. In the weight room, I examined all of the equipment and decided that I would also do a little weight training in addition to cardio, because I thought that would help me “firm up” a little. In addition, one of the football players from my school told me that if I ate six times a day instead of three, my metabolism would speed up dramatically. When I incorporated proper nutrition and resistance training into my usual cardio/cheer practice routine, the results were dramatic! I loved the strong and lean look I possessed and more than anything, the feeling of being healthy.
I love the sport of fitness because it combines all of the things that I am passionate about. I would train to look like I do whether or not I had found this venue to showcase my physique. For me, there is no offseason. I do a little less cardio post contest, but I love the feeling I get when I work up a good sweat so I usually keep it at about three sessions a week at the least. Even when I wasn't competing, I still went to tumbling practice regularly just because it was something fun and athletic for me to do. I also really enjoy seeing the results that I get from weight training. With the routine element, I get to perform, and entertaining is one of my favorite things! I worked with Jen Hendershott on my first routine, which I performed at the 2003 Jan Tana (my first contest, I was only 18!) and at the 2004 Nationals. I hope to work with her again soon and bring a new and exciting routine to the 2005 Team Universe. I just turned 20 in January, and my goal for this year is to turn professional. My ultimate fitness goals would be to compete in the Olympia and to obtain sponsorship.
When I competed at the Jan Tana in 2003, I met IFBB judge and BeautiFit Talent Agency owner Kenny Kassel, who urged me to continue competing in fitness and told me I could really do well in the fitness industry in the future, due to my dedication to the sport at such a young age. However, after the show, I allowed a lot of negative influences to discourage me and decided that I would never compete again. I knew that it was my dream, but I also convinced myself that I should find a new one because I was told among other things, that fitness competitions were stupid and pointless, not to mention selfish. I continued to train halfheartedly and would go to gymnastics just for something to do. After about a year of this, I decided that competing in fitness was still my number one passion. I still loved to set goals for myself and motivate others. I realized that my dream to make it to the Olympia stage was still alive, and I wouldn't be satisfied until I was there. I eliminated negative influences and surrounded myself only with people who are supportive of what I choose to do. I got back in contact with Kenny who helped me devise a plan that would get me to where I wanted to be, so I started preparation for the 2004 Nationals in Dallas.
Getting first callout was a dream!! Not
only was it personally fulfilling, but it gave me satisfaction to prove
all those wrong who said that I couldn't or shouldn't go for my goals.
As for the routine round, I severely strained my hip flexor backstage
during warm up. I could see it starting to bruise up under the skin.
I had injured it in the past, but continued to push through the pain
up until that point. I realized that I was just going to have to endure
it for two more minutes, so I made myself go out and perform my whole
routine to the best of my ability. It made the strength moves very difficult!
After I returned home from Dallas, I realized that in order to turn
pro, I would need to complete a perfect routine, injury-free, and bring
up my legs. I have since rehabbed my injury and added the size to my
legs I feel I needed. Of course, I will never be 100 % satisfied with
my physique, but I definitely know that it has improved. I am looking
forward to the 2005 Team Universe and hope that I will bring the best
package that Mandy Polk has to offer!