1) Please introduce yourself? What makes you special? Who is Tonya Burkhardt?
I am an all American girl from Ohio originally, before moving to Charlotte 9 years ago. I have always been very active and outgoing which is great in fitness and my career.
2) Please tell us a bit about your family, friends and surroundings?
I have a younger brother and sister. We all have relocated to the Carolinas including my cousins and parents over the last 15 years. Most of my friends are involved in some kind of competitive activities and are scattered all over the USA. Whether it is bodybuilding, figure, fitness, triathlons or cycling it gives us a huge bond.
3) How did you start competing in fitness?
I was in the gym in Charlotte shortly after I moved here and had a bodybuilder approach me and ask if I had ever thought about competing in Fitness. I had a gymnastics coach in high school mention it to me as well, but didn’t really think about it until I was in college.
4) What is your personal policy (not what the judges want) about conditioning and muscularity when coming into a show? Soft or hard?
I feel at my best when I’m tight and tiny. I like to be lean, but not too vascular.
5) What is your idea of what judges want in a fitness 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.
I think the judges want to see great conditioning and symmetry but not too much muscle. As for being clear on what they want, I feel it changes every show. It really depends on who shows up and how everyone looks compared to each other. This sport is very subjective and opinionated so its difficult to come up with guidelines.
6) For the next shows what do you think you need to work on physique-wise/conditioning-wise? If anything!
I feel my physique needs to be a little tighter, but most of my work needs to be on my routine difficulty and cleanliness.
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?
I usually wake up and do morning cardio at home on my road bike or elliptical for 40-60 minutes. In the afternoons I do weight training, routine practice or more cardio. Usually lifting about every other day.
I lift 3 days a week:
Shoulder Press 4x 12-15 reps superset with body weight squats
Side and front laterals 4x 10 reps superset with step ups
Rear delt pulls 4x 15 reps superset with abs
Upright rows 3x 15 reps
Chest press 4x15 reps superset with reverse crunches
Incline DB press 4x 15 reps superset with pop squats
10-15 Pushups superset with body weight dips on the bench
Walking lunges 20 per leg super set with plyo pushups
Day3: Back, legs and arms
Single Leg extensions 4x 15 reps superset with straight bar curls 4x15 reps
Single leg hamstring curls 4x 12-15 reps super set with Hyperextensions 4x10 reps
Assisted Pull ups 4x10-12 reps superset with assisted dips 4x15 reps
Bent over rows with straight bar 4x 20 reps superset with Roman chair leg lifts 4x 12-15 reps
Straight leg dead lifts 3x20 reps superset with twisting crunches 4x 15 each side
Squats alternating wide leg and regular stance 4x 20
Cardio goes up to about 2 hrs a day the last 4-6 weeks before a show. That includes routine practice though.
8) What is your pre-contest diet? (per day, 1 week before the show)
My diet changes the last week every show I do. Most recently though I would eat grapefruit, rice cakes, tuna, asparagus, steak, and oatmeal.
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.
I usually start cutting water 1-2 days before the show. I drink 1.5 gallons/day up until 2 days out and then I cut it in half and in half again. On show day I usually drink 30-50 oz.
10) What motivates you to train/diet and compete? Are there any competitors you looked up to?
Most of my motivation comes from wanting to challenge my body to the extremes that we all do. It’s great seeing the changes that my body goes through along the way. Some motivation comes from other competitors and fans that are motivated by me to make themselves better. I look up to Adela Garcia and Tanji Johnson a lot because of how much they have changed and advanced in the sport over the years. Tanji also has a great idea with Save Fitness.
11) Please tell us an interesting experience you had at a show recently, be it a fun thing or something rather not so fun?
Not so fun. Night before the Atlantic City Pro I passed out in the middle of the night and woke up on the bathroom floor. My electrolytes were way off and I felt much better after drinking a G2 Gatorade. I wouldn’t suggest anyone try this before a show, or ever really.
12) What is your personal opinion about the figure, fitness, bodybuilding industry we are in? Anything you would like to see changed?
I love the sport and the friends I’ve made along the way. Fitness is definitely not as popular as it was a few years ago and I wish that wasn’t the case, but so many of the girls don’t want to deal with a routine anymore. I wish there was a way to change how subjective our sport is, but that’s really not possible.
13) What has been your hardest challenge to overcome either in your personal life or competing career?
The hardest challenge I’ve had is finding balance between my career and my fitness career, relationships and family. It has been a struggle and my schedule keeps changing to accommodate everything.
14) Did you make any changes to your contest prep for your last show? Water intake, carbing up, etc... any changes for your next show?
Everything's different for every show, but I think what I did for my last show worked well, so I may build on that one.
15) How do you feel about the new NPC bikini division?
I really haven’t watched much of the Bikini divisions at the shows I’ve been to, but the ones I have seen I feel the girls have been out of shape and the suits have been way too skimpy.
16) How do you balance your family life with competing and dieting for shows? Do you have a support system around you (family, etc...)?
For the most part, my family is very supportive. They have come to understand that I can’t go out to eat all the time and that I will always bring my own food with me where ever we go. As for vacations, they know there has to be a gym nearby, at least a beach to run on or a road to ride my bike down. Balancing everything in my life has been the biggest challenge this past year due to starting a new job that requires me to travel a lot. I’m also pretty big into cycling and it is a completely opposite sport to fitness due to the diet and endurance training.
17) Please tell us about how you were raised and did you have any interesting experiences while growing up?
I was raised in a suburb of Akron, Ohio and my parents always had us (my brother, sister and I) involved in something, whether it was ice skating, dance, gymnastics, music, soccer, track, church groups etc. There was a lot but it made me very well rounded in a lot of areas of life and I met a lot of people along the way. Many of whom I’m still good friends with today.
18) Do you have an athletic background? Gymnastics, soccer, volleyball or what?
Cheerleading for 12 years (2 years in college) and gymnastics. I ran track for a few years too.
19) What is a typical day in the life of Tonya Burkhardt? From waking up to until going to bed?
Wake up, eat something light, let dogs out, feed dogs and do AM cardio. Eat again, get ready for work. Pack up all my food for the day in a cooler and pack gym bag for later. I work out of my car so about every 2-3 hours I try to eat. About 5pm I head to gym for more cardio, weight training or routine practice. Get home, walk dogs, feed dogs, cook dinner and get food ready for tomorrow. Go to bed kind of early to get 8-9 hours of sleep a night.
20) What is your current occupation? Please tell us more about it, what do you specifically do in your job?
I am in Medical sales selling equipment to hospitals and cover North and South Carolina. I call on doctors, nurses and management to buy my products and teach them how to use them.