1) Please introduce yourself? What makes you special? Who is Amanda Iannelli?
I come from a sizeable and close-knit Italian family back on the east coast in Jersey. They are loving, selfless, loud, opinionated, and wonderful people! Ever see the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”? Its kinda like that haha. My parents, by the grace of God, are still married after 26 years, my grandparents are still vibrant and young at heart, and my younger brother is serving our country proudly as a marine helicopter pilot. I get to go back and see them a few times year since I live in Missouri. Its not enough, but it will have to do for now. I have an extended family here though. My friends are such a blessing and are very supportive of everything I do. They refer to me as the crazy, busy, fun friend since I am always trying something new and travel so much. I have a close group of girlfriends from college that are like my sisters. We are all spread out, but keep in touch often and get together at least once a year. My girlfriends here are great and are always there for me either to go dancing or vent when i am frustrated about something. I also have a good group of guy friends who are like brothers and take good care of me. Being away from my family, its nice to feel like I have one here.
As i mentioned, I used to compete in figure and fitness. I won at the state level several times and went to NPC Junior Nationals twice. I placed top five in both fitness and figure. I competed from 2004-2007 doing several contests a year. I decided to take a season off, then I hurt my back and ended up taking a second season off. I didn’t know if I would come back to competing or not. There were days where I didn’t even get out of bed when my back flared up. It hurt too bad. It was enough just to shuffle to the bathroom. There was no way I could work out. After a few months I was able to start doing the elliptical and some pilates type movements for core stability. My body became less muscular, but not out of shape. I was still eating well and doing the light workouts. After about 8 months I started doing light weights again. I really missed competing but there was no way I could do a fitness routine. I knew my limitations in that area. Also, since I couldn’t lift as heavy, I was not near muscular enough to compete in figure. But I had heard about the bikini division and thought that sounded like a perfect fit. I tightened my diet up and started training a bit more specifically, as much as I could, and decided to do the MO State Show about 4 weeks from the day. I just wanted to see how it went and if I liked this category and did well, I would train more and do more shows. I ended up placing second at the NPC state show but really wanted to try an all natural federation. I signed up for worlds in Vegas with FAME and WNSO. I trained and dieted harder and longer this time, and I ended up winning the open World Championship! I decided to stick with WNSO and try and earn my pro card.....which I did this past March at FAME West in Vancouver!
I think that for bikini it is about a total package. Your hair and make-up, color, and suit should all be tip top. You should look like you are ready to shoot for sports illustrated. As far as body composition, I think that athletic, firm, good symmetry and a tight rear are necessary. It is different from a figure physique in that it is not as muscular and a bit more feminine. Bikini shouldn’t be soft like you just walked in off the street without any training, but should definitely not be as hard as a figure competitor. Thats why there is a separate category. Bikini and figure are not the same, and I don’t believe that a girl who places well in one should do well in the other because the look is supposed to be so different. You have to choose which look you are trying to achieve and stick with it and perfect it. Some judges have a hard time differentiating between the two I think.
5) What is your idea of what judges want in a bikini 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.
Judges definitely look for stage presence, personality, and confident posing. That much, I think they all agree on. What I think they have a hard time deciding, as I mentioned earlier, is how muscular and hard they want the bikini girls to be. You can go to one show where the girl who wins looks like she should be doing figure....very hard, and super muscular and lean. Then you can go to a show in the same federation and a girl who decided to do the show a week before without any specific dieting or training will win with a soft and curvy look. It makes it hard on competitors because it is confusing. We base our diets and training on a certain end result that we are trying to achieve. If it is lean and hard, we train one way. If it is athletic and tight but not too hard, we do things differently. At this point, with the bikini division, you just have to go in looking your personal best and hope it is what the judges want at that show. It makes things a bit more stressful.
6) For the next shows what do you think you need to work on physique-wise/conditioning-wise? If anything!
I have a short torso, so I am constantly trying to tighten my mid-section and narrow my waistline. Double sessions of cardio and a diet lean in carbs seems to do the trick. I also only do core exercises that lengthen and tighten my abs....nothing weighted, and I don’t work my obliques specifically. I also practice poses that make my waist look smaller. Posing can make or break you in a contest in my opinion.
Before a show, I do two 30 min cardio sessions a day. Either power walking or the elliptical. I can’t do high-impact things because of my back. I break my lifting up into 3 days. I alway lift circuit-style to get added calorie burning.
Monday is legs/Abs: Hamstring curls (55 lbsx 10), Quad Extensions (70 lbs x10), Plank hold (1 min), Walking lunges (10 lb dumbells x 20), Roman Chair Reverse Crunches ( x 15), seated leg press (115 lbs x 10), calf raises ( x 10 each). I do these back to back, rest 1 min, then go again for a total of 3 rounds.
Tuesdays is Bi’s and Tri’s: Front Curls (10 lbs x 10), Side Curls (10 lb x 10), Inside Curls (10 lbs x 10), Tri kickbacks (10 lbs x 10), Tri Overhead Extensions (25 lb x 10), Dips (x8). Rest one min, repeat for a total of 3 rounds.
Wednesday is just cardio.
Thursdays is chest, back, and shoulders: Incline press (45 lbs x 10), Lat pull-downs (65 lbs x 10), Lateral Raises (10 lb dumbells x 10), Incline flys (10 lb dumbells x 10), Rows (on incline bench w/15 lb dumbells x 10), Seated Press (20 lb dumbells x 10), Rear Delt Raises on incline bench (7.5 lb dumbells x 10). Rest one minute, repeat for a total of 3 rounds.
Friday and Saturday are just cardio and I often do some ab work one of the days. Sunday is a day of rest. If it is the week of a show, I lift mon, tues, wed, and take thurs, fri, sat off. Same goes for cardio.
There are many different ways to diet the week of a show. I have found that this works for me. Mon-Wed is the same carb. deplete diet of 5 oz chicken breast with any seasoning and 6-8 asparagus spears 6 times a day with a scoop of protein before bed. Thurs and Fri I carb load. I still eat chicken (but plain this time) 6 times a day, but I alternate brown rice and sweet potatoes instead of the asparagus. No protein shakes either. Then on Saturday morning I eat 3/4 cup of oatmeal with honey and a banana. Then I eat 2 rice cakes with natural peanut butter and jelly about 30 min before pre judging. The rest of my meals that day depends on how I look.
Water is different for everyone. I drink a gallon a day all the way til Thursday. Then half a gallon on Thurs. Friday and Saturday I just drink 3-4 oz of water with each meal until after the evening show is over. I learned that If I am not taking in some water that my body won’t expel any. Instead it will try and hold on to what it has. That’s why I don’t ever stop drinking water completely.
I loved competing at FAME Worlds and West because WNSO is a global federation and there are always so many awesome people to meet. I have friends in Canada, Australia, South Africa, England, etc. from competing in that federation. We all keep in touch on Facebook, and when we come together to compete its like we never missed a beat. Everyone is so helpful and like a big family. It is the warmest group of people you will meet backstage at a show!
12) What is your personal opinion about the figure, fitness, bodybuilding industry we are in? Anything you would like to see changed?
The major down fall of the industry right now is the politics in certain federations. When people are sponsored by certain companies, work for certain photographers, etc. they can be judged with a unfair advantage, even if someone else clearly deserves the top spot. I have seen it time and time again, especially at the pro level. In an ideal world there would be a more even and objective playing field where the specifications for each category were very clear, the judges judged by those set standards, and the best athlete won. As a new pro it can be discouraging to know that certain shows you enter may already be decided depending on who is competing. No federation is perfect and I plan on branching out and trying other federations besides WNSO. However, it would be nice for all of them to be fair and equal...but as I said, that would be ideal.
The eating disorders were my major emotional and mental obstacle. No matter how thin I got all I could see was a fat girl in the mirror. I became obsessed with losing weight. I had to restructure my thinking, learn how to eat and be healthy, and how much exercise was enough. I really do believe God helped me out of that one, but it wasn’t easy and I struggled for years. The biggest physical obstacle has been this back injury. After the initial injury I had to back off of certain activities. Even now I have occasional flare-ups that make me have to give up my work-outs for a few days at a time. But, I didn’t want the injury to take over my life and dictate my eery more. Sure, there are certain things I have to stay away from when I work out and certain activities like gymnastics and running that are out for me. But I haven’t given up my training, I just restructured it. I have taken rest when my body needs it and pushed it when I felt I could. I had to change categories but I kept competing and it paid off. I truly believe that your attitude is what dictates your outcome, not your obstacle.
14) Did you make any changes to your contest prep for your last show? Water intake, carbing up, etc...
I used to go no carb for the whole week before a show with only one meal of carbs the morning of the show. I also started cutting water on the monday before the show. The way I do it now, as I described earlier, is actually easier on my body and I get better results.
I enjoy the bikini division and am thankful that there is a class where the women are not expected to be as muscular or hard. It is much better for my body and also allows me to be very marketable all year for the modeling and acting I do. I don’t have to go through the gaining phases in training where you are 20 lbs heavier....that was always my least favorite thing about training for figure and fitness. I had to look really thick and horrible while trying to gain muscle to look really good, lean and hard after trimming down for a show. It is especially difficult as a natural competitor. It took a lot of the right calories and protein, and a lot of heavy weight training for me to gain even 1 lb of muscle. Now, I stay within 5 lbs of contest weight all year and its is much easier to maintain. I usually eat pretty healthy and exercise. Since I work all the time, there really isn’t an off-season for me.
16) What are your favorite foods to eat right after you compete on a Saturday night?
Oh my, loaded question! I would have to say chocolate....dark chocolate peanut m&m’s are always in my bag for after awards :) Then Sushi is a must and let’s not forget Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt!
17) Please tell us about how you were raised and did you have any interesting experiences while growing up?
My mom is a travel agent, so I developed a love of traveling at a very young age. My first plane ride was at 5 years old. We went to Disney World in Orlando. My first international trip was on a cruise to Jamaica and the Bahamas when I was about 12. So, traveling for shows, work, or just for fun is always a blast. I love visiting new cities, meeting new people, and traveling the globe. In the last few years I have been to Nicaragua on a missions trip and to Canada for a competition. I am hoping to go to europe this year as well. My life goal is to visit every continent!
18) Do you have an athletic background? Gymnastics, soccer, volleyball or what?
Thanks to mom and dad I was introduced to athletics right out of the gate. I started gym and swim when I was about a year old, ballet, tap, jazz, and gymnastics at 4, soccer in first grade, cheerleading by fifth grade. I played softball through grade school and my dad even coached. I stuck with cheerleading all the way through college. I also ran track in high school and college. After college I still wanted something to train for and compete in, as lifetime athletes often do. Thats when I got into competing in figure and fitness.
Every day is totally different. I have different clients scheduled at different times, attend different social events, and am always working on a different project. I am also out of town pretty often. However, on a “normal” day right now, I wake up about 7 or 8 am, do my cardio, make a good breakfast, train a few clients, update my twitter, facebook, and bodyproud pages, train weights...then research, attend acting class, or work on my website during the evening. I usually pre-cook food in the evening for the following day if I need to.
I was a firefighter for six years. After my back injury I decided to work for myself and go after my passions. Now, I do several things. First, I am a personal trainer/life coach. I do private sessions at people’s residences or small gyms. I also consult people via phone and internet. It could be anything from weight loss, to contest prep, to self esteem issues that we work on. I also model and act, so I attend classes, go to auditions, and travel here and there for different jobs. That has always been something part-time, but I am working on making more consistent work out of it. Also, now that I am a pro, I am working on product endorsements and sponsorships so that I can travel and compete more often. If I had to sum it up, i’m an entrepaneur who loves trying different things....a “jill” of all trades :)