James Collier: Hi Andi, it's great to have top competitors such as yourself posting on MT so thanks for agreeing to take part in this interview for us!
I see you've been competing in fitness and figure events for a number of years now, but especially so in the last two and have some great titles under your hat. Would you briefly summarise these for us?
1998 winner NABBA fitness Northern Ireland
1998 winner NABBA figure Northern Ireland
2004 winner NABBA fitness Northern Ireland
2004 winner NABBA fitness Britain
2004 winner NPA Miss Trained Figure, best presentation, female overall
2004 winner WWF Miss Universe (Germany)
2004 winner/joint EFBB fitness Warrington
2004 winner NABBA Miss Fitness Universe
2004 winner NPA British Trained Figure, best presentation, overall
2004 winner UIBBN world champ Trained Figure (Italy)
2004 6th WABBA World Miss Shape (India)
2005 winner NABBA Britain fitness
2005 winner London Expo International, best presentation and overall
2006 winner NABBA Miss Toned Figure
2006 winner WPF Miss Toned Figure
2006 third Miss Toned Figure Britain
JC: What made you decide to start fitness and weight training and move into competitive bodybuilding?
AB: I have always been involved in sports at both regional and international levels from a very young age, my parents were both gymnastic coaches and judges, so being involved at a high level in any of my sports was inevitable, but to get involved in bodybuilding was really a bit of fun initially. An ex boyfriend was a hard weight trainer and trained with my good friend (to this day, training partner Stephen Stewart) and they both encouraged me to give the Miss Figure a go back in 1998 but I also did the fitness too. Winning both, but found out i was carrying Ashtyn my first child so did not make it to the British that year.
JC: Where about are you from and where do you train?
AB: I live in Carrickfergus about 24 miles away from the gym I train in normally called PHOENIX in Newtownards. At present i am the only girl training there.
JC: Are you married and do you have a family?
AB: Not married, I'm single and enjoying life. I have two adorable children that take up most off my time in between training etc; Ashytn who is 7 and Drew who is just 3.
JC: How do people outside of bodybuilding circles react to you as a bodybuilder and your bodybuilding lifestyle?
AB: To be honest they laugh lol! I'm too tiny and petite to be taken too seriously i think it's not until they read my competition history, etc and see video or pics of me on stage until it really sinks in that i have achieved more than most in such a short space of time. It's been great to be competing all these years but even better that I have been winning. I hope to change my look slightly over the next year and try to gain half a stone lol; wow can you imagine me trying to eat?!!
JC: What's next for you in your competitive career? Have you got any shows coming up?
AB: I am aiming for the NABBA Figure Class 2 in March 2007, I have been asked to guest pose again for the third year running at the Ireland NABBA show, but I'm gonna wait until I see how my back is feeling before i commit myself.
JC: I have heard you do a number of guest spots. Can you give us some examples please and what's it like being a guest rather than a regular competitor?
AB: Guest spots have included the NABBA North West 2004, NABBA Northern Ireland 2005, NABBA Ireland 2004, 2005 Limerick show, 2005 a charity show in Dublin, IBFA 2005, a couple of strong man shows 2005 … I hope i haven't forgot any! I really enjoy the guest shows, it's lovely not to get overly nervous and enjoy chatting to everyone. I have been known to be a bit of a bubbly chatterbox (even when competing) always smiling and having a laugh, so being a guest just amplifies all that for me!
JC: What's your ultimate goal in bodybuilding competitions?
AB: Oh gosh!!! I not sure.....errrrr would be really nice to place at the British NABBA Figure Class 2! Or to work hard enough to get a place at the Universe in figure some year. But let's be realistic for now and let's say to place at the British would make me just mighty happy!!
JC: Off season do you like to stay relatively lean or do you bulk up a fair bit?
AB: lol poor me!! I'm totally always on season look. I'm not lucky enough to have an off season look but i understand totally that things will have to change now i am thinking of doing figure and i will need to bulk up at least a stone. I have always been the skinny type.
JC: How strict is your diet off season? Do you eat clean while trying to gain size or do you allow any junk food in your diet?
AB: I eat whatever … whenever … and again all this will have to change. I have been able to get away with my eating habits and even cheating a little on diets when doing the fitness but all that will have to stop now i gonna do the figure.
JC: How many times a week do you train and for how long?
AB: Normally I train 5 days a week for an hour and a half and when doing the fitness I also included four hours twice a week with two Romanian gymnastic coaches, cardio and then fitness testing.
JC: What kind of cardiovascular work do you do?
AB: A half hour power walk every day twice a day.
JC: Do you take part in any other sports or activities?
AB: i used to dance professionally in the clubs as a cage dancer so that all helped with my cardio, etc but i have retired. The only sport at present is my fitness/ bodybuilding, although I have done kickboxing, sports acrobatics, karate, swimming, and athletics all at international level.
JC: Very briefly, what's your typical daily pre-comp diet like?
AB: Porridge for breakfast, a tuna / chicken salad for mid morning a chicken dinner with broccoli, etc for lunch again a mid afternoon meal either tuna or lean meat and then a meat meal for dinner.
JC: Which supplements do you use? Do these differ on and off season?
AB: I use Extreme Nutrition protein, whey and carb (if needed) I take vitamin C (solar). Being sponsored by Eggnation i use the eggs!! I take BCAAs, vitamin C and B complex.
JC: Do you have a sponsor? If so who are they and in what way do they help you?
AB: Extreme Nutrition, all my whey and clothing, etc, tanning products
Maximuscle all my supps such as vitamins, etc
Eggnation for all the eggs
JC: Do you ever have problems with motivation for either sticking to your diet or for training?
AB: Oh dear i thought i might be asked this question… I am the most unmotivated person sometimes I know, I need a good kick in the butt to get me started but once I do get started, there ain't a stopping me!
JC: Do you have any useful tips to share with other MuscleTalk members whom you can draw from your experience?
AB: I think the biggest tip i can give is to always stay grounded. No one likes a show off, and I am certainly not one of those, although that's not to say i not proud of what i have achieved, etc; naturally i am. But it's always nice to be on the same level as everyone else, that's one thing I love about the sport is its friendliness ... ok we all have our competitiveness, but at the end of the day I have made some lifetime friends from the sport and staying grounded is a must.
JC: Other than training and living the Bodybuilder's lifestyle, what else do you like to do in your spare time? Do you get much time to relax?
AB: Being a full time mum I drive my kids everywhere, e.g. Monday is ballet day for Ashytn in Bangor, a town 24 mile away from home; Tuesday is Irish dancing, Wednesday is her choir; Thursday is her Bible class and Drew goes to Boys Brigade; and Friday is her Girls Brigade; Saturday is ballet again and Sunday is church and Sunday schools, so I don't get much time do I lol?
JC: Andi, as you're a regular on MT, do you feel that people's knowledge of nutrition and training has improved since bodybuilding and fitness forums have become so popular?
AB: Oh gosh yes, even if people don't post, they are always reading and learning and I am a big one for that.
JC: So Andi, what's next?
AB: Well I was the first British competitor to be picked as Fitness Winner of the Week on the American site bodybuilding.com. And articles in Flex and Muscle & Fitness with three pages spreads are on the way to press!
JC: Many thanks for taking the time to be interviewed and on behalf of all the MuscleTalk members, I'd like to wish you all the best in your future career. See you on MT!!