Hazel Adames: Hi Annie, Congratulations on winning your pro-card at the BNBF Finals this year and thanks for agreeing to take part in this interview for us!
AO: Thanks Hazel, I'm still absolutely over the moon and have a big stupid grin every time I think about it! And I'm delighted to do this interview – thank you for asking me.
HA: How old were you when you started training and how old are you now?
AO: At school I was pretty sporty and when I left school the aerobics craze was underway (think Jane Fonda, leg warmers and curly perms!!), so I got straight into that type of exercise and did my YMCA teaching qualifications when I was 19. Most of my exercise revolved around the studio for many years and I did my gym qualifications to expand my skills but didn't really move my own training into the weights gym until about 6 years ago when I needed to lift a few bits that were starting to wobble! I'm now 43.
HA: What made you decide to start working out?
AO: As I said I've always been sporty, but I started weight training after running the London Marathon for charity. I'm not particularly a runner and although I loved the challenge, I didn't like the effect it had on my body. I became scrawny and lost my shape and felt 'wobbly' even though I was actually lighter than previously. I'd always done some weight training in circuit classes, so I moved it up a step by getting into the gym and lifting weights more seriously, although I still focused mainly on circuits and supersets.
HA: Where abouts are you from and where do you train currently?
AO: I live in Chingford, East London and I work and train at Monster Gym in Cheshunt.
HA: At what point did you realise you wanted to start competitive bodybuilding and what was your first competition?
AO: At the beginning of 2005 I was turning 40 and wanted to counteract the effects of gravity!! I started focusing a bit more seriously on weight training, splitting body parts and really pushing my weights up. I started training with a former bodybuilder, who encouraged me to compete; I'm always up for a bit of competition so we picked the Stars of Tomorrow and I dieted for 9 weeks and came 3rd out of 4 girls in the body fitness class.
HA: Can you give a brief run down of your competition career please?
UKBFF Stars of Tomorrow in Nov 2005 – 3rd place
UKBFF London and SE May 2006 – 2nd place (and qualified for British Finals)
UKBFF British Finals Oct 2006 – didn't place
BNBF Central Championships (Ms Physique) July 2007 – 1st place
UKBFF Kent Classic (body fitness) August 2007 – 1st place
BNBF British Finals Sept 2007 – 3rd place
BNBF Central Championships (Physique) July 2008 – 2nd place
BNBF British Finals Oct 2008 – 1st place Heavyweight Physique and Overall Pro card winner
HA: Did you always want to train in the physique category?
AO: Not at all!! I always saw myself in a figure type class – and my first show was UKBFF body fitness class. I have always been 'natural' and as I learnt about the various federations available to competitors I switched to the BNBF. They hold regional meetings to help anyone interested in training and competing and I was shocked when I was advised at one of the BNBF London Club meetings that I was probably too muscular for figure and would suit the physique criteria better. I have to admit I was not happy! I've always admired a muscular, shapely body but I am tall and large framed and have worried about looking too masculine. However, I'm very competitive and if I could do better in the physique class then that was where I was going to go! I now realise that my fears were rather misguided, physique is not necessarily a look for everyone but it can still be feminine and I although I am far more muscular and leaner than I have ever been I am certainly not 'big' in my jeans and t shirt and the general reaction to my physique from men and women is very positive. So I've been converted and now I love the physique class.
HA: What is your training routine and what is your favourite body part to train?
AO: This year I have trained 5 days a week
Sunday – shoulders/traps
Monday – quads
Tuesday – chest/back
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – hams/glutes
Friday – arms
Satuday – rest
I love training legs, and arms, and I enjoy shoulders... in fact I think I like them all in different ways!
HA: Do you do cardio all year round, what kind of cardio work do you do?
AO: I don't do much cardio off-season, but as soon as my diet starts I do cardio (about 16 weeks before my qualifier) generally 2 sessions a day for 60 mins each 7 days a week, very low intensity and usually on the bike (although I love the stepper and sneak on there a couple of times a week)
HA: How do you alter your nutrition when you have a competition coming up and which supplements do you use?
AO: Coming into a competition my diet is very strict (I have either total willpower or none at all! So I'm an 'all or nothing' dieter!) Eddie Abbew advises me on my contest preparation and my meal plan is the same every day with everything weighed of course and we adjust the portion sizes depending on my weight loss/condition. But all the way through my diet I have one cheat meal a week to boost my metabolism and keep me sane!
I use CNP pro peptide, vitargo, creatine ethyl ester, HMB, ZMA and glutamine. As I get closer to a show I use CNP aminos and yohimbine.
Off season last year I used CNP Tribulus Terrestis too.
HA: What advice would you give to members about starting competing?
AO: If you can, visit a couple of shows to get an idea of what you will do on the day, and find out about the various federations. For the ladies in particular, I think it's always best to look at the top girls and decide what look you prefer, and which is attainable for your body type/size. Having said that, I just picked a show at random and went for it, then moved into the most suitable class for me.
Competing is so exciting and the feeling of achievement when you stick to your diet and push your body in the gym makes it all worthwhile.
HA: Do you have any tips for putting a posing routine together?
AO: I have to admit I don't find it easy to put together a posing routine. I think it's important to try and find something that suits you – pick a piece of music that you can move to, this year I went for a more classic, graceful routine and I think it worked quite well for me, whereas previously I had used more 'sassy' type pieces. I start by picking 8 or 10 key poses that I want to use, and then I work with my music and start to develop moves to link the poses together. I tend to keep it simple because I am not naturally a good mover, and I video myself so I can see my bodylines and check if the poses are working for me. I normally end up changing the whole thing around several times before I'm happy. I know a lot of people say the routine doesn't count but the BNBF score the posing routine and include it in the final placings and it's an important way to display your physique so it's worth taking some time to get it right.
HA: Now you have achieved your pro-card, what are your goals for next year?
AO: Well, I'm off to Washington DC courtesy of the BNBF to compete in an IFPA Pro show on 15th November so my diet has had to continue a little longer. Then I'll use the off season to work on my arms and shoulders in particular (although my symmetry is fairly good so I'm always trying to 'grow' everything). I am not sure what my choices for next year are, but Vicky McCann, the chairperson of the BNBF is very helpful so I'll get some advice from her. I'd like to find a sponsor to help with my supplements if I can and I'll definitely be competing in a pro show at some time next year.
HA: Who inspires you in and out of the bodybuilding world?
AO: Lots of people inspire me – I love Cory Everson's look and I guess my dream would be to look like her at 50!
Like everyone else, I rely on my family and friends to help me through the tough days. I got married 2 years ago and my husband Lee is always 100% there for me when it comes to contest prep, tanning, posing practice.
HA: Other than training and living the lifestyle of a competitive bodybuilder, what else do you like to do in your spare time? Do you get much time to relax?
AO: I work part time as a personal trainer at Monster Gym, so I am lucky to be able to train at one of the best facilities in the country whilst I'm at work. I am also a full time student at UEL in London, doing my BSc in sports science. I have 2 teenage sons and a fantastic group of friends. So life is pretty busy and I am one of those people who believe that the more I smile the more I get out of life and I intend to enjoy every minute. I consider myself very lucky. I hope that doesn't sound too cheesy!
HA: How do people outside of bodybuilding circles react to you as a female bodybuilder and your bodybuilding lifestyle?
AO: I have to admit that my mum absolutely hates me competing; she doesn't understand it and dislikes my physique intensely. But we agree to disagree. My kids and husband are very proud of me, and most of my friends are very supportive and encourage me all the way. Monster is a bodybuilding gym so I get lots of encouragement from the members and I am fortunate never to have encountered any real negativity to my physique.
HA: 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 future competitions. See you on MT!!