Athletic Women Magazine Blog

Features, News, Coverage on Athletic Women

Tag: figure competitor

Figure Competitor Steph Ferris On The Path To Excellence

Things you didn’t know about Steph Ferris:

  • She loves the Marvel universe and superheroes – Jessica Jones tops her list of favorites.
  • Getting asked for ID is a common occurrence. Yes, she really is 27. No, she doesn’t look it.
  • She’s a figure competitor, but she’s never set foot on stage. Hard to believe especially considering the more than impressive physique she’s crafted.

Figure competitor Steph Ferris started on her path to excellence as a gymnast. Over time, injuries took a toll on her body. This led her to start weight training to build up her strength. In 2013, she became a certified personal trainer.

Fast forward to 2018. May 12 marks the date when Steph steps on stage for her figure debut.

Steph Ferris Figure Competitor Posing in Bikini

Steph Ferris Figure Competitor

Steph Ferris by the numbers

Age: 27

Height: 5’3

Competition weight: probably around 134 lbs

Off season weight: 149 lbs

What are your goals as a competitor?

I think most serious competitors dream of turning pro one day and that’s definitely a goal of mine.

What is the personal appeal to you of being a strong, muscular woman?

I like that my body is a physical representation of my inner strength and resilience.

You must draw attention because of your physique. What’s the strangest question someone has asked you or the strangest incident you’ve experienced?

I do find myself in awkward situations sometimes. The strangest thing is when people just feel the need to throw comments at me when I’m casually walking down the street. Like, “Holy cow, you’re so built.” or men who say “You’re bigger than me. All we notice is your shoulders from miles away. Don’t get any bigger.”

I have just learned that these observations come with it and have grown accustomed to being put on the spot.

Steph Ferris Impressive Back Flex From Rear

Steph Ferris Impressive Back

What are three things you want people to know about you?

  1. I really care about how I influence people.
  2. I am passionate about whatever I put my mind to.
  3. I always try to find a way to work through a difficult situation.

Three things you can’t live without?

  1. Music.
  2. Faith.
  3. Deep tissue massages.

You have $10,000 to donate to charity. Where does it go and why?

Probably to Food Banks Canada. I think having food is a basic need that everyone deserves to have met, and many people are not aware that poverty exists even within developed countries.

What person or people inspire you and why?

Many people have inspired me!

Kai Greene is definitely one of them. He came from nothing and defied many odds to get to where he is. His resilient mindset is inspiring to me.

Last year’s Miss Figure Olympia Cydney Gillon is another one. She is a young, hard-working athlete and extremely genuine person. She definitely keeps me pushing on my rough days!

Steph Ferris Impressive Arms Bare Arm Showing Muscles

Steph Ferris Impressive Arms

What do you like the most about yourself?

I’m extremely loyal – a tough quality to find these days.

If you could be a A) WWE Wrestler; B) UFC cage fighter; C) UFC ring girl; what would you choose and why?

UFC cage fighter! Martial arts fascinate me (I did some kickboxing in my teen years). The mix of speed and agility required make it an all-around awesome sport.

Follow Steph Ferris

Steph Ferris Instagram

Steph Ferris website

Steph Ferris on YouTube

 

Crystal Trace – One Strong Woman

Crystal Trace is one strong woman. She lifts heavy weights. Very heavy weights.

Crystal competes in powerlifting. Although new to the sport – “I competed in my first novice comp in July 2015 and arrived on the powerlifting scene with a 385 kg total. I got noticed. And I was bitten by the powerlifting bug. It was a beautiful moment.” – she’s put up some big numbers.

At a weight of 165 pounds, she boasts a 441-lbs squat; a 221-lbs bench and a 424-lbs deadlift. In training, she’s put up even bigger numbers and is ready to break her personal bests.

“I have a competition on 16 March, 2018. I’m confident I will crack a 500 kg plus (1,102 pounds) total.”

Powerlifter Crystal Trace flexes her biceps

Powerlifter Crystal Trace

Were you athletic growing up?

Not really. I played a few sports, tennis, netball, I enjoyed athletics. But I wasn’t really that good at it.

How did you get started lifting weights and training?

From the age of 16 I was in the gym. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but as I’d struggled with my weight since I was about 12 years old, I knew that moving my body was a key to making changes. I wasn’t consistent and I never really got anywhere with it.

When I was 26, I met my now husband. He went to the gym every day at 6 AM. I started going with him.

I spent the first 6 months on the treadmill. Then I got a trainer and started doing boxing. Eventually I started training with weights.

I cried during all of my initial sessions. I hated it. I felt like it wasn’t doing anything because I didn’t sweat that much. I’m not sure when I started enjoying it – I guess I noticed my body changing and I started asking about the girls I saw in the gym that were getting ready to compete.

I asked my trainer often if I could enter a show. He never answered the question. After about three years of training, I asked again. This time he answered and he said I was ready!

You started in figure and moved to powerlifting. When did you make the change and what prompted your decision?

My last figure competition was in September 2014. The day after the show I turned 30. It was in that moment that I decided that I wasn’t going to spend the rest of my life worrying about and being judged on my physique. I promptly set some strength goals around the three big lifts (squat, bench, deadlift).

Crystal Trace as a figure competitor onstage flexing biceps

Crystal Trace as a Figure Competitor

Where do you live?

Adelaide, South Australia

What is your profession/job?

Personal trainer. I used to work for the State Government, but training is my passion and it made sense to start my own training business.

What drives you to keep pushing forward, training and going to the gym?

Initially I loved the feeling of getting stronger, then I loved that I was able to inspire other women to get stronger and lift weights. For the last year, I’ve had my sights on achieving a 500 kg total. And I still love inspiring and encouraging other women to lift heavy things!

What is the personal appeal to you of being a strong, muscular woman?

“I just love being strong and I love chicks with muscle. In my opinion, strong and musclely is the new black! And it’s never going out of fashion!”

Do you have a story you can share about how people react to you?

Gosh, so many stories. Guys are really funny – they often can’t understand how a woman can be stronger than them. Some feel intimidated, threatened. Others love it. Sometimes I train in a commercial gym setting – you see the guys (and the girls) watching you. Put 20 kg plates on the bench press and most guys will rush over to your aid thinking you are going to drop it on yourself!

What three words best describe you?

Determined, dedicated, consistent.

I’m sure you get noticed in public because of your physique. What’s an unusual incident you’ve experienced?

Most recently I was at a commercial gym that my friend works at. One of the male trainers commented to her that he wouldn’t know how to be with a woman like me in the bedroom because I’m so strong. It was an odd comment. It made me laugh!

The powerful upper body of Crystal Trace

Powerful Upper Body of Crystal Trace

Three things you can’t live without?

  1. Lip balm
  2. Coffee
  3. A good pillow

What’s one thing you really like doing that other people would be surprised to find out?

I recently started collecting crystals (I call them rocks). I really love learning about the different healing powers of crystals and how to harness them to achieve transformation, harmony and balance in my life.

If you could be a A) WWE Diva; B) UFC cage fighter; C) UFC ring girl; what would you choose and why?

UFC Cage Fighter – those chicks are total badasses!

Anything else we should know about you or that you would like to add?

For anyone thinking about getting in shape or getting stronger, find a good coach, work with them, do the work, trust the process and only listen to one person at a time. You will only confuse yourself by trying to take advice from multiple people.

Social Media Links:

Follow Crystal on Instagram

Follow Crystal and Strength Lab on Facebook

Follow Crystal Trace on Facebook

Visit Strength Lab website

Crystal on YouTube lifting heavy and crushing a watermelon 

Crystal Trace By The Numbers

Competition Squat: 200 kg

Competition Bench: 100 kg

Competition Deadlift: 192.5 kg

Most recent training lifts:

Squat: 202.5 kg

Bench: 100 kg

Deadlift: 195 kg

Age: 33

Height: 5-6

Weight as figure competitor: 132 lbs.

Weight as powerlifter: 165 lbs weight class (I prefer this strong, muscular, feminine physique.)

Emerald Cup 2018 – Get Ready!

Once again, it’s that time of year when the Emerald Cup rolls around. This is a “must see” if you’re in the Pacific Northwest, whether on the Canuck side of the border or the US side of the border.

This year’s edition of the Emerald Cup takes place on Friday April 27 and Saturday April 28. As is the tradition, the Meydenbauer Center serves as the venue.

The show includes bodybuilding, fitness, figure, physique, bikini and classic physique. Along with the show, a great expo to take in both Friday and Saturday.

You can find out more about the Emerald Cup and all the other outstanding Craig Production shows at the official website http://craigproductions.com

Follow on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/craigproductionsmuscleshows

https://twitter.com/emeraldcup

https://www.instagram.com/craigproductions

Check our old blog to see coverage of Emerald Cup 2017.

Lauren Brigham – Blonde Bombshell Figure Competitor

Lauren Brigham is a figure competitor and fitness model.

What are your stats?

Age 29; 5’6″ tall; competition weight 130-135 lbs; off-season 145-150 lbs.

Figure competitor Lauren Brigham posing and flexing biceps

Lauren Brigham – figure competitor

What is your profession?

Personal trainer, sports massage therapist.

How did you get started lifting weights and training?

“My middle school nickname was chunky monkey which gave me the motivation to lose weight and become athletic. I started personal training at 18 and became intrigued with the competitive lifestyle. I competed in my first show when I was 24 and I’ve been hooked since.”

What inspired you to start competing?

I loved the dedication and purpose of the competitive lifestyle. I wanted to find that purpose and dedication for myself.

Were you athletic growing up?

I played soccer and ran track in high school, but really became interested in health and fitness in college.

Biceps flex from figure competitor Lauren Brigham

Lauren Brigham – biceps

What are your goals as a competitor?

To better myself and improve every season. To feel proud and accomplished each year on stage.

What’s your favorite cheat meal?

I absolutely love sushi!

What’s one thing about you that people would be surprised to know?

“I am obsessed with mini pigs. I just adore pigs so much – no idea why.”

Favorite female competitor?

Nicole Wilkins. She is simply an amazing and beautiful competitor.

Your home is burning down. Family and pets have all made it to safety. You have one chance to go back in and save just one item. What do you save?

I would save my huggie. It’s a little pillow I just can’t sleep without

What three words best describe you?

Passionate, genuine and hardworking.

Where can we see more of you?

Facebook

Instagram

Snapchat: @lebrigs

Check out Lauren on YouTube

Figure competitor Lauren Brigham posing in dress and heels

Lauren Brigham

Originally published February 2017

Young Gunz – Shannon Thompson

This is our first feature in a series we’re calling Young Gunz that will put up and coming competitors in the spotlight. To kick things off, 19-year-old figure competitor Shannon Thompson.

“Hi. My name is Shannon Thompson and you should follow me because I want to inspire other young women to overcome their weaknesses and follow their dreams and passions.”

Let’s start with your stats.

I’m 19, 5-8, 135 pounds competition and 150 pounds off-season.

How did you get started lifting weights and training?

I struggled with anorexia in my early to mid-teens and became an avid runner to burn massive amounts of calories, but I was much too weak to run the distances I was running and an injury stopped me from running when I was 16.

I began lifting weights to build up strength so I could run again and I fell in love with the weight room and have never looked back.

19 year old figure competitor Shannon Thompson biceps flex

Shannon Thompson – figure competitor

How long have you been training?

I’ve been training for almost four years, but I’ve only really decided to become serious about bodybuilding in the last year or so.

How old were you when you did your first show?

“I was 17 for my first competition.”

What inspired you to start competing?

I admired the drive and dedication of other competitors I followed on social media and I wanted to see what my body was capable of.

If you could change one thing about your physique, what would it be?

Either a wider back or leaner legs.

What do you think is the strongest part of your physique?

Definitely my shoulders. I’m very proud of this as they used to be one of my weakest points.

What is your profession?

I’m currently unemployed, but I’ll be going to college in September for a bachelor of sports and fitness leadership.

You have all your expenses covered to spend your perfect day. What would you do?

I would spend the day in New York with my mom shopping, eating tons of interesting food and seeing a Broadway play.

Your home is burning down. Family and pets have all made it to safety. You have one chance to go back in and save just one item. What do you save?

I feel kind stupid saying this, but I would save my cell phone.

If you could look into the future and see yourself at age 50, what would you want to see?

I hope to be an IFBB figure pro, an inspiration to many people with a happy family and a beautiful home somewhere in British Columbia.

See Shannon on YouTube.

19 year old figure competitor Shannon Thompson posing in jeans

Shannon Thompson

Originally published August 2016

Cassie Keeping – Crossfitter

We had the opportunity to work with Cassie Keeping on a cool fall day in October 2014. Although Cassie might not bring as much visible muscle to the table as some of the muscle competitors do, the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” certainly comes to mind with her.

Cassie definitely wowed us with her strength and athleticism. Most athletes would have their hands full trying to keep up with this crossfitter. In our ongoing Grip Strength Challenge, she blew the field away, finishing second only to powerhouse physique competitor and world-class wrestler Shayla Turcotte. It will be interesting to see if anyone passes Cassie.

Vital Statistics:

I’m 5-8, I weigh 146 pounds and I’m 25-years-old.

Athletic Background:

I started track and field when I was around 15. I am an eight-time national qualifier; a four-time All American; and I hold a couple of records at my university. In college I competed in long jump, sprints, hurdles and I would run relays if they needed me.

I’ve competed in a couple of crossfit competitions, finishing second in one and ninth in the other. I competed in the Femsport 2014 Vancouver Open and finished second.

Crossfit competitor Cassie Keeping double biceps flex

Cassie Keeping Crossfitter

Athletic Goals:

At some point I would like to look into bikini, figure or physique. I would like to try because it looks like a pretty good challenge and I like to be challenged.

I think I would like to do figure because I have a very developed and strong lower body. As far as my upper body goes, I would have to gain some biceps and triceps. Right now my lower body is figure and my upper body is bikini.

Training for figure would be different. For crossfit, you have to be functionally strong, walk on your hands and do handstand pushups; but for figure I would be more focused on developing my muscles versus seeing how strong and athletic I could actually be. I could be super strong and athletic but might not look it, so I would have to work on my upper body and actually show that I have some biceps muscles for figure competitions.

Occupation:

I’ve been a personal trainer for about six months now and I love it. I don’t think I would want to do anything else with my life. I love it because I’m being constantly challenged by my clients and also challenging my clients. I’m showing them that they have someone that believes in them and they are constantly pushing themselves to new limits that they didn’t believe they could reach. It’s always motivating to see someone do something that they didn’t believe they could do. It’s inspiring.

Pet Peeves:

I hate shopping for jeans because it makes me feel super fat. It’s because I can’t fit my ass or my quads into jeans, but I can fit my waist into them. Someone needs to come up with jeans that fit athletic women, not just skinny women.

See Cassie on YouTube

See more Cassie at Athletic Women Magazine

Crossfit competitor Cassie Keeping shows off her quads

Cassie Keeping – check the quads!

Originally published March 2015

Figure Phenom Shay Niessen

You say you’ve never heard of Shay Niessen?

Then it’s time you found out who this figure phenom is.

The 24-year-old started in bikini, but transitioned to figure. On March 18, 2017, Shay made her figure debut. Not only did she step on stage as a first-time figure competitor, but to add a huge exclamation mark, she walked away as the figure overall champ. That’s how you make a debut.

Shay Niessen figure competitor with championship trophy

Shay Niessen 1

What are your stats?

Just under 5-6 tall; competition weight 140-145 lbs; off-season heaviest I’ve ever held was around 163 lbs. However, more consistent off season I’m usually around 155 lbs.

Why did you move from bikini to figure?

I started in bikini because I was new to the fitness industry – more specifically the competing industry. I did tons and tons of research, but I was still a “baby” and had a lot to learn. My shoulders grew very fast and I always had figure in my heart from day one.

Bikini is beautiful, but if you know me in person, I don’t have the persona. I’m kind of a tomboy at heart, so I really had to practice the twists and turns and hair flips and such (haha). The muscle required for figure always captured my interest. I find it so incredible and there are so many figure physiques I look up to.

With that being said, I took around 2.5 years off to grow, grow, grow. I became really interested in powerlifting and focused on eating and lifts for a long time. I also took the time off to focus on building a life and career. Competing takes up a lot of time in your life AND MONEY. I said the next time I compete I want to be 200% mentally and financially ready.

How old were you when you did your first show?

I believe I was 21-22 years.

How did you get started lifting weights and training?

I was always interested in nutrition. I would use all my free time at university spending hours and hours researching what foods were good for the body and the benefits of each. I would experiment with different “diets” etc. However, I was in university and of course I partied etc. and lived quite an unhealthy lifestyle until finally one day I was really tired of it.

I remember always liking photos of tiny, tiny models until I came across a female bodybuilder on Instagram and I was in awe. I couldn’t believe someone could look like that. I remember being like, “Damn, this girl is not superhuman which means I can do that too.”

I started YouTubing different bodybuilders and how they ate etc. and it all stemmed from there and I never looked back.

What is your profession?

I work for a builder/developer for condos and homes. I do everything AFTER sales from lawyers, to final closing, PDI’s, dealing with trades, etc.

What’s one thing about you that people would be surprised to know?

I made a bet with my friends that I could be a raw vegan for three months and I did it. No cooking food. Nothing. Just fruit and veggies. Twenty plus bananas a day sometimes (LOL).

What are your goals as a competitor?

My only goal is to keep getting better and better for myself. Bring an entirely new package when I decide to go on stage. I want to BRING something to the stage each time I go on.

What three words best describe you?

Goofy. As. F*ck.

Favorite curse word?

F*ck for sure. See comment above

Were you athletic growing up?

Yes! Used to compete in 100m sprints, basketball, volleyball, soccer and dance.

Shay Niessen figure competitor flexing

Shay Niessen 2

What do you think is the strongest part of your physique?

I won’t lie – I love my delts.

Favorite female competitor and why?

Oh boy, there are literally so many I look up to.

What’s your favorite cheat meal?

Sushi, followed by Menchie’s stacked with white chocolate, peanut butter, Reese’s, Oreos, and Nanaimo bars (LOL).

If you could look into the future and see yourself at age 50, what would you want to see?

I want to be one of those badass healthy moms who get up at 5 AM for a jog and come home to slay the kitchen and prepare a healthy breakfast for my beautiful kids and husband and my 2-3 dogs… and then also comes home and drinks red wine and eats pizza in bed.

If you had an all expenses paid weekend trip to anywhere in the world, where do you go and who do you take with you?

I want to travel EVERYWHERE.

Find Shay on social media and follow her journey.

YouTube

Twitter: @shayniessen

Shay Niessen figure competitor biceps flex

Shay Niessen 3

Originally published March 2017

Young Gunz – Sarah Sangha, Figure Competitor

Figure competitor Sarah Sangha, competing for just the first time at the 2017 Leigh Brandt Muscle Classic, finished third in her class.

Let’s start with your stats.

I’m 20; 5-4 3/4 height; I weighed 120 pounds for my show and about 135 pounds off-season.

What was the experience like hitting the stage for your first show?

It was really nerve wracking. The whole time I was up there it felt like my heart was just racing, but it was amazing.

Figure competitor Sarah Sangha flexing in competition suit

Sarah Sangha – show day flex

How long have you been training and what motivated you to start?

A couple of years ago for bodybuilding, but not for show purposes. For show purposes it was a few months ago.

This all started because I was kind of one of the boys.

I liked being big and muscular and being able to intimidate people, so hanging out in the gym kind of kept that going.

What was the most challenging part of training for your first show?

I think the most challenging part of my first show was just getting over the nerves of getting up there. I enjoyed the diet and I love training so that was easy for me.

Were you athletic growing up?

I grew up on a farm, so I was extremely athletic. Always out with the dogs, chasing animals, doing whatever. I played some sports in high school, but other than that, I wasn’t one of those soccer kids.

What is your profession or job?

I work for Fuel, a supplement company. As well I work in a pub, so a very busy girl.

Favorite female competitor and why?

Nicole Wilkins and Dana Lynn Bailey. They’re both really motivating and strong women and gorgeous and they always do their best at everything.

What three words best describe you?

I’m extremely outgoing. I can be really funny but most of the time awkward. And I’m just fun to be around.

Best advice for someone training for a first show?

Do it for you. Enjoy the road and you’re going to learn a lot about yourself.

Find Sarah Sangha on social media.

YouTube

Instagram

Facebook

Figure competitor Sarah Sangha posing in competition suit

Sarah Sangha – show day pose

Originally published March 2017