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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

Young Gunz – Kelsey DeCamillis

This is the second in our series of “Young Gunz” features where we shine the spotlight on up and coming competitors. At 31, you might not think of physique competitor Kelsey DeCamillis as part of the Young Gunz posse, but as she’s never competed before, she makes for a great fit.

What are your stats?

Age 31, height 5-5, current weight around 151 pounds. Stage weight is hard to say! Haven’t had a specific goal weight but my guess is in the lower end of the 140’s.

What was your weight when you were throwing?

Averaged about 180 pounds and 195 pounds at my heaviest.

Physique competitor Kelsey DeCamillis flexing biceps

Kelsey DeCamillis – gun show

Can you give a brief chronology of your athletic history leading up to the present?

As a kid I tried gymnastics/trampoline, and even took a few taekwondo lessons, skied every winter up until about age 11 and also played some softball. Throughout all those years mainly I did a lot of ice skating and figure skated until I transitioned over to hockey. I played from ages 12-17 and my position was defense.

Throughout high school along with hockey I played volleyball, basketball, field hockey, (I even did one season of cross country running just to stay in shape for my upcoming senior year high school season of track & field), and of course the throwing events in track and field (javelin, discus, shot put). I started with javelin when my PE teacher saw me throw a volleyball across the entire gym and encouraged me to try javelin.

That progressed into throwing in all three events and I recognized my strongest potential in the shot put for after high school. I then threw shot put for the Vancouver Thunderbirds and the UBC Track and Field Team from 2003-2005. In 2005, I started transitioning over to hammer throw and moved to Kamloops to train there.

How and why did you make the transition from throwing to physique?

“Competing in physique has meant reclaiming my identity as an athlete. Training gives me the most life. I feel alive when I lift and train.”

I moved to Kamloops in 2005 to begin training in the hammer throw under a world renowned coach with a group of other elite throwers. At the time, I was really struggling with some things going on in my personal life, and the circumstances ended what was just the beginning of a very promising throwing career. I barely set foot in a gym for about 2 years after that and I continued to struggle personally.

Looking back now, although it would have taken some years of training, there is no doubt in my mind that I could have developed into a world class hammer thrower given my body type and gift of brute strength and athletic ability.

I moved back to Vancouver in 2007 to work and try and figure out my life and spent my entire 20’s trying to go back to school to finish my degree, and then after getting rejected from applying to nursing school in 2014 and still just very unhappy, I asked myself if I had it my way, if I could be doing anything right now, what would it be? My answer was that I’d still be throwing and training.

Right then and there I decided to start training full time on my own, learn as much as I can and see how my body responds now and then see about competing in a bodybuilding show. I did as much as I could on my own for two full years before hiring a coach to help take me to the next level and guide me through my first physique competition, and here I am.

How different is training for physique versus training as a thrower?

“Physique training is different in that it is less sport-specific and involves targeting every muscle group and using high volume, heavy lifting and techniques to build and sculpt while creating and maintaining balance and symmetry for an aesthetically pleasing look. I love how physique training includes the powerlifts for continuing to build and maintain my foundation of muscle and strength.”

Training as a thrower was more sport-specific and incorporated more power movements with lifting and focused more on strength training, not so much isolating and sculpting movements, and with training phases changing as the outdoor competitive season approached each year, and definitely no cardio!!

There would be a variety of training that included time spent in the weight room, but also lots of technical work in the circle, tempo runs and sprints, Olympic lifting as well as powerlifting, plyos for both upper and lower body, and overall just centered around a lot of power and speed training.

Does your throwing background perhaps make you a bit stronger than most physique competitors?

I’m not sure that I’m necessarily stronger because of throwing, but deciding to carry on with throwing allowed me to discover my strength in the weight room. I think I do possess above average strength and was born with this gift.

“I discovered how strong I was when I started formal track and field training for shot put where we learned all the big lifts, including all the powerlifting movements and the Olympic lifts. The first time I did a 1RM test for the squat, I squatted 265 pounds. That would have been about 6 weeks or less of formal training at the time in the fall of 2003. Throwing certainly helped build my foundation of muscle and strength.”

What are some of your best lifts?

I’m not sure what my current 1 rep maxes are for these lifts as I’ve been doing high volume work with these big lifts:

Conventional deadlifts: 225-245 lbs x 12-15 reps

Sumo deadlifts: 275 lbs x 12-15 reps

Squats: 225 x 10-12 (last time I tried a one rep max was 275 lbs)

Bench: 135 x 10-12 (last time I tried a one rep max was 175 lbs)

My favorite and best lifts are deadlifts because I can move the most weight on these lifts and there is something so satisfying about moving heavy weight.

What’s a typical day like for you?

Right now in contest prep, I’m up at 4 am to get to the gym for a 5 am cardio party, then I work 8-4 at UBC, and then head back to the gym after work for another few hours of training and typically home late. On weekends, I’m in the gym twice a day still and in between training sessions is where I find the time to cook and meal prep and take care of other errands etc. The days are long and sometimes 20 hours a day for days in a row, but nothing good comes easy and I’m so excited to see how everything turns out for my first show.

What are your goals as a competitor?

The ultimate goal from this first show is to qualify for BC Provincials, then qualify for nationals, and then see how far I can take this. I believe I found the right coach to help guide me there: Darren Toma – Custombuilt Training.

I always thought I’d be a professional athlete even as a young kid and it was always the sport that I was excelling at the time: first figure skating, then I thought maybe hockey, and then settled nicely into track and field. Of course hammer throw was going to be my best chance at that. However, things did not work out the way I thought and that has always been a huge sore spot in my life. I have unfinished athletic business, so here I am and I’m going for it, full force.

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

“I love my back. I also think my legs are a very strong part of my physique.”

What inspired you to start competing?

I got back into training full time for the sake of saving myself from myself. Also, that time in my life when track ended abruptly has always been a sore spot in my life and I thought if certain things didn’t happen, I probably could have made it pretty far in hammer throw. For me, having unfinished athletic business has inspired me to give myself a second chance at fulfilling a childhood dream of becoming a professional athlete.

It has been a thought to do a bodybuilding show for at least four years now, when my interest was sparked to do so by a co-worker at the time who was prepping for a figure show. That’s when I started considering this as something I could excel at now.

What is your profession?

I currently work for Vancouver Coastal Health at UBC Hospital as an administrative secretary for a provincial psychiatric program. I also recently earned my personal training certification as I think a fitness related career is the direction I’m headed. I just love being in the gym; it’s my happy place.

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

I don’t own or use a hair brush! But maybe I should…

If you were on American Idol, what would you sing?

I have no idea. I’d probably freak out and just flex.

Your home is burning down. You can go back in and save just one item. What do you save?

An opal necklace.

What three words best describe you?

Strong, sensitive, funny.

Where can we see more of you?

Kelsey slideshow on YouTube

Instagram

I’m on Facebook as well. I think everyone will be seeing a lot more of me after this competition.

Physique competitor Kelsey DeCamillis back flex

Kelsey DeCamillis – physique competitor

Read another article on Kelsey

Originally published October 2016.

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