Weightlifting And Aerial Arts: A Winning Combo

I am approaching the two year mark for my foray into aerial arts, and not only have I stuck with it, I have stepped up my game by taking classes several times weekly. After taking classes at a local aerial studio (www.PinkPoleParty.org) two to three days per week, I recently increased my frequency to four to five days weekly by adding other studios into the mix. Thanks to Classpass, I now have the opportunity to visit facilities all over the Los Angeles area and take classes with other instructors.

I have learned that my body prefers the rigidity of hardware, like lyra and aerial cube, over software like silks and hammocks, so I now confine my aerial activities to lyra, pole flight (a combination of silks and pole), and aerial cube. I am by no means an expert in any of my aerial activities, and I wish I had the incredible flexibility which I see in other aerialists. Yet I think I do decently well, and my upper body strength serves me well whenever I am up in the air.

I honestly think it’s a good idea to experience other studios and other instructors as a means to infuse variety into the regimen. Though I at times think I must be nuts to inflict such challenges on my poor joints and tendons, the overall physical and mental benefits of aerial movements make it all worthwhile. The conditioning aspects of aerial arts have enhanced the v-taper in my back, and have developed my delts nicely. My abdominal muscles are far stronger than they were before I began taking aerial classes, and I am also enjoying enhanced flexibility, balance and coordination from my airborne pursuits.

Weight training is still, and always will be, a staple for me. I faithfully hit the weights five to six days per week, and cannot imagine ever wavering from that schedule. At this point, I truly feel that weightlifting and aerial pursuits complement each other. Bodybuilding imparts strength, aids in preservation of muscle mass, guards against bone loss, and allows me to go into beast mode, while aerial arts provide an outlet for creative expression, challenge my body to become more elongated and flexible, and increase core strength.

If you are in a rut with weight training, why not consider adding aerial arts to your regimen? They are challenging, inspiring, and fun!

Trainers Who Don’t Look The Part

personal trainer fat

Have you ever seen a trainer who looks like he or she is in sore need of a trainer? It amazes me when I see trainers who are in horrible shape, but who are training others. I have even heard a couple of trainers berate their clients for practicing poor eating habits, then I will see them drinking Starbucks frappucinos or eating food from McDonald’s!

If you work in the fitness industry, you have a responsibility to LOOK THE PART. It’s not about looking like you are photo shoot ready all the time, but you should at least be in decent physical shape, practice healthy lifestyle habits when out in public, and be clean and well groomed for your clients and followers. Your appearance is your business card and your logo, so when you show up looking like you have been on a long break from working out, you lose your power to motivate others through leading by example. The thing is, leading by example is critical to igniting that spark in people to pursue fitness goals and replace bad habits with good ones. No one wants to follow the lead of someone who looks like a lazy pig!

There is one trainer I have seen at one of the gyms I train at who, over the years, has turned into, well…a sloth. She was never in very good shape, though I can tell that she was one of those people who went through a mega transformation and lost over 100 pounds at one point. On the one hand, she should be proud of what she has accomplished. However, just because she got a weekend certification doesn’t mean she knows diddly squat about training people. I have watched her train clients, and I swear I could use those observations as a sleeping aid, because she doesn’t know how to train people, and she is so damned slow and boring!

As the years have passed, she has spread in girth, and walks more slowly than ever, with a severely stooped posture and a belly so big that I honestly thought at one point last year that she was pregnant (no, she wasn’t). What boggles my mind is that she seems to be completely clueless about most of the equipment at the gym!

I would never say anything to the trainers who don’t look like they have any business instructing others on exercise, but it really bothers me that they have somehow convinced their unwitting clients to train with them.

The Fledgling: The Men’s Physique Division (Revised)

Originally published on mensphysique.com on Tuesday, 10 April 2012. In light of the fact that the Men’s Physique Division has now been around for four years, I have appended an extra section to the original article, but have made no changes to the body of the article which I wrote back in 2012.


This weekend we are looking at only the second ever MP PRO show to hit the stage. The NPC and IFBB were quite wise to establish the Men’s Physique Division. However, it is the baby of the bunch amongst divisions (alongside Women’s Physique) and will endure growing pains for a period of time before standards are clearly defined. The newly minted IFBB Men’s Physique Pros have the opportunity to legitimize and strengthen the division not only by how they continue to condition their bodies, but also by how they conduct themselves within the IFBB and how they choose to brand themselves within the mainstream.

Every division has struggled to define standards in its early days and has also battled naysayers who have tried to undermine its rigors and distinguishing characteristics. Men’s Physique is no different. However, it is not constructive to balk at the direction in which the division is moving, or complain about which men are and are not attaining pro status. If there are suggestions which you would like to offer in order to shape or strengthen the division, make your voice heard as one filled with positive energy and enthusiasm. But don’t create friction and end up irritating the very officials who have made it possible for you to step on stage and compete.

It is true that it can be tricky to determine if one should come in leaner, beefier or softer for a show since judges from various regions may have ideals which may differ from one another. Remain consistent with what your genetics lean towards, but study the pros and see what it is about their physiques or presentation which set them apart from the rest of the competitors.

As a national level NPC Bikini Champion who has come deliciously close to attaining IFBB Pro Status at three pro-qualifiers, I understand how frustrating it can be to see competitors who may or may not deserve pro status beat you out of that spot. I have competed in the Bikini division since 2009 when the division was incepted and have seen a great deal of progression with respect to division standards. Bikini pros from 2009 look different from the 2010 pros. The pros from 2011 look different from those two groups as well. It seems the quest for a more well-muscled physique is generally more desirable in 2011 than it was in 2009. It is important to consider that the playing field has intensified significantly, and bikini competitors are training differently now than they did in 2009 when it was still a bit unclear as to what the judges were looking for.

I see the same thing happening with Men’s Physique. My belief is that 2012 will bring a higher level of conditioning to the national qualifying shows, mostly as the result of the judges having the good fortune and tough task of judging the IFBB Men’s Physique Pros. This occurred in the Bikini Division in 2010 when the IFBB Bikini Pros brought a higher level of conditioning to the stage.

The lesson here…just let the baby learn to walk and enjoy the progression.


Just as I had surmised, the Men’s Physique Division has definitely brought a higher level of conditioning to the IFBB stage. Delt caps have gotten inflated, and some Pro men have attained a degree of muscularity which has some people wondering if it’s time for them to cross over into the bodybuilding division. Here is an example of one prominent Men’s Physique Pro competitor, Sadik Hadzovic, who displays considerable growth in the delts and upper lats from 2012 to 2014:

This is Sadik Hadzovic at the 2012 Valenti Gold Cup where he took the First Place win.

This is Sadik Hadzovic at the 2012 Valenti Gold Cup where he took the First Place win.

Here's Sadik again at the 2014 Wings Of Strength where he also took a First Place win.

Here’s Sadik again at the 2014 Wings Of Strength where he also took a First Place win.

Sadik has beaten the odds and remained at the top of the Pro game for three years now, because he has made changes to his physique which have been consistent with the ebb and flow of the IFBB judging ring. I have immense respect for him and for ALL the Pros out there who represent the division and the sport with integrity and dedication.

Are Bikini Competitors Getting More Ripped?

I remember the general appearance of the top bikini competitors in the NPC in 2009 who eventually went on to earn IFBB Professional Status. With a couple of exceptions, these ladies displayed curvy yet toned bikini bodies without an excessive amount of muscular development in the quads, delts, or abs. Over the years, however, there has been an increasing degree of muscularity within the IFBB Pro ranks with a correspondingly lean and ripped group of ladies in the amateur ranks as well.

Jessica Anderson-women fitness models

Due to the extremely subjective nature of bodybuilding, it can be downright confusing to determine what the judges are looking for. Depending on the geographic region and level of competition, the ideal may lean towards a softer, curvier physique (as exemplified by Jessica Anderson who went Pro in 2009), or it may lean heavily towards an extremely lean, ripped body such as the one Nathalia Melo has brought to the Olympia stage. I completely understand the frustration which bikini competitors may face as they adjust their competition prep to come in looking a certain way, only to show up on the day of the contest and discover that the judging pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. This also explains in part why a competitor can go to one contest and do poorly, then hit another stage and place very well.

Nathalia Melo

Undoubtedly these ladies look incredible regardless of whether they are softer or more defined and muscular. But if you are a bikini competitor trying to determine what YOU should reach for with respect to degree of muscularity and conditioning, do some research into the region in which you are competing. I do know some competitors who are stubborn and who will not waver from their own personal ideal, but if you choose to do this, just be aware that while it may be rewarded eventually, there is just as good a chance that it will not. Judges look favorably upon competitors who work on weaker areas on their physiques.

There has been an increasing trend more recently towards a greater degree of muscularity and a leaner, yet compact, curvy, muscular frame without muscle separation. This will make it more difficult for a genetically blessed gal to simply jump onstage with little to no prep and get a high placing. I also strongly feel that this tendency legitimizes the division as a celebration of muscle and downplays the derogatory “T and A show” label that has been used unfairly by some naysayers.