Monday, November 28, 2011
1. Hi Carmen, at first, could you please give us a short introduction of yourself and your backrounds?
- Although I was very athletic and competitive in various sports at school, I had my children at a relatively young age and dedicated my time to raising them. I did not undertake any sporting activities at all from school until the age of 28. I was a full time single Mum, but at 28 joined the local gym and started..well I just kind of ran and messed around a little with the machines not knowing what I was doing at all.
2. I gotta admit, first time I really paid more attention to you was actually in this fall when your 2 weeks out photos came online. But before that, I guess you have some kind of history in competing. Could you share with us start of your competing career?
- My first show was in September 2003, a ’guy’ down the gym (Eddie Abbew no less!), asked if I had considered competing - I didn’t know what he actually meant! He had been asked to monitor a girl who had been dieting for a show and thought that in TWO WEEKS he could make me look good enough to challenge this particular girl at the contest. At this point I had never trained legs and had pretty much just messed around in the gym. I agreed and Eddie took me through a few workouts and a very stringent diet. It was the first year of body fitness in the UK. Admittedly I was shocked at how my body had transformed but I saw the stage and wanted to run away - stage fright was an understatement. I said I wanted to go home because the other girl was prettier than me! I shook on stage and looked like I had been forced to do it!!
The following year I only returned to the stage to see if I could actually stand on it confidently and although it took a couple of drinks, I was not as bad as the previous year! I then placed third at the British Finals, I did another qualifier and then had nearly a whole year before the British Championships 2005 where I earned my pro card. It’s the only show I have ever won and I was British Champion! Two weeks out from this show I was lean and shredded, we SO VERY NEARLY switched to body building, I actually weighed more than the heavy weight woman who won, but my head was fixed on body fitness(figure), so two weeks out I was eating burgers and peanut butter to smooth out, I was big on stage, but not conditioned, I did not think I could win as I liked how I looked two weeks earlier!.
3. So you started with figure and later turned pro in figure. How would describe your figure career and it’s highlights? Where you satisfied with the results you achieved?
- My highlights would have to be winning the British Championships, I was really shocked I had won and in fact covered my face in disbelief. It was hard to comprehend that someone who was born and spent her younger years in a very quiet/countryside part of the UK had won such a major contest, beating eighteen other competitors!
4. By the way, Am I right that 2007 Jan Tana Pro figure was your last figure show? After that, you kept kinda long pause in competing, why?
- Jan Tana was indeed my last Pro Figure contest. After this show I concentrated more on my personal training and searching for new clients whilst still in training of course. Unfortunately in January 2008, I had a very silly non training related accident. I fractured my forearm bone (the ulna) and had my right arm in a full cast for nine weeks….. I still trained quads and hamstrings but upper body training was completely non existent for approximately four months. It then took two months of training very lightly. The arm did cause a lot of problems. My right arm had always been stronger and once healed became super strong! I have to concentrate extremely hard on not letting the right side over compensate during my workouts.
5. Then in the end of this summer, I heard some rumours you are making a crossover and compete in pro bodybuilding, which you actually did at Tampa Pro. What is the story behind this decision to switch from figure to bodybuilding?
- The decision was made soon after the Jan Tana. It was the first time I stood on stage - without alcohol ,felt happy and a hundred per cent confident with how I looked. I still made silly mistakes regarding costume colours and hair etc, but I was actually happy with my physique and my condition. It was stated in an online magazine that I was the most muscular competitor on stage. I was happy with that comment but it was not the requirement for figure. Whilst I understand and respect the figure ranks, I did not want to have to loose the muscle I had trained hard for. I enjoy training hard immensely and well…..there was only one way to go.
6. So, for your first bodybuilding show, how did your prep changed compared to the ones you had in figure? Or did it?
- Oh yes, it did change immensely! Whilst my arm was in a cast, my training was limited and I found myself senselessly eating junk food. This meant that even though I had grown new muscle, a considerable amount of fat had come along for the ride! I was on the ketosis diet for fourteen weeks for my first body building show and my cardio was increased to three hours on certain days. I had to work extremely hard to shed that unwanted fat therefore I shall not get that fat ever again. It is not productive in body building!
7. What kind of expectations you had concerning your first pro bodybuilding show and generally, how did it feel?
- I had absolutely no expectations whatsoever especially because it was my first ever bodybuilding contest and I was going to compete against seasoned athletes who have been bodybuilding for years. Until I saw the pictures taken at two weeks out, I feared I would look like a figure girl on stage amongst bodybuilders. I train with three men, two are one hundred and thirty kilos plus so I always feel like the little one! Again I was happy with how I looked, I thoroughly enjoyed my time on stage, maybe because it was my first show I didn’t put any pressure on myself I saw it as a learning experience.
8. What about the contest itself and your experiences there, could you please share you’re your thoughts about your very first pro bodybuilding contest?
- I have seen a lot of shows with my training partner and coach Eddie Abbew who is also an IFBB pro, but I have to say I was very impressed with it. Tim Gardner really looked after the athletes. Everything ran smoothly and everything seemed taken care of. I found the competitors very friendly and did not feel out of place at all. All in all I enjoyed the whole experience and I am extremely excited about the next one. I would have to stress that it is a lot harder to compete abroad. The long haul flight to the States on low carbohydrates was quite an ordeal but once I got there, settled in the hotel and found the foods that I needed, things were not so bad.
9. All in all, I would say it was a successful crossover from figure to bodybuilding. What would you say to the figure girls who are frustrated with judging criteria in figure and are planning crossover but still doubt?
- I think you have to be realistic. Have a good look at the ladies doing well to see what the judges require. I understand the frustrations but I also understand why figure is what it is. It is a very marketable look and for the average person it can be achievable. If you enjoy being extremely lean and continue competing in figure, then stick with figure but accept that you most likely are not going to place well. If you enjoy training hard and the challenge of improving your physique with each show, maybe consider bodybuilding.
10. Anyway, you placed 9th, were you satisfied with the placing and even more important, were you satisfied with your own package you presented?
- I was ecstatic!!! After pre judging I thought I had placed out of the top ten so proceeded to eat and drink lots of everything. When Carla Salotti (the back stage usher) called my number for the top ten, she said, ’You are the only person to ever look disappointed at placing top 10’! I was not disappointed but truly shocked. I had started getting dressed!!
Both Eddie and I were competing in the same show and whilst it worked at home dieting, it did not work in the final week or two. We were both unable to give each other the help we required. He has said that my final stages of prep shall be completely different next time. I shall also have a lot more posing practice as this was not polished at all.
11. Talking about your package at Tampa, what improvements do you think you need to make physique wise?
- I think my back and hamstrings need to improve dramatically. Those areas are my main focus at the moment but in general I would say I am working on everything! The other area that needs improvement is my presentation because even though I have been competing for a few years, that was the first time I had to pose as a bodybuilder. In figure contests we just do quarter turns.
12. They say improvements always require dedication. What does the word ”dedication” mean to you?
- I would say in relation to body building , the word dedication means continuing to have a passion for what you are doing. It is denying yourself some of the pleasures in life in order to achieve your goal. I have to eat the same foods at the same times everyday. I don’t go out much. I try to get as much rest as I can in order to grow. I don’t drink and I don’t smoke. It is believing in yourself even when family and friends who do not understand the sport are against you.
13. We talked about your contest history, but how are you doing today in life generally? Whats going on in your life?
- At the moment I am in the process of setting up advertising to improve my personal client base. My website will be updated soon and apart from running a constant taxi service for my two teenage children, everything else is pretty much dictated by my training and eating!.
14. I guess most of the readers are interested in your next show. When and what shows are you planning to do next and with what kind of goals?
- I am hoping to compete in the New York Pro and possibly Tampa or the Europa show. My focus is to always look better than my previous contest.
15. And what about your long term plans in bodybuilding, have you made some?
- I have not really made any long term plans. One never knows what is around the corner so for now, I shall just focus what I am doing now. I have learnt a great deal about diet, nutrition and training and about my own body. I would like to use this information to help people who want to lose weight, tone up or take up bodybuilding and figure competitively.
16. So you have your next goal in your mind, could you share us a bit of your plans from now to the show day training and nutrition wise?
- My training will continue as it is. Training with Eddie Abbew, we never complete the same workout twice. He is constantly changing things around. Training with men, there are no easy days! My off season diet is a lot cleaner than it ever has been before, as I know this is a major factor in order for me to grow. I train hamstrings twice a week. I include pull ups or chins in every back workout in order to improve on my back width. I hope all that will pay off in the end.
photo by Micheala Images
17. What else we can expect from you in the near future? For example any guest posings, shootings etc coming up?
- I have not any guest posing planned but I am going to use the winter months to my advantage to gain a little off season weight and hope that you will notice the changes the next time I am on stage. When I am a few weeks out from my next show, I hope to arrange a few shoots here in the UK and a few after my show in America.
18. I am sure whole bodybuilding world is looking forward to see and hear more of you! For those, where they can find more news and information about you?
- More about me can be found on my website CarmenKnights.Com (due to be relaunced in the near future), I can also be found on facebook : Carmen Marie Knights .
19. And now you get a chance to thank the persons who have most helped you during your career.
- I have to thank the guy who spotted my fat backside doing everything wrong in the gym, Mr Eddie Abbew, he was the only person to believe in me and to make me believe in myself. I never dreamed I would be capable of getting on stage let alone competing as a professional.
I would also like to thank CNP Nutrition and Fitness Addicts, my sponsors.
Thank you to my children for putting up with me doing what I do !