Wednesday, March 7, 2012
This is without a doubt one of my favorite interviews. It is with Rossella Prunetti. Rossella is a beautiful and very talented woman. She has done about 60 competitions, and now writes about the sport. She recently did an ebook (in Italian) and has a website, has written for many publications, she is a promter, and is basically a great Representative for the sport of bodybuilding. When I first approached Rossella about doing an interview I admit I knew practically nothing about her. But became so impressed with her that I quickly did my best to find out everything I could about her. What I found out is that she is an amazing woman. I am very honored to present this interview with Rossella Pruneti.
Q: First, Rossella, thanks for taking the time out to do this. I appreciate
A: It is my pleasure. You know, I always feel obliged to give back to body
building. I think it gave me a lot but some time I wonder if my friend Rich
Gaspari was right when he said it only gave him heartbreaks. I guess some of
us cannot skip this roller coaster-like relationship with body building. It
is the way we are and we live.
Q: Can you tell a little about yourself. Family, where you are from, things
A: I was born in Firenze, Central Italy. I grew in a beautiful middle-class
family with lots of love, food, books, and English language exposure. My
childhood and girlhood were devoted to playing, reading, and studying. I was
happy and I am grateful to my family for those years.
Q: Before you started training, were you always a very athletic person? Play
A: Quite the contrary. I was a lazy girl. I used to walk a bit after lunch with
my father - who loves trekking and keep fit doing it. I was the usual homely
plumpy girl who preferred studying and class examinations to playing a sport
and physical education lessons. I just took a few lessons of tennis in those
years. I remember the best performance of mine was in shot put at a school
contest. I started to understand there are different kind of activities and
to see that my body and mind were more for the kind related to power and
strength instead of the aerobic or endurance ones.
Q: What got you into the gym to start training?
A: My elder sister Perla in 1987. I was 17 years old. I didn't even know what
was body building and how a piece of equipment looked like. I only knew
Arnold Schwarzenegger was a body builder. As it happens, she quit after a
few months while I am still there lifting weights :)
Q: Was training something you picked up pretty easy? How long before you
started to see results?
I loved it pretty soon. I was very slim and scrawny in my upper body. I
remember the female instructor, the first Italian championess in "soft"
female body building, yelled at my small biceps. I hated that and I swore
revenge. However at first my aim was to use body building together with my
diet to get slim - in the lower part of my body. I was - and maybe under the
muscle armor still am - the typical Mediterranean pear-shaped woman. I loved
the importance of nutrition in this sport.
In the long run (let's say after a few years) I went through a real
makeover. A teacher of mine met me after 5-6 years and was amazed. He said
the only thing which could have helped him to recognize me were my eyes!
Q: What led to you deciding to compete?
A: The easy level of female body building in Italy back then. Female body
building was split up in two categories: soft i.e. by far less muscular
and hard i.e. muscular, ripped, vascularized. I started because I felt I
could be a "soft". I still remember the former Mishay Santos laugh at the
description of Italian soft body building. In the years they united the
categories and I ended up in the only muscular Italian female body building.
You could say I did like the dog in the Jack London's novel. I grew into one
of them simply by following them - although I have always been a smaller
body builder. I guess it is my body type. I have long limbs and a really fast
Q: Was competing something your family and friends supported?
A: Not at all. My family always got ashamed of that. They never watched a
competition of mine. My mother was not able to look at a picture of me on stage.
She said it was repulsive. Plus she felt like I was doing something immoral.
I also grew apart from my childhood girlfriends. As a body builder, I was
too much different than them and - sad to say - I felt that big gap becoming
bigger and bigger.
Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: It is easy - I competed a lot! Like maybe more than 60 competitions in 10
years. To sum it up, I had been competing as an Italian level body builder
from 1992 to 2001 - I had to stop in 1999 for personal reasons... I was
getting a divorce. Then I made a comeback as BodyFitness in 2005. I thought
I could have been a good Bodyfitness not being a good Body Builder. It
happened that as a Body Builder I was small and as a Bodyfitness I was too
big! Still to date my best result is the Central Italy in 1995 - 1st in the
heavyweight and overall. Even a month later at the Nationals I went on stage
with my best conditioning.
I competed together with the best Italian championess and I am proud of
that - Carla Girardello, Viviana Violante, Giuditta Magazzino, Teresa La
Corte, and many others.
There's another important trait of my palmarès - I have always been
competing in the IFBB. I believe I can be proud I never never stepped on
another federation stage. In Italy most athletes switch federations looking
for the one which can get them the title. I never did because I humbly knew
I had to improve. I have always thought that when you are at your best you
win everywhere and with any judge panel.
Q: You do not compete anymore, but you still stay in shape. What is your
normal training routine like now, and what is your favorite part to train?
A: I will always train as long as I have a good health to do that. I'll tell
you a thing. The only part of my life I quit body building was during 9
months of my first pregnancy. I had to do that due to all familiar pressures
to take care of the baby in my womb. Well, after 15 days from my labour I
started working out again and.... I felt like a fish taken out from water
and then put back in its natural environment again!
Training is something I love and being a body builder is the way I am.
I have no favorite bodypart to train. However I feel huge shoulders are
critical for my shape and I'd love to improve my glutes. The battle against
not really nice glutes is a constant in my body building career.
Q: Do you think there are any misconceptions about women who weight train
or are muscular, or things you wish people understood?
A: A lot. I am also fed up to talk about those misconceptions. I wrote many
articles from a psychological point of view. Nowadays I am just happy to let
women understand that body building will not subtract to their beauty and
it is by far better than aerobics class if they care about their physique -
of course it is like confronting apples with oranges since body building and
aerobics have different aims but this is something most women don't
understand and try to chisel their body with cardio!
Q: You also do a lot of writing on fitness. Where have you written and what
do you write about?
A: I am sorry I don't remember all the magazine or web sites. I had been the
editor of Body's Magazine by Panatta Sport from 1998 through 2003. I
started up two magazines - BIG and Better Bodies. I had been translating
Ironman for Olympian's News. I got articles published on Cultura Fisica,
Sport & Salute, Sportman. I contributed to international magazines like
American Health Fitness, Musclesport, Le Mond du Muscle, and so on. I really
cannot remember all of them. A few months ago I started up POWER. I write
about body building and fitness: training, nutrition, supplementation,
contest coverages. As a copywriter I may write about different subjects. You
just have to be honest and do serious research. What I aim is writing in a
simple, entertaining way. I admire the style of the English academic writer.
They are able to make Quantum Mechanics understand but the layman! I think
of papers by Richard Feynman, for instance.
Q: What got you involved in writing about the sport?
A: I started to send contest coverage and book reviews to Cultura Fisica, a
major Italian magazine. Back then the editor was a special, nice man -
GianMarco Pagliai. He published me and got me started up. I am still in
touch with him and I always say he has been "my father in body building". I
will always be grateful to him and honored of having taken part in body
building magazines when he was still involved.
Q: You also do some promoting work. Can you tell people what you do for
A: Together with my husband Dennis Giusto, we promote North Italy IFBB
Championships and Notte dei Campioni which is the IFBB Italia qualifier to
select athletes to compete in the Arnold Classic Amateur Championships. This
year we'll be promoting the Nationals too. In Italy Nationals change venue
year after year and the President wants them to be alternated among a city
in the South, a city in the Central Italy, and a city in the North.
Q: Do you have any favorite competitors, or people you admire?
A: Any competitor who is honest with their competition and does their utmost is
my favorite. As for people I admire, they are many. I can just tell you some
who played a critical role in my life: my father for what he achieved and
what he gave me both through DNA and through material and moral support, Ray
Stern and his wife Debi for the teaching and the right way to go they showed
me, Rudy Panatta of Panatta Sport because he tried to teach me something and
I neglected that only for recognizing after some time he was damn right! My
friend Rich Gaspari was also fundamental in my life and having seen his
second rise to stardom, I can say I admire him too.
Q: One reason I started this blog, was because it seems men, unfairly get
way more coverage and respect than women who compete. Why do you think that
A: I always think of people like "human beings" not men or women. Being a
woman, I am used to be less credited or to have less coverage than men. I
really don't care. At the high school we used to talk about that among girls
and a school-friend of mine said: "Just think of cooking. When a woman is
good at cooking, that's it. When a man is good at cooking, he is a chef!". I
think it is just something related to our culture and honestly I think
there's no use to moan about that. Just be the best you can be. Period.
Q: What will it take to get the women more coverage and respect in the
A: I think they have coverage. The problem is - what should we do to get them
more marketable? But I am a body builder more than a promoter and as Bill
Dobbins says, a woman must be free to be what she likes. Down with
marketable. I always say to girls to come on stage as they like to be
because they have to be like that all year long while the show lasts only
one day. Be what you like to be not caring of what judges want or magazines
Q: Do you think women who train and compete are more or less accepted by
society than they were five years ago?
A: In Italy hardcore body building has almost disappeared so that it is easy to
go mainstream for Body Fitness - they are not so big and scaring as we
bodybuilders used to be!
Q: Does it bother you when you see women who are skinny and unhealthy
portrayed as sex symbols and said to have these great bodies, when in
reality they are very unhealthy?
A: No, I am not. Beauty can have different shapes and levels. Indeed anorexia
is a sad problem and should not be encouraged by mass media.
Q: If someone came up to you and said they wanted to start training, what
is the one piece of advice you would want to give them?
A: I could teach them all my body building philosophy but I would end up
looking like an old grumpy annoying person. I prefer to stand by them in
silence and help them when they'll ask me for that.
If they take into account competing, I always say not to use drugs. Drugs
may work but results are short lived. Drugs may also not work and you wind up
to ruin your health for nothing.
Q: What is the biggest mistake you see people make when they start training?
Q: Outside of training, writing, and promoting, do you have any other
hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: If you add webmastering and web design plus improving my English, you listed
22. Can you describe a typical day in the life of Rossella Pruneti.
A: Most of my day is computer work with 1-2 hours devoted to workouts. I stay
up till late and get up late. Night hours are the best to translate and
Q: Favorite movie, actor, TV show, and musician?
A: Il Mandolino del Capitano Corelli. I have always thought in another life I
was somebody during WWII. Perhaps an USA soldier. Or his lover.
Al Pacino but I cannot explain why. I don't know.
These days I like the TV series "Bones". I have a degree in Mathematical
Logics and their ability to discover things make me think of that. As soon
as I got graduated, I tried to get a job as an investigator.
Q: Describe Rossella Pruneti in five words.
"She loves bodybuilding a lot". These are the same 5 words I told Rafael
Santonja when he gave me the IFBB Silver Medal in Cernobbio on October 17th
2009. He answered back: "We love you". That's what I most cherish - that
people understand I am motivated by the love and passion for my sport and
give credit to me for that.
Q: When you are no longer at all involved in the sport, how do you want to
A: I will always be involved in the sport. People won't be able to remember me
in any other way.
Q: You also have a website. Can you give out the address for that, and tell
people what they can find there?
It is pretty much a professional showcase but questions are welcome in the
Q: Anything else I may have missed that you want to take the time to plug
A: You gave me the opportunity to remember and to tell many things. Thank you
for that. We could go business and just say I published an ebook about
fitness and body building before, during and between pregnancies. Alas, it
is in Italian. The link to download Chapter 1 for free is:
Q: Rossella, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Is there
anything else you want to add before you go?
A: I will be always here if you need more. As a novelist wrote, no body builder
simply quit. The same novelist wrote that body building is a cerebral
exercise with a barbell. That's uncanny yet true. I don't know another way
of life, and maybe I am not able to live a different life, but I do love
this one. I won't be anything different than - a person who makes good use
of their mind over their body and life