👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
Hello! My name is Emmanuela, I’m 45. I was born and raised in Windsor ON where I still currently live. I have been teaching yoga for 15 years and recently started teaching barre (ballet style workouts) and fitness classes.
I have been training for a long time! I started right out of high school, and taught myself how to train by reading books and magazines. I was obsessed with women’s bodybuilding, it looked so regal and empowered. I started at the local YMCA and went every day.
I remember my nutrition was terrible as I had no idea about macros, etc. I didn’t think I would be able to achieve anything like what I saw in the magazines, but I had such a burning desire to be in the gym. I have no idea where that came from.. it was an internal passion that just continued to grow.
I never thought about competing but I had a few friends that were into the sport that really helped to guide me in my first few shows. My first competition was in 1998, I placed 2nd in light weight bodybuilding, I was 108 pounds!
Since then, I competed in bodybuilding for about five years then switched to Figure. It was a brand new division at the time, and it was perfect for me because I didn’t want to have to get the size required to compete in the higher levels of women’s bodybuilding competitions.
I have been competing in Figure ever since and have competed at Canadian Nationals at least fives times, always placing well but never winning the Pro card. I have also competed internationally at the Arnold Amateur and the North Americans a few times.
My last show was Canadian Nationals in June 2019, I placed second in Open Figure and Overall in Masters Figure (35 and over).
I teach yoga and fitness classes. I love it. It allows me to keep everything in balance, physically and mentally. The practice of yoga helps bodybuilding so much.
It helps to keep stress levels down, especially when dieting for a show, am able to breathe and be present with my discomfort (hungry, tired, etc) and not let stress or anxiety override my system.
What I love most about bodybuilding, fitness and yoga, is that you can do it anywhere, with anyone or by yourself, but it is always a community of people who have a bigger vision of being their best self.
I have learned so much about my body regarding what types of food fuel me best, how much sleep I need, how much rest is optimal, and it allows me to stay on top of my health in a way that works with my body and mind.
⏱ Describe a typical day of training
Currently with the Coronavirus keeping everyone indoors I have started uploading workout videos to my YouTube channel. This allows me to still connect with my students virtually, and allows me to maintain my daily routine.
Luckily, I have fitness equipment at home but I know a lot of people don’t so I make sure to do classes that don’t require a lot of equipment.
I train at least five days a week, I use heavier weights when I’m at the gym but with the equipment at home I have been doing higher reps and really getting a good workout with a different style.
The best competition prep program I did for size was: Heavy lifting six days a week, squats three days a week, and Hot Yoga five times a week. That was a good balance to get strength, size and cardio, maintaining balance and shape.
My off-season diet consists mostly of higher carbs and moderate fat, clean protein like organic meats and high quality protein supplements.
Now I do more yoga and less heavy lifting. I find as I get older my body needs more rest in between the heavier lifts, so I adapt to what is best for me day by day.
I have a couple training partners, I train with two guys and it works for me because they help push me.
One of my training partners is really into Cross Style training so that gives me good dynamic workouts and my other training partner is an old-school bodybuilder so we have some really good classic workouts together.
I don’t take a lot of bodybuilding supplements but I do take a lot of vitamins, mostly for inflammation and repair. Especially omega-3 fats, MSM, glutamine, curcumin, aloe juice, and vitamin C.
I don’t use a lot of extra equipment but I do love mini bands. I’ve been using those a lot especially for a lower body. I find that really gets the extra depth into the muscle.
I don’t do a lot of cardio in the off-season, I prefer moderate paced walking first thing in the morning so that it keeps the cortisol levels down and less impact on joints.
For fat loss, I prefer to do full body high intensity interval training for my cardio, that way I get to do some weights with it as well.
My favourite is back day, and I love pullovers. I used to hate training back!
Years ago, I let myself back off the amount of weight and go gradually back up, and my body was more open to it.
And now, rather than forcing my body to lift something heavy, my body has learned to lift it with grace and intention. I rarely force a lift anymore, I listen to my body and act accordingly.
I’m old school in regards to bio hacking. I don’t use any special tools or gadgets. I think they are helpful, but I have never got into it.
I keep a journal when I am prepping for a show (Now, that’s old school, haha), it helps me stay on track to journal about my food and fitness but more importantly, my journal helps to clear my mind and see where I am in relation to stresses, sleep, mood, etc.
👊 How do you keep going and push harder?
When I’m feeling unmotivated, I remind myself why I’m choosing to go workout. And realize it’s a gift to be able to go. And there are so many styles of training.
When I’m feeling off, I will alter my workout to match my mood (high reps, or lighter weight, long restorative stretches, etc.).
I think this is why I have been in the game for so long, I listen to my body and work with where I am at on that given day. Plus, I have a lot of background in different styles of training that I can draw upon when needed.
The best advice I can give for longevity in the gym is to use proper form. You can have the best workout routine but if you lift with terrible execution, you’re building an unbalanced physique and you’re going to hurt yourself. I am always working to maintain proper form through the full range of motion.
I have learned to love the discomfort of the last few reps, I think that’s what beginners need to learn: Discomfort is not the same as pain. Discomfort is necessary for growth. Pain is a signal from your body that you need to listen to, but there is a difference between the two.
Most beginners become afraid of the “effort/discomfort” signal and decide working out isn’t for them, and leave the gym without giving it another try. We need to listen to our bodies, just to allow the body to feel the movement before weight is added.
I love to teach because it keeps me growing and learning, and also keeps me in shape as I work.
I’m constantly learning new workout techniques, I use Instagram and YouTube for that. I love to try new movements and because I teach, I also like to share new things with my students.
🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
My training is going great. I am staying consistent and being patient. My goal is to increase my leg size, and get a little tighter all around.
My business goal for the next five years is to expand my online personal training programs, and offer lifestyle coaching online. I have trained under Paul Chek and believe in a holistic approach to health.
🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
I have been training for almost 30 years and have never had an injury. I am sure this is because I focus on proper form and mobilization as well as proper rest.
I try to sleep at least eight hours every night. I don’t like to get up too early, I am definitely not a morning person.
I love to travel and that is part of my goal, is to offer workouts and the training retreats in other countries.
I feel massage is extremely beneficial for helping/metabolic waste, when I’m in competition preparation, are usually get a massage once every couple weeks.
🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
I usually eat simple meals. A lot of fresh vegetables and salads. I try to eat organic as much as possible, although organic meat is more difficult to find.
I eat beef a few times a week, chicken a few times a week and fish once every couple weeks, as it’s not my favorite.
I do have a sweet tooth and I am a big fan of chocolate so I give myself the liberty of having chocolate at least a few times a week. I just make sure I don’t go overboard.
I really believe in green powder supplements for aiding in reducing inflammation. I use that every morning, currently using Greens Plus and also UDO’S oil for my 369 supplementation.
When dieting for a show, I usually have a cheat day once every couple weeks, and I will have whatever my body‘s been craving.
I find the longer I compete, the more intuitive I become with my cravings, but usually it’s high fat foods like peanut butter, or fries, usually something that I am depriving myself of while on the diet.
I try to stay lean throughout the year and usually 15 pounds over competition weight. Meditation really helps a lot when I have really bad food cravings, even if just for a few moments of stillness and breathing will help to stop the stress and feeling of wanting starts to diminish when your mind is a bit calmer.
I’ll try to cycle my coffee as I don’t wanna get too addicted to caffeine. So I’ll give myself a few weeks of no caffeine every couple months. I rarely drink alcohol but I do enjoy it on occasion.
👍 What has inspired and motivated you?
I have always read magazines as a teenager, musclemag, flex, muscle media, I loved it. There was such good information out there. It’s different today as social media is full of new “experts”, it can be difficult for a newbie to know who to listen to.
I have always admired Lenda Murray, as she was muscular yet feminine. I love podcasts, some podcasters I love: Ben Greenfield, Ben Pakulski, Paul Chek, Aaron Alexander, Jade Teta.
I rarely listen to music when I train, unless I’m training alone. I will put on some 90’s hip hop.
The best advice I have ever received: Just make the decision and do it. Don’t let yourself be sidetracked even when things get tough. Pivot as needed but always work with the end goal in mind.
✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
The best thing to do when starting out is to not let yourself get overwhelmed. Write down your goals and give yourself a timeline where you continuously check in with your goals every couple days.
The trick is to stay focused on the purpose of the work, or else you will just fall off when the effort becomes too intense.
I feel the experienced bodybuilders need to focus more on recovery and mobilizing. I see this a lot with my work as a yoga teacher.
I work with bodybuilders to help them create more ease in their bodies so that they can present their physique as best as they can on stage.
The biggest detriment to anyone who works out being a new person or inexperienced person is not engaging the correct alignment in the whole body when doing any exercise.
I’m a big believer that the whole body needs to be engaged and aware of every movement, especially when lifting heavy. Foundation is extremely important and is critical when lifting for size and strength.
The best life hack I can offer is to incorporate fitness throughout the day rather than waiting until after work to give yourself that 45 minutes of a work out.
Try to give yourself mini five or 10-minute movements every couple hours throughout the day. It will help increase your metabolism, it will help ease stress, it will combat fatigue, and it will keep your mental focus sharper.
🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?
I have currently expanded my online business to include more clients. I find FaceTime or Zoom calls to be really beneficial for me to watch form and discuss goals or anything within the program they would like to change.
For most clients we check in once a week but each client is different depending on their goals and objectives. I also have clients I see a few days a week. We customize as needed.