We talked with Simone Collins in February, 2020.
👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
I’m Simone (Simi) and I’m 33 years old. I’m from Australia and live in Melbourne. I work full time for Tony Doherty at Doherty Gym.
My role is pretty varied as Tony not only owns and operates Dohertys Gyms, but is also the director of the Arnold Sports Festival Australia, and the head promoter of the IFBB Pro League and Amateur Bodybuilding shows (the Australian equivalent of NPC/IFBB).
In my role, I do a lot of graphic design, merchandise production and design, event planning and organising, arranging sponsorship and athlete registrations, website building, social media content, general admin duties, and personal assistant work for Tony.
I train and compete for bodybuilding competitions. I compere in a division called “Figure”, and I consider my placings to be some of my biggest achievements:
- 1st Place – 2019 ICN State Championships Over 30’s
- 3rd Place – 2019 ICN State Championships Over 52kg
- 1st Place – 2017 Naturally Fit Games, Austin Texas
- 2nd Place – 2015 Naturally Fit Games, Austin Texas
- 1st Place – 2014 IFBB Victorian State Champion
- 6th Place – 2014 IFBB Australian Amateur Grand Prix
- 2nd Place – 2014 IFBB O’Mara Classic World Qualifier
- 3rd Place – 2013 IFBB Victorian State Titles
- 4th Place – 2013 IFBB Australian Amateur Grand Prix
I also won “International Transformation of the Year” in 2013 on bodybuilding.com
I started training in 2010 because I wanted to improve my physical and mental health. I was inspired by athletes in fitness magazines, and online. I was also inspired by super heroes in movies, comic book characters, and my love of fantasy and strong female warriors in the books I grew up reading.
I want to look and feel strong, inside and out. Training because a part of my routine, I find it very therapeutic. It’s a great outlet for dealing with a range of different emotional and mental issues, and it’s great for your health and well-being! I absolutely love training, I would feel lost without it.
When I started bodybuilding, I didn’t think there was anyone else doing it as a vegan, but to my surprise when I googled “Vegan Bodybuilding” I came across Robert Cheeke and his website veganbodybuilding.com and purchased his books.
I was very inspired by connecting with the online community he brought together, and athletes like Robert himself, Dani Taylor, Giacomo Marchese, and the PlantBuilt team, who I later had the incredible privilege of competing alongside!
I love that, simply by engaging in a sport that I am passionate about, I can help to change the way people perceive vegans and veganism, and hopefully inspire positive change!
In addition to bodybuilding and weight training training, I have also tried powerlifting and CrossFit. I grew up playing sports and engaging in physical activities, such as netball, swimming, athletics, and dance. I think it’s a big part of who I am!
My other hobbies are art and music.
PranaOn sponsors me – I’ve been with them since their inception as one of the first brand ambassadors. They have supported me through all my competitions, and I’m so grateful to Billy Simmonds and the PranaON Tribe. They are an Australian brand, and their entire range is vegan certified, natural, banned-substance free, eco-friendly, and organic where possible.
⏱ Describe a typical day of training
It depends on my goal at the time. For the moment, I’m not planning on competing any time soon, so I’m doing less weight training, and a little more cardio/running, with the goal to improve my running and do some races or obstacle courses later in the year! I make up my own training sessions and sometimes I post them on my Instagram (for anyone who’s interested!)
At the moment, I’m really enjoying higher intensity weight training, bodyweight training, and conditioning workouts. However, I have had the best muscle gains when incorporating a variety of isolation and compound movements, and including both high volume lifts, and and heavy weight lifts in a single workout.
At the moment, I’m also very busy with work and don’t have as much time to train. My current training takes 45-60 minutes and is a mix of weights and cardio. I usually train two to three body parts at a time, and do some mid-intensity or interval cardio afterwards. If I have time, I will do a second 30 minute session later in the day.
When I’m training specifically for bodybuilding competitions, I usually do one hour of weights, five to six days a week in off season. On-season, I add in around 30 mins cardio, five days a week.
Sometimes I need to increase this to 40-50 mins very close to the comp. For my last competition, I was coached by Dani Taylor from Vegan Proteins. She’s an incredible coach!
When I was powerlifting, I only trained four days a week, and my sessions were based around a specific lift and recovery (ie squat day, bench day, deadlift day, mobility day)
My go-to supplements are Creatine, Protein Powder from PranaON, and a MyProtein Vegan Omega 3. I also use Multi Force by PranaOn (a natural vegan multivitamin supplement) and Super Greens.
I don’t supplement with b12 specifically because my levels are super high, I am not sure why but I asked my doctor and he didn’t know either. He said they body can store it for a long time! However, I do recommend to take b12 as most vegans do this!
👊 How do you keep going and push harder?
I think it’s very important to have long term and short term goals, so that you have something that keeps you interested and motivated, and you can see progress. Track your weights to keep yourself pushing harder to improve.
Sometimes, you will absolutely LOVE training, and some days it will feel like a chore. Consistency is HUGELY important, so it’s crucial that on the days you don’t feel motivated, that you get in and do it anyway. It’s only a small portion of your day – and chances are you’ll feel better for it when it’s done!
Sometimes it’s hard to fit everything in. Even as a competitive athlete I struggle with this. Find something that fits your lifestyle. If you only have 20-30 minutes each day to train, that’s ok! Just make those 20-30 minutes REALLY count!
If you have a goal that requires you to train for a specific amount of time, then you do need to make it a priority and find that time.
The biggest challenge I’ve faced in terms of training, has been managing my insane workload in the lead up to the Arnold Sports Festival while getting my training and meals in.
I set myself very achievable targets to ensure that, even at a reduced rate, I am able to keep training. This includes:
- Training a minimum of four times a week
- Getting to the gym early before work to train
- Doing whatever I can fit into a session (eg. if I have only 25 minutes I will superset everything!)
- Prepare my meals once a week to ensure I always have good food on hand
- Take work breaks to go for a walk or do some cardio
- Use a standing desk periodically.
🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
To be honest, I’ve hit a rough patch late last year. I was incredibly stressed an overworked. I was managing to get most of my training sessions in before work, but I was overloaded to the point where I was working all day with no break, coming home and staying up late to finish more work.
I was no eating properly, I had just come out of a competition (so my body was already under a great deal of physical stress) and I just wasn’t recovering well, sleeping well or coping well!
I had a lot of trouble dealing with my anxiety and my immune system was shot, so I was getting illness after illness, which in turn affected my ability to train.
I started to do some research and I learnt a lot about the strong connection between stress, the immune system, and physical/mental/emotional health. I realised above everything that I needed to manage my stress. This included taking a few steps back, and changing a few things in my routine. These included:
- Taking proper breaks
- Eating good food
- Not tracking my calories or macros as much as I usually would in competition prep
- Not putting pressure on myself to train EVERY day for over an hour
- Taking rest when my body needed it
- Seeing a psychologist
- Reading some books and podcasts on stress management and mindfulness. At the moment, I’m enjoying Dr. Rangan Chatterjee’s books and podcasts, as well as Dr. Michael Hyman. I also LOVE the Vegan Proteins podcast!
While training and competing are still a HUGE part of my life, I also needed to learn a little balance and sustainability.
While I’m sure I will compete again some day, I’m focusing on training for the enjoyment at the moment, rather than a physical or aesthetic goal.
This has given me the freedom to explore other methods of training, focus on some new goals (like improving my running!) and taken the immense pressure off myself for needing to continually build muscle and look a certain way. It’s really helped increase my motivation to train, and I’m having a lot of fun!
🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
Get good sleep! I use GABA supplements to help me sleep. Also stretching, dynamic bodyweight movements, low impact cardio and good nutrition are all keys to recovery, as are the points mentioned above! I’ve already mentioned other supplements I use, PranaON has an awesome range and all the information about their various supplements are online at pranaon.com.
🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
My diet is very specific during competition prep, however my preferred method is “Flexible Dieting” – that means you have a set amount of calories, carbs, protein, and fats per day, but how you choose to fill these is up to you.
Lately, some days I track and some days I don’t. I think unless you’re in specific competition prep, it’s also handy to know how to be balanced, and be able to make good food choices without being overly pedantic about the precise numbers.
When I decide I want to prepare for another competition, I will definitely go back to tracking my macros and calories, as I do believe this is the most effective method when your goals are very specific.
I don’t crave much junk food, because I enjoy the freedom my diet allows me, even in competition prep. I never “ban” myself from anything. I either count it into my day (if I’m tracking) or allocate myself a “free day”. I limit these days to once a week. I love chocolate so much that I am actually able to include sugar free vegan chocolate even into my strict competition dieting!
I’ve spoken about supplements further up ☺
I drink coffee but not excessively, I like the taste so I also have decaf so I’m no overdoing the caffeine. I love it with almond milk. I drink alcohol occasionally when I’m not in prep.
👍 What has inspired and motivated you?
Robert Cheek’s books on vegan bodybuilding, the online vegan bodybuilding community, team PlantBuilt and my comp coach Dani Taylor.
I’m also inspired by the change I wish to see in the world. I want to be able to show people that being a vegan certainly will NOT hold you back from your fitness or bodybuilding goals. It’s not a disadvantage, a health risk, or even difficult to do. In fact, you could argue it’s actually a much healthier way to compete in a sport which requires extreme and dedicated dieting.
Sometimes, when I’m deep into my competition prep, I think of the animals suffering because of the choices humans make. I feel like I’m not just training for myself, or training to win, I’m fighting for them. It keeps me going especially on hard days.
✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
I would suggest starting out with a very achievable goal. Commit to two days a week and go from there. If you’re not sure how to get started, don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance, or hire a vegan coach!
If you’re an experienced trainer, make sure you are always challenging yourself. Stay consistent and don’t become complacent.
I think a lot of people go wrong when they try to do too much too soon, or they go hard for a week or two then don’t train for four. Consistency is key. Dedicate even a small amount of time to train, but be consistent and you will make progress!
🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?
Unfortunately, my work is just too busy right now, however I am a qualified PT, and I have coached many people in person and online.
I absolutely LOVE coaching – it’s so rewarding being able to help others improve themselves and achieve their goals! I hope to be able to have time for it in the future!
📝 Where can we learn more about you?
Email: [email protected]