The hype has passed and the titans have left; the biggest fitness expo in all of Canada was once again successfully showcased on the weekend of June 3rd, 4th and 5th. Alongside the expo, many great events took place this weekend. From the Ontario Provincial Championships, where many of our Ontario athlete’s will go on to compete for IFBB Pro Cards at the Canadian National Championships, to many events like CrossFit, strongman and powerlifting. Although this amazing weekend has grown so much over the years, the most popular spectacle is seeing the IFBB Pro’s battling it out for the crown on who has the best physique that weekend.
Last month, I had the pleasure of interviewing many of the amazing athletes’ competing at the Toronto Pro Show. They were a few weeks out, putting all their effort, resources and time into preparing to step on stage and fight for the top spot in Toronto. Now that the show is done and the athlete’s had time to reflect on their past experience, I had the privilege of talking to them again and hear about some of their amazing memories about this unforgettable weekend in Toronto.
A man who has mastered the use of the strongest asset we have as human beings, the mind. Jon Andersen is truly the definition of a man achieving anything he sets his mind to. From 3 top professional athletic careers, to many business ventures, to becoming an IFBB Pro in his second bodybuilding show ever; this man is not average. Jon is fairly new to competitive bodybuilding, but he is already sharing the stage with top level pros. Although he is just figuring out how his body responds to specific bodybuilding training and nutrition protocols, I have no doubt in my mind this man will make a loud bang in the future of bodybuilding. I had the pleasure of chatting with him again about his experience at the Toronto Pro Show!
Juan: Hey Jon! Thanks for being back with us at the OPA! How did you enjoy doing the Toronto Pro Show and what do you feel is special about this show?
Jon: I enjoyed the Toronto Pro Show very much! The promoter did a fabulous job of making the athletes feel well cared for and had the event in a very classy venue which the athletes all appreciate.
Juan: Yes, I agree, this show is amazing and very well run! Is there something you feel you could have done differently to come in looking better for this show?
Jon: I would have come into the contest a little bit fuller. I am not a very experienced bodybuilder as of yet and the Toronto pro show was my fifth bodybuilding contest of my career. Not my fifth pro contest, my fifth contest ever! So next year I will be bigger, better, and much improved!
Juan: This is amazing; you are definitely on the right track in bodybuilding! Did traveling from California affect your regular meal schedule? What strategy do you use when you have to fly so far away for a show to get your proper meals in?
Jon: One of my mottos is that you must prepare to succeed. I didn't miss any meals because I prepped every meal necessary for the whole trip before I left home.
Juan: How do you feel about placing 13th and what is the next step for Jon Andersen?
Jon: I was not happy with my placing, but my placing is my placing. A true professional athlete will accept accountability and responsibility for the outcome; good or bad. The positive side to this is that it is highly motivating to place in a lesser position that you would like. In most cases, you will learn more from getting kicked in the ass than winning.
Juan: These words are of a true champion, regroup, review and execute a new plan! Are you happy with the feedback you received from the judges at the show?
Jon: I have never been in a competition with that many top profile bodybuilders. The feedback I got from the judges was much more detailed than I have ever gotten in the past. This makes me highly motivated to work on some of the details that they have pointed out that need improvement. My training is always changing, especially now after some very good feedback from the judges.
Juan: What was your most memorable experience in Toronto and would you come back to this beautiful city?
Jon: Toronto is indeed a beautiful city! I love the people and I loved the contest. I will definitely be back next year with a much improved physique ready to enjoy myself just as much as I did this year! I would like a chance to thank the promoters for doing such a great job; I would also like to thank my title sponsor Talos Nutrition for supporting me and making all this possible.
Juan: Thank you very much for answering these questions Jon and we all look forward to seeing you back on this stage next year!
This man is quickly making a huge name for himself in the history of bodybuilding. The Mountain Dog himself has shown the world that with enough hard work and determination you can reach your dreams. Despite John suffering some serious health issues alongside many other adversities, this has never stopped him from pushing. John has now become an incredibly successful family man, business man, and professional bodybuilder. Despite getting whiffs of a pro card for numerous years while his clients were earning them like hot bread, he never quit and earned one of his own. Improving from show to show, I cannot wait to see where John takes his physique and career in the near future.
Juan: Thank you very much John for joining us again at the OPA Newsletter! Please tell us about your experience in Toronto and how the process went to cut down to 212 lbs. for the weigh in this competition!
John: The weigh in ran really late, it was pretty tough to be honest with you. I went the entire day surviving on one meal and 6 oz. of water!
Juan: Wow that definitely sounds hard! How did it feel to compete against some of your clients? And how do you balance competing at the same shows as them seeing as you have so many things to worry about during a show?
John: It feels great, I am doing what I love, which is helping others do what they love. There is also a lot of camaraderie with each other so it was very good!
Juan: Are you happy with the physique you brought to the stage?
John: Yes and no. I thought I looked pretty decent but I actually looked better in shows the following 2 weeks.
Juan: With so many shows ahead of you, do you have a planned off season? And what will be your main focus and areas you want to improve on when you do take an offseason?
John: I don't really have off seasons geared toward gaining weight and building. At my age and level, it's more of refining what I have to make a better package.
Juan: That sounds very smart! How important do you rank posing on your list of priorities, and what does your posing schedule look like getting ready for a competition?
John: It is very important, I try to schedule 20 minutes, 3-4 times a week during the last 5-6 weeks before a show.
Juan: What do you feel is special about the Toronto Pro Show weekend that other shows do not do?
John: I really like the promoter Ron Hache. I feel that he is a good man, and it was my pleasure to be in the show!
Juan: Thank you very much for giving us your thoughts John and we all look forward to seeing how Mountain Dog keeps improving every time!
A professional athlete that travels to display one of the top physiques in the world, while at the same time working a stressful job and being a single mother of two kids. Mica is one of the most admirable people I have ever seen, she truly can show others that having “no time” is no excuse not to reach your goals! Mica is somewhat new to the competition scene, but her way up the ranks has been very fast. While her very well rounded physique, fabulous stage presence and femininity in this division make her stand out, her best attribute is her character. She does not believe in putting in half effort, and is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. I was very excited to interview Mica again and get an insight into her experience in Toronto.
Juan: Thank you very much Mica for joining us again! How your experience at the Toronto Pro Show 2016 and what was your most memorable moment there?
Mica: I think the entire show was great, including the expo. The most memorable moments are always the people I get to meet. Without competing, I would never have this amazing opportunity.
Juan: How has this show been different than other shows you have done and what did you like about this wonderful weekend?
Mica: The expo was great and I loved the fact that the show incorporated every single division, including wheelchair.
Juan: Yes, this is actually the biggest fitness expo in all of Canada! Would you say you are happy with the physique you brought to the stage? and do you feel your placing was just?
Mica: Although disappointed, I feel as if my placing was just. I didn’t “come in” as I had hoped or expected, and it cost me a better placing.
Juan: What improvements over your last show are you happy with that you made for this one?
Mica: I made improvements all around, but I’m really happy with the improvements I made in my quad sweeps, my glutes and my hamstrings. My tie-ins came in better than ever. I can build easily in my upper body, but my lower half is a struggle.
Juan: If you could have done something different to peak for that moment on stage, what would you have done?
Mica: I peaked a day late, the only thing I would have done differently is back up my carb load by a day.
Juan: Who is the most memorable person you met at this show?
Mica: Although we didn’t officially meet in person, YOU are the most memorable person because of the interactions we’ve had. As I mentioned, one of the best things about competing is being able to meet people from around the world that share the same passion and drive.
Juan: Wow what a pleasure Mica, I am very happy I can give others good memories! What do you feel is a misconception the world has of physique competitor’s like yourself, and do you ever let this affect your life?
Mica: I think one of the biggest misconceptions people have is that my life revolves around the gym and I spend hours upon hours training. That’s not the case at all! Being fit and healthy is a lifestyle, but competing is a hobby. On the flip side, I find that people in the fitness world are often surprised when they learn that a competitor has a career outside of the gym. I never let anyone’s misconceptions or opinions affect my life, I just find it humorous.
Juan: Many individuals in the fitness industry get judged this way, and this is why people like yourself are admired! What is next for Mica Schneider and what plans do you have to keep improving your physique?
Mica: I’m going to do the Chicago Pro as planned on July 1st & 2nd, and from there, who knows. I’m always a work in progress, so whether I compete or not, I’ll keep eating clean and busting my ass in the gym.
Juan: Thank you very much Mica, I really appreciate all these awesome answers and we are all excited to see how you do in Chicago!
The 2015 champion has been hungry and improving for a full year. Despite of not placing 1st this time, he has made some serious improvements to his physique throughout the last year, and Zane is more than happy with his showing. Zane brought a physique to this show that everyone was wowed by, he even beat a few athletes that had beat him at past shows. Not only is Zane a great bodybuilder, but also a man that is always available to help others, and I had the pleasure of asking him a few questions again to follow up after the show.
Juan: Thank you for joining us at the OPA newsletter again Zane! Was it difficult for you to reach that 212 lb. weigh in this time and what methods do you use to get this low?
Zane: No, I still have about 6 lbs. left in the class. I weighed in at 206 lbs. Two weeks out, I sit at around 228 lbs., so at that point I got worried, but once I dropped my sodium and lost my water weight, I lost around 8-12 lbs.
Juan: That sounds like a lot of water weight lost! After the weigh in, what protocol do you follow in order to look full on stage?
Zane: After weighing in, I usually go for a burger and fries with a drink. I load my body with sodium and then I will eat every 2 to 3 hours straight through the night.
Juan: How has this 2nd place affected you mentally going from winning the show last year?
Zane: Everyone keeps asking me if I am ok with my placing; of course I am! Last year, I placed 1st out of 8 athletes. This year I placed 2nd out of 18 athletes (4 of which I have lost to in previous competitions). I feel I brought my best package and was beat by a better athlete, I know why I placed how I did, so this means I can work on those areas for my next show.
If I placed 2nd and thought, “I could have been better then….” My outlook would be different. Just like it was placing 16th in the Olympia, if I place 16th in the Olympia but was as good as I could be, then I would be content just to have competed on that stage.
Juan: That is the answer of a champion! What was your most memorable experience during this amazing Pro Show weekend?
Zane: My fans yelling: “WATSON! WATSON! WATSON! WATSON!” Bob Chicherillo calls them "ZANIACS."
Juan: What show is next for Zane Watson and will you be doing anything different for that prep than this one?
Zane: I’m going to hit the drawing board, I think I'm done for the year. I am going to go full tilt until the Arnold Classic in March.
Juan: What advice would you give an up and coming amateur bodybuilder looking to reach your level of competition in this sport?
Zane: Persistence Prevails! This is not a sprint, this is a marathon. If you keep at it, always improving bit by bit, you will succeed. Be healthy and injury free.
Juan: Thank you very much Zane for giving us your time! Best of luck with all your future plans!
A native of Nova Scotia, Greg Doucette is one of the men who know his body better than most people on this earth. He knows exactly how his body reacts and what it needs whether it is in terms of training, supplementation, or dieting. Greg has put his time under the barbell and fork, and through experience and hard work, he has risen to the top of bodybuilding now competing with the professionals. He even has developed a way of eating that he doesn’t share with many, his protocol allows him to not crave foods, or have cheat meals....EVER! When I met him he told me, “I had to have some dirty meals to peak for stage, but I can’t wait to get back to my regular plan.” This shocked me as most competitors can’t wait to go out and eat lots of the foods that they have been avoiding for their prep. Let’s see what else this great man has on his mind after the show!
Juan: Thanks for doing this interview with us again Greg! How do you feel about the physique you brought into the Pro show? And is there something you would do differently during your prep or the few days before the show?
Greg: I was 100% satisfied with the package I brought to the Toronto Pro Stage. I hit all my goals and was at my all-time leanest and heaviest for the show while still managing to place 9th. Top 10 was my main goal, as the caliber of athletes was very high in comparison to most shows.
Juan: That is amazing to hear! What is a moment from the 2016 Toronto Pro Show weekend that you will never forget?
Greg: Getting to do my routine for the 1st time as a pro at the night time show. This was my 3rd professional show and I had yet to be able to do a routine as I was never in the top 10.
Juan: That moment must have been an amazing experience. Coming from a powerlifting background, how do you incorporate powerlifting training into your bodybuilding lifestyle? What do you feel are the pros and cons of this?
Greg: I train using powerlifting movements, things like the bench press and deadlift, with the only difference being that I do them for a higher rep range in order to cause muscle hypertrophy. Time under tension is a very important factor in determining if your muscle will grow or simply get stronger. The only con's I can think of is that it's very hard training and takes longer to do because you need more rest time in comparison to how most bodybuilders train. When I watch most people train they don't rest very long and push a lot lighter weights.
Juan: After this show, what improvements are you looking to make on your physique and how will you go on about approaching this?
Greg: As has been the case for the last 22 years I have been competing, it’s always about getting bigger. I'm always one of the leanest guys in the show with really good shape and symmetry. However, I am also always one of the smallest guys there. The goal is always to add more muscle while keeping all the same cuts and striations. Getting bigger is not easy when you are 40 and you have been lifting your whole life. I have already added over 60 lbs. of muscle since I first competed, so adding even more is very difficult.
Juan: That sounds like a very good goal and I am sure you will be able to achieve it! What is your biggest motivation to keep getting better and better?
Greg: My biggest motivation is definitely intrinsic. I simply want to be the best me that I can be. I am motivated by personal improvement and knowing that I gave my contest prep 100% effort and pushed myself further then I ever thought possible.
Juan: What do you feel is often neglected by amateur bodybuilders looking to become professional bodybuilders like yourself?
Greg: Amateurs want to turn pro yesterday, and so they expect huge improvements to happen too quickly. It took me 18 years and 50 shows before I earned my pro card. In this time I mastered how to train, eat, rest and diet properly in order to maximize my results. Amateurs often don't have enough experience and are lacking in at least one component. They might have a great diet, but don't train properly or vice versa. What I suggest is they get the best coach they can find, learn from them for several years and then start expecting to have a shot at a pro card (but only after competing for many years).
Juan: What a pleasure it has been to learn from you Greg, we’re all looking forward to seeing your career evolve!
Looks like the East makes some pretty good bodybuilders! Another native of Nova Scotia, Mike is one of the nicest men I have ever met. He is very humble and is always looking to see how he can help others. Mike realizes that being a bodybuilder does not mean that he is better than his fans, or the general public. Mike competed against his trainer Mr. John Meadows and this fascinated me as many times, individuals can be ome jealous and selfish, but not Mike and John. They speak very highly of each other and have a connection as if they were best friends. Let’s see what Mike has to say about the Pro Show.
Juan: What a pleasure it was to see you competing Mike. How did you enjoy your weekend at the Toronto Pro Show? And if you were in charge of this weekend, what would you change about it?
Mike: It was a great weekend for athletes and spectators a like. From what I've heard, everyone had a ton of fun and loved the events. The only thing I would change is weigh in times for the pros. It seemed extremely late.
Juan: Was there something you did for this prep that was different than your usual preps?
Mike: Not really, my body just didn't seem to want to drop water, but wanted to hold on to more and more as we approached the show. I looked great Thursday and Friday, but stuff like this happens and I can only learn from it and move on.
Juan: You learn from all your past experiences, I agree! If you could change one thing about your prep and peaking protocol for this show, what would you have done differently?
Mike: Well, figure out why my body didn't want to drop water for one; also, not dropping water so early on.
Juan: How did it feel going head to head with your trainer John Meadows? And what are some of the most valuable things you’ve learned from John?
Mike: This wasn't the first time John and I have competed against each other. We first met in Vancouver last summer, so we have done that before. The things I learned from John have been so valuable to me. He is a wealth of knowledge and everyone's physique is different from show to show. Don't get discouraged over one bad showing, it happens. John is my friend first and an admirable family man as well. I have nothing but respect for John Meadows.
Juan: This kind of friendship in bodybuilding is amazing to see! Do you ever get days where you lack motivation or drive to diet or train? And if so, how do you deal with these?
Mike: Training, hardly ever. Sometimes we have days that we are just exhausted but we do the training because we love it. The diet is more mental than anything, I've always told myself that it's a choice we make that we want to be a bodybuilder. If we are having a bad day just cause our calories are down, it’s no one else's fault. Suck it up and keep going.
Juan: What is next for Mike Lynds? And from this show, what will be the main target to improve your physique and what is your plan of action for this?
Mike: My next event is guest posing at the Fusion Classic this weekend in Guelph, then I'll be four weeks out from the Vancouver Pro. To improve my physique is to come in shape, nothing else. Figure out what happened with my water retention, and fix the issue. I'm very excited to get back up on that stage and have a great time.
Juan: What a pleasure it was to meet you and chat with you Mike, We’re all excited about the bang you will be making representing our beautiful country in bodybuilding.
With the pursuit of achieving the best possible physique and helping hundreds of clients do the same, Juan Rojas has dedicated his life to finding the best strategies for transforming human bodies. Constant research, trial and error and continous education in the exercise physiology and nutrition field, Juan Rojas thrives off finding the most efficient ways to transform your body and live a happier and healthier lifestyle.