PT Cassie takes on iCompete Natural Rising Star & Rookie of the Year

 20 March 2018

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Cassie, a Personal Trainer at Active Monash, recently entered her first bodybuilding competition and came away with an outstanding result. We recently caught up with her to find out all about her result, her preparation, the lead-up and what's next for her...

What was the name of the Competition:

ICN (iCompete Natural) Rising Star & Rookie of the Year 2018

How long have you been preparing for this competition?

Training & dieting intensely for 3-4 months, but preparing probably for the last 6 or so months

What was the lead up to the competition like?

How long have you been training? How often/what did your training involve? What impact did your training have on your social and family life?

I had been training regularly for a couple of years by myself - doing Pump classes, gym weights and lots of cardio; but when I decided to do the competition I hired a coach and started to train a split of 4 heavy weight training days (Back, Shoulders, Legs, Chest) per week for 6 weeks, then added in 20 minutes of cardio (Stairmaster) per day for the 6 weeks prior to the competition. I was on a strict meal plan of 1700 calories with high protein, and a balance of carbohydrates and healthy fats that I had to stick to 100% the whole way through – that was tough. The same meals every single day for 4 months! Closer to the competition my calories & carbs decreased, and cardio increased so my energy levels were very low and I was feeling very tired and emotional. It had a big impact on my social life; I couldn’t go out to eat or drink with friends unless I brought my own food, and with the training I needed a lot more sleep so had to make sure I didn’t have too many late nights. It was sometimes hard to be at work as well, particularly during that final week because my brain needed energy and was just not working properly, it was harder to think! It was actually my birthday just a few days before the competition day; but I couldn’t celebrate because I wasn’t allowed to have any cake or anything other than my meal plan; and I was so depleted I had no energy to see any friends. But I definitely made up for it after the competition; we went out for a belated birthday dinner and I ate til my heart’s content! J And the wins were a great birthday present also, of course. I was on top of the world for a whole week after the comp day.

What was your official standing/result from the competition?

I entered 4 separate categories on the day, in 2 divisions:  Fitness & Sports. The categories were: First Timers Fitness Model, First Timers Sports Model, Open Fitness Model and Open Sports Model. Because there were so many competitors in the Open divisions, they separated us into 3 different height classes, and then the winners from each height class competed against each other to give the final Overall Winner.
I won First Place in every single category I entered – so six separate wins – the first timers for both divisions, my height class for both divisions, and then the Overall for both. Crazy! I came home with 4 gold medals and 2 huge trophies, plus a bunch of other goodies that came with the wins. I was ecstatic!

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When/Why did you decide to try BodyBuilding and competitions?

A few years ago my boyfriend at the time was a Personal Trainer (before I became one) and was training with the intention to enter a Bodybuilding competition. He never ended up doing it; but a few friends and family had said to me that I have a good physique and should think about competing myself; so when I started working in the fitness industry last year I started to think about it more seriously and decided I should give it a go.

What was your expectation (of yourself and/or the competition) going into it?

I knew it would be hard work and that I would have to be very strict with my diet; but I’ve always been quite healthy anyway so I figured it wouldn’t be too hard. I also had heard some horror stories of girls who had competed before and were having less than 1000 calories a day and doing 2 hours of cardio per day; so I was very grateful when I didn’t have to do this! I hoped and thought I would do well in the competition, as my coach and other experienced mentors were giving me good feedback on my physique; but I never expected to win first place in EVERY category! I was quite surprised!! I also didn’t realise quite how expensive it would be, or all the little things that you need to know or do in preparation – posing lessons, spray tan, makeup, shoes, hair, jewellery, what to eat on the day, water loading, carb loading, re-feeds, supplements, meal timing etc etc.

Did it meet your expectations?

Above and beyond. I didn’t realise how much fun I would have on the day; it was such a nice, welcoming environment and all the competitors were really supportive of each other. Funnily enough, I lost my purse in the venue and didn’t realise until the next day when I got a call from the owners/organisers of the show and they invited me to their place for a cuppa, so I got to hear all about how the ICN Federation started. As ICN is a natural federation, I had to be drug tested after winning the Overall prize, which was a first for me haha. I also was on such a high after the event; for the whole week afterwards I just felt amazingly happy. Which made the whole journey worth it! 

What’s on the horizon for you? Any future competitions at this stage?

After a well-deserved rest period I’m sure!

I’m looking at training for the State Titles in September this year; they will be in the same venue in Melbourne at the Moonee Ponds Racecourse Clubrooms. This gives me time to rest, recover, and then get back into some heavy training to start to build more muscle and come back with an even better package than last time. I’ll be up against people who have competed many times before; so this will be an extra challenge. If I go well in that competition, I may even compete again in October in the Melbourne Fitness Show to try to earn my PRO card, which would mean I could be eligible for sponsorship and even bigger opportunities. We will see!

Do you have any recommendations or cautions to anyone considering competing or bodybuilding?

It’s hard work, and a big commitment – so don’t just jump in head first without any thought. If you’re not used to training regularly and eating a healthy diet; it can be quite a shock to the system and especially if you have a lot of excess fat to lose, it’s not very healthy to lose so much weight in a short amount of time and can cause metabolic damage. It is a great experience however, and a great goal to work towards to achieve your best physique;  so if you’re thinking about competing it’s a good idea to hire a coach who has competed before themselves and they can advise you the best way to go about it. Some people will only need 3-4 months to prepare for a competition; others will need 18 -24 months or more. Do your research as well; go and watch a few competitions as a spectator so you can see what they are like; and get an idea of which federations and which divisions you’d like to compete in. Also be aware that it will take a toll on your social and family life; be prepared to be quite lonely during the prep time because you just can’t go out and eat or drink or stay out late with friends, and it can be emotionally draining as well. So just make sure you have a good support network around you, and that you have the time, money and headspace to commit fully to training and preparing for the competition. If you’re okay with all of that, and keen to get into the best shape of your life, then go for it!!

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