All we needed was a cup of coffee to make this feel like a regular chat between girlfriends. That would probably be the most realistic way to look at and describe my exclusive one-on-one interview with 4-Time Ms. Figure Olympia Nicole Wilkins in Mississauga, Ontario, at Battle Arts Academy, where she was hosting a full-day seminar with Richie Keirouz owner of RichBody, for new and experienced competitors looking to take to the stage. No topic was off limits, no question went unanswered and no one left the event without a hug from Nicole, a smile and renewed sense of self. If the smile and sigh of relief from Nicole was any indication, I would say that she was pleased with the outcome of the day.
Nicole Wilkins is no stranger to Canada. She tries to come up two to three times a year, but in the last two years her visits were about her amazing seminar that any female looking to compete or to even get advice and information about a healthy lifestyle should attend. Looking at the sport and the industry candidly, Nicole was able to educate the masses on the dos and don'ts of dieting, training, coaching and having a life in this sport.
With humor, honesty and realness, she put the crowd at ease with any doubt they may have had about themselves, self-esteem issues and a general sense of worth. This was a full-day seminar to motivate and empower each person in the room, even if they decide the stage is not for them.
After a full day of talking, posing and running a boot camp, I had the pleasure to sit down with Nicole and just talk candidly. She made this interview feel extremely relaxing and like I mentioned earlier, like two friends just talking and catching up.
1) Tell us about your visit to Toronto and about how you and Richie Keirouz met? What are the future plans with yourself and RichBody?
I didn't actually get a chance to see Toronto, as I got in on Friday night, had a photo shoot Saturday morning and was the guest speaker at the GNC OPA Inside Fitness Championships Saturday night and then hosting the workshop all day Sunday.
Richie and I met about two or three years ago in a grocery store and then at an airport. We did a lot of talking back and forth and came up with the idea to have me come up and do a seminar for competitors. Last year was the first one and it was held in Windsor. We had a great turnout and then Richie decided that if we really wanted to have more people come out we would take it to Toronto and here we are today. The future plans are to keep this going and to hit it out of the park.
2) What do you hope the women take away from this workshop?
I hope that the women are able to take away some information on training and nutrition. Look at the bigger picture with self esteem. Women are too hard on themselves and I want them to not be. Take the time to set a goal and keep at it and keep setting new ones once they reach them. Be accepting of yourself and see that you are human and it is okay to have a down or off day. The scale does not define your worth and who you are, but look at how you feel and do what makes you happy.
3) What advice do you have for those looking to compete or enter into the industry?
When someone wants to compete or looks to enter the industry I want them to be fully aware of what is it that they want because there are a lot of right and wrong ways to do something and they have to find what works best for them. Make sure you go to a show before you compete. This is the only way you will understand what is expected of you and what that day will look like. Ask questions, do research, be realistic. This is an extreme sport and there is a way that it can all be done in a healthy manner. Know that competing is not going to be easy. This sport is a 24-hour sport. Every little thing has to be accounted for.
4) What did winning the Olympia for the 4th time mean to you?
Amazing! The realization that all of the hard work and sacrifice and dedication all paid off and that all of the work was worth it. It is an indescribable feeling. It is still hard to wrap my head around it. There are tons of ladies all competing around the world for this one sport and to have the honor to be the one and to have done it four times is something where I still have a hard time seeing and it just blows my mind.
5) What was the first thing you did when you got off the stage?
Hugged my family. When you get off the stage and you are crowned the winner, you have all the pictures and interviews to do and then you have to wait backstage until the end of the show where they want to take a picture with all the winners from all the classes. So it is a long and tiring night. By the time I get backstage to go to the room to get all of my belongings, most of the other girls are all gone and so I try to sit for a moment and just reflect on what happened. Then when it is all done and we get to leave, I walk out to my family and friends waiting for me and just soaking in the hugs, love and support.
6) What has competing meant to you over the years?
Competing is a test of my strength and determination, dedication, not giving up, becoming stronger mentally and work harder for my goals. It is also where I have control of making my own changes in my life and body. I get to do what I love and share what I have learned by doing the workshops.
7) What have you learned about yourself?
I am a lot more modest than a lot of the girls in the industry. I am reserved and quiet. I have had to stick up for my morals and values with the hope that it would not hurt my career and that I would have other opportunities to work and/or shoot, that I can live with. I made the choice to not do things that my parents would not approve of and that is a risk I was willing to take. I am very careful in my choices – there is a lot of positive and negative out there.
8) If there was something you could have done differently at any point in time, what would it be?
Honestly, I probably would not change anything or done anything differently because I would not be where I am today if I did. Maybe I would have taken the time to enjoy the amateur years of competing a bit more and taken it all in. Too often you get too wrapped up in the process and competing that you forget to enjoy it when it is just a hobby at that time, but now that it is my job and career, you don't always get that choice and chance to sit back and take that time.
9) What do you see yourself doing or where do you see yourself in the next 5 - 10 years?
With respects to my career, probably retired and with my personal life, I would like to get married again and have a family. Travel, hold workshops and seminars and still be involved in the industry.
10) Being a well known top female athlete and role model, do you feel a certain pressure on how you live your life or what choices you make in your life?
Absolutely. You are constantly judged for how you look, what you are eating, where you are going, the make-up you are wearing and everything you do. It is humbling. Being in the spotlight, you are second guessing everything because you know that eyes are always on you. When people meet you, they have an expectation of what you are to look like physically and you become constantly aware of that yourself.
11) Does hearing your name being called as the winner ever change over the years?
It is always a surprise. Even when you are the only one left standing on stage and they have called the runner-up, you still are waiting to have them call your name; you still want to hear it. There is this realization that you can win and you did it.
12) What would you say is your ideal day off?
Sleeping in. Going for a run. Going out for breakfast and actually having all meals out. Going for a drive to San Diego or LA and go shopping. Go to the movies and then out for coffee to a place where I can sit by the fireplace and just talk and relax. I am simple like that.
13) Is there anything about you that you want to share about yourself that we may not know about you?
I am human. I live like everyone else. There are days when I struggle to go to the gym or get up and when I feel like I don't want to do what I have to. We may be different outside, but on the inside we are all the same.
And after about 30 minutes, our interview concluded with a huge hug and then Nicole was off for the long drive back home to Detroit. Humble, real, relatable, honest, funny... all the things you would hope for Nicole Wilkins to be and she was that and more. The road for this 4-time Ms. Figure Olympia is far from over and she has many ideas and plans for the future. Like she said, she is always setting new goals to strive for to seek out bigger and better things. The off season is underway and her and Hany's game plan is to focus on the 2015 Olympia. I know I can speak for many that we all look forward to her stepping on that stage again.
I want to personally thank Nicole Wilkins for taking the time to sit down with myself and do the interview after a crazy busy weekend on limited sleep and relaxation. I would also like to thank Richie and Jen Keirouz of RichBody for inviting me to attend the workshop and be able to have the opportunity to interview Nicole Wilkins.