So what if I told you I met someone who only competed 4 times before turning pro, competed in one of the most competitive pro shows in the industry and made top 10, tried out for the US Olympic Track & Field Team and nearly made it within 1 inch of qualifying, started her own real estate business... and just turned 29 in February?
Okay ladies, I'm talking about one of our newest IFBB Figure Pros, Erin Stern. Erin won her pro card at the NPC Nationals in November 2008 and made her pro debut a few months later at the Arnold Ms Figure International.
And get this...she has made this journey without the help of a trainer. She has done 100% of her own contest prep!
It gets better, she only competed twice in a couple of local shows in 2003 stayed out of the scene until 2008, and then came back right after she tried out for the US Olympic Track and Field Team. She only missed the team by one inch! Literally!
Erin is a pretty amazing woman. She got her education at the University of Florida in Environmental Sciences and she currently owns her own real estate company.
She loves art, sculpting, drawing and writing poetry.
Read on to find out more about this inspirational woman and let's welcome her into the fitness world!
First of all, let me join the ranks of everyone else to congratulate you on your pro card win and then your top 10 placing at the Ms Figure International! Has it become a reality yet?
ES: Umm...no, I'm still trying to let it all sink in. I definitely would have liked to place higher at the Arnold - I'm not very happy with my placing. I know it was a really big show to debut in, but I hoped to do better.
People say I don't really have a very good grasp on just how big that show is. Still, I wish I did better.
Well, I gotta tell you, coming out of your pro card win at Nationals in November and shooting in to your first pro show, standing against the industry greats, a top ten placing is something to be proud of!
So, I know how you feel about your Arnold placing, tell me what it felt like to take the overall at the Nationals and win your pro card?
ES: Oh my gosh, now that was definitely an amazing competition! That felt awesome and I'm still pinching myself that I'm here!
Your show history - The Ms. Gainesville in 2003 - was this your first figure competition? And your shows stopped in 2003 and then you came back in 2008? Did you really take all five years off from competition?
ES: Actually, my first show was in St. Augustine, FL in 2003 and I don't think I even placed in that show. Then I did the local show - Ms. Gainesville and won my class and took the overall. I was only one of three girls in the show, so although I was happy to win, I didn't really feel like I had much competition to tell where I might actually stand.
So I listened to what the judges told me to improve upon, and left a little confused. I wasn't really sure what they were looking for and the girls in the magazines at that time were much harder and muscular. I didn't really feel like I had the type of physique where I could put on enough muscle mass.
So you just stopped competing all together?
ES: Well not exactly. I was still very much involved in Track and Field where I continued to compete. In 2008 I tried out for the USA Olympic Track & Field and missed the high jump by one inch.
Whoah - one inch? That doesn't seem like very much to miss it by. What is the standard high jump?
ES: The standard is 6' and I jumped 5'11" - but I really didn't prep for the tryout. I can make the full 6' now, but it's not very pretty.
Well, that had to be pretty disappointing. Any plans to try out again?
ES: Well, I have four more years to prepare, so I'd like to say I'm going to...we'll see.
So tell me how you came to the decision to compete in another figure contest in 2008?
ES: Well, I had been looking in the magazines at all of the girls I admire, and their look seemed to soften quite a bit since I competed. It seemed more feminine. So I thought that I might actually have a chance at obtaining the "new" standard physique.
Who are the girls you admire? Who inspires you?
ES: Gina Allioti and of course, Monica Brant.
So you competed in September 2008 in Lakeland,FL? Who did you go to for advice on your nutrition and workouts for your contest prep?
ES: I did it all on my own. I didn't use anyone and when I look back at those pictures, I still cringe. You know how you bend over and fluff your hair and spray it with hairspray? Well, that's what I did just before I walked out on stage - THAT was how I fixed my hair! My nails weren't done and my tan looked really bad.
And you placed...
ES: Well, I won my class and took the overall title. So the judges told me to do more lunges and bring up my upper chest before my next contest.
And what was your next contest?
ES: Then again in 2008 I competed in the Southeastern USA. This show was the same for me, I didn't ask anyone to help me prep and I think I actually brushed my hair this time. (laughs). I won my class and the overall and qualified for Nationals since it was a level V show.
And so who did you have help you prepare for Nationals?
ES: Well, this time I had a couple of people critique me on my posing and train legs with me.
Are you telling me you didn't have help with your diet or your training program - except for a training partner on leg day?
ES: Yea...I just googled a lot of stuff and read the bodybuilding forums. I watched YouTube videos of winning posing routines to try to figure out what the judges like.
Wow! Very impressive. I don't think there are a whole lot of us out there who can say the same.
ES: I feel like my college experiences with Track and Field helped me a lot. I got to work with a nutritionist then and I learned a lot.
So, at this point, we all know that you won the NPC Nationals and received your pro card. Then you went on to place in the top 10 at the Arnold. Your rise is very inspirational and motivating. Any plans for your next competition and how do you plan to prepare for it?
ES: Well, I'll be at the Orlando Europa in April. My workouts always consist of plyometric training, and running at the track as well as my gym workouts.
Are you still doing hurdles?
ES: No! And my elbows and knees are thanking me for it! I took quite a few spills and stayed scraped up all the time.
Wow. So right in to another show within a month or so?I guess that means you're continuing your contest diet this whole time? Any cheat meals? What's your favorite cheat?
ES: Well, when I just got back home from California last night, I had a pb&j sandwich and fudgetrack ice cream. But my all-time favorite cheat is pizza....extra extra cheese pizza. But I honestly don't cheat very often. I stay on my plan most of the time and never get more than 5 pounds over my contest weight.
What is your contest weight?
ES: Well, I'm 5'8" and I compete at 130. So I never weigh more than 135 "off season." I can't - I just feel horrible if I do.
Where do you call home?
ES: Ocala, FL is my home.
And I understand you have your own real estate business? How does someone who has an education in Environmental Science from the University of Florida get in to real estate?
ES: Well, I moved back home and while I was trying to figure out what to do, my parents aid "you gotta do SOMETHING so get out and make some money while you're figuring it all out." So I went and got my real estate license because I could get it and start working right away. I ended up forming my own company. But I also work at the local gym as the Sales Manager.
What's the name of your gym?
ES: Compass Health and Fitness and it is a top-notch gym!
So would you like to pursue a career in fitness one day?
ES: Absolutely! I would love to make it my career! Maybe you can tell me a good place to start with getting my Trainer Certification? I would love the satisfaction of helping people on a daily basis and actually seeing them obtain results!
Any advice for the women out there who say they want to achieve the same things you have?
ES: I'd say just pick a show and go for it! So many girls say they want to do it, but they never actually pick a direction. I'd tell them, yeah - it's scary, but it's so rewarding. Just jump in with both feet. I suggest starting at a smaller, local show and see what it's all about first.
And what about the women who are still sitting on the couch in front of the ab roller infomercial who want to achieve a body transformation? Do you have any advice for them?
ES: Yes. Start slowly...but start! Be patient with yourself and understand that you didn't put the weight on overnight and it's not going to come off overnight. You're going to be sore and there will be hiccups along the way. Forgive yourself and keep on going!
Any supplements that you just can't live without?
ES; Oh definitely. I love Fast Twitch by Cytosport and my favorite protein is Dymatize and Optimum Nutrition.
Any endorsements on the horizon? Has anyone contacted you or have you handed your card out at any shows in hopes of supplement or clothing line endorsements?
ES; Gosh. Wouldn't that be great? Who doesn't want the endorsement contracts? I've done a little work toward it, but nothing yet.
How about some gossip on yourself? Anything that people don't know about you and probably wouldn't if you didn't share it with me?
ES: Ummm...probably that I like to write poetry. I write cowboy poetry, nature poetry and a little bit of dark stuff. You can see some of it on my Facebook page. I also love to draw. I have an artsy side.
Any shout outs?
ES: Yeah - I'd like to say "hi" to my sister Jessica Stern, and thank Chuck McAllister and Bruce Akstrom for the help they gave me with my leg workouts and the posing advice.
And finally, do you have a website that you'd like to share?
ES: Yes - it's still in the works, but it is www.erinstern.com