The bodybuilding world is very much a zero sum game in this sense: You get out what you put in.
Every day, every hour, every minute, every second requires you to hunt down your goals like a remorseless predator, and even then, if you aren’t willing to push yourself beyond the farthest plains of failure and limitation in your own personal existence there’s an almost certain chance that you’ll find scratching and clawing with every last fiber of your being too wet your parched pallet with even a drop of the tall, ice cold glass of hopes and dreams that you’ve spent an eternity filling with your blood, sweat, and tears – only to find it just outside your grasp.
There is no half-way. You have to be willing to go all in.
At this weekend’s North American Championships, twenty-four year old Women’s Physique sensation Jenaya Hofer will be looking to go all in and get her first sweet taste of success as she takes the stage for the second time this season with the hope of earning her IFBB pro card. Recently I had a chance to catch up with Jenaya as she enters into the final phases of her contest prep to talk life, past, present, and future, and you can read it all right here, in this RxMuscle exclusive interview.
Q.) Before we talk about your upcoming run to the North American Championships, I’d like to get to know Jenaya Hofer first, and talk about life before the stage. Tell us about the first time you remember being introduced to bodybuilding.
A.) I've always been considered a "strong girl". Built with a sturdy frame and a tough mentality. Growing up on a farm has definitely benefited me in this sense. Along with that playing sports throughout high school, along with riding, training, and showing horses basically since I started walking. But as I grew up I wanted to be "leaner" so I started running every day, nothing crazy just around four miles or so. I noticed a big change in my body, but everyone knows running won’t give you the beautiful curves that building muscle does. My brother-in-law, who I really look up to, was competing in Strongman at the time - this was about three and a half years ago now. So he was always in the gym and asked me to give it a shot. So off I went and my body reacted very, very fast as I implied as much as I possibly could with the knowledge I had at the time diet wise along with training. A few short months after that kept here from many people I should compete. Honestly, prior to that, I don’t think I have ever been in a bikini never mind getting on stage in front of a crowd in one. But I decided I may was well see where this can take me. Devin (my brother in law) was working with Darren Mehling and so I made the decision to start up a program with him to see where this can lead.
Q.) Who was the first female athlete that you would say really inspired you? Why?
A.) I’ve got to say Dana Lynn Bailey is probably the first. Not cause of her body (yes it’s amazing don’t get me wrong) but it was a mostly her mentality and intensity of giving everything you've got in anything you decide to do in life.
Q.) How old were you when you first began training?
A.) The first time I stepped foot in the gym I was 21 years old.
Q.) How long had you been training before you started to seriously consider making the leap from the gym to the stage?
A.) I had only been training for six months.
Q.) In just a few short years we’ve seen you transform from a relatively unknown competitor, into an athlete that’s stood on the Arnold International stage, and considered by many to be a future pro in waiting. Looking back to where you began, did you ever imagine you’d see your career progress as rapidly as it has these last few years?
A.) I’m an all or nothing kind of girl, and if I had something set out to do I’m going to give it all I have and take it as far as I possibly can. That being said, and I know this will sound a bit naïve, but I’m being honest, this is the first time I sat down and met with Darren, I remember to this day telling him my goal here is 100% to go pro, and I will do anything and everything in my power to achieve this. For me it’s not about if, it’s about when. I have all the time in the world, I’m still very young at 24. I love the whole process, at the time I had no idea id be where I am today that’s for sure, but I have no intentions of slowing down now.
Q.) Competition in physique sports at the highest levels doesn’t come without its fair share of sacrifices. Has the pursuit of your goals in either family or personal relationships those aren’t supportive of your efforts?
There has definitely been sacrifices if you want to call them that. Luckily enough everyone I have allowed into my life completely understands my goals and supports me 100% with my decisions and what I’m trying to achieve. Since I started this journey I’ve had walls up and I really don’t let anyone interfere in my life that will have a negative impact. Selfish in a way yes but we must do what we need, and so far it has only benefited me.
Q.) By necessity the sport requires a prodigious amount of dedication, focus, and vigilance. However, we’re all human, and even the strongest amongst us still fall victim to being overcome with doubt from time to time. When was the last time you remember having those feelings? How did you manage to keep pushing past through past your toughest moments?
A.) I don’t like to dwell on the past unless I must. And there are quite a few difficult situations I have had to deal with growing up. Personal and family related, as well as working with tough coaches, and most of all the years I spent training horse’s right after I graduated. All these things have taught me everything I need to be able to get through anything. Patience, accountability, self-control, self-discipline, pushing through pain, and realizing everything comes to and end eventually, nothing bad will last forever. Self-doubt is something bodybuilders, I believe, will always struggle with. Don’t get me wrong I’m very confident in myself, but we sure do get those moments of doubt, being ten days out right now I get them more than ever but have the RIGHT people in your life and looking back at what you have gone through and achieved will always blow that away.
Q.) I’d like to shift gears now and talk about your upcoming run at the NPC North American Championships. You’re heading into this show just a few months removed from your first National level competition at the Arnold Amateur, where you found yourself in the first callout in a deep field of veteran competitors. What lessons did you take away from that show? How have you used your experience there to help guide you during this contest prep?
A.) The main thing I took from competing in the AA was confidence and realizing my true potential I had and where I "stand" so to speak. As I have mentioned before, going through my prep for the Arnold Amateur my heart was not fully in it not knowing what to expect come show time. I still busted my ass day in and day out of course, but mentally it was a very difficult prep compared to the one I’m finishing up now for North Americans. I have given everything I could into this one and I’m hoping it shows up there on that stage.
Q.) What sort of changes can we expect to see from you when you step onstage in Pittsburgh?
A.) My main focus was to being my arms up, and try and match my upper body as best as possible in just a few short months to my lower half, which is quite dominate on my physique. Try and be more balanced, there is ALWAYS room for improvement, but I feel Darren and I have accomplished as much as we could with the time we had.
Q.) You and your coach Darren Mehling have been together from day one. What does it mean to have someone like Darren in your corner, guiding you along your journey?
A.) Yes Darren and I have been together since the beginning, we have won, we have lost, and we have learned a lot!! I’m really at a loss for word when this question arises, he is more than just a coach to me. He has taken the time to figure out not only my body but also my mentality and applied his knowledge along with all my feedback to create my best yet. There is no way I’d be where I am today without him. And to think this is just the beginning is a very exciting thought for myself, and I assume it is for him as well.
Q.) Is there anyone you’d like to thank for helping you reach this point in your career thus far?
A.) As mentioned above, Darren is definitely at the top of my list. There are so many people that have been a huge help along the way. My dad and my sister and brother-in-law have been the most supportive people in my life. They are actually driving down to Pittsburgh next week to watch me compete, which is a very big thing for me. My mom as well has been there every step of the way. Rich Piana and 5% nutrition as my sponsor. McDole's Gym where I have done all my training for the last three years. The owners Chris McDole and Dave Beakley have put up with me non-stop and bent over backwards to do anything they could to help me out. Roman Fritz has had my back for the last couple years as well he has gotten me through some pretty tough mental situations and is always there for me. Jillian Reville, Physique pro, I met two years ago at the Olympia, I’ve admired her physique and personally that goes along with it since that day, I can now say we are VERY good friends and she has been there whenever I need her. I know I’m missing a lot of people but I would have to sit here all day to get everyone in.
Q.) If you could give one piece of advice to young physique competitors who look to you, and your journey for inspiration?
A.) Have patience, and if you’re going to do it, give it all you've got.
Q.) If someone would like to find out more about Jenaya Hofer, where can they find you on social media?
A.) Facebook- Jenaya Hofer
Youtube- Jenaya Hofer
To quote the great motivational speaker Eric Thomas, “Success is never on discount! Greatness is never on sale! Greatness is never half off! It’s all or nothing! All day, every day! Greatness is never on discount!”
Greatness in bodybuilding is always earned. It’s never given.
And in just a few days we’ll see the pain, the hurt, the blood, the sweat, and the tears pay off in the form of a pro card, or if we’ll look back one day and view this as just another minor pothole on Jenaya’s road to greatness.