The Other M.Y.

The Other M.Y.

Nov10-3When I first started my fitness competitions in March 1998 I didn’t know anyone.  Sometimes I would walk up to a group of competitors and ask them if I could hang out with them so I’d know where to go.  I never had anyone in the audience supporting me.  It was just me, the stage and bringing my best package.  When you talk about doing something for yourself – those competitions were all about me.

After my third competition that April I realized that there was this one woman that had been to every competition I had.  We always competed in the same group and she always had a loud group of people cheering for her.  From that point on, I started taking advantage of her crowd.  Her name was Michelle.  Every time we were on stage and I heard “Let’s go Michelle”, I’d imagine that they were cheering for me!

During that competition I finally talked with Michelle backstage.  Not only was her first name Michelle, but her last name was Yatsuk.  I blushed when I told her my secret about her friends in the stands.  Instead of getting mad and walking away, she did something else.

Michelle and I kept in touch for several months.  Although I placed ahead of her in each of those competitions, she always encouraged me and was excited for my wins.  At our next competition in October in Cincy, she let me stay at her house.  Before we went on stage, she told me that she told her friends to cheer for me too!  I finally had some fans of my own.  That was the start of my friendship with Michelle and we always refer to each other as “the other M.Y.”

Two years pass and I’m in the audience at KY Muscle this past weekend here in Louisville.  It was great to see all of my friends compete.  However, the highlight of the competition was seeing Michelle onstage competing.  I sat anxious in the third row.  For once I was able to to yell “Let’s go Michelle!”, “You got this Michelle!” and “Lookin’ good Michelle!”   Michelle ended up winning her group and looked amazing!  I am a better competitor because of Michelle and was proud to return the love and support she has given me over the years.  Not all competitions are about winning, sometimes it’s about helping to celebrate someone else’s success!

M.Y. November 2010

When Lightning Strikes

When Lightning Strikes

July10-1It was time for my first national competition of the year.  Chicago, IL.  I had a lot of people on my side predicting that I would win my height class and turn pro.  All 25 fitness competitors were backstage warming on.  The first woman was lined up to perform – and then the lights went out.  A storm with 70 mph winds swept through the city.  We were without electricity with over 300,000 other people.  No tv or radio for updates.  No clue as to how long, or even if, it would be until we would compete.

For the next hour and forty minutes myself and the other competitors sat backstage and took the time to get to know each other.  And then out of nowhere, the bright lights came back on.  They asked us if we wanted to warm-up again on stage, but some women said “no, let’s just go”.  I hate to jinx myself at shows, so I usually don’t watch the competitors that go ahead of me.  On this day – it was a bad idea.

I sat in the dark for an extended amount of time, I never looked at the stage before going on.  When it was my time to perform and as my music started playing, I stood on the stage and couldn’t see a thing.  My eyes hadn’t adjusted to the change of light.  I just had to wing it.  As I walked off the stage, I knew I didn’t perform my best routine.  I was disappointed in myself.  It was a good routine, but not the great routine that I knew I would need to win.

And I let that get me down.  I wanted to win.  People expected me to win.  There were some amazing competitors there and I assumed that I would place 3rd.  But when the awards were presented, I ended up placing 5th.  I was so disappointed and frustrated and thought about just hanging up my competition shoes for awhile.

The day I was contemplating what to do, I received this great email message from OnyxLouisville reader Margaret Davis.  “You may have had some unfair things happen, things that you don’t understand; but let me tell you, you have come too far to stop now. Instead of allowing those things to hold you back, why don’t you let go and take a step of faith into the new? It’s time to get a new, bigger vision; it’s time to get a new, fresher outlook; it’s time to rise up with a new attitude! Instead of settling where you are, pick up and move forward. Have the attitude that says, “I may not understand it; it may not have been fair, but I am not getting stuck on this page. I know God has a new chapter for me-a chapter filled with blessings, favor and victory!” Her email was related to something completely different, but it was just what I needed to read at just the right time.  We need to quit dwelling on the past and what ‘could have been’ and instead stay focused on the opportunity that will exist in our future!  Thank you Margaret for helping put it all in perspective!

M.Y. July 2010

It’s All in the Numbers

It’s All In The Numbers

May09-5So this past weekend was an interesting one.  Saturday was my first National fitness competition.  I was nervous about it.  I also had all of these other emotions running through my head because the weekend represented so much more.

May 23, 2009.  This day represented the 3 year anniversary of my mother’s death.  When my mother passed away in 2006, it was exactly 3 days before my 30th birthday (May 26).  If both of my parents would have been alive then, it would have also been 3 days before their 33rd wedding anniversary. (Yes, I crashed their 3rd wedding anniversary by being born a month early).

So here it is 3 years later on May 23.  This is the anniversary once again.  Now, it’s 3 days before I turn 33.  Yeah that’s a lot of threes!  If you caught up and understood all of it, you’re doing good things this morning.

While training for my competition, I continually wore a teal bracelet that says “OverCome” which represents Ovarian Cancer.  This competition was dedicated to my mother and I wanted to do well.  I didn’t know how I’d be emotionally on that day, but wanted to do my best.

The morning judging started out well – until my music skipped in the middle of my routine.  Although the crowd encouraged me to keep going and clapped at the end, I was frustrated that I wasn’t able to perform it the way it should have been.  Luckily, the judges let me perform it again at the end of the other competitors.  By the end of judging, I had no idea how I placed.

Since this was a National contest, there were many talented women there.  I was amazed at some of the routines and found some moves I will try to incorporate into my future performances.  Awards were given out that night.  I set a goal for my placing and accomplished it.  I walked away with a great National ranking and thought it was pretty interesting that my placing went right along with the same number that represented that entire weekend! pics/video here

(thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes!)

M.Y. May 2009

We All Make Mistakes

“We All Make Mistakes”

Mar09-3So, I had been preparing for an international Fitness competition.  There were competitors from over 40 countries, many of which brought their interpreters.  It’s called, The Arnold, and is named after The Terminator himself.  Although I was sidelined with a neck injury, I felt ready to compete and to start making a fitness name for myself.

I was #10 and the last competitor in the short class for fitness.  We were all back stage and there was a television so that we could see everyone else’s routine.  The first routine was last year’s overall winner, and she had an amazing routine.  However, I watched the rest of the girls and realized that my routine was pretty comparable, if not better, than theirs.

As I went on the stage, the crowd was impressed with my opening, I became excited with my routine and my facial expressions were in full swing.  And then the first thing started happening – my shorts started riding up the crack on my buttocks.  Yeah, at first I said to just leave it, but they were really up there.  So – I picked them out.  And then I picked them out again.  And then I picked them out one more time.  My butt was already bigger than the other women on stage and the last thing I wanted to do was expose its entire package to the watching audience.

I was stoked to get through the strength moves in my routine with ease and just had my last tumbling pass to complete.  I had plenty of energy and couldn’t wait to end the routine.  I did the tumbling pass – a roundoff, backhand spring, backtuck.  As my feet touched the ground for my backtuck, so did my hands.  I was SO MAD at myself.  Since I was six years old, I don’t ever remember falling on a tumbling pass.  I was disappointed with myself and although I talked to other people, I didn’t talk to myself for the entire night.

Although I wanted 3rd or 4th, I ended up placing 5th in the competition.  It taught me a lot of lessons as I prepare for my next major competitions in several weeks.  Most importantly, I learned to recover and keep going when something doesn’t go as expected.  I also learned that a mistake will only make you stronger.  This competition was supposed to be preparation for the Pro Card qualifier that matters, so know I can fix the cracks (literally) and perform a stronger routine.

Mistakes happen to us all. Even sometimes in front of people.  Even sometimes in front of thousands of people.  Even sometimes in front of several websites that post unpleasant pictures of your backside.  Even sometimes on videos on sale to hundreds of people.  But, hey, it’s all good.  It should just give you the drive to try again and this time come back with a better package!

M.Y. March 2009

7th Time’s a Charm

“Seventh Time is a Charm”
Nov08-2This was my year of competitions!  I decided to jump in head first and dedicate myself to figure and then fitness competitions.  I started training the last week of January and my first competition was on March 22 in Northern KY, the day before Easter. I would have never thought that I would have won my height class, but I did.  It was pure thrill being up on the stage seeing all of my hard work pay off.  After the first competition I was hooked.  My new goal was to win the overall title of all the competitors.

My next competition was two weeks later in Cleveland.  Once again I won my class (and the 6 ft trophy) but not the overall title.  Shucks.  A week later I was in Cincy.  I placed 4th in my class.  I felt very slighted and that the competition was fixed.  The woman that won trained at the gym that sponsored the competition.  Others told me the same thing and I didn’t even want the trophy.  I hid it in my room and erased the competition from my memory.   Never again would I compete there.
From there was the National competition in May in South Carolina.  There I decided that I wanted to switch over to fitness.  I entered my first fitness competition in July in Fort Wayne, IN and placed first in fitness and second in figure.  I felt great with only two weeks to get ready for the show.
I ended the season with a fitness competition in Baltimore.  I placed first in fitness and fourth in figure.  The women there looked wonderful, so I was fine with my placement.  I fought with myself about doing one more competition.  It was the same Cincy competition as earlier in the year.  I wanted to protest the show, but at the same time wanted to compete one last time.
After going back and forth, I decided to enter.  It was a large competition.  There were over 18 women in my height class.  The women who placed ahead of me in April were there again.  I thought to myself that I could have been at home stuffing my face!  Oh well, there was no turning back.  I became a little more excited when I was told there would be a new head judge.  Once on the competition floor, I was moved to the middle for pre-judging (that’s a good sign).  I received compliments from my trainer and people in the audience.  I felt good.  During the finals it was announced that I won my class.  Hip hip hooray for Louisville!  Now came the title I wanted the most – the overall.  They brought out each class winner and we competed against each other for the overall title.  Oh, I wanted it so bad.  I wasn’t a hometown favorite so I didn’t have the backing of the crowd.  But, I DID IT!  I won the overall title.  In addition, I received the award (Best Symmetry) for the person with the most potential for the future.  I received two trophies, a plaque, and a champion jacket!  It took seven months and seven competitions – but the additional thrill was worth the wait!

M.Y.  November 20008

In the Name of Fitness

 ’In the Name of Fitness’ 

July08-3-223x300Okay, I kept a secret from most of you and I am truly sorry.  After doing the figure competitions I decided to step up my game a little bit and ponder switching to fitness.  The main difference is that fitness also includes a two minute routine with five required skills: One arm pushups, side split, straddle hold, pike hold and high kicks.

So, I went and dug in the very back of my closet.  I had to look high and low – before the college years, before high school, before the Wave Nuveau, and  before menstruation started.  I went all the back in my closet to elementary school to pull out the tricks and skills I used to be able to do way back then.  The first thing I tried to do was a back handspring (a back flip).  Since I live alone, I had to think about what I would do if I landed on my neck.  So I put the cordless phone on the floor next to me and prayed for the best.  (You know that I was okay since I am able to write this column today!)  I then went to Alpha Cheer gym and had DeShawn spot me on some other skills.  I blushed after I did a tumbling pass and a kid in the gym said, ‘Wow!  I’ve never seen an adult do that before!’

In less than two weeks I was able to pull together a fitness routine.  DJ Que accomplished a miracle by putting together a mix of Michael Jackson songs for the music.  I also needed a performance outfit but didn’t have a lot of time.  So, I went to the costume store and purchased a cool looking gangsta outfit.  The top looked great and I added some material to some shorts to match at the bottom.  The most difficult part was getting through the two minute routine.  Every night I would go home and a different body part would hurt.  While ‘gym’ used to be my guy, ‘BenGay’ was slowing becoming my best buddy.

My first fitness competition was last weekend in Ft. Wayne, IN (see video).  Like always, I had a blast.  I was the only woman of color in the competition, but everyone was extremely nice.  While driving home, I really thought about how wonderful an experience I just had.  The last time I performed was over 2 ½ years ago.  My mother and I performed with a group of women for a Krewe party.  Even then I didn’t  tumble.  It was amazing to me, that at the age of 32 I was able to rise to the occasion.

Footnote: as fun and wonderful as the competition was, the next morning, my entire body was sore.  It ached to walk.  It ached to lie down.  It ached to ache.  But, with the help of a great massage and my buddy Bengay I am now back in training ready to hit that next pot of gold!  It is absolutely never too late in life to accomplish something.  Was there something years ago in life you enjoyed doing?  What happened for you to give it?  Why not do it again?  Try it just once and relive that passion!

Video of Routine

It’s my first fitness competition.  Where did those flips come from? Click on the photo to watch the video.

M.Y. July 2008