Texan heavyweight, Jody May, 30, could be one of bodybuilding's bigger success stories. Diagnosed with severe allergies at 18-months, Jody's childhood was far from pleasant.
Prone to bouts of pneumonia, itchy eyes and throat, and wheezing, Jody, as a child, could not participate in regular childhood activities lest she sustain an allergen triggered asthma attack, risk severe eczema to the point of bleeding, or, in the case of eating the wrong foods, go into anaphylactic shock and die.
Thus until age 15, Jody lived a life fraught with danger. That is until she discovered the bodybuilding lifestyle. At age 15, Jody saw a picture of former Ms. Olympia Cory Everson and from that moment has been training with a view to setting foot on the same Olympia stage. In Jody's case, bodybuilding has proven beneficial in countering the crippling effects severe allergies bring.
Her life has improved as a result.
and I owe all that to the bodybuilding lifestyle," says Jody.
Furthermore, Jody says bodybuilding has helped give her, "improved strength, improved flexibility, better endurance, better lung capacity, more energy, improved sleep and lower body fat and cholesterol levels."
In addition to bodybuilding, Jody has featured as a model, appearing in USA Glamour girls Magazine as well as becoming a finalist in the 2001 Venus Model Search and winning the 2002 Southwest USA Fitness Model Search. Her bodybuilding resume is similarly impressive with wins at the 2003 Ronnie Coleman Classic to go with her impressive result at the 2005 Nationals.
In 2004, Jody, who works as a physical therapy assistant, placed 11th in the heavyweight division at the NPC bodybuilding Nationals. Following this result, Jody committed herself to improvement for her next big show. One year of solid training showed dramatic results as evidenced by her recent second placing in the 2005 Nationals.
Currently Jody is gunning for 2006 USA championships in July, where she hopes to turn professional. As a living testimonial to the benefits the bodybuilding lifestyle can bring, Jody should make a great ambassador for the sport. All the best for 2006 Jody.
[ Q ] Hi Jody. Give the readers some background on yourself. What got you started in bodybuilding?
I am 30 years old, 5'6" and right now weigh 190, but competed at 157. I am currently living in Midland Texas. I am a physical therapist assistant specializing in clubfoot babies, but do some geriatrics as well. I always wanted to be stronger and I saw a photo of Cory Everson and knew instantly that is what I wanted to do.
[ Q ] What are your current bodybuilding goals?
Well of course I want to get my pro card, but personally I just want to be better than the last time I was on stage. I feel I have achieved that so far in competition.
|WHAT'S YOUR GOAL|
[ Q ] When did you last compete and how did you do?
I just did NPC Nationals in Atlanta. I placed second in the heavyweight class. Last year I placed 11th so I am totally surprised and happy about this year.
[ Q ] What contest do you hope to qualify as a pro in? When will this be?
I am focused on the USA's in July, so hopefully this will be the show. I would love to win this show because Bonny Priest turned pro there. She and her husband are my trainers.
[ Q ] You had to overcome severe allergies and asthma to become a successful bodybuilder. Exactly what types of allergies did you have, and just how severe was your asthma? Give examples of how these ailments have restricted you.
My parents found out about my allergies when I was 18 months old. I touched a peanut and went into anaphylactic shock. I also have the typical hay fever, and allergies to any animals with dander. So I could only have a turtle or a fish for a pet. Not very fun for a kid.
| What Is Anaphylactic Shock?
A sudden, severe allergic reaction characterized by a sharp drop in blood pressure, urticaria, and breathing difficulties that is caused by exposure to a foreign substance, such as a drug or bee venom, after a preliminary or sensitizing exposure. The reaction may be fatal if emergency treatment, including epinephrine injections, is not given immediately. Also called anaphylaxis.
As a child I was in the hospital all the time in an oxygen tent. The allergies always triggered my asthma and off to the hospital we went. I was never allowed to go outside and my parents took me all over to every doctor for some help. As a child I was not able to do all the things kids do, depending on the weather I could go outside but in West Texas the wind and dirt always blew so that was not too bad.
I also had eczema and I remember my mom soaking my feet in a bath when I got home from school because my ankles were bleeding all day from walking. That was the worst part.
[ Q ] Describe the symptoms associated with your allergies and asthma.
Now most of the symptoms are controlled with medication and because my lungs are so much stronger from training. When I was younger everything from pneumonia, to wheezing to itchy eyes and throat, you name it.
[ Q ] At what stage in your life were these at their worst?
I would say from age seven to 15. When I was seven, my parents took me to a new doctor who really believed in medications and prevention instead of treating it after an asthma attack occurred.
At age 15 he told my parents to put me in any sport I had to run in, and gave me all these inhalers and a nebulizers to help. So it took literally years but I just kept at it and now I rarely have a problem.
[ Q ] Do you suffer from allergies or asthma today?
Certain times of the year I have to be careful but I am able to recognize the symptoms. I just learned to really listen to my body.
[ Q ] How has bodybuilding helped you to overcome these conditions?
When I was 15 I saw these photos of Cory Everson and she looked so strong. I did not realize until years later that not only did she look strong, she was strong inside and out. Physically I can do anything I want now. I have done mountain biking, road biking, cheerleading, gymnastics and soccer. I owe all that to the bodybuilding lifestyle.
[ Q ] What are the health benefits of bodybuilding, in your view?
There are so many. Improved strength, improved flexibility, better endurance, better lung capacity, more energy, improved sleep, decreased body fat, decreased cholesterol... should I go on? Basically I feel it gives me an overall better quality of life that I would not have had I chose another lifestyle.
[ Q ] What are your strengths as a bodybuilder? What are your weaknesses?
I feel I have a good balance, but I am never happy so I am working on my lateral delts and adding some thickness to my back. Overall I am happy though.
[ Q ] Describe your current training routine. How does it change from off-season to pre-contest?
- Incline press: 4 sets of 8-10.
- Flat bench press: 4 sets of 8-10.
- Incline fly's: 4 sets of 8-10.
- Machine fly's (ascending set): 5 sets of 6, 8, 10, 12 and 15.
- Cable fly: 3 sets of 15.
- Leg press: 10 sets with weight descending.
- Hack squat: 4 sets of 25.
- Straight-leg deadlifts: 6 sets with weight descending.
- Prone hamstring curl: 6 sets of 6.
- Lunges: 4 sets of 20.
- Straight arm lateral raise: 3 sets of 15.
- Machine fly: 6 sets with weight descending.
- Seated Dumbbell lateral raise: 6 sets of 6.
- Shoulder press: 4 sets of 8-10.
- Upright rows: 3 sets of 12.
- Wide-grip pull down: 4 sets of 10.
- Bent-over barbell row: 4 sets of 10.
- Seated row: 4 sets of 10.
- Close-grip pull down: 4 sets of 10.
- Dumbbell shrug: 4 sets of 10.
- Hyperextensions: 4 sets of 10.
- Cable pushdowns: 4 sets of 20 to 25.
- Triceps extension: 4 sets of 10.
- Overhead dumbbell extension: 4 sets of 10.
- Single arm reverse pushdown: 3 sets of 15.
- Barbell curl: 4 sets of 10.
- Incline dumbbell curl: 3 sets of 6, 6, 6 (drop sets).
- Hammer curl: 4 sets of ten.
- Calves (day one).
- Calves (day two).
I train every body part once per week, mainly heavy basic exercises and rep range of eight to 10. I still do cardio three days per week in the off season just to help my asthma.
I am currently making some adjustment to my training schedule to do a heavy and a light back day and shoulders twice per week. I don't really change much pre contest other than the fact that I may not squat or dead lift some days depending on how I am feeling.
Jody's Training Program:
Standing calf raise: 7 sets with weight descending.
Seated calf raise: 7 sets with weight descending.
Cardio: seven days a week for two 40 minute sessions pre-contest.
[ Q ] Describe your current diet. What do you do when preparing to enter a show?
My current diet? Yeah you really don't want to know that! Pretty high calories, but it is okay to add some size, right? Pre-contest is basically just high protein low carbs, fat and tons or cardio.
[ Q ] What supplements do you take, if any? What types of supplements would you recommend to an aspiring female bodybuilder?
Personally I don't take any supplements besides a multi vitamin. As I said before I am allergic to peanuts and most protein powders are made in the same factory as peanut products or have peanut butter in them. I just feel better sticking with whole food.
[ Q ] What are your thoughts on the current state of women's bodybuilding?
Personally I feel women's bodybuilding is going back in the right direction. To me it is all about balance, this balance is different for every competitor and your physique should just flow with no glaring weaknesses. I feel this also helps the women stay more feminine while carrying the right amount of muscle for their frame.
[ Q ] Do you see women's bodybuilding growing into a larger spectacle? How will this be achieved do you think?
Female bodybuilding and bodybuilding is a niche sport. I don't feel that it will ever be a mainstream sport. It just is not something that most people can see themselves doing. I get asked all the time what I do to have abs like I do or to look like that. After I give the abbreviated version the quick response back is almost always that they would rather be fat. It is too much effort and time for the general public.
[ Q ] What is it about competitive bodybuilding you enjoy most?
I love the challenge. Bodybuilding is one of the most difficult sports you can choose and in the end if you did not do what it takes then you only have yourself to blame.
[ Q ] What advice would you give someone wanting to take up bodybuilding as a sport?
Above all take your time, bodybuilding is not a race it is a marathon. Also learn from someone who really knows, do a lot of research and don't just do what the people at the gym tell you.
[ Q ] What are your long-term bodybuilding goals Jody?
Well, hopefully a pro card!
[ Q ] Thank you for your time Jody. Is there anything you would like to add?