Prior to her illness, Tammy contemplated fitness competition, as she had a background in gymnastics. However, she had suffered numerous injuries throughout her gymnastics career and this eventually dissuaded her from competing in the high-impact fitness event. She instead chose figure, and what a good choice it turned out to be.
With a magnificent stage presence, the much sought after V-taper, and stunning symmetry, Tammy is the walking personification of beauty, and should make a big impact on the figure world in the very near future.
As a professional, Tammy has placed 8th and 7th respectively at the New York Pro Figure and North American Pro Figure Championships. Her most recent showing was at the Arnold Classic (Competition Results), where she hoped to display the kind of form that would help to ensure her a place in the prestigious Ms. Olympia later this year. As a future champion, and role model for aspiring figure contestants, Tammy Pies is one to watch.
[ Q ] Hi Tammy. Could you give some background on yourself? What got you started in figure competition?
Well, I had been sick for two years and had always wanted to compete. So when I got better I started to train and did my first competition one year later. I had always been involved in fitness through gymnastics.
[ Q ] What was your sickness?
I had a parasite that made me very ill for almost two years. During this time I had good days and bad days, but there were certain times where I couldn't do anything. I was afraid to go to the gym because most of the time, when I started working out, I would have to stop training and leave. I was very weak.
[ Q ] When did this happen and how old were you?
It was late 2001, early 2002. I was 35.
[ Q ] So you are a relative newcomer to figure competition?
Yes, I did my first show in September of 2004.
Writers Note: Tammy competed for the first time in 2004 at the Ohio State Figure Championships. She won the overall.
[ Q ] I understand you competed in the Arnold Classic this year [(Contest has already taken place)]. How did your preperation go?
Very good. (Tammy placed 16th at the 2006 Arnold.)
[ Q ] Have you done anything differently in order to be competitive in such a prestigious show?
I guess I have. Last year when I started out, I wasn't a pro. So when I dieted they kept telling me not to get too hard - they wanted the 20% softer look, so that is what I was aiming for. So once I turned pro, I had already been dieting for nine months.
My metabolism was shot. So I did end up with the softer look. I am all natural. I don't do any diuretics. I barely take in any caffeine. So, I'm not going to present that hard, shredded look, first time up on stage. But I am leaner than I was.
[ Q ] So what exactly will you present at the Arnold?
I think I will try to come in leaner, while making my muscles appear larger.
[ Q ] What will you be doing to attain this look?
When I started dieting I had very high calories, although I eat clean. Starting so high allowed me to cut back more drastically. Also, I started cardio further out this time. Before, I never did a whole lot of cardio. I started doing cardio two-times-a-day, four-or-five-times-a-week.
This involved running stadium stairs in the morning at about 6:30-7:00. Also, I trained during the day and did cardio again before going to bed. I started that six weeks out, and continued this up until the last week. Now I am doing cardio about three times a week, once a day.
[ Q ] You mentioned the fact you are drug free. Do you take any supplements? If so, which ones work best in your view?
The only supplement I am taking is Gamma-O. Since taking this, I have noticed a drastic change in my strength and stamina, and the way I feel overall during dieting. The last time I dieted I was just exhausted and just had no energy or strength.
This year I noticed that even after I started dieting, five weeks out, I was leaner and harder then I was last year. I was stronger and actually added weight to my lifts. There was a dramatic change.
[ Q ] Just getting back to the Arnold Classic, how do you feel you will go?
I don't know. I have no idea how it is going to go. There are quite a few girls who I have never competed against. It is the best of the best on stage and I am just honored to be there.
[ Q ] Would you like to become the best figure competitor in the world some day?
I would like to continue to compete. My next goal after the Arnold is the Olympia, if I can qualify. I am also using my competition experience to promote my new company, Elite Tan. I have my own all-natural product line for competitors.
The product is not on the market yet, but will be available from March 1. Last year competing, I was going through different stages with my product - trying to improve it to make it the best it could be. I am sort of like the guinea pig for the product.
Check Out Tammy's Elite Tanning Line: elitecompetitiontan.com.
[ Q ] What separates your product from other similar products?
It is made from all-natural ingredients. There is no alcohol or acetone to dry your skin. It actually has conditioning agents in it to help repair damaged, dry skin. It is also odorless and provides a very dark, rich, bronze color. It has no orange tones to it at all.
It actually just looks like a natural sun tan. You can use it right before the show to get a dark tan. I also have it in aerosol form so you can just spray it from the can.
[ Q ] You turned pro at the 2005 Junior Nationals. Describe this experience.
It was indescribable. I was just thrilled to turn pro. The competition was very tough and it capped off a very exciting year for me.
[ Q ] Why did you win this show? What separated you from the others?
At the time they were looking for the more feminine look and I had this. I was told my lines and body structure was the best onstage. I had the broad shoulders and small waist they were looking for.
[ Q ] Now that you are pro, what will change for you as far as preparing to compete goes?
My main focus this year was to bring up my shoulders to be even more competitive. All the pros have those nice round shoulders. Also, I will have to come in tighter through the hip area. I will just do my best to give them what they want. Like you said, the Arnold is going to be the first big show for me. I will get feedback from the judges and go from there.
[ Q ] Why the Arnold as a first show?
I stood in the crowd last year and saw the girls on stage and felt, at the time, I would give anything to be on that stage. So I took the chance, and submitted my application and hoped I would be picked, and I was.
[ Q ] How has being a professional figure athlete changed your life?
The biggest thing I have noticed is the response I get from other competitors. Also, the e-mails I get asking for advice. The notoriety from the Arnold invite and my website going live has been amazing also.
[ Q ] Has being a pro enhanced your public profile much?
Yes it has. I have recently done interviews with several local television stations, on the radio, and with newspapers. I also have had people contacting me to see if I can be a spokes model for their company. I have a contract in the works right now for a television show.
[ Q ] What do you consider to be your strong points as a competitor?
I guess I would say my V-taper is a strong point and also my stage presence. Walking onto the stage and appearing confident is something I have become good at.
[ Q ] Do you think your background in dance and gymnastics has helped you to project yourself well onstage?
It definitely has helped. As far back as I can remember I have been onstage in front of hundreds of people, so it comes natural to me. Typically I am a very shy person, but for some reason I feel very comfortable onstage. I don't come across as being shy.
[ Q ] Would it be accurate to say that competing, for you, would serve as a way in which to break away from your shyness?
Definitely. When I was younger, I always wanted to be the outgoing person, but when I got involved with a group of people I would just clam up and get really shy, and I didn't know what to say (laughs). So when I am onstage, I can be that outgoing person and feel comfortable with it.
[ Q ] We discussed earlier your strong points as a competitor. Are there any weaknesses you need to work on?
It is hard to say at this point. I haven't gotten a great deal of feedback from the judges as far as what I need to improve on. The only thing I was told last year was that I needed to improve on my hips, so I have been trying to make them a little tighter. I think I have accomplished that. I will just have to wait for the Arnold to see what they have to say.
[ Q ] What was most effective in bringing your hips in?
It was basically just all the dieting and cardio. Last year, like I said, I dieted to come in softer because I was told this is what was needed. So I still had my hips. That seems to be the last place I lose it. Hopefully the stricter diet and cardio have taken care of it this time around.
[ Q ] What interests do you have, other than competing?
I have been so busy with work that I haven't really had any time to relax at all. Basically, working on my company and trying to promote myself, traveling with Gamma-O and attending different functions with them. I have been present at quite a few of the King of the Cage fights. I will be at the Andrei Arlovski fight on April 15.
[ Q ] Do you enjoy attending all these events?
Yes, I would rather be there than watch it on television. I'm not a big television person.
[ Q ] Do you have any other business interests? Will you be putting out a DVD?
I have had someone talk to me about doing a training DVD. I'm not sure if I'm going to pursue that or not. Right now I'm working with someone on a documentary for bodybuilding and I will continue to do that throughout the year. I am also working with another company as their spokes model. That is probably going to have me traveling across the world.
[ Q ] Getting back to figure competition, why exactly did you choose to compete in this event as opposed to bodybuilding or fitness?
When I was younger I was going to compete in fitness but I had numerous knee injuries. It seemed that every time I began to train to compete in a show, I would become injured again. When I finally was injury free, I got sick and wasn't able to do anything for two years. When I got better and they had the figure, I decided that would be a healthier option for me.
[ Q ] Had you ever considered bodybuilding?
No. I want to stay looking feminine.
[ Q ] What are your long-term figure goals?
I would like to be one of the top figure competitors. When everyone discusses figure now, they automatically think of Monica Brant and Jenny Lyn and I would like to be considered, like them, to be one of the top five.
[ Q ] Speaking of other competitors, has there been one person who has inspired you to become the athlete you are today?
Monica Brant is the icon of the industry. She has had an amazing career, and is a beautiful person.
[ Q ] Conceivably she will be your competition this year.
Yes, I will be competing against Monica (laughs). It is just crazy to think that.
[ Q ] Is it nerve-wracking for you to think you will be going up against one of the best in the sport?
- 2004 - Ohio State Figure Championships - Overall
- 2004 - Natural Northern USA Figure Championships - Overall
- 2005 - Junior USA Figure Championships - B Class 8th Place
- 2005 - Pittsburgh Figure Championships - Overall
- 2005 - Junior Nationals - B Class 1st Place - Earned Pro Card
- 2005 - New York Pro Figure Championships - 8th Place
- 2005 - North American Pro Figure Championships - 7th Place
Usually I am pretty calm and my stage presence is pretty good. But in my first pro show (at the 2005 New York Pro Show) I was onstage with Davana Medina, Ms. Olympia, and she was two numbers away from me. I was a nervous wreck.
I have never in my life, since I was child, remember being that nervous. It was actually sort of comical. They called my number, on the second call-out, and I stood there for a second and thought, is that me. I thought well I'm two away from Davana and she is number twelve so I actually had to look down at my number. I am praying that this feeling never comes to me again (laughs).
Writers Note: Davana Medina won this show.
Tammy's Competition History:
[ Q ] And this experience will have made you a more confident competitor?
Yes, definitely. I feel more comfortable with what I am doing now.
[ Q ] Many competitors must experience this though. How do you deal with nervousness usually?
I usually take cards with me that my friends have given me for motivation. I read over those. Sometimes I will listen to Joel Osteen before I go onstage. I really need something to calm me down, and he really motivates and makes you feel good about yourself.
[ Q ] What do you enjoy most about competing in figure?
I enjoy the competition. That is exhilarating for me. When you are training, you are training for yourself. You do everything you can to look the best you can onstage, but once you get to that point where you are onstage you have no real control over the outcome. There is nothing more you can do. At that point it is exhilarating to be there.
[ Q ] Do you usually consult with the judges post-contest? What do you do to ensure you surpass you previous result?
I always make it a point to talk to as many judges as I can before I leave, to get feedback. I also talk to my friends and go from there.
[ Q ] Do you sit down and put together a plan for your next competition? Are you methodical when it comes to tracking your progress?
Yes, I have a diary and everything is written down. In terms of diet, there is not a lot of room for me to go wrong. I have a diet that is written out for me and that is what I follow every single day. I don't stray from it and I don't change anything. I re-evaluate my diet every two weeks.
[ Q ] Do you measure your body fat on a regular basis?
Yes. I think it is a good idea because it gives you a good gauge to let you know where you are at. It is best if you have the same person measure your body fat every time though. As far a comparing this persons percentage to that persons percentage, this can't really be done because everyone is different.
I have a person who trains at my facility who is taller and bigger boned than me. Her body fat percentage is about 2.5 percent lower than mine, but if you look at both of us, I actually look at lot leaner than she does. This is because I have more muscle mass.
[ Q ] What would you recommend as a good starting program for a woman who wants to get into good shape?
I think the biggest mistake people make is thinking they can make drastic changes to their body by doing just one thing, whether that one thing be weight-training, dieting or cardio. It is actually a combination of four different things that will get you to your desired shape.
[ Q ] Good advice. Would you place a greater emphasis on weight training, as opposed to cardio, for fat loss?
It would depend on the person. Personally, in the off-season I would concentrate more on weight training and when I am getting ready to diet for the show, I will add in the cardio. But my weight-training is always the priority.
[ Q ] What would you recommend for someone who is around 20 kilograms above their ideal weight?
I would recommend a weight-training program that keeps the heart rate up so they burn fat while they weight train. Also, I would definitely add the cardio in.
[ Q ] What is your view on rep range?
Higher reps would be best for weight loss. 12 to 15 reps works best to keep the heart rate up.
[ Q ] What about your personal rep range?
It really depends on where I am with my training goals. I mostly train heavy, but I still try to keep my reps pretty high - around 15. I probably do more reps and sets than the average person. For example, with the leg-press I will start out with 300lbs and do 20 reps. Then I'll go to four, five, six and seven hundred pounds for 20 reps.
[ Q ] Would most figure competitors do the higher reps?
From what I understand, No. They usually do lower reps. Considering I am very close to a show, I feel that the higher reps combined with the heavier weights is quite an achievement.
[ Q ] What is your diet like as you head into the Arnold? I am assuming your carbs are pretty low at this point.
Yes, the carbs are low. I have cut back on my carbs to where I have my carb meals just twice a week. Twice a week I will have a large carb meal. I eat a lot of proteins, essential fats, and greens (fibrous carbs).
[ Q ] How do you stay coherent on such a low carb intake?
It has been a little difficult recently because I started the very low carbs about a week ago. Before then, I was eating a very small amount of carbs in the morning and then I switched to spike my metabolism. I do okay, but is does get tough sometimes. Short term things are fine, but if I have to read something about a whole page long its like forget it. Its like give me two sentences real quick and then we will move on (laughs).
[ Q ] Well you have done very well throughout this interview. Before we finish, is there anyone you would like to thank?
I definitely want to thank Gamma-O. They have been amazing for me, and very supportive and helpful throughout the entire Arnold training process. My friends and family have also been very supportive and excited for me. They will all be there cheering me on.