Having won the 2006 Arnold Classic fitness division, Adela Garcia-Friedmansky has her sights set on bringing her best conditioning and routine to this year's Ms. Olympia. At his contest she hopes to repeat her 2004 win; to prove once and for all she is a true force, and the number one competitor in women's fitness.
One of the more popular competitors in the fitness division, Puerto Rican native Adela began weight training at age 17 to gain strength to improve her sports performance - she played volleyball, softball and basketball in her youth.
In the years that followed, it was suggested that Adela compete in fitness, such was her athletic prowess and formidable physique. Not having come from a dance background (an advantage in fitness competition), she decided against competing, but continued to train hard.
Fortunately, in 1995 - having involved herself in the fitness industry as a personal trainer and aerobics teacher - Adela decided to try her luck and entered the NPC Armed Forces Fitness Championships in North Carolina - a move that would eventually catapult her to international stardom.
Having placed second in this competition - "an awesome experience" - Adela proceeded to work her "Latin booty" off to establish herself on the amateur fitness scene. In 1999, Adela won the overall at the NPC USA Fitness Championships to earn her pro card. Since then she has won the fitness division's two top prizes - the Arnold Classic and Ms. Olympia - and is well positioned to become one of the greatest ever.
Says Adela, "Since turning pro, I have worked on becoming the best I can be by improving my routine and physique. Becoming a professional fitness competitor has been a blessing for me. I love competing."
In the following interview Adela describes how she has become a fitness champion and tells of her competition plans.
[ Q ] Are you in training for a contest? If so, which one and what are your expectations?
At the moment I am taking a month off, since I just competed at the Arnold Classic in March and need a little break. I will be getting ready for the Olympia in May and I expect to do better in this contest than I did last year.
[ Q ] As well as this year's competitions, what else will you be working towards?
I am working on building my personal training business. I do a weekend boot camp. These camps are packed with great workouts and informative sessions, covering every aspect of figure and fitness competition, nutrition and posing. Whether attendants are new or seasoned competitors or just want to get in the best shape of their life, we have something for them.
[ Q ] Describe the experience of winning this year's Arnold Classic.
To be honest with you, I did not think I was going to win. It was a surprise and it was the most amazing feeling when I was the last one standing there. Heidi Fletcher was standing next to me and she was saying, "Congratulations, you won." I told her,
I worked my Latin booty off for this show. I knew I had to prove myself again, and show people that I was not dead. Like I said, if winning in 2004 was sweet, winning this year was even sweeter. In 2005 I experienced a lot of emotional problems, but I learned from all the hard times and put all my energy into winning the Fitness International again. I feel blessed to have the title this year.
[ Q ] What was your game plan going into this contest?
Work, work, work and don't talk to a lot of people, stay away from negative people, and focus on myself. My best friend Alti Bautista gave me this great idea for the routine. She told me to do Scar face. My friend, Diva, got all this cool music for me, and my choreographer, Renzo, put the music and routine together.
I loved the whole routine and the new music style. It helped me win the routine round for the first time in a big show. I was so happy because after I was done with the two-minute routine, I felt good about it. I knew I did a good job because I was having a great time on stage and I hit everything.
[ Q ] How did you get started in fitness competition?
I got started by putting a routine together myself and training on my own. I looked at the competitions on TV and copied the stuff the girls were doing. I got diets from magazines, and just did everything on my own.
[ Q ] What qualities make you a good fitness competitor in your view?
I don't tumble. I have good strength, flexibility and showmanship. You have to be able to entertain the crowd and show that you are having fun on that stage. I have a clean routine with good strengths moves and good music as well. My physique is curvy and even though I get lean, my face doesn't get too bad. It is about having the overall package. I also get along with everyone, and I like everybody. The most important thing is having respect for others in the sport.
[ Q ] What is your approach to training and eating at the moment?
At the moment I am just eating. I am giving my body a little break, but I make sure I get at least 120 grams of protein a day and take my multivitamins.
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[ Q ] How do you normally train and diet for a contest?
My trainer Mike Davies sent me all my diets and workouts this time. We are a good team. We start about 12 weeks out with the diet. For training I do three weight sessions a week, cardio five days a week, and routine practice five days a week. I stop training with weight three weeks before the show.
[ Q ] What other strategies do you adopt to get in shape?
[ Q ] What else is happening in your life right now?
I have been looking for spaces to open a studio. I would love to have a personal training studio in the near future.
[ Q ] What do you do in your spare time?
Go to the movies and Lake with Lee (Priest), play with my dogs, pull weeds out of our backyard, Eat, and more eating - boring life.
[ Q ] You have a long competition history. What has been a standout moment for you, and why?
I have a few standout moments. First, winning my pro card in 1999 at the USA's Nationals. I never thought I was ever going to win a show, I just wanted to get a pro card and continue competing, but I worked so hard and thanks to Kevin Creegan my choreographer at that time, I won the routine round and a pro card.
As a pro, winning the 2004 Fitness International and the Olympia were standout moments because I never gave up my dream despite what others had to say. I know that if you want something really bad, you can get it if you put your heart and soul on it.
I will never forget the moment I won the Arnold in 2004; I was so emotional I could not even speak on stage. This year winning the Ms. Fitness International again was the same; it was an emotional moment for me because so many people have turned away from me. I felt as if I had to prove myself again. I was so focused on that goal, and I did not let anything get in my way. I went to the Arnold ready - I was competing against myself. I wanted people to know that I was still alive.
[ Q ] Has becoming a champion been an easy road for you? Have you had to overcome any challenges?
- Sacramento Pro Fitness - first place
- Fitness Olympia - third place
- Arnold Classic - second place
- Fitness Olympia - first place
- Arnold Classic - first place
- IFBB New York City Pro Fitness - Overall
- IFBB Fitness International - second place
- IFBB GNC Show Of Strength Fitness - second place
- IFBB Fitness Olympia - fourth place
- IFBB Pittsburgh Pro Fitness - Overall
- IFBB Atlantic States Pro Fitness - Overall
- IFBB New York City Pro Fitness - Overall
- IFBB Fitness International - fourth place
- IFBB Fitness Olympia - fourth place
- IFBB Pittsburgh Pro Fitness - third place
- IFBB Fitness International - third place
- IFBB Jan Tana Classic Pro Fitness - second place
- IFBB Fitness Olympia - fifth place
- IFBB Pittsburgh Pro Fitness - fifth place
- IFBB Atlantic City Pro Fitness - sixth place
- IFBB Fitness International - eighth place
- NPC USA Fitness Championships - Overall (IFBB Professional Qualifier)
- NPC Junior National Fitness Championships - second place short class
- IFBB North American Fitness Championships - sixth place short class
- NPC National Fitness Championships - eighth place short class
- NPC USA Fitness Championships - ninth place short class
- NPC Pennsylvania Fitness Championships - fourth place
- NPC National Fitness Championships - twelfth place
- NPC Europa Sports Fitness Championships - second place
Being a champion has been very difficult for me. I have had to overcome the "Oh, she is signed with J. M. (Jim Manion) so that is why she wins." For so long I have had to deal with people putting me down and saying that I did not deserve to place where I did.
I used to cry and get very upset about this because I was working my @ss off to get better. I ended up using their criticism as a fuel to prove them wrong. I have had to overcome not being a gymnast to do well in the fitness competition. People have their own opinion and I respect everyone and wish to be respected as well.
Adela's Competition History:
[ Q ] What qualities do you like most about yourself?
I am loyal and honest. I don't hate or disrespect people, so I expect the same from others, which you don't get that most of the time. I am also funny and very friendly.
[ Q ] What have been the keys to your success?
Taking negative and positive criticism and using it as a tool to better myself, has helped me in my career. People can be harsh but you are in a sport where if you don't learn to be a thick skinned, you will be crying all the time. I learned so much in this sport and now I just know how to handle criticism well.
Also, I am consistent and I come to a show prepared - I don't play games when it comes to competing. I know, as a professional athlete, you have to be professional in every aspect and come to the stage ready all the time.
[ Q ] Who has helped you throughout your career? A lot of people have been there for me.
My Family: Esther, Santi, Willy, Manta, Manen, Maro, and Lee
Friends: Alti, Stella, Tina, John, Karen, Terry and Elaine
My Managers: Jim and Debbie Manion
My Sponsors: GNC Pro Performance and John and Delia at "Jagware"
My Trainer: Mike Davies
Choreographers: Kevin Creegan, Renzo Coste and Eddie Barreto the music person
I have always been very thankful for all the people that have been in my life through good times and bad times. I have met really good people and I am thankful for having them in my life.
[ Q ] Who do you look up to in fitness/bodybuilding and why?
I see everyone as a great athlete. Everyone brings something amazing to the stage, and you learn from everyone in the industry.
[ Q ] What would you like to achieve in fitness before you retire?
I would love to see fitness growing. I have seen so many competitors going to figure and it feels like fitness is dying. I want to be an example and role model. I want other girls to look at me and feel they can accomplish what I have accomplished without an intensive background in gymnastics. I want to see fitness being big again like it was when I started.
Thank you David for the great interview.