Between 94 and 99, Melissa competed with the worlds best as a bodybuilder, winning the Jan Tana Classic (her first pro outing) and proving she was indeed much more than just another pretty face. Bodybuilding is something Melissa still enjoys, but rather than honing her physique to perfection, in preparation for competition, she now focuses on developing power and mass for her new career - professional wrestling.
A desire to break into the entertainment world has seen Melissa undergo extensive training to become a pro wrestler in addition to her role as an Extreme Doge-ball player on GSN. And don't think Melissa has placed professional bodybuilding on the backburner completely - she still intends to some day win the Ms Olympia. I spoke with this fascinating women recently and found her to be refreshingly multidimensional.
[ Q ] What are you current goals (sport/fitness related and otherwise) Melissa?
My current goals are to continue to be popular in the fitness
magazines and on the internet. And to one day be Ms. Olympia. That is a goal I have had since I was 10 years old, and STILL have and plan on accomplishing someday soon. My desire to win this title and highlight women's professional bodybuilding to the world has been burning within me for well over a decade.
My second goal is to be the World Wrestling Federation Women's Champion (maybe one day the Intercontinental Champ would be cool too - i.e. wrestle the men!). I have been training at the WWE developmental school and things are going great! I believe wrestling and pro bodybuilding go hand-in-hand.
I have other goals besides that which I plan to bring into being sometime within the next 5 years... bodybuilding and wrestling will keep me quite busy for at least that length of time!
Final goal - to stay happy, healthy and motivated. And to help others stay or become that way as well!
[ Q ] What is your current involvement in bodybuilding? How does you routine differ to that of your competitive days?
I am a proud member of the
International Federation of Bodybuilders and have been since I was granted pro status in 1995. I plan on competing this year, maybe as soon as May!
At the moment, my routine is lighter than it usually would be while getting ready for a contest. Wrestling can be very hard on the joints and I find I don't need so much size anymore, so I do upper body one day and legs the next day. That type of simple split, and a lighter weight and higher repetitions.
[ Q ] Please provide some background on yourself (height/weight/age/measurements/history).
I am 5'5", and weigh between 140-150 lbs depending on whether I am off season, photo shape or competition shape. As for my age - silly boy - you should never ask a woman that question! LOL!
Right now I have 14 inch biceps, 15 inch calves, 23 inch thighs. I got into weight training while training to become a pro tennis player. The love of pumping iron caught on real quick though, and then I moved out of the tennis court and permanently into the weight room, starting first with power lifting competitions and then on to my one true love, bodybuilding.
[ Q ] Outline you competition history. What would you consider to be your most satisfying competitive experience, and why?
My competitive history is as follows:
- 1994 Ms. Canada
- 1996 Jan Tana Champion
- 1996 Ms. Olympia, 8th runner up
- 1997 Ms. International, 5th runner up
- 1997 Ms. Olympia 10th runner up
- 1999 Ms. International, 12th runner up (I was ill during the last week and unfortunately couldn't digest much food during that time, really softened me out. Those are the breaks I guess!)
My most memorable competition is close between my winning the 96' Jan Tana and my doing my first Olympia and getting 9th place. The Jan Tana holds a special place in my heart and it was my pro debut, and at that time a lot of people in the business just considered me a pretty face. They didn't think I had it to be a top ranked bodybuilder. But I proved them wrong!
The O was fantastic as well as I was up on stage with amazing women I had admired like Lenda Murray. It was the culmination of years of hard work and big dreams.
[ Q ] You competed in the Mrs Olympia twice. Describe the feelings associated with competing in a contest of this magnitude?
To compete in the Ms. O was like being in dreamland - my fantasy becoming reality as I was deemed one of the best bodies in the world AND competing against the best bodies in the world! Sometimes dreams really do come true!
[ Q ] What does the Mrs Olympia contest mean to you, and how does it, in your view, surpass other contests?
The Ms. Olympia is the Wrestlemania or Superbowl of pro bodybuilding, if you will, and is the greatest of all professional women's shows! It is the best of the best, and to be included in that line-up is the greatest of all accomplishments for any bodybuilder.
[ Q ] What do you consider to be your greatest bodybuilding achievement?
My greatest bodybuilding achievement would be being 8th runner up in the 1996 Ms. Olympia, though my Jan Tana win is pretty darn close!
I am also very happy to have been one of the few top women pro bodybuilders who has also been featured on several magazine covers.
[ Q ] Describe your current training regime? What are the differences as compared to your competition days?
When I am training for a competition, my regime is much more structured. I used to train
hamstrings and shoulders on one day,
triceps the next. Take a day off. Then do
thighs next day and then finally the last day
biceps. Take another day off.
Abs were trained ever 2 days and calves every 3.
Cardio 3-5 times a week for 30 min spurts.
Now I train pretty much when the time is present and my energy level isn't too depleted from my pro wrestling training, which is extremely rigorous. I do an lower/upper body split, and take more time off to rest if need be. I do a lot of lifting and power moves wrestling, so I am always getting some kind of weight training workout, depending on how heavy my opponent is! LOL!
[ Q ] Describe your current diet?
diet as well is much less strict than it used to be. I eat a good amount of
protein, about 1 g per lb bodyweight, which is half a gram/lb bodyweight that I used to eat.
I need more carbohydrates now that I am doing pro wrestling, which demands a much higher level of energy. Not to mention low carbs can make it hard to stay alert - can't wrestle and not be alert! Too dangerous!
[ Q ] What is your view on supplementation? Which supplements do you use, if any?
I believe a few good supplements are a definite help, especially in this busy world where many of us are on the run. I like a good
whey protein powder and
L-Glutamine, plus a good
multi-mineral, multi-vitamin. And that is it. I add
Alpha Lipoic Acid when I want to burn some extra fat. And I have found the herb
Uva Ursi is good for helping me hold down water retention.
[ Q ] What are you hobbies and interests?
My hobbies? Well I don't really have time to have any! I do play dodgeball however... I have been part of this highly rated TV program called "
EXTREME DODGEBALL". The show is on GSN, and has done amazing in the ratings. Kinda a sports comedy event, this show is hilarious!
So far I have participated in 2 seasons as part of the Barbell Mafia team. The first season we made the playoffs, the second season BF didn't do so well. I got injured the day before the 4 day tournament... each index finger on both hands! OUCH! So to catch or throw the ball was so painful! Catch the show on GSN - it has done very well and they play reruns consistently!
I love watching movies, travelling, meeting new people and experiencing new things!
[ Q ] I understand you aspire to compete in the WWE. How are these plans going? In your view, how does professional wrestling compare and contrast with professional bodybuilding?
My pro wrestling training is coming along great! It is the hardest thing I have ever done - but it is so FUN! Both bodybuilding and pro wrestling involve entertaining the crowd, but I would have to say bodybuilding is closer to a serious sport.
Wrestling is much more about skill, athleticism and drama. More of a soap opera with amazingly skilled athletes. Some wrestlers have good bodies, some don't. It is a plus in the wrestling world, but not a prerequisite. Wrestling is about characters, not bodies per se.
As we see in the many fitness mags nowadays that feature pro wrestlers on the covers (Triple H and John Cena for example were recently on the cover of Flex and Muscle & Fitness, in that order) pro wrestling and pro bodybuilding can certainly go hand-in-hand. In pro bodybuilding, the participants are larger-than-life... in wrestling, the characters are definitely larger-than-life, if the bodies aren't!
[ Q ] Does pro-wrestling really hurt? How much is choreographed and how much is improvised?
Pro wrestling is absolutely brutal! You definitely have to have an almost masochistic streak in you to really get into it. Expect to often have a sore neck and/or sore neck, if not some other body-part! The reward is that it is so much fun to do - and to hear the crowd react is another great perk of the biz. It takes several years to be trained properly.
[ Q ] How long do you intend to continue with your wrestling career? Would you consider a return to bodybuilding?
I would like to wrestle about 3-5 years. And when I can I will also compete on the bodybuilding stage. I need to do wrestling while I am young enough though - this stuff is really rough on the body!
[ Q ] What was the reason for your departure from bodybuilding?
I have never departed from bodybuilding - just felt that I wanted to create other opportunities for myself. Wrestling is something you need to do while you are young. Bodybuilding I can do FOREVER! And plan to!
[ Q ] What do you consider to be your greatest strengths? Any weaknesses?
My greatest strengths are my persistence,
dedication and ambition. My biggest weakness, which also ironically enough probably has helped me be such a good bodybuilder, would have to be perfectionism!
[ Q ] What one word would you use to describe yourself?
[ Q ] If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring bodybuilder, or wrestling competitor, what would it be?
For anyone aspiring to be a bodybuilder - or even just to lose a few pounds - I offer this advice: Believe in yourself. Belief is a very strong thing. Believe that you can do it!
That you CAN get to the gym 4 times a week, that you CAN and WILL lift a few pounds more, that you CAN run that last minute at an incline of 10 degrees on the treadmill! Visualize yourself and WHAT and WHO you want to be...and then watch it happen - one day at a time!
[ Q ] Thank you for your time Melissa. Is there anything more you would like to add?
I want to thank all of you who have followed my career at some point or other during its 12 year span, and to thank those of you who have supported and encouraged me during the past few years. You mean the world to me. Without you, I would have never lived such a fulfilling life.
I read every letter and every email sent to me. I have been so touched by your personal stories, struggles and triumphs. I also started just like every single one of you, and through determination and drive, I changed my world. Bodybuilding is a beautiful thing. You can lift a weight and change your life! Build a new body, or gain some new found strength and self-esteem. You CAN do it. You know it and so do I!
My website is at www.melissacoates.com and I also have a yahoo fan club at http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/MelissaCoatesFanclub/.