I was born October 7, 1965 in San Francisco. Life was pretty regular until my mom decides to enroll me in ballet lessons at age 3. Since my mom and grandparents so tremendously spoiled me, ballet
was of little interest to me unless I was getting all the attention. If
things weren't going my way I would run to the back of the class and plop
my bottom on the floor and pout. What a brat! All of this
did change as I started to get older and really love ballet. My first
ballet teacher, Sue Ellen Nelson, took great time with me and helped me
progress very quickly. I studied with her until I was 12 years old. At
that point she suggested that I audition for the San Francisco Ballet.
She knew she had taken me as far as she could and that it was time for
me to move forward. So I auditioned for the school and what do you know
I got in on full scholarship. The director told me that I was quite advanced
for my age but because I had almost flat feet they wanted to start me
off in a lower level. Their idea was to strengthen my feet so I wouldn't
have problems dancing on pointe (this is when you see ballet dancers dance
on their tiptoes).
Their levels went from 1 to 8; 8 being the highest.
I was in level 3. Moving
through the ranks fairly fast, I progressed to level 4, than 5, than 6
and after 2 Nutcrackers, dancing with the company's Corp de Ballet, and
2 Spring Collections, it came to a head. At a student review they told
me that I should think about taking jazz or modern dance and that there
was nothing else that they could do for me. That had to be the worst day
of my young life. I was 15. Over the next two years, I desperately tried
to find a ballet school that was comparable to San Francisco Ballet not
only in discipline but in technique as well.
Once I graduated
high school in 1983, the issue of college came about. My family was very
education oriented and all I wanted to do was dance. I looked into a lot
of schools that had dance departments but none of them were up to San
Francisco Ballet standards. So my mom came up with The Juilliard School
in New York. This sounded great because I was going to be in New York
City and Juilliard was a performing arts college like the school on that
TV show "Fame". Within a few weeks my mom and I were on a plane to the
big city for my audition to get into the school. There was one down fall.
Besides taking ballet I had to take modern dance too. That definitely
was not in my game plan. I was classically trained with strict movements
and now they want me to "let my body go!" Well I auditioned anyway and
once again found that the ballet department was not up to par.
A few weeks after that I received my letter of acceptance. I was on my way to New
York to live for a while. Unfortunately I got board with the school and
found myself auditioning for shows that were outside of school. New York
is an up and coming dancers dream. One of the
auditions that I attended was for the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre. They
were looking for dancers for school scholarships and apprentices for the
company. I received both. The only thing was that the classes were going
on at the same time as school. WHAT DO I DO? I called my very first dance
teacher and told her that I had been accepted into the Alvin Ailey dance
Theatre. She was ecstatic and told me to take the apprenticeship because
this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I then called my mom and told
her about the audition. Let's just say she was not as enthusiastic as
my dance teacher was. She, of course, said, "Stay in school". I was only
seventeen so I was completely confused about what to do so instead of
making a decision I came back home to California.
next 5 years I entered into many different ventures like musical theatre,
dancing on a cruse ship, taking jazz dance, learning to play the bass
guitar and playing with a few different bands locally and nationwide.
But it was the jazz dancing that would take me to a whole different world.
I injured my lower back in about my sixth year of jazz dance training.
It was bad enough to send me to the hospital. The doctor told me that
I had a disc problem. He said that I might need surgery but I should have
physical therapy first. So on to therapy where my therapist suggested
that I try weight training to strengthen my back before I had surgery.
So I did.
Once I found
a gym that I liked I attached myself to the BIG GUYS. I did what ever
they did. This probably wasn't the best thing for me at the time but I
did it anyway. After about a year of hard training I started to see changes
in my body. It was quite amazing. The walking popsicle stick was starting
to have shape and my back was continually getting better. This was in
1987. I continued to train and found a great training partner, Janine
Paiste. We worked long and hard. My body had changed so much that people
were asking me if I competed. Finally Janine suggested that we both compete
in the Seaside Bodybuilding Classic in Monterey, CA. This was in September
of 1990 and it was my first bodybuilding show. I placed 2nd out of three
people in the middleweight division. Not bad for the first time out of
For the next
6 years I didn't compete because I hated the diet and cardio along with
my family and friends! I just maintained what I had built up. In 1996
the competition bug hit me again. I wanted to redeem myself after the
Seaside show. I decided to do the NPC (National Physique Committee) Sacramento
Bodybuilding Classic. At that time I was training at 24 Hour Fitness.
Somehow the word got out that I was looking for a good training partner
to get me ready for this show. A friend introduced me to Betty Sperry.
She trained at World's Gym. We met and immediately hit it off. This woman
trained me harder than I had ever trained in my life but it worked. We
trained on a strict schedule and trained HEAVY. My body parts started
coming out of the wood works. Betty decided to do the Sacramento with
me so it made training even more worth while. We did the show and there
were 7 girls in the middleweight class. I finally had some competition.
I took 3rd place, which I was very happy with. It was at this time I started
to she changes in the way that some of the competitors were coming into
the show. BIG. At that point I decided that bodybuilding was going in
a direction that I didn't want to go in. Enter fitness.
at a few different organizations to see which direction I wanted to head.
I knew that it had to be one that had emphasis on the body and not on
an evening gown. I also know that I would be able to use my dance background
in the routine round. So I came up with the NPC. The first fitness competition
that I entered in was the California Fitness Championships. Before entering
into this show I talked to a lot of people and watched a lot of videotapes
to find out what I need to do to get ready. I had friends watch me pose;
I put together my own routine and had a friend help me with my diet. So
by the time May 1997, rolled around I was ready. There were 6 girls in
the fitness portion. I had no idea that I could even win the show. I just
wanted to be on stage again. Well, I won 1st place. Since this was a state
level show it qualified me for the national level. Now I really had the
bug. Next stop, the USA's.
I went there thinking that I was going to win again. Boy was I surprised.
These girls that I was competing with were real good. I still did my best
and it got me a 7th place finish. I was disappointed until my first magazine
approached me. I thought that you had to place in the top 5 to get in
the magazines. Well I was wrong again. My photo shoot was for Muscle &
Fitness Magazine. I was so excited. We shot out at Hoover Dam in Las Vegas
and boy was it great. After we were done for the day one of the photographers,
Robert Reiff told me that Flex Magazine wanted to shoot with another girl
and me that next week. Of course I said, "YES". And so begins the roller
coaster ride of some very powerful publicity that still continues today
for magazines like Muscle & Fitness, Flex, Oxygen, Muscle & Fitness Hers,
Health and Fitness Journal, Men's Health and Ironman.
determined to turn professional I entered the NPC Nationals in Dallas,
Texas, 1997. I moved up a few steps and placed 5th. Getting my pro card
was going to be harder that I thought. So on to 1998. This was the make
or break year. If I didn't turn pro by the end of the year I was going
to quit. The first show on the agenda was the USA's again. I made a few
changes to my body and my routine and once again I got 7th. This was a
little frustrating, ok very frustrating! Now the next thing that I was
going to do was the NPC Team Universe. I went into this show with the
attitude that what ever happens, happens. I had never been so relaxed in
any competition and FINALLY! I won. First place and I got my pro card.
Enter IFBB Pro.
season as a pro started out with a great honor in 1999. The first fitness
show of the year and one of the biggest shows is the Arnold Classic/Fitness
International. In order to compete in this show you have to have a formal
invitation and I was one of the lucky one's. It was very exciting just
to be there and because of all of the publicity I was pretty well known.
I was very pleased with my performance and finished just out of the top
10 at 11th place. The new goal for the year was to qualify for the Fitness
Olympia at the end of the year. A top three finish in any of the pro show
will do that. My final show for that year was the Jan Tana Fitness Championships
in Virginia. This was my best show yet where I finished 9th.
In 2000 I
was invited to the Fitness International again. I was very pleased with my performance and just happy to see that my fan base had expanded. I
finished 15th. Next on the list is the Rimini Pro Fitness Classic in Rimini,
Italy. This should be an exciting show since I have never competed in
Europe before. I am again trying to qualify for the Fitness Olympia in
Las Vegas. As long as I come in at my best and feel good about what I'm
doing I have accomplished my goal.
always be apart of my life and I look to the future with much enthusiasm
and motivation. Not only will I reach my goals but I look forward to helping
others reach their fitness goals as well.
Lisa graduated from Holy Name Catholic High School. Went to Juliard School in New York, and University of California at Berkley. Played guitar for M.C. Hammer in 1993.
Contests include the 1997 NPC USA Fitness 7th; 1997 NPC Nationals 5th; 1998 NPC USA Tall 7th; 1999 Fitness International 11th; 1999 World Pro 16th; 1999 Jan Tana Pro 9th; 2000 Fitness International 15th; 2000 Jan Tana Pro 12th; 2000 Fitness Olympia 13th; 2001 Fitness International 17th;