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.
Over the 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 the blocks.
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.
I looked 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.
Well, being 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.
My first 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.
Fitness will 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;