Beautiful International Fitness Model, IFBB Figure Competitor, and Fitness Expert Mercedes Khani talks about how she got started in the sport, her rapid rise to the pro ranks, her pro debut at the Colorado Pro and her plans for the future in the fitness industry.
Born In: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Age: 23 years old.
Birthday: Feb 2nd.
Contest Weight: 118 lbs
Off-Season Weight: 127 lbs
[ HR ] How did you get started with bodybuilding and figure?
[ MK ] When I was in the United States a lot in 2004/2005 I trained in a gym where Ms. Olympia Yaxeni Oriquen also trained. I was very impressed with her physique, I had never seen a female bodybuilder before. I saw her every day, she motivated me a lot and as I became friends with her and her relatives and trained with one of her relatives for a while, I learned to train seriously and with discipline.
They thought me the professional mentality towards fitness and bodybuilding and I am very grateful for that. As they competed, I was getting very interested in starting to compete myself. She told me I had a great physique and good genes to be a good athlete and so I started training towards a goal: to start competing in fitness. Two months later, I won my first IFBB show.
[ HR ] Who is training you when you are in Holland?
[ MK ] I got IFBB pro bodybuilder Alison 'The Magician' Maria to train me for my show next year and traveled 2.5 hours 3 times a week to train with him. He is known to be the best trainer in Holland and I wanted nothing but the best.
[ HR ] Any sports related background?
[ MK ] Yes. I did Judo when I was 11. I also competed in Judo tournaments. I had won from all the girls and found myself battling against the boys. They were playing rough, intentionally throwing me down flat on my back to hurt me. Judo is about keeping someone down and trying to get out of the grip.
I didn't find that cool and during the match I started chit-chatting with some of the girls and we left. I remember the judge shaking her head when I told her I didn't feel like playing anymore. I guess I had won something. I also did some gymnastics at the same time. Only for a little while, I was a little scared to fall and break my nose or something so I didn't find my passion there.
After that I did ballet. I also did ballet performances in theaters or in schools. Once I was an evil character and another time I was the queen. I wanted to go to a ballet academy but we moved and I went to high school... things changed.
I love ballet and might pick that up again. Then I started entering modeling contests. But I wanted to do something for the competition, I wanted to be judged on something more than just a pretty face. When I got into Figure competitions I won my first show and really felt good being fit and training hard on my physique. All of the competitors work their @ss off to be on that stage. I respect that. I was hooked ever since.
[ HR ] What happened when you first started competing?
[ MK ] Two months after I started training seriously I won my first show. I had picked up weights before but not consistently. Winning my first show was great! Needless to say I got hooked. Three weeks later I found myself on the Nationals stage.
I placed 2nd with 1 point short because I hadn't mastered posing yet. I won in the physique round. In Holland fitness, figure and bodybuilding girls all do mandatory poses, quarter turns and a routine, so posing matters in Holland.
[ HR ] Wow. You must have been all fired up for 'revenge' the next year at the Nationals huh?
[ MK ] I sure was. To not win the National title by one point, because of posing! That had put me on fire for the entire year that followed. There was not going to be a question mark next year, I wanted straight 1's.
I trained and dieted with my trainer right after the Nationals for a whole year until the next year of the Nationals. In one year, with training hard and consistently and eating right, I gained 15 pounds of muscle (7 kilo). And improved muscle roundness and fullness while keeping the symmetry I have been given genetically.
I had taken my stage presence very seriously as well. I was the only one with a professionally designed posing suit and who brought one make-up artist and one hairstylist with me to help me present myself in the most beautiful and professional way.
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I changed make-up and hairdo in every round. I had Ms. Olympia Yaxeni Oriquen teach me the professional way of how to do the quarter turns, mandatory poses and pose down. I trained with her the 2nd part of the year as I traveled to the US frequently.
I told my trainer Ali this was the best I had ever seen myself and many others agreed. From judges who came backstage to tell me that, my own competitors who congratulated me with my win before the show was over to the trainer of the girl who said 'my girl wasn't ready by far, she did have cellulite on her legs and I was fully surprised to see her win over you'.
I got 2nd place again, by a difference of 3 points. The judging system is different in Holland. When my trainer asked one of the judges what made them choose her over me, he replied: 'She had a round butt'. It seems that's what they wanted.
I was the only one with lines on my legs and no cellulite on the back of my legs, of which I am very proud of. I actually feel good about it now. I was very satisfied with my progression and my presentation that day, as was my trainer amongst many others, and that's what really matters. I do this for myself, not to prove anything to anyone else.
[ HR ] That's awesome. What would you say are the happiest moments of your competitive history so far?
[ MK ] Oh there are so many highlights in my competitive history that I appreciate.
Some of them are winning my first show ever after training consistently for only two months, being in the National Championships only 3 weeks after my first show and placing 2nd with 1 point short to 1st, turning pro after competing for only 2 years, being involved in a sport that I really like, more marketing opportunities opening up for me and the honor of some great people in the industry appreciating me as an athlete. I am so thankful for these things.
IFBB Figure Pro & Int'l Fitness Model.
Week #32 - 10/17/2006
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[ HR ] When did you turn pro?
[ MK ] I turned pro in January 2007. I can't wait to work hard and step on the pro stage in the US for the first time! I am so eager and motivated and will do my best to place as high as I can. I plan on making my pro debut at the Colorado Pro.
[ HR ] When can we expect to see you step on the pro stage in the US for the first time?
[ MK ] I am planning on the Colorado Pro, New York Pro and Sacramento Pro. Maybe I will add the Palm Beach Pro as it is just one week before the Sacramento show, I'll see how my body feels closer to that date.
[ HR ] Awesome! In addition to competing, what else do you see yourself doing within the fitness industry?
[ MK ] I know it sounds cheesy, but I really am looking for a sponsor. It would help out tremendously and I would take pride in representing a company that believes in me. Besides that, I want to give back to the people.
I receive so much positive feedback from people through emails, letters, etc., and I like to have a balance in giving and receiving. Whoever asks advise, I always try to help them.
At this points the doors are open for me so I can't say yet what other good things will come out of it or what I will do in addition to competing for others and for myself, I am focused on doing my first Pro show now. So I will get back to you on that one later on in my career as I am walking further down this path.
Click Image To Enlarge.
I Receive So Much Positive Feedback
From People Through Emails, Letters, Etc.
[ HR ] Do you have a sponsor?
[ MK ] Not at the moment, no. I was so busy focusing on my shows in my first two years of competing that I didn't really look for sponsors. But now that things have stepped up and I will be doing pro shows, it's getting more expensive to do everything on my own. I am looking for a sponsor and would be honored to be a part of their company.
[ HR ] I'm sure you will find sponsors interested in having you soon. Now the most important question! Where do you order your supplements from? (ahum)
[ MK ] Well I don't say this because this interview is for Bodybuilding.com, but I really do buy my supplements there - I always have. I can shop from the convenience of my home and they have everything in their store so I don't have to worry about buying half of my supplements from another place. There is also great information to learn about the supplements so that I know what I would like to try and most importantly, it's cheap.
[ HR ] Any sort of supplements that you feel are important, especially for female competitors?
- One 1000 mg vitamin C in the morning and one after training
- A good multi vitamin once a day
- One 400 mg vitamin E after training
- 5 gram L-Glutamine after training and 5 gram before bedtime (for great recovery)
- 5 gram BCAA before training and 5 gram after training (for energy and great recovery)
- 2 servings of fish oil a day (essential fatty acids to promote fat loss)
- 2 to 3 servings of HMB a day, depending on the brand (to promote fat loss and gain muscle)
- 2 servings CLA a day (to promote fat loss)
[ MK ] I found that the following supplements really helped me in losing fat and gaining muscle for that toned and fit body. I also feel energetic during the day. These are my favorite supplements:
[ HR ] Any advice you would like to give any ladies out there who want to get started in bodybuilding or figure?
[ MK ] The most important advise I'd like to give is to find someone to guide you. A trainer and/or a nutritionist who will help you with training and dieting and truly cares about wanting to help you. This is very important. Also, I'd have them ask themselves why they would like to compete. It has to be mostly for yourself, because you want it and enjoy doing it. Not to prove anything to anyone else.
[ HR ] Favorite cheat food!!
[ MK ] Dangerous question to ask an athlete in contest preparation, ha-ha. My favorites are spinach and blue cheese pizza from Pizza Rustica, a pink vodka pasta, foie gras and Thai food. Deserts: chocolate brownie/raspberry desert, strawberry cheesecake, fried sweet plantains. The list goes on. It comes down to this: I love carbs!
[ HR ] Favorite diet food?
[ MK ] I like vegetables and grapefruit a lot. I also like fish. But what I like most is oatmeal with raisins, cinnamon, Splenda and Butter flavored Fat Free Pam spray and sweet potatoes.
[ HR ] I think the fans would like to know about my next question. Are you in a relationship?
[ MK ] No. I was focused on competing 100% and with all the traveling that I did it was hard to have a steady relationship. I'm learning more now that one thing doesn't have to exclude the other.
[ HR ] Cool. What do you like to do besides training?
[ MK ] Well I love to dress up nicely and have wine & dine in a fine restaurant. I also love to go to the beach, to tan and to enjoy the ocean. I love traveling and exploring new cities or countries! And, of course, I love shopping, but quality over quantity. I just love to have fun.
[ HR ] Anything you'd like to add?
[ MK ] Yes. I'd like to say, there is so much positive energy among the athletes. We all share an appreciation of the hard work that needs to be done and this creates a certain kind of bond. This is so spectacular. The more you get into it, the more goodness comes to you.
I'd like to thank everyone involved in the sport who helps to grow fitness and bodybuilding even more. This is our sport, our passion. And together we can help fight health problems as fitness and health continues to grow.
I'd also like to thank everyone who believes in me and supports me. And last but not least you Hugo, for being a good friend and a true positive and helpful person for everyone out there. I wish you nothing but continued success.
[ HR ] Thank you Mercedes. And thanks for doing the interview.
[ MK ] My pleasure. Thank you!
Read Mercedes' Articles Here!
About The Author:
Hugo Rivera, About.com's Bodybuilding Guide and ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, is an internationally-known best-selling fitness author of over 8 books on bodybuilding, weight loss and fitness, including "The Body Sculpting Bible for Men", "The Body Sculpting Bible for Women", "The Hardgainer's Bodybuilding Handbook", and his successful, self published e-book, "Body Re-Engineering". You can visit Hugo Rivera at www.bodybuilding.about.com, at www.HRFit.net, and his new site www.losefatandgainmuscle.com.