Kirsten Nicewarner is one of the IFBB's newest fitness pros. Her story is one of amazing triumph over adversity and one worth taking the time to read. It will send shivers down your body to read what she's overcome along the way. This is one woman who has my respect and admiration and wish her nothing but the best in her path of life.
Born/Grew up in:
Hanover, IN (Hanover College, my father is a professor there)
What made you make the move to Iowa and become a Hawkeye?
Having lived on a small college campus all my life, I knew I wanted to go to a large university. I had visited several universities with good gymnastic programs. When my family heard I had been accepted at the University of Iowa I had a little pressure to accept since most of my family (grandparents, aunts, uncles) lived in Iowa. I am glad I did as I look fondly back on those years.
Did you enjoy competing in as a gymnast at the collegiate level?
At times I loved it and other times I hated it. At the level of a Big Ten school, especially when you are under scholarship, the sport rules your life. I loved the sport, my teammates, coaches and everything it taught me. On the down side was the constant focus on weight. I wish I knew then what I have learned during my fitness journey about dieting and training.
President and Co-Founder KSP Healthcare Solutions, LLC
Partner and Co-Founder, Healthy Diabetic, LLC
Partner and Co-Founder, Breakout Solutions, LLC
How is your company going?
KSP Healthcare Solutions is a healthcare consulting firm and is starting its fourth year.
The Healthy Diabetic is a mail order diabetic supply company and we will be celebrating its one-year anniversary in January.
Breakout Solutions is another healthcare consulting firm with an emphasize on IT solutions.
All are doing great and continue to grow daily. At times I'm not sure how I'm going to keep up with all the work but I am blessed to have a great staff and wonderful partners whom I enjoy working with everyday.
Fitness! Of course!
If you had to choose which would you have first - pizza, chocolate or a margarita after a show?
I always have chocolate in my bag for after the show. My favorite, and has become a bit of ritual, is Godiva Raspberry Truffles. After that I love to eat pizza although my eyes always seem to be bigger than my stomach. As for Margaritas, I love them but after a show I can't really drink them. I'am a bit of a lightweight when it comes to alcohol to begin with and after being depleted for a show... two sips I'd be out!
Did you think you'd ever compete after snapping your Achilles tendon?
No. After surgery Doctor Favarito of Wellington Orthopedics told me he was able to repair both of the tendons but one had been severely "shredded" so he had to shorten it to get it back together. When I asked what that meant, he said he had concerns with my rehab and estimated I would not walk for 12 months and might not be able to run or walk inclines without difficulty.
How long did it take you to recover - care to share how you made steps to rehabilitate yourself?
Wow, this is a hard question to answer since there are many emotions and memories that overwhelm me when I think about it. My recovery was long and painful. I had to take it in steps and kept pushing myself to do more than what was expected. I had to make a conscious effort to look at the positives and the progress I had made to that point, and not look at what I still could not do, although at times it was hard.
I was in a wheelchair for several months. This in itself was an enlightening experience. I faithfully did my rehab exercises and continued to go to the gym. I remember everyone at the gym looking surprised the first time I wheeled in but they were very supportive and helpful. For me, simply going to the gym was a much-needed mental boost.
Physical Therapy was very trying at times. After my casts, I had two large "moon boots" and I had to work on regaining flexibility in my tendons in order to be able to stand. I used thera-bands for strengthening and flexibility exercises. I remember trying to stand the first time and feeling like Bambi. It was not pretty and I shed many tears.
I finally graduated to crutches. The doctors were worried because I did not have a "good" leg to fall on if I tripped. Each day was a struggle and painful but I kept doing my exercises and going to the gym. I decided to try Figure since I did not think I'd ever be able to do the routine. This was a personal goal I could focus on instead of feeling sorry for myself. I trained with weights and followed a competition diet. I continued to go to therapy where I practiced standing, walking, standing on one foot, standing on a mini tramp and other balancing exercises. My husband even bought a mini tramp and I practiced these things at home too.
Nine months to the exact day of my injury I entered my first Figure show. It was the Northern Kentucky BB Championships in March 2002. Walking in the high-heeled shoes was very challenging and painful, but I practiced for weeks prior to the show and felt I was ready. I was flabbergasted when I won the overall. I competed in 2 more local shows and won again. I was amazed not only of what I had accomplished, but of all the support and compassion the competitors showed me.
In November 2002 I decided to try a Fitness routine. I worked closely with my doctor and there were many times I did not think I could do it. I kept pushing myself and focusing on my goal of doing one show and not embarrassing myself, just to say I did it.
I remember the day before leaving for the show and getting teary eyed thinking, I am really going to do this. My first show was the New York Metro in 2003 and I won the overall. I still cry happy tears thinking of it. I went on to win Jr. USAs, Jr. Nationals, and earned my pro card at the USA's, 2 years to the date of my injury. I guess I am still pinching myself!
How's working with Mike Davies been?
Mike has been instrumental in my success. There is no way I could have done this without him. My ability to successfully compete comes from his ability to push me when I need it and help me back off when I need to. I attribute Mike's boot camp and several plyometric exercises he showed me to my ability to run, jump, tumble, etcï¿½ I remember the first time I tried boot camp and I could not jump and had no agility. I really questioned my ability to do Fitness but Mike had no doubts and for whatever he saw in me, I knew I could not let him down. He is one of the most dedicated, hardworking, caring individuals I know and I have tremendous respect for him.
How has Jen Hendershott helped you in your career?
Jen choreographed my Fitness routine and has become a great friend. She is someone I am eternally grateful to for all her help and encouragement. Before my first show she sent me an e-mail telling me I would kick some New York butt and then sent me a card with more encouraging words. I have taken her card and e-mail in my bag to every show and read them when I need some encouragement. I only wish I had half her energy!
Who's been your mentor in the fitness industry?
Both Mike and Jen. I remember going to the Arnold Classic in 2002 and watching Jen's routines. She was amazing. When Mike first introduced me to Jen I have to admit I was "star struck" and a little intimidated. She of course put me to ease within seconds.
You've had quite a year, congratulations on your success in 2003. How did it feel to turn pro at this year's USA's?
I don't think there are words to describe it. Clichï¿½s such as, it is a dream come true, amazing, etcï¿½ doesn't quite do it justice.
What would you tell women who think they are don't have what it takes or that they have to be in their early 20s to get involved in fitness?
Believe in yourself. Turn off the self-doubt and allow your years of experience to help you. There is beauty and talent in all ages and it is never to late to find out what is inside you.
Your husband speaks very highly of you and in his words, is your "number two fan," your son being number one. How did you two meet and how has having a supportive family helped you in your journey?
They are the reason I have done what I have after my injury. My primary motivation for working hard to get out of the wheel chair was to be able to play ball with my son or to simply carry him up the stairs to bed. It brings tears to my eyes when I think of the support my husband and my 6 year old have given me. There is nothing better than hearing them in the audience cheering for me and when I look down from stage and see my son jumping up and down yelling, "go mommy Kirsten".
Favorite musical artist?
I like a variety of music and can't say I have a favorite artist. When I want to dance I like hip hop and when I want to relax I like anything slow be it modern or classical.
Biggest Pet Peeve?
I don't know. I have not really thought of one.
Do you still own a pair of jellyshoes?
No. I do love shoes but I got rid of those awhile ago!
Last Movie you saw?
Cat in the Hat.
What's something people may not know about you?
I have a twin brother and no we are not identical. I also have a younger brother and sister.
Anything you don't care for or wish would change in the industry?
I'd like the sport to be more recognized in the general public. The athletes that compete in this sport give the same hard work and dedication as other athletes. Our culture today promotes unhealthy habits and this sport brings back the notion of exercise and eating the right kinds of foods. It is also a sport that women and men of all ages can participate in. As one judge recently said to me, "you are just getting into the sport when others are getting out." This was a reference to my age but really, exercising and eating right to create the best body you can create is something you can do at any age.
What will be your next show as an IFBB Pro?
A dream of mine would be to compete in the Fitness International at the Arnold Classic. However, there are many great competitors and only 12 slots, so if that isn't in the cards I will be at the next show in New York a few weeks later.
Goals/ambitions for the future:
For Fitness I want to keep improving. I am working on some new tricks for next year and having a blast.
I was privileged to work at the GNC booth this year at the Olympia and Show of Strength. I'd love to continue working with them, as they are a great team to work for.
Wow! Thanks Kritsen, your story is amazing. You've literally given me goosebumps. Very inspiring words for men and women of all ages. You're proof that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. It's easy to see why your family and friends admire your spirit. Congratulations and best wishes in your businesses as well as your fitness career as an IFBB Pro.
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