An Interview With Bethany Howlett!

Businesswoman, competitor, opera singer - these are some of the many hats IFBB fitness dynamo Bethany Howlett wears every day. I recently caught up with the hardest working girl in fitness to see what's going on in her exciting and busy life.
Businesswoman, competitor, opera singer--these are some of the many hats IFBB fitness dynamo Bethany Howlett wears every day. Growing up in Northern Virginia, Bethany's day was packed with activities such gymnastics, cheerleading, academic clubs, music, and student government activities. An exceptional and gifted student, she graduated with a 4.4 GPA from Chantilly High School. She then attended the University of Virginia receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in music and George Mason University where she earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree in molecular biology.

I recently caught up with the hardest working girl in fitness to see what's going on in her exciting and busy life.

Wilkins:
Please let us know what you have been up to lately?

Bethany:
I own and operate four gyms and a personal training/nutritional business which takes up a large portion of my day. I've purchased a new home and I'm quite busy decorating it. And finally, managing my web site and training for the 2004 IFBB fitness season takes up any free time I have left.

Wilkins:
You recently experienced a real medical scare. What happened and how are you recuperating?

Bethany:
In May of this year, I suffered from an acute temporal lobe seizure due to severe mental and physical exhaustion. I am much better now and try to get at least five hours sleep each night. I'm extending the dates on my current projects so that I have more time to relax. Workaholics and perfectionists tend to spread themselves thin and often lead to stress seizures. When I look at how hard I've pushed my body, I am surprised that something like this did not happen earlier.

Wilkins:
When do you plan to compete again?

Bethany:
My goal is to compete in all of the 2004 IFBB fitness competitions. You heard it hear first--every single one!

Wilkins:
Every competition? Don't you feel that may be too much stress for your body considering you already had a seizure this year?

Bethany:
What caused my seizure was the fact that I had been under intense stress from a recent gym opening, buying my first home and moving, running my business, interviewing new trainers, in addition to preparing for the Night of the Champions and the Hungarian Pro Fitness Classic. Everything I have, I earned by myself and everything that I do is on my own which means I have to plan accordingly to ensure I get the most out of each and every day.

I intend on making more time next year for my show preparation since the gym is now opened, all of my trainers are hired and in place, and my new house is completely done. No more seizures... I promise!

Wilkins:
I hear you're an accomplished singer. What's your specialty and where do you perform? Do you have a CD or sound clip available through your web site?

Bethany:
I perform at the Washington, DC, Kennedy Center with the Opera Workshop group. I sing opera in eight languages including French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, English, old English, and even Chinese which is really difficult. My specialty is sixteenth century Italian opera.

We present two major productions a year and the next one will be the Messiah (in Italian) by Handel during the Christmas holiday.

Check my web site www.bethanyhowlett.com for my fall updates. I will place a mini sound clip for people who are interested in my singing on the site. I have a demo CD that I send to people interested in having me perform at their event.

Wilkins:
What are your personal feelings related to IFBB athlete's having an elected rep to speak on their behalf? Would you be interested in filling this position?

Bethany:
An IFBB representative to speak for the athletes is a great idea. Most professional teams have a captain who represents the entire team and since IFBB athletes are professional, we should also have an organized and recognized body to represent our concerns.

Shawn Ray is a veteran with over twenty years experience within our industry and possesses great communication skills. These factors help make him an ideal candidate to represent the men. I know Betty Pariso is considering being the women's rep for bodybuilding and feel she would be an excellent choice.

As a professional fitness athlete, I can sympathize with the competitor's and address their concerns. A key to the success of the representative will be the ability to discuss and present actions that will benefit the federation and each athlete. I would love to represent the women and wish all the reps success and offer my assistance to make things better.

Wilkins:
Are you considering competing in the figure discipline or will you stick to fitness?

Bethany:
I enjoy fitness since it allows me to show case my extensive gymnastics background. I have always been a highly competitive athlete and feel that fitness better suits my athletic pursuits. In five years or so when the joints start acting up, maybe then I'll transfer to the figure discipline.

Wilkins:
You had a very public relationship with King Kamali that has since ended. Are you now dating? If so, is he a bodybuilder or in the industry?

Bethany:
Shari "King" Kamali and I were extremely different people that shared only one common interest which was the bodybuilding/fitness lifestyle. We entered the competitive scene together when I was 18 and my expected needs and desires from him at 18 were very different from what I expected from him at 24.

Our relationship was constantly in the spotlight because Shari chose to and still does choose to share his personal life with the fans. I prefer to share my athletic, academic, and business related activities within the industry while I keep my private life quiet and out of the public eye.

Of course I date, but right now I'm focusing on my career during this stage of my life. In the future, the presence of true companion will be important but this is not the right time.

Wilkins:
When can we expect your clothing line to be available?

Bethany:
My clothing line titled, Queen B Fitness Wear, is already complete and will debut at the 2004 Arnold Classic. The line will be available through my gyms, web site, and at major NPC/IFBB competitions.

It is a small line that was a fun to create and the clothes feature Japanese and tribal designs that were custom made. Who knows where it may lead but I'm excited about the possibilities.

Wilkins:
After weeks of dieting, training, tanning, etc., how does it feel to finally present the finished product on stage? What's the best part of it?

Bethany:
I love the spotlight and receiving positive attention! The best part of being on stage is the act of performing for others. When an athlete receives positive compliments from peers, judges, fans, etc. the job of that athlete is complete. I attend and judge a number of competitions each year and sometimes leave a competition forgetting where an athlete placed however, I always remember how the athlete's performance moved me. The art of touching your audience in a positive manner is the key to an amazing performance.

Wilkins:
How long do you prepare for a competition?

Bethany:
I spend sixteen weeks in contest preparation mode. Though I do not gain a lot of weight during the off-season, I do gain excess muscle due to my genetics. Lots of cardio, low protein levels, and very light, high repetitious is the foundation for my competition preparation.

Wilkins:
Please provide three tips for the first time competitor (fitness/figure).

Bethany:
Here are three tips I think are very basic but most important:

  • Accept advice regarding training, supplementation, and nutrition from an experienced, qualified, and trusted individual only. Ask to see, read, and contact their testimonials. Like an excellent coach can make or break a team, a fitness advisor can make or break an athlete.

  • Use a journal to record all your workouts, diet and supplementation info, and utilize before and after pictures to highlight your weak parts and monitor your progress.

  • Most importantly have fun on stage. Sixteen weeks of preparation can hardly be represented in a two-minute routine and/or series of quarter turns. Show the world how hard you worked and how proud you are of how you look.

Wilkins:
Who are your favorite male and female bodybuilders of all time and why?

Bethany:
I admire the well-rounded lifestyle of former Mr. Olympia Lee Haney who managed the competition and business aspects of bodybuilding, was devoted to his church, and still found time to perform charity work in his community.

One must be able to take their unique ability and build on it so that a secure financial future, positive social involvement, and spiritual fulfillment are your foundation. Lee took his love of bodybuilding and developed into a successful athlete, business owner, and was appointed by President Clinton to serve as the Chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Instead of competing and being left with pictures and eight Sandow trophies on his mantel, he took full advantage of the opportunities presented to him and has become a true role model for all of us to follow.

I do not have a favorite female bodybuilder though I am happy with the direction that the sport is slowly taking. In general, female competitors in bodybuilding, fitness, and figure are successful businesswomen who find time to live the healthy and competitive lifestyle as well as raise children and even further their education all at the same time. Tracy Greenwood has an earned a PhD. Bridgette Newell is a mother of not one but four children. Shannon Meteraud, Sharon Christian, and Kim Chizevsky all recently gave birth and successfully returned to the competition stage in a short amount of time.

Wilkins:
Do you checkout the various web sites related to the industry? If so, which are your favorites and why?

Bethany:
I like to stay tuned to what the fans think and feel on issues related to our sport. One of the best and original bodybuilding sites is www.getbig.com operated by Ron Avidan. Ron always provides great info and is usually has competition photos up in a minimum amount of time. I participate on www.ChadNicholls.com, which is a site a number of top athletes post on, and I'm also active on Dan Solomon's www.promuscleonline.com. As far as useful information related to competing, training, and nutrition, nothing tops www.bodybuilding.com, a site I contribute to on a regular basis.

Wilkins:
If you had one wish to change things in the IFBB, what would that change be?

Bethany:
I am honored to be a member of the IFBB. I'm glad that the federation continues to expand which will help bring more exposure and financial opportunities to IFBB athletes. If I was "Queen" for a day, I would like to see the IFBB get involved in more mainstream projects that focus on educating and involving the general public on health and fitness. I think seminars and developing a series of videos that would educate and demonstrate to the average person the basic fundamentals of a training program and a well rounded diet are important and could enhance the quality of someone's life and at the same time, enhance the image of our sport and athletes.

Something else I would like see is IFBB athletes visiting children hospitals, elderly folks in retirement communities, and even take part in charity sponsored runs, walks, and/or seminars like the NFL and NBA players do.

Wilkins:
The 2003 Olympia weekend was a huge success. From the appearance of Arnold, the stirring guest posing performance by Simon Robinson, to Ronnie taking bodybuilding to a new level, what were some of your most memorable moments of this event?

Bethany:
The fantastic ovation Arnold received from the fans when he walked on stage was a tremendous experience. I was delighted Arnold was able to return to his roots for a short time and present each athlete with an Olympian participation medal. Ronnie looked great and I feel his loss during last year's GNC truly motivated him and he showed what a true champion is made from. I had a great time seeing NPC President Jim Manion relaxing at the Muscletech party with some of the athletes. It was exciting to witness the first Figure Olympian, Davana Medina receive her trophy. I was happy to see fellow Virginian and gym owner Lenda Murray add to her trophy collection and see my recently married friends such as Jennie Hanke, Jenny Lynn, Wayne DeMilia, and Shawn Ray.

Wilkins:
Finally, what are your thoughts on Arnold being elected Governor of California? Do you think this will help our sport and how?

Bethany:
Arnold has made political history and I feel he will make a positive impact on California. Arnold will operate California like a business which is exactly what the state needs. The reason he has been so successful is because he works hard, is motivated, and has surrounded himself with intelligent people. I'm sure these same attributes will help him turn California around. While on stage during the Mr. Olympia, Arnold mentioned he felt at home and this demonstrates he will never forget his bodybuilding roots and thanks to the opportunities presented through bodybuilding he has made himself into one of the most successful people in the world.

2004 is already shaping up to be a busy year for Bethany as she is promoting the NPC Bethany Howlett Fitness and Figure Classic and Athletic Workshop to be held on May 8, 2004 in Northern Virginia. She is also working on grants in order to complete a PhD in pharmacology next fall. To contact Bethany for guest appearances, personal training, or competition advice, visit her web site at: www.bethanyhowlett.com or e-mail her at bhowlett@bethanyhowlett.com or check out some of her articles her on Bodybuilding.com, click here!

More Pics Of Bethany:

Thanks,