An Interview With 2007 IFBB Masters World Bodybuilding Champion & Ms. New Zealand Winner Jo Stewart

In the following interview Jo discusses her guest posing spot at the Elite/Pro and how this event will bring greater recognition to New Zealand bodybuilding athletes, her recent success at the Arnold classic and the state of bodybuilding in New Zealand.

It is only fitting that New Zealand's most successful women's bodybuilder guest pose at New Zealand's biggest bodybuilding event ever.

When she appears at the first ever 2008 Elite and Professional bodybuilding championships, organized by professional bodybuilding star Moe Moussawi and NZFBB (New Zealand Federation of Bodybuilders) president Mark Stewart, Jo Stewart will present a physique that has helped place New Zealand on the bodybuilding map on more than one occasion.

Her appearance is highly anticipated, especially in light of her recent Arnold Classic women's amateur lightweight victory where the five-time NZFBB National's champion distanced all in her class by a margin wider that her phenomenal back lat spread. She would have looked at home in the professional class.

With 16 years' competitive experience behind her, Jo has worked tirelessly to promote bodybuilding in New Zealand, in particular among female lifters; many of whom she trains and guides in her capacity as expert personal trainer.

Jo
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Jo Stewart At The 2008 Arnold Classic.
View More Pics Of Jo Stewart At The 2008 Arnold Classic.

She feels the New Zealand Elite and Professional bodybuilding Championships will serve to motivate and inspire more women to pursue bodybuilding, and position New Zealand as a top bodybuilding nation.

In the following interview Jo discusses her guest posing spot at the Elite/Pro and how this event will bring greater recognition to New Zealand bodybuilding athletes, her recent success at the Arnold classic and the state of bodybuilding in New Zealand today.

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Men & Women's Amateur Prejudging.

Watch The prejudging for the amatuer competitors from the 2008 Arnold Classic.

WMV (217 MB)

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[ Q ] Hi Jo, first of all congratulations on your Arnold Classic victory.
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    It was very good, a big surprise.

2008 Arnold Classic Highlights.
Click The Play Button To Start The Video.
Download Here: WMV (22.1)

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[ Q ] You won the lightweight category, but you looked much bigger than a lightweight.
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    It was 125 pounds and under and they called it the lightweight but it was more of a middleweight category.

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[ Q ] And you were at the top end of that.
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    Yes, I weighed 123.5.

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[ Q ] You weren't expecting necessarily to do as well as you did?
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    No, but this was mainly because there was a lot of talk regarding the difficulty there may have been getting known to the American judges'.

    And I knew I was being judged over the last four years with the European judges', with the Women's Worlds and Master's Worlds. So that is why I didn't feel I would have any hope. But it worked out really well so I am very lucky.

Jo
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Jo Stewart At The 2008 Arnold Classic.
View More Pics Of Jo Stewart At The 2008 Arnold Classic.

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[ Q ] What did you do directly after the show?
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    Well we had to wait and do photo shoots and all of this kind of thing. It got really busy there for a couple of days so there wasn't really a lot of time to eat excessively or anything like that.

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[ Q ] That is the one thing people tend to think about professional bodybuilders: that they do not relax after shows, that they continue keeping it strict.
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    Well I tend to think David that you look at the people in the States' and it just does not seem to be as food focused as it is over here.

    You see some people in New Zealand and they are just pigging out; they have their piggy boxes' at the contests. You don't seem to see that in places like Europe; you can tell people are pretty controlled with their diets all the way through.

    There is a huge difference. There is no boozing backstage like they do here. It's just a whole lot more professional. We have tried to put that across to people over the last couple of years, that in New Zealand we tend to go a bit overboard.

Jo
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Jo Stewart At The 2008 Arnold Classic.
View More Pics Of Jo Stewart At The 2008 Arnold Classic.

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[ Q ] I have noticed that too. A lot of New Zealanders' work so hard to get to a certain point then pig out days before the contest.
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    That's is right, some people think that their carb-up is all the food they haven't eaten throughout the dieting period.

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[ Q ] And I understand you will be training this week with a few of the New Zealand pro competitors, who will be competing this weekend at the New Zealand Elite and Professional Bodybuilding Championships (on March 15).
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    Yes most of them are here now and Troy Alves just flew in today; there are a few coming in tomorrow as well.

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[ Q ] You will be guest posing at this event. Have you made any changes to your diet or training to prepare for this? How do you expect to look?
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    I am going to be fuller. I have put on a little weight, just a couple of kilos though. We have been so busy that my training sessions are taking backseat compared to how they were leading up to the Arnold.

Jo
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Jo Stewart At The 2008 Arnold Classic.
View More Pics Of Jo Stewart At The 2008 Arnold Classic.

    But I am still getting them all in and training is going well. Last night I got into the gym at about 8.30pm. I am coming in as best I can under the circumstances.

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[ Q ] So you are training hard but not with the same level of intensity you applied leading up to the Arnold.
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    Yes, but I'm not getting all my cardio in on time. I just finished half an hour before and I will try to get another half an hour in later on. It has just been hard this week.

Editor's Note
It was 6:30 pm at the time of my conversation with Jo.

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[ Q ] It still sounds like you are doing it all though.
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    Yes I am doing it but it is like I am cramming. And of course I get into the gym now and as soon as I begin training it is like everybody is coming up and saying congratulations. Whereas before (training for the Arnold) everybody just left me along and I made very little eye contact.

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[ Q ] I guess it comes with the territory when you are a world-beater in such a big event as the Arnold Classic.
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    People have responded well to it. It is a little more relaxed for me now.

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[ Q ] What are your thoughts on the upcoming New Zealand Pro/Elite and its ability to bring greater recognition to New Zealand bodybuilders'?
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    I just think it has been awesome for New Zealand really and it has made a big difference with Moe placing so high and me placing high also.


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Moe El Moussawi At The 2008 Arnold Classic.
View More Pics Of Moe El Moussawi At The 2008 Arnold Classic.

    It has just added excitement for the New Zealand competitors' who now know that they stand a good chance of getting up there now, because we kind of haven't had anyone up there for quite a long time.

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[ Q ] Would you say this contest is a real turning point for New Zealand bodybuilding?
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    Yes I would and it has also given the women a lot of hope; the amount of e-mails' I have been getting has been absolutely amazing; I just haven't been able to keep up with them all.

    There are just so many women out there who want to do really well and now they have greater hope.

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[ Q ] Must make you feel good.
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    Yes. And it has just been good timing with Mark and Moe putting on this pro show as well. It is getting New Zealand up there even more.

RELATED ARTICLE
An Interview With Moe Moussawi.
[ Click here to learn more. ]
An Interview With Moe Moussawi.
With a full listing of professional bodybuilders at the first ever New Zealand Championships no one is more excited than Moe Moussawi.
Author:
David Robson

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[ Q ] Having a show like this will also bring a lot of professional talent into the country to inspire people to take up bodybuilding.
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    That is right. We have had people who have turned pro over the years and they haven't really done anything with their pro cards.

    So to see three of our guys get out there (Moe Moussawi, Salah Ibrahim and Mike Kingsnorth) doing everything they can now is pretty awesome.

Michael Kingsnorth Michael Kingsnorth
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Michael Kingsnorth At The 2008 Australian Pro.
View More Pics Of Michael Kingsnorth At The 2008 Australian Pro.

RELATED ARTICLE
An Interview With Salah Ibrahim.
[ Click here to learn more. ]
An Interview With Salah Ibrahim.
Becoming one of the best bodybuilders in the world is one of the hardest tasks anyone could accomplish and New Zealand pro Salah Ibrahim is doing just that.
Author:
David Robson

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[ Q ] And this would be the biggest year New Zealand has ever had as far as its pro bodybuilders' competing.
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    Yes it would be.

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[ Q ] Is this weekend's show a critical event for New Zealand bodybuilding?
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    Definitely and I think it will be a successful one too.

RELATED ARTICLE
An Interview With Salah Ibrahim.
[ Click here to learn more. ]
An Interview With Michael Kingsnorth.
2006 New Zealand National's champion Michael Kingsnorth is again ready to test his mettle at the New Zealand Championships.
Author:
David Robson

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[ Q ] So when exactly will you be guest posing?
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    Just before the professionals' category at the night show, just before the top five come out. Then Moe is guest posing after that.

Jo Jo
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Jo Stewart At The 2008 Arnold Classic.
View More Pics Of Jo Stewart At The 2008 Arnold Classic.

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[ Q ] What can we expect from your guest posing appearance?
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    No surprises; I will probably be a little more confident. To be honest I tend to be way more confident when I compete overseas, because you know how the New Zealander's can sometime get quite critical.

    And I tend to get quite a bit of flak about being the judge's wide or the president's wife. But after winning the Arnold people can see that I can do it regardless of whether the judge is my husband. So even though it is a guest posing I will feel more confident this time around.

Editor's Note
Jo's Husband Mark Stewart is the New Zealand Federation of Bodybuilder's (NZFBB) president and an international IFBB judge.

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[ Q ] Of course we are not allowed to succeed in this country, the Tall Poppy syndrome being alive and well and all. It must be refreshing for you to go to a country of winners' like the US who tend to celebrate success more.
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    Yes and that is something we talked about when I was recently over there in Columbus (for the Arnold Classic): people over there are just so much more accepting.

Jo
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Jo Stewart At The 2008 Arnold Classic.
View More Pics Of Jo Stewart At The 2008 Arnold Classic.

    Here it is totally different. Sure we have lots of good supporters over here but there is a lot of flak that goes with it as well.

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[ Q ] Well it will certainly be good to see you guest posing on the weekend Jo. You have made your mark on bodybuilding and deserve a lot of credit for that.
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    Will see you then David. Thank you for the interview.