2012 Olympia Weekend: Jaime Baird Interview

Jaime Baird has been a top competitor since the first time she stepped onstage. Is it finally her time to win the big one?

Of the approximate 20 world-class bikini competitors in the 2012 Olympia, Jaime Baird stands among the group of top-tier hopefuls. She has never placed below fifth since her pro debut at the Europa Show of Champions in 2010 and has routinely ended on the podium, winning both the 2011 Pittsburgh Pro Figure and Bikini and Jacksonville Pro shows. After placing fourth at the last two Olympias, Jaime is a legitimate contender to take top honors.

Jaime brings her usual perfect tightness and shape along with rounder shoulders, arms and glutes. She expects to be in the best shape of her life. As is often the case with today's top bikini competitors, Jaime downplays the stress of competing against high-level competition and emphasizes the fun of preparing for her bikini battles. For her, competition is a way to celebrate the hard work she daily applies to the craft of perfecting the body beautiful. The results shine through in her magnificent stage presence.

Viewers wanting to see how a true professional bikini athlete presents herself onstage, check out Jaime as she puts her preparation into action at this year's Olympia. Baird receives expert coaching from Shannon Dey of Bombshell Fitness, support from NPC mover and shaker J.M. Manion and supplement giant Gaspari Nutrition, among many others. The 2012 Pittsburgh and New York Pro runner-up is once again set to take on the world's best bikini athletes in the most prestigious physique showcase of them all.

As one of the IFBB's top bikini competitors, what is it about your physique and stage presence that so often places you ahead of the pack?

That's hard to say. Every single body
on the IFBB Pro Bikini stage is pretty
amazing and each athlete definitely
knows how to work it. As I have
progressed as an athlete, I've done a
much better job of having fun with competing, versus allowing stress and worry to keep me from my best. As a result, I now take the stage with a more authentic confidence and joy, and I think that has really helped me.

Many competitors talk about the pressure associated with competing at the highest levels in their division. Pressure to win aside, what do you enjoy most about bikini competition?

As for competing in general, I love the camaraderie between the athletes. Thanks to this sport, I have made some pretty amazing friendships, the kind of friends who will endure long after I've hung up my heels. Also, I really enjoy the training. I love testing my limits and proving to myself that "I can."

How have you approached your training for this year's Olympia? Compared to your 2011 pre-Olympia preparation, have you made any program changes for this year's event?

My training is always evolving, thanks to the direction of Shannon Dey of Bombshell Fitness. My last contest was the New York Pro at the end of May, so I've had a few months of offseason. During this time, I focused on training a bit heavier to add a little roundness to my physique. At the end of July, we began my Olympia prep, which involved increasing my cardio and re-introducing more high intensity training: supersets, giant sets, and high rep ranges.

What is your current nutritional strategy? Do you eat clean all year round?

When I am prepping for a show, I tend to follow a consistent, balanced meal plan all week and have a healthy re-feed meal once per week to restore my glycogen and give my metabolism a little shock. If I'm feeling run down or I'm getting a little skinny-looking, Shannon may increase my calories for a few days.

This year I started using BCAAs while I train, which is something I never did in the past. I drink Gaspari Nutrition's Aminolast while I train, and it has made a huge difference in my endurance, especially when my carbs are a bit lower.

Yep, I eat clean year round. However, when I'm not prepping for a show, my calories from carbs and healthy fats usually increase. Also, I'm not afraid to enjoy a chocolate chip cookie every once in a while. I just try to keep my weight within 5-to-8 pounds of contest weight.

What physical improvement can your fans expect to see once you hit the stage at the 2012 Olympia?

I'm always working toward adding more roundness to my physique, especially in the glutes, arms, and shoulders. I've put in the work over the last few months, so I'm excited to see my final result in a month.

As a bikini competitor, just how ripped must you be to win? What is the current physical standard for high-level bikini competitors such as you?

"Ripped" isn't really a good adjective to describe a bikini competitor. A bikini competitor's physique is about tightness and shape. In fact, if your abs are too defined or your legs show separation, you're not likely to place well. A winning bikini body has tight curves and flawless skin tone.

What training and nutritional changes will you be making as the 2012 Olympia draws nearer—especially in the final 2-3 weeks?

I'm not sure yet. Shannon will adjust my plan as my body changes. We may continue on the same path we are on. We may cut my cardio and add calories. That's what I'm hoping for! Or, as has happened in the past, we may add additional daily "touch-up" training for key body parts. My body is in a different place each show, so my plan continues to evolve.

What is your competition mindset? How do you maintain your focus in the weeks leading up to a big event such as the Olympia?

Have fun. Don't sweat the small stuff. Get extra rest. Saturate the mind with positive thoughts. Maintain a grateful attitude.

If I do all of the above, I am golden. I don't worry about what other competitors may be doing or how they look. I don't worry about what people say or predict. Rather, I focus on maximizing my moments leading up to the show by enjoying the experience, training my butt off, eating with precision and sleeping a little extra. I surround myself with positive people and things, and count my blessings every morning before I get out of bed. That's what works for me.

Judging by your professional resume, you appear to juggle many interests at once. How do you balance your competitive aspirations with other important areas of your life?

It can definitely be a challenge. However, I feel that fitness has made me more effective in all areas of my life. I like to say: "Fitness fuels life success." That said, time and energy are limited resources. For me, making good use of the early morning hours is a key to fitting it all in. I accomplish so much between the hours of 5-and-9 a.m. (there are fewer demands on my time early in the morning). Also, I've had to become extremely scheduled—accounting for every minute in a day. If I want to add something, I must delete something. So, I've had to become comfortable with saying "no" and prioritizing. Although to be honest, I still struggle with both from time to time. Sigh. Please send any tips and tricks my way.

Compared to other high profile IFBB pro events, what is it like competing at Olympia? Is there greater pressure to be at your best?

There's nothing like the Olympia. The history, the production, the Vegas energy, the top physique athletes all in one room—it's an awe-inspiring experience.

Yes, of course there is pressure to be at your best. Not only are you competing against the best in the world, you want to honor this great event by bringing your best possible package. That said, I can't say that I ever demand anything less than my best at any show. If I am going to take the stage, I want to be at least a little bit better than the last show. If I can do that, I feel like a winner—no matter how the judges place me.

Placing fourth in the 2011 Olympia bikini category has positioned you as a top contender for this year's division. What do you feel will separate you, physique and presentation-wise, from your nearest competition at this year's event?

The athlete who wins the 2012 Ms. Bikini Olympia won't necessarily be the one with the "best butt" or the "smallest waist." All the athletes will come with a body worthy of the win. In my opinion, the winner will be the athlete who is just "on"—the one with the elusive 'it' factor that day. She will walk on stage and immediately capture the judges with her confidence and sass.

Where do you feel you will land at the 2012 Olympia? Do you see yourself as a favorite to win?

I have no idea where I will end up and try not to concern myself with whether or not I am a "favorite to win." I just do my work and let the judges do theirs. I've had the great honor of placing fourth at the last two Olympias, and I would love to move up in my placements this year. That's my goal.

What message would you like to send out to your many fans who will be cheering you on at this year's Olympia?

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to all my fans, friends and family for making my journey to the stage so meaningful. Thank you for believing in me and supporting me. Also, a special thank you to my hubby Eddie Baird, my trainer Shannon Dey, Bombshell Fitness, J.M. Manion, Fitness Management Group, Gaspari Nutrition, CJ's Elite Competition Wear and Protan for making my journey to the Olympia possible. Love you all!

I can't wait to meet many of you at the Olympia. Please come see me at the Gaspari booth or, if you see me around, stop me and say hi. Until then, keep pushing and go win your day!