An Interview With Brenda Kelly!
Learn how Brenda Kelly got started in the fitness industry, what she thinks about it, and the current state that it is in now. Also, find out what she is up to next!
Brenda Kelly: I am currently a fitness magazine Cover Model, actress, product spokesmodel for Muscle-Link supplements which is owned by Ironman Magazine, a published author with a monthly column in Natural Muscle Magazine called "Brenda Kelly's Tools and Rules", a writer for Bodybuilding.com, a co-producer, feature and host for a documentary of impressive women over 40, and big sister to a lot of fitness/figure competitors and models. My website Brendakelly.com was started as a need to try and answer all of the questions I was getting concerning fitness, nutrition, competition, beauty, aging and health in general.
I have competed in fitness in the NPC and Fitness America where I was chosen to be part of the inaugural International Pro circuit in 2000. A lot of my fans know me from the ESPN2 Fitness America TV shows from 1999 & 2000. Other competitions I have done include the National Aerobic Championships (1988-1991 Gold, Gold, Bronze), The Step Challenge (1992 Silver) and the World Billfish Series, a deep sea fishing tournament circuit (1995-1998 I was 4 in the world)!
GG: You have been in some form of competition since 1989, just as Fitness as a sport was beginning. How do you view the evolution of the sport from gymnastics all the way to what it is today?
BK: Glad you asked! In my opinion the fitness routine round has really picked up on quality along the way. This is largely because the competitors have begun to realize unless they have a high level of a gymnastics background in most cases they cannot expect to place high in the routine round. Therefore a lot of girls who do not have a background do not think they can be competitive. Of course there are exceptions in every case and there are some Pro's who are not gymnasts who do very well in the standings. The organizations are quick to point out they do not require gymnastics, however it is very hard to overcome the awe of a high level gymnastics routine compared with one with no air moves with strength and dance only.
These gymnastically challenged athletes certainly can go into rehearsal and lessons to improve, but next to someone who was brought up in gymnastic skills early in life, a non gymnast can rarely radiate the same conviction and confidence. I don't want to sound like I am being negative, it's just how I have seen it for some years now. These athletes who want to compete and do not have the skills to pull together a winning routine now have the option of the Figure Round. Unfortunately, this is killing the Fitness numbers in the regional shows. However, Jon Lindsay, USA National promoter told me the National events are still doing well and he has not seen the drop off at this level.
Figure categories are bringing a lot of people to watch the competitors who have come out to compete in record numbers. This makes the promoters happy and it does introduce more people to our sport. Legendary women's physique photographer Bill Dobbins has written an article stating the quarter turns figure competitors are having to do are not exciting enough and unless you know the competitor, the category is lackluster. I do agree on the point that the fitness routines are much more entertaining and of course show a level of athleticism and talent within a sport. With Figure there is a lack of an element of athletic training which is lost if the only rounds offered are quarter turns.
Bodybuilders have posing routines and symmetry rounds, Fitness athletes have routine rounds plus physique rounds and the Figure competitors have wardrobe, hair and make up and quarter turns. Hmmm. No wonder the new category is so popular. It remains to be seen if the industry has anything to offer these Figure competitors as far as sponsorships and representation of products within our sport. My guess is they will be able to promote these new Pros but only up to a point. For instance, for a promoter to pay for an appearance of an athlete they must do a posing routine or fitness routine during the awards show. What would a Figure champion do? This only lends more credibility to the Fitness athletes and Bodybuilders.
GG: When you took the time to prepare for a routine, what did you do? How did you get ready mentally and physically?
BK: During my competitive years I trained almost every day on my routine. I was not a gymnast and had to start from ground zero since I knew I must incorporate some sort of gymnastic-like moves to be competitive and do well. This 5-7 day a week schedule went on for almost 4 years. It took up my life and I was completely dedicated to this seeing a way to overcome some personal issues within myself. I knew I wanted a higher quality of self esteem and a test if you will of my own physical fitness. I wanted to see what I was capable of if I surrounded myself with experts in their various fields that I would need and did all I could no matter what. I wanted to follow directions and build my own image. I had really never done anything as hard as this.
Ever. I pushed myself along with my choreographer, gymnastic coach, nutritionist, designer, trainer, massage therapist, chiropractor, dance instructor and hair and make up stylist. I would choose two or three "big" moves and work on them daily in some way. I typically held onto one routine for a full year. By the last show of the year, I was pretty happy with my end result. My routine definitely did improve as the year went by. This is always how long it took me. I would add some of my other strengths and skills which included some martial arts, dance, aerobic moves and even some hula and Tahitian! I pulled out all of the stops because I knew I had to be as entertaining as possible to compensate for my lack of traditional air moves.
My designer Merry Christine who made all of my original stage costumes so elaborate and so stunning it made a big impact on getting noticed and shot by the photographers at the shows. My plan was to dazzle with my showmanship and flash. It was my best bet at placing high and I did it up to the max. I have to say in retrospect it was a good plan and I was successful. I was a little concerned about the extreme strain all of the rehearsals combined with weight lifting and dieting on my then 39 year old body would be physically. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the mental was twice as hard as the physical. If I couldn't hold my frame of mind together it didn't matter what was happening physically.
Honest. I used positive daily readings, meditations, prayer and the support of my fellow competitors, friends, family and my students who as I taught exercise classes to got to witness my transformations, struggles and victories. I was blessed with a very special support group during my training. I was in a rare situation where I trained within a large group of athletes including bodybuilders, fitness, cheerleading and dancers ranging from brand new to IFBB Pro. We all cheered, laughed, cried, triumphed, failed, supported and overcame our fears together. I made some of my strongest bonds with these people and many are part of my life forever. We are bound by feelings it is impossible to describe. I thank God for them. They saved my sanity and kept me going when I thought I would never be able to make it. I know I did the same for them and continue to do this still for new and seasoned athletes whenever I am given the chance.
GG: I have read that you were stepping back from fitness shows for a while to focus on other forms of media. What kind of plans do you have and what projects are you going to be undertaking?
BK: I started to model more in the Fitness industry right after 2001. I have been delighted and blessed to be embraced by the fans and athletes right away. This prompted a move from the Seattle area where I had lived for 35 years to LA to try and get proper representation. I was fortunate to be picked up by a mainstream agency in LA right away, so away I went. They sent me out on casting calls to all kinds of media. I have met and worked with production companies doing advertising for TV, cable, radio and even 4 movies!
I am currently a co-producer, host and feature on a documentary of women over forty who are still gaining speed and recognition resulting in amazing inspiration for us all. I had no idea how long production could take. It may be a year from start to finish. It will air on all of the cable documentary and profile type shows such as E!, the Oxygen channel, Discovery, etc. I'll let you know when in my newsletter.
The modeling I do ends up in various fun palaces. One high end closet and bathroom fixture company used a super life sized image of me on the side of their company van pictured along with one of their luxury rooms posing with their product line. I am on one side and my girlfriend, Carmen Garcia is on the other. You may be driving down the road in LA or Vegas and "see Brenda" drive by!
I also have a new skin care line in the early stages to watch for. This year I have 2 or 3 movie roles that should start production and there is an infomercial on a hair product coming out soon I was one of the models for. They cast me as the "glamour girl." I plan to start production on a line of workout videos with a reality twist this year.
My website www.Brendakelly.com also takes up a good amount of my time since it is a very busy place to be with lots of free information along with a member's only section updated weekly with all of my photoshoots and a personal diary posted there for my fans to see. I also send out an extensive newsletter to almost five thousand fans and friends once a month. I invite friends and fans to go to my contact page and sign up. It includes a lot of the fitness industry news along with my latest project updates.
GG: I saw on your site that you may have landed a part in an up coming science fiction movie ... any chance on spilling the beans and giving us some info?
BK: The true name of the movie is: The Interplanetary Surplus Male and the Amazon Women From Outer Space. The sci-fi movie can be purchased right from the website www.Surplusmale.com. My agency sent me out to a casting for a part that called for a fit, sexy woman. I showed up and the producer and director went crazy over me. The reason is here in LA, when a casting goes out for anything fitness related, they usually send these skinny girls. I don't have anything against skinny girls but we would all be a lot better off if Hollywood would stop using them for fitness advertising. I am always seeing these models with no muscle tone at all posing with a weight in their hand. Ridiculous.
They asked me if I knew of anyone else who looked like me. Could I get in touch with them? Did I! I sent them everyone I had met here in LA in the fitness industry who I knew was interested in doing film work and they hired them all! Some of them brought in other's they were in contact with and they hired them all, too! The production company made me a co producer for all of my help. I got to have the experience of a lifetime being on set with all of my girlfriends making a movie during the summer of 2002.
This is a movie patterned after the old fashioned sci-fi spoofs. Think Barbarella or Amazon Women on the Moon. It is supposed to be funny and light humored. It is. The plot involves a planet full of fit, sexy women in various stages of muscularity inhabited on a planet without men. They go to Earth once every hundred years to get a man to re populate them. Sounds good for the guy until he realizes after the deed, he is killed and stuffed so future generations can view him. They send down a team to asses and choose a man (Harvey) and kidnap him. He has a wife (Barbara) on earth who mistrusts him. Harvey was chosen for a high level of promiscuity so she is right to be suspicious. Barbara hides in the trunk of his car to bust him and during the car ride he is "beamed" into the space ship taking her along unknown to the women on the planet.
She hides within the women space "trainees" and tries to save the worthless sop. I play two roles. A lot of us do. It has a Wizard of Oz feel where Barbara sees a lot of her friends from Earth up on the planet in an entirely different role confusing her tremendously. I play the wife's best friend, Heather a blabber mouth know it all who hates Barbara's philandering husband and is the instigator in getting her to hide in the trunk in the first place. On the planet I play a guard who busts Barbara when she climbs out of the trunk and tries to find Harvey. It was great fun and there is already a sequel penned and planned where I will play an even bigger role.
Some of the women in the movie include: Sherry Goggin, Timea Majorova, Lena Johannessen, Elaine Goodlad, Valentina Chepiga, Andrulla Blanchette, Kat Meyers, Nicole Rollolazo, Carmen Garcia, Lauren Powers, Viviana Soldano, Cynthia Bridges, Gayle Moyer, Suzanna McGee and Jayne Tricka. A cameo appearance from Michael Dorn (Warf) rounds off the cast perfectly. Long live sci-fi! It has always been a huge deal for me. This is a must see for any fitness fan, sci-fi fan or just fans of beautiful fit women.
GG: Is acting something you want to turn to full time or will there always be room for fitness related events in your life?
BK: I definitely want to act more. I am pleasantly pleased at how comfortable I am in front of the camera moving and talking. I have also found I am good at memorizing lines! Who would have thunk? You never know until you try. I will always have one foot in the fitness industry. It was where I was born. Fitness is my home and I believe in it entirely. I will make the time to be involved. I am thinking it will not be so hard to combine the two here and there. For instance, I would love to do some on camera hosting in a fitness related production.
GG: How have you seen fitness change your life and how do you think you've helped to change others?
BK: Fitness has been an ongoing theme throughout my life. It is attached to everything positive relating to the changes I have experienced in the past and present.
On the outside, I have never had the physique I do now. Ever. Not even in my twenties. I pulled my physique together at the age of 38 with weight training and diet to get ready for the contests. This is where I was discovered by fitness industry photographers. That is how I came to be under contract with Ironman Magazine and have the benefit of having Michael Neveux, one of the industries most sought after photographers as one of my main photographers. I am a popular fitness model because of fitness. I have had broadcasting, modeling and acting experience because of fitness.
I now live in LA because of fitness. These are huge changes to my lifestyle. Although I had worked in the Health Clubs for 17 years before moving to LA as a fitness director and instructor, I was still limited as to how many I could inspire at a time. I received priceless grounding and schooling on the practical and technical side of fitness to lay a solid foundation to allow the changes to evolve. There are a lot of models and athletes who do not have the background and knowledge I have lived. The advice I am asked to give is true and correct. If I don't know, I know someone who does. I have always known there is no real competition except with ones self. If anyone is on that road and asks for assistance, direction or advise I will tell them all I know. I hope to inspire others to find their own strength as role models for others. This changes them. It allows people to live their dreams through positive goals.
I have been blessed and my main goal has always been to give it right back. I get to experience changes that I have inspired with my website, writing and even modeling. I can reach more and more people and I get countless E-mail's, letters and sincere thank yous for something I have sparked in someone who was looking for direction or just some companionship of a shared dream. I am happy to be in this role. It is natural for me because of fitness.
GG: Did you see yourself where you are now 10 years ago and what do you think you'll be doing 10 years from now?
BK: 10 years ago if you would have told me I would be on the cover of national fitness magazines, have a respected, recognized name in the fitness industry and a budding acting career I would have wondered who you had mistaken me for. I did not think I would be able to create such a different and exciting life. My life is so glamorous, it is hard to accept it sometimes. I do remain close to my spiritual beliefs. They have saved me from disaster and destruction adding instead light and wonder. I will continue to evolve and try new things.
Even if they scare me. I will do the right thing. My sanity depends on it. I can't predict where I may be in 10 years. I will say it will be glorious! I truly believe I will be put in a better position to help more and more people as long as I stay true to myself. I still loose trust sometimes just like everyone else, but I will go forward with the help of my Higher Power.
Thank you for thinking of me and letting me share my views and insights.
Take care of yourself. It's worth it.