| Article Summary:
Young, Gifted and Dedicated:
An Interview With The World's Youngest IFBB Pro, Ariel Khadr.
At a time during which many teens are struggling to determine their direction in life, Ariel Khadr, at age 16, and having already won a national fitness title, is determinedly pursuing competitive success as an IFBB professional fitness athlete.
Though itself an incredible accomplishment, what is truly amazing is the progress Ariel made leading up to this win and what she has yet to achieve: She won Junior Ms. Fitness and Fitness International competitions at age 11, has been competing in fitness and figure shows ever since and, already establishing herself as a future professional champion, is many years from reaching her peak. When she does arrive the result should be truly spectacular.
With a solid sporting background as an internationally successful gymnast and Tae Kwon Do competitor, an ability to apply focus and demonstrate a winning mindset many years ahead of her time, one conducive to achieving at the highest level, obvious athletic talent and the perfect physique and look needed to shine on any IFBB fitness stage, Ariel is indeed on track to attaining long-running success as a fitness competitor.
While it is hard for many to believe that Ariel has achieved so much at such a young age, for those who know her, her success comes as no surprise at all. Her secret? A balanced life with an emphasis on healthy living, continual goal setting and achievement, and complete focus are rules she seems to live by. And despite her age, or perhaps because of it, she has many lessons to impart.
In the following interview Ariel discusses how she reached the fitness world's ultimate target to become a professional athlete at age 16 and how she plans to continue her winning ways.
[ David Robson ] Winning the 2009 Team Universe allowed you to turn pro at age 16. Being an IFBB professional at such a young age gives you many competitive career options and in all likelihood a long and successful future as a pro. What are your immediate goals now that you are pro?
[ Ariel Khadr ] My immediate goals are to stay focused in all aspects of my life. You can never give up your education or things you've been doing for so long. Pertaining to fitness, I would love to just enjoy every step of the way and try to do as well as I can while making improvements.
[ DR ] Though you are now competing in fitness you began in figure. When did you begin competing in figure and how successful were you initially?
[ AK ] I initially started competing in figure due to sustaining
ankle injuries from training as an elite gymnast. I was not spending as much time in the gym (gymnastics) and wanted to stay in shape. When I finally decided I wanted to compete, I got ready in about five weeks. Honestly, I was not expecting to do as well as I did. But I ended up winning the overall figure title at my first show and becoming the youngest person to ever compete in figure.
[ DR ] To what would you credit the success you have achieved at such a young age?
[ AK ] I've learned a good work ethic from my parents. But I definitely feel my mind-set stems from being a competitive athlete my whole life. I've been doing competitive gymnastics since I was about three, and Tae Kwon Do since I was five or six.
[ DR ] How has this early athleticism influenced your current competitive success?
[ AK ] Being an athlete is not an easy task. It takes lots of dedication, hard work, and passion. Without those three things, you won't be as successful as you'd like to be or could be.
[ DR ] Are you still actively competitive in Tae Kwon Do? How has this art enhanced your training mindset and influenced your competitive nature?
[ AK ] I am not currently competing in Tae Kwon Do. There comes a point when being highly competitive in two sports comes to an end. My road was gymnastics, simply because I loved it so much. Although the mentors and coaches that led me up to my 2nd degree black belt I will never forget. The mindset Tae Kwon Do gave me is to never give up and always stay positive.
[ DR ] You also became the youngest NPC figure competitor in NPC history at age 15 when you won the overall figure title at the Empire States Champs. Now you have shifted from figure to fitness. Why the shift? What appeal does fitness hold for you that figure does not?
[ AK ] Originally I did not want to compete in figure simply because I am a level 10 gymnast. But when I started competing I was dealing with ankle injuries that needed to heal. So my only option to stay fit while not getting too muscular for gymnastics was to do figure.
- Miss Jr. Fitness America '04
- Miss Jr. Fitness International '04
- NPC Empire States Overall Figure Champion '08
- NPC Atlantic States Overall Fitness Champion '09
- NPC Teen National Fitness & Figure Overall Champion '09
[ DR ] With all you have going on in your life coupled with the demands maintaining a great physique bring, how do you balance your time and priorities to achieve your goals?
[ AK ] Well, as far as my physique my competitive sports involvement goes hand in hand with achieving the look I need for fitness. Although that does not mean I do not
weight train and do
cardio. I prioritize my schoolwork, therefore I do that first and when I'm finished with homework and studying, I'll do what I need for
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My Competitive Sports Involvement Goes Hand In
Hand With Achieving The Look I Need For Fitness.
[ DR ] You have mentioned the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle on a daily basis in helping you both mentally and physically. How do you maintain a healthy lifestyle and what factors do you consider most important for doing this?
[ AK ] I maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating right and being physically active. In this country there are too many weight problems and I feel that I should be a role model for
teenagers and people struggling with these issues.
[ DR ] You have also said that you are very disciplined, strong-minded and ambitious, that when you put your mind to something you apply 110% and no one can stop you. How important do you feel mental strength and focus are to goal achievement? And are these qualities something you have always had?
[ AK ] I've learned from gymnastics and Tae Kwon Do that mental strength goes a long way. Having a positive attitude and believing in yourself can push you more than 50% toward your goal. It keeps you on top of what you have to do while not allowing you to slack off. You can do whatever you put your mind to.
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Having A Positive Attitude And Believing In Yourself
Can Push You More Than 50% Toward Your Goal.
[ DR ] Where do you find the motivation and passion to do what you do to the best of your abilities?
[ AK ] I've been exposed to a healthy household my entire life. My parents are bodybuilders and were always eating healthy and in the gym. I would say this is where my passion for the sport of fitness came from. When I was five years old I remember going to my first bodybuilding show. From then on, I knew it was only a matter of time before I would some day step onstage.
[ DR ] What drives you to be the best at what you do?
[ AK ] I think some people are just born driven. Whenever I have a
goal, I go in full-force so I always know I tried my best to achieve it. Even if I do not come out on top or in that 1st place spot, at least I know I put in 100%, which ultimately makes you a winner.
[ DR ] Could you describe your current training program?
[ AK ] Currently I do
gymnastics about five to six times a week for about three hours at a time. Gymnastics consists of
strength training and conditioning, as well as skills. Every day I do low intensity cardio for about 45 minutes to an hour.
Typically, I go to the gym to train with weights about three times a week. I do a
shoulder workout, and a full upper-body workout on those three days.
Each workout I'll also incorporate some abs. A sample shoulder workout would be three sets of every exercise, decreasing my reps from 15 to 12 to 10, while increasing the weight as the reps decrease. I'll also superset to keep my workouts moving at a faster pace.
Usually, I'll do something like this:
Shoulder press, Arnold press, side lateral raises, front lateral raises, military press, up-right row, bent-over rear delt raise, and reverse flyes for rear delts, although I do switch it up from time to time. As for abs, I'll do almost anything. From crunches, v-ups, cable crunch, ab crunch machine, and lying leg raises, and hanging leg raises.
[ DR ] How does your diet change from off-season to pre-contest? What do you do over the final months to dial yourself in prior to competing?
[ AK ] My off-season diet typically stays clean, which can help dramatically when switching into
on-season. The final months leading up to competition does get very serious. I stay on a strict contest diet and stay focused on my training. Although, I do believe the saying, "diet is everything". You will not achieve the look you want/need without staying on top of what you put in your mouth.
[ DR ] Could you share the nutritional tips that have helped you to stay in shape?
[ AK ] I would have to say eating clean proteins such as
steak, or even
bison. Choosing "good carbs" like
quinoa, etc. Some healthy fats, which would include,
macadamia nut oil, and
fatty fish. And of course lots and lots of
[ DR ] You have given credit to Dave Palumbo for designing your off-season diet with which you made great gains. Can you describe this diet and how it enabled you to ultimately compete in your best ever condition?
[ AK ] Yes, I did have a great off-season with this diet. It mainly consisted of
low carbs. With Dave's off-season plan, I was able to gain muscle in areas I needed, while losing fat in my problem spots.
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With Dave's Off-Season Plan, I Was Able To Gain
Muscle, While Losing Fat In My Problem Spots.
[ DR ] Do you incorporate supplements into your training program? If so, which ones do you use and when do you use them?
[ AK ] I do incorporate supplements into my training program. Typically I use lots of
Species products. For my antioxidants I use Bodybalance, which is a multivitamin/antioxidant drink.
My omega 3's are made by Nordic Naturals; I typically take about three to four pills a day. As far as Species products go I love all the flavors of Isolyze (whey protein isolate) and Fiberlyze (fiber supplement) and also Somalyze, which makes me sleep great.
[ DR ] What do you feel are your best attributes as a potential future IFBB fitness champion?
[ AK ] I feel my best attributes as a potential future IFBB fitness champion would be my positive attitude about
competing. This is something you do because you love doing it and with that mind-set you will always be a winner.
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You Should Compete Because You Love Doing It.
With That Mind-Set You Will Always Be A Winner.
[ DR ] Would you ever consider a switch to bodybuilding? Why/why not?
[ AK ] I do not think I would consider switching to bodybuilding simply because I truly have a passion for fitness. Performing onstage is like a second home to me. I could never give that up!
[ DR ] What are your long terms fitness goals?
[ AK ] My long-term fitness goals would be to do the best I can in the IFBB. I've always dreamed of being on the Olympia stage. Hopefully that dream will also someday come true!
[ DR ] What advice would you give someone your age who is considering competing at the highest levels within fitness/figure as you have done?
[ AK ] First I would say to get as much information about
competing as you possibly can. Definitely get in contact with a diet consultant and ask other competitors for advice. This can be tough, so know you want to do this 100%. Or else, you won't enjoy it.
[ DR ] Thank you very much for this interview Ariel. Is there anyone you would like to thank for having helped you throughout your figure/fitness career?
[ AK ] I would first have to thank my parents for supporting me and allowing me to follow my dreams. IFBB Pro bodybuilder
Colette Nelson and
Dave Palumbo for encouragement and diet related help. Colette definitely kept on top of me with dietary changes from off-season to on-season.
One more person I'd love to thank is Nicole Avellina, Ms. Fitness USA 2004, who got me started competing in fitness and for choreographing my fitness routines.