The British are coming! The British are coming! That's OK with me as long as they all look like IFBB Pro bodybuilder Joanna Thomas with her green eyes, blond hair and hot bod. Sorry guys but I'm married to a yellow eyed, blond haird hot bod and "the Sandwich" can say all the mean things he wants about women bodybuilders. He and others like him are missing the boat--thank God! Joanna came to the Colonies like her British counterparts Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates and Jammo Nezzer, in search of a warmer climate and bodybuilding dreams. Ms. Thomas took time out of her very busy and hectic schedule to talk to us.
BB.com: Cool Joanna! Let's get stared. What is your full name?
Joanna Clare Thomas
BB.com: When and where were you born?
I was born on 12/12/76 in Truro, Cornwall, England.
BB.com: Where do you live?
For the past year I've lived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
BB.com: What color are your eyes & hair?
I have blue eyes, blonde hair.
BB.com: You have some beautiful lines can you give us your height, weight?
Normal 5 foot 2 inches, weight off-season varies from 145 to 160lbs, in shape last year around 128lbs, next year 2003 hope to be around 130/132lbs, contest. I don't know measurements and don't care, it's a look I'm after and I use a mirror. I know I have around 15 and half inch arms and around 16 inch calves, over a 40 chest off-season.
BB.com: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
I have a sister, Niki, who is 28 years old, also a pro bodybuilder. She didn't take her pro card, but won the overall British IFBB championships in 1997 and retired the following year. I also have a brother Stuart. He is 22 years old and a student.
BB.com: I've seen pictures of your sister, you look like twins.
BB.com: What do your parent's do?
My dad is painter and decorator, my mum is a farm worker. Both are 52 years old.
BB.com: How was your childhood growing up in England? In what way?
Well, it was unusual in the fact that I started bodybuilding at 15, apart from that pretty working class and basic in a small town.
BB.com: Did you do any sports when you were growing up?
No, as I was a chronic asthmatic and that's one of the reasons why I started bodybuilding at 15 years old.
BB.com: Was their college after high school for you?
Um yes, then no, then yes. I started a diploma in business and dropped out for nursing, then did my nursing, got through 18 months and decided to move to Dorian Yates' business partner's gym in Manchester, Kerry Kayes' Gym 'Betta Bodies'. I tried to transfer my nursing course, the bodybuilding clashed with being on the wards and the shifts etc., so I left my education in pursuit of my bodybuilding and achieved a pro card within 6 months at 21. Now, though I left, I have to return to education someday.
BB.com: What got you started in bodybuilding?
I started at 14 looking at early 1990's and 80's bodybuilders. I liked the way it looked back then, more than today, also I was badly asthmatic and wanted something I could do to keep fit. I weighed 105 lbs.
BB.com: I understand that there is a gym in England that doesn't allow women, Jamo Nezzer told me about it, is it true? Even top pro bodybuilders like you they won't allow? What's Jamo talking about?
I've never had a problem and I've never heard of it, he's from the South East London though I thought. I'll ask him and bust his balls the next time I see him!
BB.com: When did you actually get serious in bodybuilding?
Well, I was pretty serious at 15, but really from 17.
BB.com: Here's the hot topic of the decade. What are your thoughts on the current trend in women's bodybuilding?
Personally, I go for the shape concept over size any day. I like a complete package on a woman's shape that flows from the head to the feet. Again, personally I am not into extremes, although I can fully respect and appreciate everyone else's efforts and beliefs as this is a hard game for all us women.
BB.com: What is next on the plate for you?
I had a burn out last year at the Olympia. It was a 10-year goal come true without the real support I needed. Steve Wennerstrom allowed me to stay with him for my prep for the O. last year. Cynthia James (unique physique) gave me an ear and without them I probably wouldn't have made it there. I soon realized I couldn't do another show again without foundations in my life. So, soon after I made the move to Florida to live with my boyfriend of which then I had a break, had fun and gained experiences that I never had through bodybuilding so seriously through my teen years. My hope is to get just enough support this next year to prepare for the Jan Tana or SW Pro, wanted the International but it's too close, I got back in the gym four months ago and am progressing slowly. I want to get back into the O. and place top five as a goal! I will be there!
BB.com: It's nice to take a break, hugh? Bodybuilding can be taxing on the body and soul.
BB.com: What is your best experience in bodybuilding?
Winning my pro card at the IFBB British Championship in 1998, I was 21 and the youngest ever to do so. It was my teen dream and I had so much heart back then.
BB.com: OK, what was your worst experience in bodybuilding?
Coming into the Ms. Olympia, knowing that I didn't look as I did for the Jan Tana due to stress caused by many things going on in my life and over-dieting. It was a 10-year dream being judged in the expo hall! I was glad to see the ladies pre-judging held in the storm theatre this year...a lot better! Realizing how little money was involved in the industry for us pro ladies and knowing I will have to go back to school to get further education as I gambled it for bodybuilding back as a 20-year old, unless somebody takes me on for various work in the industry etc.
BB.com: It's not right is it? Just remember, the IFBB is run by men. And these men grew up in a time when women are supposed to walk to the right and three steps behind.
BB.com: How many weeks before a contest do you start to diet?
In 1998, I did 18 weeks. In 2001, I did nine for the Jan Tana, then rebounded around four weeks after and then tried to dial back in around four for the O...didn't work!
BB.com: What supplements do you use?
Dorian Yates Approved (sponsored since 1998)
BB.com: What things need to be changed in the sport of female bodybuilding?
Um, I'll answer that after my contests next year. Seriously, a lot should change, but the IFBB each year at these meetings give us answers back to why, the usual like more prize money, more recognition, blah blah, who is the IFBB women's rep?
BB.com: That's a good question? Who is the IFBB women's rep? I know Sandy Ranalli is the Women's rep for the NPC. But would it really make a difference I don't think so, as the IFBB doesn't even have an official rulebook in publication.
BB.com: What do you do when you're not bodybuilding or working out?
Right now I am still waiting on a work visa to come (Jan 2003) to try and start work, so far ideas are personal training or bar tending...trying to get a job with hours I can train around. Longterm probably back to school. Anyone out their want to sponsor me for my shows next year contact me. Socially here in Fort Lauderdale or as we say Liquordale...um should I say? Well I've had to calm down my social life a little from the time I had off this year. It's very hard as there is so many things to do here every day of the week, so try to have one good night out and maybe a meal or two a week out. I love the beach, Harley riding, and boats. I do the usual housework and errand stuff too. I look after Miles (my boyfriend), as he looks after me!
BB.com: Miles is a lucky man.
BB.com: What would you have to say to other girls who may want to start bodybuilding?
Please look into all the facts around the sport and how it is run. You can then decide if it is what you want. Aside also look into fitness and figure and what is expected in those fields. Educate yourself and attend some local shows. Don't give up your studies unless you know you will return to them, as right now as I said before, it is very hard to make a good living from it, meaning bodybuilding. Bodybuilding really has to come from the heart; you have to enjoy doing it for yourself, not for fame and fortune, if that comes then it's great but don't rely on it. Bodybuilding is also a great focus in life, but you also need to find balance in your life to succeed.
BB.com: Isn't that the truth? Balance is what a lot of some individuals in this industry need. Take Anita and I for instance. We go to wineries, smoke the occasional cigar and watch movies while eating pizza. Too many people get caught up in the got to be good thing and it can burn you out if you're not careful.
BB.com: How does one get an 8x10 of one of the best-built bods around?
My web site is www.JoannaThomas.com you can get an autographed pic of me there. They make beautiful holiday gifts. I hope you enjoy my web site and return often for updated content or you can talk with me in my chat room. Chat Schedule: new schedule to be announced. Let me know if there is anything else. Thanks Jo
BB.com: No, thank you Jo. We love the British style and we will see what we can do for you to get that look back on stage. Keep in touch girl.