| Article Summary:
Editor's Note: Special thanks to Zoa for taking the time to speak with FBBFan.com. All photos courtesy of Zoa Linsey unless otherwise attributed.
[ FBBFan.com ] Hello Zoa, Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to share a bit about yourself with FBBFan.com readers!
[ Zoa Linsey ] Thank you to all of you who have supported me and often written me encouraging emails throughout the past year. It's my pleasure to be interviewed.
[ FF ] Would you please tell us a little bit about yourself? Where are you from? Current Residence? Relationship Status? Family Life?
[ ZL ] I was born in Vancouver, BC (Canada) and lived there until 2005 when I got married and moved to mainland Japan, just outside of Tokyo. Currently, we live in Okinawa, Japan.
Okinawa is a small tropical island off the mainland of Japan where the American military has a strong presence. My husband is a Sports Director for the Army here and I am a contracted personal trainer for the Air Force. There are many wonderful advantages living overseas in an American military community, as well as a few challenges.
[ FF ] What is your current profession?
[ ZL ] I am a contracted personal trainer for the Air Force. In addition, I provide online coaching and training for both average individuals as well as regional and national level figure and bodybuilding competitors. I guide their nutrition and training programs to help them reach their goals in the proper time frame. The most rewarding part of my job is seeing people change their lifestyle and feeling more confident and happy as a result.
[ FF ] How did you get involved in the sport of Women's Bodybuilding?
[ ZL ] I've always loved the physique of a muscular woman and bodybuilding seemed to me to be about two things - being athletic and disciplined, but also being an artist, creating a sculpture. So the end result has always fascinated me.
The daily training is something I really enjoy; the feel of exerting myself physically, pushing myself to do something difficult or challenging and just knowing that I am capable of creating a healthier and stronger body... this keeps me in the gym and will likely keep me lifting long after I've finished competing! When I'm active I feel alive!
On the dieting side, to be a good bodybuilder you must be able to challenge yourself to sometimes immeasurable levels of self-discipline and determination. This type of focus is something very personal and individual... in my opinion to be good at what you do you must also enjoy the process to some degree.
Through bodybuilding, I have refined my self-discipline, learned to have more patience, become more grateful for small things and most importantly I have learned that with the right attitude so many things are possible if we have the courage to pursue them.
I also think that being a bodybuilder is a gift or an opportunity and there are not enough years in our life to be miserable. It's important to realize that the fact that doing this sport is a luxury and even when we're tired it is something to be thankful for. By focusing on how fortunate I am, it's easy to stay positive!
[ FF ] What do you enjoy about being a bodybuilder?
[ ZL ] I love lifting, I love the discipline of dieting, I love pushing myself to be better every year (than my previous year). I appreciate the feeling of being strong and capable to handle physical stress and I enjoy watching my body change and evolve over the years I've been training.
[ FF ] How does your friends, family and the general public react to your physique?
[ ZL ] My family and friends are very supportive. Not everyone will want to be a bodybuilder, but most people can appreciate the dedication and determination it takes to succeed at this sport.
I equate it to any other extreme sport where people may not entirely recognize 'why' you want to push your body to such extremes (of low body fat for example). However to have the support of those around us, we must be single-minded but still take the time to explain what we do and realize that many people need to have a better understanding of the sport to appreciate it.
I try to show people the real advantages of training and lifting... staying healthy, enjoying life and not letting an activity determine your actions.
The general public is 99.9% overwhelmingly supportive. People often stop me and tell me how much they love my physique, or admire what I do. The very, very few comments I've received that are negative are usually from someone who is negative about their own life, or just unhappy in general.
I think most people appreciate the sport if you are a down-to-earth, positive person who displays an attitude of graciousness and happiness. If a person is arrogant, then of course people will react negatively.
It's important for people to realize that no matter what shape their body is they are valuable and worthy of respect. I make an effort to present myself as more than just a bodybuilder and help people break their preconceptions of what they think the sport is about. Lifting weights and being strong will benefit everybody and I try to focus on that aspect.
[ FF ] What is your long-term goal in the sport of bodybuilding?
[ ZL ] I would like to be on the
Olympia stage and competing at the highest level. It would be an honor to be on the same stage as some of the amazing women I have looked up to for years!
[ FF ] You won the 2009 IFBB North American heavyweight class and won the overall also, this earned you your IFBB pro card, what did this victory mean to you?
[ ZL ] This victory meant that I could finally do what I have dreamed of doing... which is compete as a professional athlete against other like-minded and determined women!
To me this is the beginning of my real career as an athlete, the rest have been stepping stones and a learning process to be in the spot that I have always wanted to be in. I've worked very hard for the last decade to be at this level and I appreciate all the lessons I've learned along the way.
I'm thankful for these experiences and feel that they will add to my success in my next few years.
[ FF ] Would you please share your competition history with us?
[ ZL ] Competed since 2000 in various local and regional shows.
- 2004: British Columbia Heavyweight Champion and Overall Winner (BC, Canada)
- 2005: Canadian Nationals - 3rd Place, Heavyweight
- 2007: Did Not Compete (got sick flying into compete)
- 2008: Canadian Nationals - 3rd Place, Heavyweight
- 2009: Canadian Nationals - 2nd Place, Heavyweight
- 2009: IFBB North American - Overall Heavyweight and Masters Champion (Earned IFBB Pro Card)
[ FF ] When are you planning to compete next?
[ ZL ] I will be competing at the
Arizona Pro on February 20th, 2010 then at the
Ms. International March 5th, 2010 in Columbus, OH.
[ FF ] You have been invited to compete at the 2010 Arnold Classic Ms. International, congratulations! What does being invited to this show mean to you?
[ ZL ] Being invited to compete on-stage with women I've admired and looked up to for many years is the realization of one of my long-time dreams. It is also an incredible compliment regarding the years of hard work I've put into my physique.
Being invited my first year as a pro was both a shock to me but will likely go down as one of the most exciting and amazing memories of my life! And I hope the first of many as I continue to improve my physique and make the necessary adjustments to progress!
[ FF ] Will you change-up your posing routine, suit or do anything different between these two shows?
[ ZL ] Not likely. Because I'm flying in from Japan 2 weeks before the AZ Pro and will be staying in the States until the Ms. International (only 1.5 weeks). I don't really have the opportunity to change things up.
My suit designer, Amy Ardizzone is making my evening suit and because of the long distance living in Japan, I have to plan everything well in advance, unlike if I lived in the States and could easily do things more last minute if required. So I'm keeping things simple and going to keep a similar look for both shows. I'm hoping that my physique will do the talking.
[ FF ] How do you maintain your physique so it is ready to step on-stage at the 2010 Ms. International and compete only two weeks after the Arizona Pro? Is this difficult?
[ ZL ] I've had experience doing 2 shows in a row in the past (1 week apart) and have had no problems. The only thing to manage is to make sure I have the food that I need, even though I'm traveling a lot, between cities. Coming in from Japan (36 hour trip), I've become fairly experienced at planning and prepping in advance, as well as keeping calm despite worries about 'holding water' or other similar concerns that traveling bodybuilders must face.
My plan will be to coast into the AP without making too many changes, then peak for the Ms. International. I'll be monitoring closely and working with my coach directly to make sure this happens. However, every show, every year is a different experience so it's always good to be prepared to make changes.
[ FF ] What is your current height, weight during off-season and contest?
[ ZL ] Off season I weigh about 195. I compete at 180#. I'm 5'10" and I believe one of the tallest IFBB pros competing right now!
[ FF ] What do you consider your best feature?
[ ZL ] My attitude and love for the sport. As far as my body, perhaps my glutes and legs. I'll let you decide!
[ FF ] Would you please tell us a little about your workout schedule? Contest and during the Off-Season? Does it vary much?
[ ZL ] I train 3 days on/1 day off and sometimes if needed take a couple days off. I train heavy and lower reps all year round and don't make much of a change off-season to diet season. However as I feel more tired I may back down the weights for safety's sake and always think long-term risk versus benefit!
My time in the gym is some of my favorite time so whatever I'm training I try to get a good feel in my muscles and walk out of there feeling like I've accomplished something.
[ FF ] Do you have a favorite exercise?
[ ZL ] Currently,
squats. It's a love/hate thing.
Barbell Full Squat
Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Barbell Full Squat.
[ FF ] Are you preparing any differently for the 2010 Phoenix Pro as opposed to previous competitions you've entered?
[ ZL ] No, I'm doing what I normally do as it has worked for me in the past. I will make some small refinements but nothing earth-shattering.
The basis of all my success has always been hard and heavy training and very strict dieting.
[ FF ] Do you have a coach or anyone who is helping you prepare for the Phoenix Pro?
[ ZL ] Yes, definitely. Having a coach helps keep the timeline of the diet on track and is a good way to keep confident about the process. Of course at this level your coach should be a partner to what you already know and finding that good match for your personality is important.
I worked with Noel Fuller in 2009 (when I won my pro-card) and am continuing to work with him. We have a good relationship and I enjoy our dynamic.
[ FF ] Would you take us through your last week of prep prior to each of these shows?
[ ZL ] Same diet as throughout prep - high protein, moderate carb, low fat. Six meals a day and lots of water throughout the week as I'm still training. Small adjustments based on what I look like but contrary to what many people expect, I don't do anything drastic.
I believe if you're in shape and ready for the show a week before, there's no need to do anything crazy to try to improve something that is already working.
It's important to get the 'formula' down that works for yourself and in my case, keeping it simple is what works the best. Bottom line, I don't do any drastic 'carb up' or water depletion. Just small adjustments based on what I know works for me and what we've observed over the last prep season.
[ FF ] What is a day-in-the-life of Zoa Linsey like?
[ ZL ] I usually respond to emails and other client business before I begin my day at the gym. About mid-morning, I go to the Air Force gym and meet with my clients there. Later in the afternoon or evening I meet my husband at a different facility for my own training.
Evenings I either do work on my client's programs, talk to my overseas friends and family (with the time difference the evening is the only time we have), or just hang out with my husband or friends. I like to cook so I'm usually the one doing the dinner for the evening or making us our evening protein shakes.
You Can Email Zoa At Zoa@zoalinsey.com
[ FF ] What are your hobbies and interests outside of the bodybuilding world?
[ ZL ] I enjoy cooking and baking and creating recipes to help keep my clients healthy and enjoying their new lifestyle. I also enjoy doing research on training methods and finding ways to improve and adapt my training for better results. I'm always looking for ways to improve my performance as a coach, trainer and athlete.
Other than that, we like to watch movies, go for coffee and explore the island. We live in a beautiful place and like to enjoy getting out and about, especially when I'm not dieting!
[ FF ] What's currently on your iPod?
[ ZL ] Lots of different music! Some examples... Nickelback, AC/DC, DJ Tiesto, NIN... rock, metal, techno... I like a lot of different types of music, depending on my mood or activity!
[ FF ] What are your "Top 5" favorite movies?
[ ZL ] The last movie we saw was "
Avatar" which I really enjoyed. We see a lot of movies here so I have a lot of favorites, but nothing that specifically stands out at the moment.
[ FF ] Who are your role models? And/or who do you look up to in your life?
[ ZL ] I look up to people who have integrity and convictions and follow through with what they believe in despite great obstacles. I also admire people who have overcome adversity or physical challenges to achieve their goals. There are a lot of great stories about people like this in history, but you can also find them in every day life just talking to people around you. Everyone has a story if you take the time to get to know them.
[ FF ] What advice do you have for women who would like to get involved in the sport of bodybuilding?
[ ZL ] If you love training and you love the challenge of being self-disciplined with your diet then this is a good sport for you. If you hate dieting don't do it! (LOL) Seriously, this is a sport that demands a very extreme level of commitment as it affects every day life much more than other sports.
It's important to have a strong support network and to love what you do, even when during the diet. It's also essential to keep your balance... look after your relationships, your friendships, your career.
Bodybuilding will always cost more than it will make so it's important to keep your head and maintain the things in your life that you will want to have after bodybuilding is over. Enjoy the journey and if you stop enjoying it, find something else to do. Life is too short to be miserable!
Click To Enlarge.
If You Love Training And The Challenge Of Being Self-Disciplined
With Your Diet Then This Is A Good Sport For You.
[ FF ] Who are your favorite bodybuilders?
[ ZL ] As far as other female bodybuilders, I have always admired
Kim Chizevsky and more recently,
Iris Kyle. They both broke ground with amazing physiques and paved the way for other female athletes to push the limits of physical capabilities.
As far as male bodybuilders, I admire Branch Warren as he has shown impressive dedication and persistence to achieve the success he has reached. I also admire Jay Cutler for his persistence and strong business sense. He's treated his career in a professional manner and his success reflects his attitude.
[ FF ] How can people contact you? Do you have a website?
[ ZL ] I have a few ways people can contact me or see what I'm up to. Here are some links:
[ FF ] Thank you Zoa, for taking the time to speak with us and share a little bit about yourself with FBBFan.com readers, is there anything else that you would like FBBFan.com readers to know?
[ ZL ] I would like to thank everyone who sends me encouraging emails, or writes on my Facebook Fan Page. Your belief in me and the positive comments tell me that what I'm doing makes a difference and helps to motivate you. I hope that my commitment and success will inspire others to achieve their best in their own life.