Friday, June 21, 2013
IFBB Pro Nicole Berg Interview
Photos 1 and 5: Adam Fuller Photography
Photos 2-4: RX Muscle/Imagaing.com
One of the interviews I have most wanted for some is Nicole Berg. She had just won her pro card in bodybuilding as I was getting into the sport, so she was one of the people I first paid attention to and became a fan of. Before I even really understood what symmetry really was, I remember thinking how each of her body parts were equally impressive, none stood out because none was better than another. Nicole recently returned to the stage at the Mile High Pro, this time in physique, taking a very impressive 5th place in a tough class of competitors. I was happy to finally get this interview. Sometimes you meet or talk to people you admire and they don't live up to expectations, Nicole far exceeded my expectations, making this interview that much more special to me.
Q: Can you talk about how you got started in the gym?
A: I have always been an athlete, ever since I was a kid. I was a three sport athlete in high school. I have always played competitive team sports and really enjoyed it. After my first year of college there was nothing competitive left for me. I started playing city league softball and it wasn't that competitive. I was inviting something more difficult into my life. I saw a couple gals who were training partners in the local gym. I had no idea what I was doing in the gym, no idea about training splits or anything. I saw these gals and was like "wow, that is really impressive." One was a heavyweight and one was a middleweight. I found out they were doing them Emerald Cup and watched them change in the course of three weeks drastically. I went and watched the show and said I wanted to see if I could do that. Also some trainers at a neighboring gym said I had potential to be a bodybuilder. One of the gals offered to help me and took me under her wing. That journey has led me to where I am today. Just getting started and having someone give me that knowledge in my diet and help me with posing, I just needed that guidance. I never thought I would be able to step on stage, it just took someone saying "yes you can", someone to believe in me.
Q: When you started to add real size did any family or friends react negative?
A: Not really. Most of them were more impressed and inspired by it. There was concern, the worrying mother, but she saw me and understood it better.
Q: A lot of people I interview say they do the first show and it becomes almost addicting to them, was that the case with you?
A: No, competing is not addicting at all. I do it because I choose to do it, not because I feel like I have to do it. It is not something I need to do for attention or seek public approval or approval of peers with similar interests. it is something I enjoy and if I have the money to do it, then I go out and do it. It's not something I can't walk away from. I will never give up the gym but the competition isn't something that drives me. I am competitive more against myself than I am other women in the sport.
Q: Nationals in 2009 you won your pro card, when you realized you were a pro, do you remember what went through your head?
A: I actually couldn't believe it. I had it in my head that I was trying to come up with a game-plan for the next season. When you are posing next to competitors you are not checking them out as well. I am what you call a sleeper, when I stand there I don't look like much till I start posing and then the goodies start to pop out and people are like 'where did that come from?" That is how the gal was who was in first call-out with me. They called us out and asked us to step to the side of the stage but not go anywhere. I thought they were gonna size us up again but they didn't. We stood there looking at each other and I thought "she must be a sleeper like me." She didn't look like she had a lot of size on me. My mom showed me pictures after pre-judge of us standing side by side and I went "oh know, I am in trouble, she looks amazing. If I get beat by her, then congratulations, she deserves it." So I was already mentally prepared for second place and giving it one more year. As we stood up there holding hands, I was shocked when they called her for runner-up. I think it was more disbelief than overwhelming joy.
Q: Was the pro card something important to you or more if it happens it happens?
A: I went it to Nationals to get a pro card. I cant say that about the other two National shows I did. I think it was more goal setting. I wanted top ten at my first National show and I made top five and was happy with that. It was baby steps, I realized I had to pay my dues. After the 2005 season I took a very long break. When I went into 2009 I was like "I am gonna give this one last shot." I went in and pretty much put my guts on the line for it, if it was gonna happen it was gonna happen this year. I don't think until I hit the National level that it was something truly important. Each show was a different goal.
Q: In June you did Mile High Pro and took fifth. Why did you decide to do physique?
A: To be perfectly honest, it isn't gonna be real P.C., is dying out. Even if it was here to stay, there is no place in pro bodybuilding for a light heavyweight. There is not way someone can stand next to Iris Kyle or Yaxeni (Oriquen) or Alina (Popa) and be twenty pounds lighter and get a legit comparison. These are some amazing athletes, they have the physiques for pro bodybuilding. There is nothing I could possibly do and maintain my femininity to put on twenty pounds on my frame. It was either conform and go with the flow or retire.
Q: Doing physique, where there any major changes diet, training or prep wise?
A: Training changed drastically. This was more cardio and diet for me. I didn't realize I had maintained so much muscle. I thought with the long break that maybe I had lost some size. Prep was based on cardio and diet.
Q: How happy were you with what you brought to the stage?
A: I was pretty happy. This was my first prep I did on my own without a coach. So to do my first pro show and make top five with it all on my shoulders, I am proud and no one can take that away from me. I had good friends I trusted who I would show pictures and keep an eye on me and bounce stuff off of, but I didn't have a coach to keep an eye on me. I was pretty happy.
Q: I assume fifth place, going in if you were told you would get fifth, you would be happy?
A: Yeah, absolutely!
Q: Do you know when you are competing next?
A: I am doing the Tampa Pro in August.
Q: It isn't a whole lot of time, but is there anywhere specific you want to be better?
A: Yeah, I hope to bring my waist in a little more or at least give the illusion of a smaller waist. Come in a little tighter.
Q: When you are at the gym, do you get the stares or attention from people?
A: At the gym I am currently at I do. I moved back home and drive a half hour to the gym. I am in a rural area. Mostly from the men.
Q: Is it easy to block out?
A: For me, yeah. I just put my headphones on. It makes me laugh. The nice guys come up and ask a question but are good about letting me do my lifting and come say hi or ask a question during cardio. They are not the meat-heads in the corner. They are the guys who wanna improve their golf game, local business guys. The meat-heads in the corner, I don't know if they are threatened or what. Girls at the gym say "so and so said this or that" or "so and so asked if you are single." I say "I don't even know who that is, why don't they come say hi and talk to me?" and they say that he is intimidated. I tell them "to bad, I am friendly, he could have at least made a new friend out of it."
Q: If you could spend a day training with someone you have never trained with, who would it be?
A: Mimi Jabalee and Alina Popa
Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: Max Muscle Salem, they just picked me up to sponsor me for Tampa. My family and friends who have supported me this past year. A handful of people and they know who they are.