The Fit Factory Athlete Nesha Ward
Nesha's competitive journey started with the San Jose show in 2011. She works hard and sticks to the program her coach designs for her and her progress speaks for itself.
Shem - You have been to a few shows now so you have a feel for what they are like. What did you think about the number of people in the audience and number of athletes at the Governors Cup?
Nesha - The Governor’s Cup was slightly overwhelming, even for someone who has done a show before. I had done one other, last year at the San Jose, NPC in July, but I was still surprised at the number of athletes. The amount of bikini and physique competitors was enormous, but then adding bodybuilding and the many classes of figure and it was amazing. The audience was packed wall to wall and the noise level was exhilarating, but when I got on that stage I was focused on impressing those judges and remembering to comprise those things that my trainer, Austen said to do – Project, Pose with Confidence and Smile.
Shem - Now that you have been through a couple full contest prep runs, what do you find to be the most challenging about the nutrition and training and how do you overcome these challenges?
Nesha - For me nutrition and training has been an up and down battle. I’ve always been pretty healthy with my eating but of course contest prep is a whole other beast. I’ve learned often those things you believe have been healthy as an athlete, are not part of a contest diet. The assumptions that eating an orange or banana, or a box of Apple Cinnamon oatmeal pack for breakfast were my hardest adjustments. You have to follow the nutrition plan. Once I bought in, I saw immediate changes. As far as training, I just love it. I love going heavy so often my challenges were calming down and Austen teaching me that the heaviest weight is not always the best weight. Technique and concentration go so far and as the contest gets closer it often seems impossible to push that heavy weight anyway.
Shem - What do you find most helpful in balancing family life and the responsibilities of a mother with the time spent getting ready for a show?
Nesha - The first show I’m sure my poor family thought I was a lunatic. The emotional ups and downs, the structured schedule, even what I purchased at the grocery store had them all thinking I needed some mental help. I wanted it to be perfect and I wanted everyone to understand and adjust with no questions asked. This second show prep I did my best to discuss things with my family more and give in to their treats and meal requests instead of just emptying the cabinets. I surrender to the fact that this is “my” passion, not theirs and it wasn’t fair that their lives should change simply because I no longer ate cookies. My family has been so good at making me be accountable. Even my six year old tells me “no mom, don’t you want to win” when I stare to long at his PB&J. The balance of being a mother and wife and preparing for a show can be a little crazy at times but it can be done and without making everyone miserable around you as well.
Shem - I know that after the San Jose last year Austen had some goals for you and your physique. Can you talk a little about what you set out to improve on this time around?
Nesha - After the San Jose show, Austen knew I was disappointed and we talked and he set goals that I would not compete again until I’d put on some more muscle. Being a former high-jumper, I’ve always had long lean muscles so the muscle was there; we just needed to bring it up. Austen had me concentrate on lots of lower body muscle building, doing heavier weight and as well as building my shoulders and adding more detail in my back. He also made some changed in my nutrition that would help me hold weight a bit more. I lean out so quickly that a cookie cutter diet of the “basics” would wither me away. I was able to train harder and realize that my body could do more once I put some weight on and truly concentrated on muscle building instead of just getting through the set. We literally put on about 14-15lbs of muscle. I weighed in on contest day at the San Jose at 122lbs. At the Governor’s Cup, on contest morning I was 136lbs.
Shem - Do you think having a team of competitors meeting weekly going into the show helped with your success and how?
Nesha - There is no way I could have done without it. The competitor’s evaluations each Saturday helped to keep my focused. I wanted to be better when my coach saw me the following Saturday. We were able to get great feedback from Austen, my teammates and often he brought in industry people who gave us great critiques and advice as well. These weekly meetings made us accountable so that as the contest approaches there are no surprises. Sometimes we can’t help the way the judging goes but if my best package is presented and I know I’ve worked hard from start to finish then it’s a win.
Shem - What motivated you to jump up on stage and compete in the first place and why did you choose Austen of The Fit Factory to put together your program?
Nesha - I’ve always been a gym junkie. Granted there is a huge different from the local gym and a personal studio like The Fit Factory. Each time I went to train, I was one of the most fit in the local gym and I had people asking me what I was training for. My answer was always the same “Just training to keep up with the young girls”. I had a few people tell me I should compete and I started trying to train for a “contest” but if you have no idea what you are training for, you are just working out. My friend Tracey Owen, also a TFF client told me about Austen and that he did contest prep. I had no idea what I was in for. I’ve never trained so hard in my life and took pleasure in tearing my body down only to build it up. Austen is a natural at getting the most out of your physique if you buy in and work hard.
Shem - I know from posing practice and previous shows that one of your biggest hurdles on stage is getting that smile out. I can still hear your coach yelling, "Smile Nesha!". But in Fresno I don't think there was one second on stage where you were not smiling! Where did that come from?
Nesha - As I said previously I was an athlete in high school and college, but in track and basketball smiling is so unnecessary. Even during training, a person doesn’t have to smile to kick that weight’s butt. My game face doesn’t include smiling when I need to jump that height or box you out. I have truly struggled with the pageantry part of figure competing. I literally had to make it be a part of my posing to make sure I do it. Austen and Kim and many of my others teammates have said time and time again, “it’s there, you have to smile, own the stage”. I’m getting there. In Fresno and even at the Governor’s Cup, I was thinking, “are you smiling?” while I was on stage.
Shem - What are your favorite supplements?
Nesha - I am a supplements junkie. I love to try out new things and see how my body reacts to them and I’ve had good reactions as well as bad. Currently my favorites are USPLabs Jack3d or Gaspari Superpump Max as a preworkout, Allmax’s AllWhey and Isofemme for protein and usually Aftershock for post workout. I mix it up now and then but these are my favorites.
Shem - What's next for your, Nesha? Do you have another show in mind? Any body parts you have in mind specifically to improve?
Nesha - I’ll definetly need to sit down with Austen and talk about what is next up for me. Ideally I’d love to do the San Jose NPC this year to redeem myself from last year. I feel my package is much better and I could do well in that show and possibly travel down to Southern California for a show or two. I have been working my way towards my law degree for the past three years and some career opportunities have presented themselves so I may have to become a grown up and figure out how everyone else trains and does family time along with a hectic work schedule. Either way I will continue building and training my body. It is a must I bring these poor little calves some respect, build my back a bit more for a better V-taper and above all work on my posing.
Shem - Is there anyone else you would like to talk about or thank? Family, friends?
Nesha - I’d like to thank Austen and Kim and the rest of The Fit Factory team. Without Austen I wouldn’t have fallen in love with this sport. He is tough and has high demands but when we have those moments when nothing seems to be going right he does a great job of playing psychologist and putting us back together on top of his awesome training. I would also like to thank Phannary Pen for having patients through and giving good critique through my horrible posing moments and taking time out of her busy schedule to work with us. Finally, my family especially my husband for putting up with my “moments” and saying you can do it, for taking a thousand pictures and doing late night cardio with me, for yelling “smile” the loudest, for trusting the process, and cooking fried chicken and bbq ribs for the boys when I just couldn’t do it anymore.