Christy Merritt Interview
MP: Why did you pursue a career in health and fitness?
CM: My current profession is teaching dance. First of all, I love working with children and seeing them improve and grow not only in dance, but also in life. I get to help mold their work ethics, social skills, and lay a great physical fitness base for them to continue to grow throughout their lives. There is no way you would ever find me working a desk job. I love being able to use physicality in my work. I can hardly stand sitting still to go to a movie. I feel sorry for anyone sitting next to me!
MP: Growing up as an athlete, what kinds of sports did you play and how have such sports impacted your life?
CM: I began swimming year round at age 8. If you are not familiar with the sport, it is 6-8 two-hour practices per week plus 3 days of dry land training (this intense training began in 5th grade for me). On top of all of the time I spent staring at a black line, I was also an honors student that graduated both high school and college with a 3.8 GPA. So, you have to give credit to swimming, in my mind, for engraining the need for time management, hard work, drive, and perseverance. It gave to me what I would need later in life to be a successful wife, mother, business owner, and now professional athlete. On top of that it gave me a superior base for strength, cardiovascular conditioning, and muscle tone.
MP: How has your husband impacted your fitness lifestyle and career?
CM: Before I met my husband I had turned into a cardio class bunny. I only attended group exercise, step-like, classes. I was getting prepared for the dance studio’s upcoming recital and twisted his arm to train me, seeing as how he was a personal trainer at the time. I think I kind of shocked him with my strength and willingness to allow him to severely kick my butt at every workout...no complaining, just get it done. At that time I was not confident enough to go into the weight room by myself, but as I continued to learn and train with him, I eventually did get brave enough to train myself. Without having met him I don’t know if I ever would have started weight training. I didn’t think I would really like it when I started, but I love weight training now!
MP: What was it like when you finally ventured into the weight room without your husband training you?
CM: By the time I finally got the courage to train by myself, I knew a lot about proper form and generally what to do. I would run my workouts by my husband to make sure what I was doing would be effective, and occasionally have him write up some workouts for me. It wasn’t nearly as painful to train by myself as I had anticipated. I kind of like putting my headphones on and getting into my own little zone. It’s my ‘me’ time, I love it.
MP: What’s your favorite exercise to do and why?
CM: I love to do squats. I like the results I get from them and it’s fun to watch everyone stare at how much this little girl can lift. They work the whole body and I credit them for changing my rear view :-)
MP: What do you consider as a lagging part of your figure?
CM: For Bikini, I still need to bring up my hamstrings to match the shape of my quads and glutes. Because of dancing I avoided training them for a long time because it affects flexibility. I have resolved to just have to stretch more. If I ever decide to transfer to Figure, I will need to bring up my lats and shoulders as well.
MP: When did you finally decide to compete in fitness competitions?
CM: Many gym goers and friends kept asking me when was I going to compete or why don’t I. For the longest time I resisted the urge compete because I was unsure if I could do the diet. I am a junk foodaholic at heart, so the thought of saying bye-bye to sugar and pizza was not thrilling. But this past year a few other ladies at my gym competed for the first time and the competitor inside me started talking...if they could do it, why couldn’t I?? So, I made the decision just to go for it. My first show was the end of last July at the Missouri State.
MP: What has Tony Freidrich done for your career?
CM: Tony is my and my husband’s trainer. He has been there by my side through this whole process. He is the one who insisted that I try Bikini before Figure, knowing that it would be an easier diet to do, being that I was not a ‘clean’ eater to begin with, and also due to my sporadic lifting background. He was right; I don’t think I would have achieved the success in Figure as quickly as I have Bikini. He has guided me with his vast knowledge of how diet affects your body and seems to always know the answer when my body stops responding. Although he does not write workouts for me, he does tell me what body parts I need to focus on. But most importantly he gives me just the right balance of criticism and praise and seems to always know what I need to hear in order to keep my working at an elite level.
MP: What kinds of specific fitness competitions do you compete in? What are some of the accolades you received?
CM: I began competing in the NPC Bikini division. I place 1st in my class and 1st overall at my first show, the Missouri State 2010. I then went to a national level competition; Jr. USA’s 2010, and placed first out of 18 in my class and 2nd overall. They gave out 2 pro cards at that competition, and I received one of them by placing 2nd overall. I am now an IFBB pro. I competed in my first IFBB show in Detroit at the John Simmons Pro 2010. There I placed 2nd overall and qualified for the first ever Bikini Olympia.
MP: What was it like competing in the Bikini Olympia contest? What kind of competition was this and what did you learn from this experience?
CM: The Olympia is considered the most prestigious bodybuilding competition in the world, so it was not only a huge honor to be on that stage, but also very humbling. It was very surreal being backstage with so many competitors that I had admired and followed in the sport. Performing for such a large and enthusiastic audience, with people from all over the world was absolutely incredible. One thing that we had not dealt with in my previous competitions was the airflight factor. We had anticipated that I would hold water, but it had the opposite effect on me, and thus, I did not go into that competition with my best conditioning. I don’t think the stress of having qualified only 6 day prior to stage time and all of the planning that had to be done helped either. Hopefully I will qualify early this season and have a more relaxed and prepared experience next time!
MP: Was having a daughter a life changing experience? What did this do to your life and career?
CM: For sure!! Everyone tells you how much it does change your life, but there is just know way to grasp that until you experience it yourself. She is truly the light of my life. It is indescribable the joy that children bring into your life. That said, once you have a child the focus has to be on them and fulfilling their needs, sometimes leaving yours on the backburner. I am fortunate that I work evenings an get to spend the majority of my days with her and it helps a lot that she has made friends as the gym’s kids club and asks ‘when are we going to the gym?’ if we miss a day or morning. Since having her I have been lucky enough to be able to cut back on my workload to make more time for my family.
MP: What do you enjoy doing on your free time?
CM: I don’t have much free time between work and competing, but when I do I always spend it with my family. Occasionally my husband and I get out for a date night. We love Mexican and sushi, so we usually hit up one of those local restaurants.
MP: What’s your favorite television show and why?
CM: Top Chef, hands down! We never miss an episode. Love to salivate at the yummy food they make and they always have interesting characters on there.
MP: Describe your dream vacation?
CM: Honestly, just going somewhere and staying on the beach. I love the water and sound of the waves. I could eat pb&j all week, just give me the ocean :-)
MP: What are your future goals both personally and professionally?
CM: Personally, I want to raise my daughter to be a respectful, hardworking, and loving person. That is number one for me now. As far as competing, I want to continue to compete at an elite level, re-qualify for the Olympia and place top 6.
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