Official Blog of Allison Ethier

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Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada
Official blog of Allison Ethier NSCA Personal Trainer, ISSN Sport Nutrition, Educator & Mom

19 August 2010

Europa Texas 2010 Recap

Hi Everyone –
The weekend has come and gone.  Part of me is happy to see another competition behind me, but sad as I know that it will be sometime before I am back on stage again… or will it? (I will return to that thought later)

Recap of the Weekend’s Events
The weekend in general was a hit.  I left on Tuesday night to drive down to Burlington VT as I always try to fly out of the US to avoid the nightmare of customs, and immigration at a Canadian Airport. I spent most of Tuesday prepping to leave, packing, food preparation, and packing the car, going over numerous times in my head what I need to be bringing and going over it again.   Beside suit, shoes, costume, and routine shoes – everything else can be bought.

Driving to Burlington was pretty much uneventful and then I went shopping.  spent way too much money, and checked into my hotel for the night.

At the airport, I am always hopeful that things go well, and that I don’t get too much flack at security.  This time was great.  Flights went well, met all my meals on time and drank my water for the day.

Once in Dallas, I met up with my roomie – fellow competitor and figure pro Ginette Delhaes.  We stayed together in Orlando and had such a good time, so Texas was going to be much of the same – laughing, prepping for the show, some relaxing, and of course plenty of eating afterward.

The rest of  Wednesday included: relaxing, some shopping for groceries and post show treats, eating, and getting to bed early – even if travel is uneventful it is still very tiring.  We had met another new comer who just turned pro – Louise Rogers from England.   I got to know her quite well over the weekend. Turning pro in England is just as hard as Canada – so when she got her chance – she jumped on it.  I agree – why wait right?  Learn while you are in the pros. 

The athlete meeting was at 7pm so we had quite a bit of time to kill during the day.  Again, we went shopping, bought some more post show treats, hung out at the hotel relaxing.  We did meet up with Aleisha Hart, another Canadian figure pro and her boyfriend for meals during the day.  Ginette helped me put on some tanner, and then we went down to the meeting.

The thing with these shows is that they are so much more relaxed than I ever remember being as an amateur.  Everyone who is competing is a champion at some point and very good at what they do.   Europa shows are so very organized that things are just easy. At the meeting,  you walk up, get your number, get your information and leave. No messing around.  I love how organized Ed and Betty Pariso are to put on these shows, and provide a top quality atmosphere for the athletes.

After much socializing at the meeting, I was ready for bed, however, I needed a bit of food before bed, so indulged a bit in order to fill out onstage.   I am a smaller girl, so I need to eat before the show to look full.  I was not as depleted as I was in the past, as I think I just hit my mark just in time for this show.   Eating beforehand depends on my current leanness, as well as how depleted I am.  Not being as depleted I did not consume as much food as I would normally and hoped the next day that I would be ‘ready’.

Two weeks before, or even a week out from this show – it was very obvious by photos - I was not ready.

On Friday, we woke up early to get our tans done by JanTana the queen of tans.  We rode on over to the convention center which was very convenient and a short shuttle bus ride from the hotel.  It was really easy.  We got sprayed, and unfortunately the convention people keep one of the large doors open keeping the humidity really high in the building – and we would not dry.  I stood for at least 1.5 hours to dry under the fans.  Later in the day they did close the door and turn up the AC but for that morning – drying was a pain and it was so hot. 

Normally I cut back my water, but due to the humidity and how swollen I felt I kept drinking water all day. 

I ended up staying at the venue for the morning to get my makeup done, and I was a little worried about going outside as it was so hot and humid that I did not want my color to change.  The show was only in the afternoon so I used this time to catch up with fellow competitors, and socialize.  I love being around these fit folks, that talking to them is such as inspiration and I use it as motivation to stay on track when I return home.

There were many divisions this weekend as this is the last show to qualify for the Olympia.  Men’s 202, Open Pro division, fitness, figure and bikini.  There were a lot of top names here vying for those few last spots.   Qualifying for the Olympia is like competing for a pro card – very challenging and difficult to do.   I don’t think it was out of my league to believe that I could make it there this year; however, I knew that my competition was fierce, so I would have to put on a perfect showing.

A week out from the show I have to say that my body was not ready – two weeks out – it really was not ready.  I did change my job, and move much less than I did when I was teaching.   Summer is harder for me as I am moving less.  I find fall/winter/spring easier because I am always on the go, and maybe it is the cold weather and I have to work to keep warm, so freezing everyday actually helps fat loss ;)   

My suit was made by Tamee Marie and I loved it.  I think her suit style and stone patterning flatters my physique the best.  

When it was finally our turn for the fitness division to do comparisons I knew we would not be on stage for long.  There were only 14 of us, and for fitness that is a great turnout.    I am not really nervous for the physique round as all my nervous energy is spent on the routine round.    If there is anyone who has done fitness and then switch to figure or bikini they realize the difference – being onstage is very exciting, but the nerves for me only come before the routine.

I was in the 2nd callout – which is respectable.  I know that my physique is something that holds me back from placing slightly higher, but considering how difficult this prep was I was proud to be among those called out in my group as they are well established in the industry and bring their A game every time.  These girls are pillars of consistency, and when you are at this level not being prepared is not something that does not happen to often. 

After a few quarter turns the physique round was over.  It took maybe 15-20 mins?  I really enjoy the physique round, and wish it was longer, but with only 14 girls, and some very experienced judges I can see why it does not take that long.

The figure gals, however, took a bit longer.  In the pros having over 20 girls seems to be considered big – now there were 38 onstage – all in one group.  Maybe they will have to consider heighting them into short and tall to at least be able to see everyone.  Not sure how they (the judges) do it, but they managed to judge all those beautiful bodies, and get through the prejudging. 

That was it for the day.  The rest of the day we spent relaxing, cleaning ourselves up from the tanning/makeup and went out to get a small bite to eat.  As usual all I wanted was salad, and was so tired from all the posing that I had to turn myself in early.

Saturday came so fast that I could not believe that this was the last day I was to spend in Dallas.    I work up telling myself that this was the day I was going to be great.  Not just good but great.  There are moments in which I get really excited to be performing the routine, but until it is over it is only thing I really think about.  I always have a good time performing it, but somehow over the past few years I have become extremely nervous to the point of panicky when performing the routine. 

I got up, got re-sprayed, makeup redone, and basically hung out until the NPC show was finished for the morning.   I went over and over in my head my routine numerous times.  I listen to other music that I would listen to when I would be preparing to run my routine at home.  I did get on the stage before other competitors so was able to walk out my routine a few times before we started to share the space.  I took in the all the lights around me, the view of the audience the view of the judges, and tried to absorb all the energies around me to be make this a familiar place rather than a scary one.

Doing a routine for me is very tough as I feel as though what happened at the Arnold was very uncharacteristic of me, and want to show the industry that I am consistent at what I do.  (I am probably the only person who keeps thinking of that moment. ) That they can count on me to perform even under the toughest pressures.  My nerves are hard to control so getting on the stage is crucial to preparing mentally to be on that stage.

I had a conversation afterwards with new pro Cinzia Clapp and asked her about her experience for her first pro show and she seemed to be able to express what I was feeling as well.

When you come from doing small shows, where the stage is so small and the audience is on top of you transitioning to a large venue show can be a shock.  At the smaller venue shows, you can feel energy of the audience. You can internalize that energy, and transmit that through your performance back out to the audience.  It almost creates a cyclic effect of give and take.   However at these big shows, on a big stage where the audience is very far away, and positioned lower on the ground floor from you and puts you on a bit of a pedestal, it is hard to have that give and take.  It is almost as though you are practicing and there are people watching from far away, and you have to use your own internal experience to transmit that energy only in one direction. The energy must be generated internally in you, and then out to the audience.  They are so far away that any response seems very quiet to the point where they don’t seem like they are reacting at all. 

This can make for a tough transition from the amateurs to the pros – however, all the new pros – including myself are working through it, and hope to become seasoned pros soon enough to the point where it just feels natural.

After the introductions of Betty & Ed, all athletes were onstage to throw Frisbees.  I took this opportunity not only to try to see how far I could biff a Frisbees without killing someone, but to also hear the music, feel how it sounded, and use that for my routine and how it might translate to what I am about to do.

There were 5 girls before me.  I basically just listen to their music; see if it is can help pump me up to get ready for my own routine.  I never watch the girls before me as I don’t want their routine to mess with the one that I am about to do.  My only focus is my own routine.  I do watch afterwards (as I did purchase the video) but for the time being I am the only competitor about to perform. 

When it was my turn I was surprisingly calm.  I tried to soak up what was going on around me and remember it for later. I do still feel the energy and nerves that I have during the routine round as all that adrenaline is hard to control.  I tell myself – ‘just like practice’.   As I have done this routine so many times during practice that I know it.  I went out there and after the first move – relaxed – things flowed so well on this day that I breathed in every moment.  I felt light and airy.  Moves we finished, and flowed, with no hesitations. 

Sometimes I get too nervous and have to tell myself in my head as I am doing the routine – ‘calm down, relax, breathe’. 

It is an exhilarating feeling once it is all over and you have done your best, and it came out really well.  You feel proud.  And I was proud of myself on this day.

I was not ready a week ago and my routine I was extremely nervous.   I managed to overcome these nerves and put out a great performance.  And I was relieved and very hungry when it was all over.

I waited to eat some as we had a huge break between the routines and the finals when they announce the winner.    I spent the time collecting food from the athlete dessert buffet, fixing my tan, socializing, and touch up on makeup. 

When all was said and done – I placed 5th – sweet!  My goal was to keep in the top 5 and with many of the big names who showed up for this show I am super pleased to be among the top 5.  Respectable finish – especially for someone who just turned pro last year and I am already cracking the top 5.   Sweet.

After the show, we went back to the hotel, eating all the way, got showed up and started the tour of restaurants in the hotel.  I went to eat with Jan Tana’s team who are always a hoot, hung out at the bar for a while, back to the Italian restaurant, and then decided to pack it in for the evening as I was super tired.  The stress of having to perform the routine makes me really tired afterwards.  I had a lot of stress about it this time, perhaps I know that I huge break is on the horizon for me, and just wanted to put out a great performance for me.  And I did that.

Sunday I woke up early, got dressed, and left.  I did not want to wake my roomie, as she was sleeping, but I felt very peaceful at what I did this weekend.

I am very excited to be heading back to work this week, and seeing my clients. I am always so motivated for them to do well.

Right now I am in the airport writing, and many people are staring as
1. I have muscles, and 2.  Am oddly very tanned. 

I usually shy away from showing my arms but this time I am proud.  Proud to have muscle and show off my arms – and I should be more proud.  It is very hard to do what we do – fitness, figure, bikini, bodybuilding etc – the diet, the training, the focus.  Getting a beach body is one thing, but a stage ready body – well that is WORK!

I had a super time in Texas – they are so friendly and warm down here.  The host hotel was amazing and had top notch hospitality and services.  I would come back to this show and can see why it has been running for 17 years.

Thank you’s.

  • I want to thank Ed & Betty Pariso for putting on this show, and continuing to produce top quality shows. 
  • Coach & mentor – Erik Ledin for helping to build this body to do well in the pros. 
  • Husband for continuing to support my fitness endeavors over the last 10 years.
  • Family & friends for being there when I need them, and lend a helping hand when I cannot seem to get my brain to work right.  
  • Fellow competitors & fitness friends – I am so proud to know you, honor and respect all your hard work.

I am not sure my plans for the Olympia but do hope to be going. I should know more in a few weeks.

But as for another show – will there be another show – the last one of the year after the Olympia is the Fort Lauderdale show November 20th.  I am not sure but I am feeling that I want to do another one….don’t we all feel like this after the show – wanted to do more…..

When I do know, I will post.

Talk soon,



Kari Keenan said...

Congrats, Allison! I watched the show via streaming video, and thought you did a great job! It was fun to read about your experience and your thoughts about the show. I hope you do another show this year, but if not, the break is well-deserved. :)

Brit-Man said...

WELL DONE Allison. It's not necessarily about the finish, because you will always be a winner no matter what you do.

Keep up the hard work and GOOD LUCK for the future.

:-) :-).