Saturday, January 18, 2014

Fit Girl vs. Fat Girl: The Journey to Reach My Fitness Goals

Check out this blog by a client of Integrity Training Systems, Vanessa Coe!  Show her your support and follow her journey!

Fit Girl vs. Fat Girl: The Journey to Reach My Fitness Goals

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ali Mayer

What brought me to Debbie Portell?
Inspiration, Curiosity, and Determination.

In July of 2011 i sat in the audience of Keith Hunters St. Louis naturals bodybuilding, figure and bikini evening show watching each competitor walk out onto the stage displaying not only their physiques, but their confidence in the hard work that they put in to get there. Then, when I thought I couldn't possibly be any more impressed than I already was... the figure women walked onto stage. Jaw-dropping. Everything about them; their shoulders, back, legs, butts (glutes- sorry) then on top of that I see the glits & glam hair, makeup, suits and jewelry. All of it. Boom! I couldn't take my eyes off of them! Immediately I thought to myself "I can do that.", "I WILL do that!" 

About two weeks later I got a gym membership, what was i going to do with that membership? I'm wasn't really sure. I just knew one day i was going to somehow compete and I needed to find out how to lift and become a figure athlete.

I started working out with a family friend and his dad, I knew that the exercises we were doing probably wouldn't get me to the physique i was striving for. So, i began looking online. I was googling 'figure workout' assuming that every result I found was what I should be doing, on YouTube constantly watching videos - oblivious to the facts that I was watching both men and women working out with body types of all different kinds as well as athletic backgrounds, after looking at these things I would take it upon myself to figure out how to do those exact movements on my own at the gym.

How did I know I was doing these things the right way? I didn't. Hunched back, locked knees, no breathing, teeth grinding exercises that I continued doing for months on my own without being corrected...

In February of 2012, my mom told me it was time to start going to the gym right up the street from our house, Rhino Fitness. I knew this was time to start finding out how to do things the right way. This is when I met Dan Hoormann. Doors started opening up for me immediately. I told him that I've been working out and was interested in doing a show, but I didn't know what to do &  how to do it- muscle groups, exercises for those muscles, how much weight, cardio, how much cardio I should be doing, supplements, what kind, should I be taking preworkout, protein shakes, creatine, and of course- what FOOD should I be eating?!? The list goes on, I attacked this man without even knowing if he had the answers to my 8,000 questions.
Well, he had just the right answer; just seven words. One sentence. 

"I have the PERFECT lady for you."

And she was exactly that. He told me I could even google her and see the transformations she had been such a large part of, and not only that but also see the great competitors she has brought from the ground on up. I got on google as soon as i got home! My mom and I were hooked, I knew right then that my life was about to change. Within a week I had my first session with Debbie, the assessment. 

This to me was such an eye-opening meeting, you've got an outstanding trainer standing there in front of you watching and analyzing your every move when you squat, when you stand relaxed, and your flexibility- all with an elaborate plan to correct your imbalances. I had 50 minutes to hear about myself, and what I can do to improve all from a woman right there who would stay by my side and get me to where I need to go. After this, we spoke about where I was and where I wanted to go, what I was eating and what I was going to start eating not only for a show but for life. The climax of the conversation "July show or October?" My response, both. 

March 2nd introduced 16 of the most amazing, adventurous weeks of my life. The road to my first show. Here. We. Go. Corrective exercises for my alignment twice a day, Training, posing, learning and being surrounded by the best of the best. I went from being in the gym a total of 3 days a week to now 7 days of cardio and 4 days of weight lifting, Saturdays posing practice at powerhouse gym with a team of ladies that acted as if we were a family and brought me from  galloping like a baby horse in heels to walking as if I was born in those heels. While changing my ways along this journey and beginning to focus more on me taught me how much I could really handle and to really engage that inner strength. It was school, home, lift, cardio sleep and repeat no room and no desire for anything else, I found out who was real- and who was not when it came to friends.  I'd walk by faith and not by sight. On summer break in 110° heat index I'd wake up early and go to the gym with my mom for round one of gym time; my lift and cardio hour 1, come home eat and nap until hour 2 of cardio, come back, eat, sleep and repeat the next day. Eyes on the prize. I was on an emotional roller-coaster  hungry, tired, and what felt like constantly sweating. But I couldn't stop, I wouldn't stop.

Then came that final week of changes, i was so excited to reveal this body I had been working so hard for and so ready to reach my destination of the stage. The countdown of 16 weeks, then in the blink of an eye it was the morning of show day, I was now pulling into the venue with my dehydrated body, dry mouth, bronze skin, perfectly manicured nails, hair as hard as a rock due to hair spray, makeup disguise, baggy sweat pants and jacket to protect my painted skin, and of course that gaudy bling. I look to my mom and she says "I'm proud of you, you've made it." Tears began streaming down my face with the biggest smile, forgetting that i had my makeup done and bronze skin that began fading into brown tears of pride and excitement. Needless to say my makeup got fixed. Then came the competitors meeting where I followed my teammates into a large room of competitors where we were instructed and informed on what would happen throughout this whirlwind day with our back stage helpers, pump up, prejudging, during the night show, tan touch ups throughout the day, times, places, you name it and it was covered. 

Backstage was a whole different world, I was about to compete in 3 different categories; figure teen, figure beginner, and figure novice short. First up- teen and beginner, i was labeled #62, pump up was finished, my legs were quivering and I was about to lead a line up of ladies onto the stage. I looked to my helper and we began to pray, as we said "amen." I looked up and the backstage director looked at me mouthing one word- "Go." I didn't think twice, looked to my right, put on a smile, faced my shoulders to the judges and lead the line up to mid stage. Front pose, quarter turn, quarter turn, quarter turn, relax. These words were repeated for what felt like days, but I didn't worry about it. I held each pose with confidence in my conditioning and confidence that I had been prepared by the best- Team Powerhouse

Not knowing what my placing would be, I walked off that stage waving and smiling at the crowd and at the judges. Minutes later Novice figure short was called to stage, I walked out onto this stage with women who have most likely competed before, and have by far been training longer than i have. Was i nervous? Not one bit. I was there for me and for my team, not to worry about who was standing next to me and if they were better than me or not. I did the work and it got me there. Prejudging was done in minutes for me, now it was time to wait patiently and relax until the evening show.

Hair was touched up, makeup touched up, tan touched up, my skin was in layers. Oddly enough, I loved it. The evening show was here and whatever my placing was decided was waiting on me. I got to perform my t-walk and enjoy it in front of the crowd that had grown since prejudging which included my mom, family, some friends, and of course my coach and the backstage helpers. During my performance of poses, the audience and the women backstage that I had been competing against was informed of my age, 15. I was awarded 1st place teen figure, 4th place beginner figure, and 5th place figure novice short. It was an honor to be there, let alone get 3 trophies. I was ecstatic, I was happy about my placings but I was ready to begin improving right then, ready to be leaner and ready to have higher placing. 

This began the road to show #2 in October, John and Becky Arnolds Gateway Naturals show in Arnold Missouri. This road introduced new events and new obstacles, I began a new school in a new school district for my sophomore year of high school, I turned 16 three weeks before show time- this was my first birthday without cake (pretty awesome), but about 8 weeks out I had been involved in what was thought to be a minor car accident. During the car accident it was found that I had damaged ligaments in my neck, I began going to a cranial massage therapist, a physical therapist and sports medicine doctor who worked together to heal me as best as they could. Doing this show seemed to be the impossible, but I wouldn't settle for that. I was determined to get there and to improve from my last. I began doing an hour of cardio before school with my team mate Erin Dixon at 3:40 in the morning in order to get that full hour in so that we could race me back home to get ready for school and get on the bus at 6 am. After school I'd come home, do homework, go to the gym for lifts that I used low weight and substituted exercises in order to maintain the muscle that I had without further injuring myself and then I would do my second hour of cardio then depending on the day of the week my mom and i would take me to physical therapy or the cranial massage therapist directly after. So you may hear all of this and ask yourself if I improved in this next show or not... well, i did. I was awarded 1st place in teen figure, and 2nd place in figure novice short. It was unbelievable and STILL is.

2012 was by far the best, most challenging, and accomplished year of my life (SO FAR). I found myself, began a clean eating- clean living lifestyle, I not only made a goal to compete in one figure competition and surpassed that, but TWO. These are just a few of many great moments from this past year. Biggest of all I have become closer to the most highest, GOD. I give all my glory to the lord. But, I could not have done any of these things without the love and constant support from the ones around me. 


Friday, December 28, 2012

Amber McCourtney 11

"Is this what you plan on doing for the rest if your life!?!?" 

That was the question and a weighty one at that. My answer came quick. An answer of which I had never been more sure, "That's the plan." I replied.

    This wasn't a realization that came immediately. You don't just make a change in you lifestyle and in that very moment know that this is it for all eternity, "forever and ever amen". It was some time during my preparation for my first show that I realized that the new lifestyle I had begun was one that I wouldn't be able to just get up and walk away from. It sank in slowly but as it did my resolution grew stronger. And I can confidently stand now before any opposition and firmly say this is it, this is me, this is how I plan to live for the rest of my life. 

Most people don't see this beyond that show you've been talking about. They think when it's over your "normal" again. I've ceased to be "normal" but if normal means unhealthy, relying on the poison of fats, sugars and preservatives to dictate my moods, weighing my happiness in ounces of sweet liquids then count me out. If those are what measures a persons normalcy then I am completely okay with being different, odd, strange. Personally I think I'm perfectly normal. I'm a mother, a daughter, and dog lover. I'm an employee, a student, a friend and a sister. I feel hunger and pain. I bleed red just like the next person and I cry watching hallmark specials. I sometimes loose battles with cravings and sometimes I make poor choices. I'm human. 

I just choose to make better decisions when my body is in the balance. I thank God for giving me the ability to do what I do, and allowing me the ability to overcome my obstacles and trudge on day in and day out. This is exactly what I plan to for as long as I am able. It's the path I was lead to and the one I've chosen to walk till my legs refuse to carry me, because we are given one body, one life, one shot, and I intend to make the most of it!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Amber McCourtney 10

Shew! I made it, I survived the show and even made it through the "off season" (as some would like to call it, as if there is such a thing). I'll be honest the time after a show is almost as taxing as the prep! And mentally I would dare to say it was harder. Very few people tell you about the aftermath of anything -childbirth, marriage, and yes competition too. LOL! The swelling that follows when you finally refuel your body is nice at first. You fill out keeping a lot of your leanness but it doesn't stop there. Soon you begin to smooth over and before you know it you look totally different than two weeks earlier. You've spent months all but obsessing over the leaning out of your body and in a matter of days you feel as though you have lost it all. I think I knew it was unrealistic to stay in peak condition all the time it's just not sensible or healthy for that matter but its difficult to keep it from getting to you.

I've been pretty fortunate however. I have some fantastic friends to at least try to convey this and I've come across some excellent sources to turn to both in and out of they gym. Just yesterday a pro natural figure competitor posted an off season photo on her Facebook showing that we can't be totally shredded 365 days a year. I was so happy to see that there is some degree of normalcy in the lives of even the professionals and that to some degree these things are normal. I've learned so much from this whole experience everything from pre show to post show I've learned that I'm always capable of more than I think, that it's the little things that end up mattering the most, and that slow and steady really does win the race. I can't wait to use my experience and new knowledge to do even better! Next on my to do list is the NPC Midwest St. Louis in March. I know with my coaches, mentors, friends and teammates at my side I can accomplish anything. I owe you all a huge thanks! Now let's get this goin! NPC here I come!
Happy training!
-Amber McCourtney

Friday, November 23, 2012

Lori Anderson

I first began working with Debbie in April 2012. At that time, I was about 4 weeks out from my first pro figure competition in the IFPA. I won my pro card in April 2010 and had spent a couple of years training for my first pro season, so I felt very comfortable in a gym, but I had some stage fright and needed help choreographing my individual presentation for my pro debut. Initially, I contacted Debbie to assist me with posing. I knew of Debbie because I had observed her interacting with her phenomenal athletes at numerous bodybuilding shows. Debbie invited me to pose with her team at the regularly scheduled 1:00 p.m. posing class on Saturdays at Powerhouse Gym. I was so impressed that day! Debbie is extremely effective at her job, but always approaches her team in a warm and positive manner. She is a “mother” to her competitors. I didn't really know what to expect, but I felt like I was welcomed into her group. I was so impressed with her group of ladies. I could see that they all genuinely supported one another and there was a great sense of camaraderie.

 Within my first couple of visits with Debbie on posing, I was certain that I wanted to make a permanent coaching change to Powerhouse and put Debbie and Roger in charge of my contest preparation (training, nutrition, posing, etc.) I had been working with a nutrition coach out of state by email and a personal trainer at another gym. It was evident that Powerhouse had a wonderful team approach to contest preparation, they had lots of experience and they handled all aspects of contest preparation (face-to-face, under one roof!), so I began formally working with Debbie and Roger following my first show of the 2012 season. I will never forget that even before I ever hired Debbie or Roger, Debbie called me about 24 hours before my first show of the season in Minnesota to check on me and to see if I needed anything. As a matter of fact, I did need something and she had the perfect solution. She also prayed for me over the phone that day which was a huge comfort.

After the Minnesota show, we got down to business – Powerhouse style.

We decided that I would compete in the IFPA Pro Master’s Cup in July. I began training with Debbie weekly on my lower body and Roger handled my nutrition. They also set my lifting and cardio schedule. In 6 short weeks, Debbie and Roger were able to really streamline my physique and bring me in leaner/tighter and considerably more polished than my previous show. They really worked on all aspects of my presentation. I was very impressed that Roger met with me for about 20 minutes one day just to explain to me precisely what I needed to do to help my skin absorb competition color, as I had not had good experiences with the contest tan. The July show was so much fun. My physique and stage presentation was very much improved in those 6 weeks, but the best part of that show was just being part of the Powerhouse team and experiencing it with all of the Powerhouse athletes. Truly, we all had a blast that day.

Debbie, Roger and I decided that my next show would be the IFPA Pro Galaxy Elite “Masters” in Troy, AL. Again, we had 6 weeks to tweak things. We took my judge’s comments from the July show and worked towards bringing me in leaner and with more muscle separation in my lower body. We discovered in the previous show prep that my body (and brain) responded well to a ketogenic diet, so I continued with that. For the August show, Roger devised a final week protocol that worked perfectly for my body. Debbie and Roger were very supportive during the week leading up to the show and we communicated a great deal by phone and text on all of the final details. Aesthetically, I was the best I’d ever been on stage at that show. The result was that I took first in that show – my first pro victory! There is no way that could have happened without Debbie, Roger and my Powerhouse family.

I appreciate Debbie and Roger for what they are doing for the natural physique world. Powerhouse athletes train very hard and do a lot cardio, but have wholesome nutrition programs to fuel us through the experience. The level of support that we receive from Debbie, Roger and teammates is incredible. Debbie inspires a spirit of excellence in her athletes and that is how lives are changed for the better. She makes it known what she expects from each and everyone of us in terms of creating a positive and supportive team environment. She's a beautiful petite package, a warm and encouraging spirit with a lovely smile, but she will not hesitate to put the smack down on your body while you are training! And we love her for it because we know that she is giving us the opportunity to be our personal best. Our final week protocols are generally very simple and clean (no junk food or strange stuff at the end.) Many athletes just coast into the show by being consistent with what they've done throughout their contest prep. Everyone will tell you that food is so important, but I can honestly say that my competitive season nearly ended before it even started because I just wasn't getting the right nutrition for MY body (and brain) prior to working with Debbie and Roger. I had a good coach at the time, but the nutrition piece was just wrong for ME. Roger has numerous diet protocols that he uses on a regular basis with his athletes and he isn't afraid to switch things up if you run into problems. He takes all of the guesswork out of it for you. He tells you what to eat and when. His years of experience are evident when he is matching nutrition protocols with athletes. I can’t stress this enough. I feel like I had to “kiss a lot of frogs” (nutrition programs) before Roger was able to put me on the one that worked. I went into my off season struggling to end my contest diet because I loved my ketogenic diet so much!

I thank God that I have had the opportunity to compete as a natural figure competitor and to work with the best of the best at Powerhouse Gym!

Lori Anderson, IFPA Pro Figure Competitor

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Erin Dixon

PowerHouse Athlete:
A blog dedicated to bodybuilders & competitors - See their stories & transformations 

 “Alright Erin, It's time to pump!  
We're going to start with 10 lbs ascending to 12 lbs  then 15 lbs to get the blood pumping through those muscles!” Karen (my awesome backstage helper explains as she hands me db's)  So many nerves running through my dehydrated body as I stand there pumping db's half-naked in high heels, trying to dodge competitors in the small prep area that we had.  “Ok, Erin it's almost time for you to go on, so keep pumping until you have to line up.” says Karen as she and 3 other girls oil my body and apply lip gloss, while I'm trying my best to do bicep curls and side laterals!  Funny picture right? As I walk out onto the stage, I feel fine, thinking to myself “this isn't so bad, don't be nervous, I'm going to do great” but as soon as I line up with the other competitors for the judging, here comes the SHAKING!  What the heck?!  I couldn't even smile, my bottom lip was shaking so bad!  I felt as if my lips had a mind of their own and kept going into this partial Elvis lip curl, not to mention the shaking of the rest of my body!  The lights were so bright I could barely make out the judges faces and the sweat is beginning to build up, but I kept holding the poses and trying to get out that smile!  

So this is what everyone meant by the adrenaline going through your body for the first time on stage, haha! 

My first competition was October 13, 2012 at the Gateway Naturals in Arnold, MO.  This was one of the most rewarding accomplishments I have experienced with the help of my friend, manager, and trainer, Debbie Portell as well as my nutritionist Roger Semsch.  I first met Debbie in May 2012, at a meeting where she introduced herself as our new Personal Training Manager @ Rhino Fitness Gym in Wentzville, MO.  After shadowing her a few times and getting to know her more, I learned that she coached Figure Athletes.  Becoming a Figure Athlete has been a dream of mine for a few years now, so I definitely wanted to begin working with her. 

I began training with Debbie 1x/week and meeting with Roger for nutrition every other week for 20 weeks.  Debbie assessed my weaknesses and posture imbalances and gave me corrective exercises to do on a daily basis.  The great thing about working with her is that every time we worked together I learned something new to share with my own clients.  She also encouraged me to join her TEAM POWERHOUSE, this awesome team of girls who all compete as well.  Being on a team gives you the feeling of security because you know you can always have help and know that you are not alone in the whole experience.  Debbie Portell is amazing because she is 100% reliable, very knowledgeable, honest, hardworking and can fix almost any obstacle that stands in the way of a client's goals of becoming healthier.  She finds your weakness and strengthens it, which is what you need to accomplish goals.  You have to fix posture/muscle imbalances in order to train hard and get the most out of you workouts.  Debbie is very enthusiastic when it comes to reaching goals, no matter what the goal.  My first goal was to compete in the  Gateway Naturals in Arnold, MO and my next goal is to compete July, 2013.  I know she will push me to my limits to be the best I can be once again! 

Debbie Portell and Roger Semsch have changed my life....I went from having a degree in Nutrition and thinking I new everything about food from the knowledge I gained through professors and a person with all that background, plus all the experience with food and what actually works from the knowledge I gained through Debbie and Roger.  I am a stronger person physically and mentally and plan to continue working with the both of them. 

~Everything happens for a reason~

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dawn Miller Moncey

I first heard about Debbie and Powerhouse Gym through the Dave Glover show.  Dave talked about his nutrition and workout plans and the results he achieved.  Debbie began doing a live segment on the show in which she discussed correct body mechanics, foam rolling, full range of motion, and eating foods that eliminate cravings.  She emphasized person specific programs instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.  For a year I listened to her segments.   

I wanted to change my life, but couldn't get myself to take that step.

About seven months ago I was finally ready to change my life.  The workouts and diet I had been doing on my own left me physically exhausted, had tweaked my sciatic nerve and caused so much pain in my rotator cuff that I had stopped lifting completely.  I was gaining weight, going to happy hours and smoking again.  I needed a goal and I needed help.  I set a big goal for myself, competing in a figure competition in six months, and I knew the right person to help me.  From listening to her on the radio for so long, I knew that Debbie’s approach and personality was what I needed to guide me through the process.  She was the right trainer for me.

My first meeting with Debbie we discussed my goal, my body type, nutrition and how challenging it would be to get there in six months.  But we would do our best.  The first training session with Debbie consisted of evaluating my flexibility, posture, and body mechanics during basic movements.  We discussed my low back and shoulder pain, and what movements triggered them.  She showed me how to foam roll and stretch, and sent me home with instructions to do them every day.  My second training session, Debbie had me start with assisted pull up and push ups   I asked if I could do the pushups from my knees, and she said, “No, we don't do them from our knees”.  That pretty much set the pace for the rest of our workouts.  Don't cut corners, keep proper form and push through no matter how hard.  I could barely do five push ups that day.  By the end of my third week, I could do forty.  Now, seven months later, I do a hundred pushups a day.  This is another demonstration of how Debbie will take you farther than you think you can go.

The figure competition we were shooting for was in April 2012.  As April fast approached, Debbie and I made the decision to add a few more months of training for a July 2012 show instead.  This would give my muscles more time to develop.  Though it was hard to shift my mindset from April to July, it was the right choice.  I needed a reminder that changing your life isn't for a show or a trophy, it’s for life.  Day in, day out, training hard and eating clean.  This is the trophy.  Being able to compete in a show is a blessing.

As I say after every training session, Thank You Debbie.