A look at the ladies as they prep for the 2009 National Championships

By Dave Lee

November 17, 2009


On November 20-21, the 2009 NPC National Bodybuilding, Figure and Bikini Championships at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood , Florida will play host to over 500 competitors as they turn out for the last pro qualifier of the year. When all is said and done, twenty-three of the nation’s best amateur bodybuilding, figure and bikini athletes will go home as the latest to join the ranks of the IFBB Pro League.

The women’s portion of the competition will no doubt send the temperature sky high and we caught up with bodybuilding contender Sarah Hayes and figure standout Kathleen Tesori to hear what they had to say heading into the 2009 Nationals.

AGE: 32
HEIGHT: 5’6″
WEIGHT: 158 pounds (contest); 174 pounds (offseason)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: 2009 NPC Europa Super Show, heavyweight and overall, winner; 2009 NPC Ronnie Coleman Classic, heavyweight, winner; 2009 NPC Lone Star Classic, heavyweight and overall, winner

FLEX: What do you think has been the main reason or reasons for your quick rise in the amateur ranks?
HAYES: Hard work, dedication and determination to improve are the things that will take you far in this sport. I feel my natural femininity and symmetry play a strong role in my stage presence, too.

FLEX:What do you feel are your strong points and what areas have you worked to improve for this show?
HAYES: My strong points are my back, shoulders and overall symmetry. I’ve been focusing on adding greater sweep and depth to my quads. Also, upper chest thickness has been a priority.

FLEX: Have you made any changes to diet and cardio?
HAYES: For this level of competition, you have to step up your game. Cardio has been increased from two hours to two-and-a-half hours per day. Mostly, I use the stepmill to help my quad conditioning. Diet has gone from keto to a carb-cycling one. It’s working quite well.

FLEX: This will be your fifth show. What have you learned each time you stepped onstage to help get you to this point?
HAYES: I’ve learned how to better “dial in” for each competition by seeing what diet best suits my body and training. I’ve also found that my legs are stubborn! Hence, my coach, Jeff Dwelle, changes my leg routine for each workout and it’s helping improve my quads. Lastly, I’m working on improving my stage presentation, with Jeff’s help.

FLEX: This is your first time at the Nationals and your first national level show. How has this affected your preparation?
HAYES: I’m very excited to compete! I’m training and dieting hard, giving100% effort every minute. I’m holding nothing back so I can attain my dreams and goals of winning. Also, I’ve been studying the finalists from last year’s Nationals for posing reference and motivation.

FLEX: Being new to such a high level of competition, do you think it will affect your nerves?
HAYES: I’m very excited and I’m sure I’ll be nervous, too. But, I will stay focused and channel my nervous energy into my presentation on stage, hitting every pose with poise, femininity and excitement. I’ve been mentally preparing by visualizing all my poses.

FLEX: Who do you think will be your main competition?
HAYES: My main competition will be all the competitors. However, I feel Monique Jones will be very competitive in my weight class [heavyweight]. I’m looking forward to going out there and doing my best.

AGE: 27
HEIGHT: 5’2″
WEIGHT: 112 pounds (contest); 120 pounds (offseason)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: 2009 NPC Utah Nutrimart Classic, figure class A and overall, winner

FLEX: What made you switch from bikini to figure?
TESORI: One of my prizes for winning the 2008 FLEX Bikini Model Search Championships was a chance to participate in the FLEX Swimsuit Issue photo shoot. After seeing the physiques of the figure girls in person, I was hooked. Felicia [Romero], Jessica [Putnam], Erin [Stern], Nicole [Wilkins-Lee] and Jen [Gates] are very beautiful and are a huge inspiration. Their physiques were on another level. These girls were rocking the physique I had wanted to achieve.

FLEX: How is the training for figure different from bikini?
TESORI: Training for any event is going to be different for every individual. Also the structure of training changes each year because the body is ever changing. For me, training for bikini and figure was a night and day difference. Both are challenging and neither was harder than the other.

FLEX: What did you do differently in the weight room?
TESORI: Offseason, weight training was the same. I enjoyed weight training for figure more than I enjoyed weight training for bikini. I needed to put on and retain as much size as possible, so I’ve been sticking to the traditional style of weight training: lifting as heavy as possible for 8 – 12 reps. That’s a lot different than the “cross-fit” type workouts I used for my last five weeks of training for bikini.

FLEX: What about cardio?
TESORI: Offseason training for both was the same. Once I started figure training, it was not until about five weeks before the competiton that I began to notice the difference. More cardio sessions are required for figure and each session is longer. Bikini cardio training was more intense as I did uphill sprinting and interval type training compared with the less intensive but longer uphill walks for figure.

FLEX: What was the major difference in terms of diet?
TESORI: I maintain a relatively clean diet and a lean athletic look year round to ensure I am ready for any print or spokesmodeling opportunity on a moment’s notice. The offseason diet for both bikini and figure training was very similar. The main difference is the food portions for figure are larger. And I don’t get to eat as wide a variety of foods.

FLEX: What areas have you worked to improve since your debut in Utah?
TESORI: I have had to focus on my rear delts and filling out my quads. My goal for this show is to bring an overall fuller look.

FLEX: This is your first national level show, has this affected your preparation at all?
TESORI: Yes. I would say my preparation mostly has been affected on an emotional level due to the extra pressure I place upon myself to compete at this level. Switching from bikini to figure is a shock to many. Most people automatically assume I am competing in the bikini class.

FLEX: Who do you see as your main competition?
TESORI: I view everyone as my main competition. My goal is to wow the audience and the judges. I am going in knowing I worked and prepared as best as anyone could. Hopefully I have created a physique the judges are looking for and will appreciate. If not, everyone has to begin somewhere. I am looking for constructive feedback whether I win or lose so I can improve before competing again.