Valerie Waugaman retires from the IFBB

by Allan Donnelly

February 17, 2008


On Saturday night at the Ironman Pro finals, the bodybuilding world gained one star, while the figure world lost one. Onstage, winning the Ironman Pro in dominating fashion, Phil Heath served notice that he is now a force to be reckoned with at any show he enters. Backstage, however, one of the biggest names in figure was making news for an entirely different reason: Valerie Waugaman announced she has decided to retire from figure competitions.

“I’ve taken the figure stage to where I can,” Waugaman said. “If I continue, it’s really all about winning and that’s not really my motto. I’ve done it for three and a half years and I’ve won three pro shows. I would have loved to won an Arnold and an Olympia but, at the end of the day, you can’t always win the big shows. But it isn’t about that. The sport has brought me to a new opportunity in the entertainment business. Right now, I feel the opportunity is large for me to be able to influence children and adults in a positive way in terms of health and fitness and wellness.”

According to Waugaman, the main driving force behind her retirement is the success of the NBC show American Gladiators. Last December, Waugaman earned a role as the Gladiator Siren. The program was a hit with viewers, and recently was renewed for a second season. Filming for the first season finished in late December, approximately one week before invitations to the Figure Internation at the Arnold Classic were handed out. Waugaman received an invitation, for the third consecutive year, and initially planned on competing in the show. However, the renewal of American Gladiators for a second season combined with the effort involved in taping the show forced Waugaman to eventually pull out of the contest. It was then that she began to seriously contemplate retirement.

“Was planning on doing it from the begnnning of the year,” Waugaman said. “But when I started training, I couldn’t even do what I needed to do. I was still recovering [from American Gladiators]. And I’m thinking, I don’t want to go on the stage and be anything less than spectacular. And so I had to step out of the Arnold and right then I realized I think it’s time for me to step off the stage and really focus. If you spread yourself too thin in too many areas and say I want to do it all you’re really not going to be great at anything. And I want to be great.”

Still, you never say never. And Waugaman hasn’t completely closed the door on returning to figure down the road, although she did say a return to competition is not a likely scenario.

“I think it’s open, but I would do it for a different reason altogether,” Waugaman said. “I want to look like that still and I want to challenge my body, but I wouldn’t have to really do it in front of the judges and worry about where I place. I haven’t cut out guest appearances like guest posing routines. I always create my own world up there on stage.”