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Photos by Per Bernal
Cydney Gillon might be known in recent years as one of the top figure competitors in the IFBB Pro League, but she’s actually been competing in other endeavors much longer than that. The former University of Pennsylvania track athlete was also a contestant on the long-running show Survivor in 2016, in which she made it to the final four. Her competitive experience and desire to succeed has taken her a long way, but she is far from done. After placing in the top three at the 2016 Figure Olympia, she now has her sights set on taking the top title in the sport.
FLEX: You were going for your pro card in figure at the same time you were competing in track. That couldn’t have been easy. What was it like juggling two different endeavors like those?
CYDNEY GILLON: I had been competing in shows since I was 14 years old, so stepping onstage wasn’t new to me. It was tough doing both because I needed carbs for track and lifting in school, but I was also focusing on figure. Bodybuilding is tough on its own, but to handle it with three-hour workouts made it even tougher. Fortunately I had supportive coaches who would ask, “Are you dieting or not?” and, “Can you not be dieting?” They would push me to the track for my workouts, and they were a big help for sure.
Did your experience on Survivor help you with your figure career in any way, or is it an experience all its own?
It helped me with a lot of things. I was always willing to push myself, but now that I’ve been on the show, I can go even further. I was really hungry before the show when I prepared for a contest, but then I was literally starving on the show because we may get 100 calories a day, and it was all coconut. So now my prep for a show isn’t as bad. I might be hungry—but not that hungry. I also can keep my head a lot better now, so prep isn’t as hard as I thought it was before.
Now that you’ve won and placed higher in shows, how is your confidence when you step onstage?
I’ve got more confidence after the Arnold Australia because I got compared to Candice [Lewis] and the other top competitors. My goal was to make the first callout. My whole thing is to make progress every time I step onstage. Obviously, as an athlete, you want to win, but my goal is to improve every time—so to make first callout was big for me, a big step forward.
Who has been helping you as you’ve progressed throughout your career? Do you work with a coach?
I’ve coached myself throughout my own career. I’ve done my own diet and training, everything. Last year I came to a new reality. I want to keep it simple and be told what to do. Damian Segovia with Pro Physique out of Arizona is my nutritionist, and he helps me by tweaking the training based on what I need.
Does your training or diet or mindset change now that you’re considered among the top in the division?
There’s going to be no off-season from here on out until I reach my goal, which is to win the Olympia. Everything I do now is to get me closer to that ultimate goal. Whether it’s my food prep with Muscles in the Kitchen or my work with Buckhead Massage Company, I will leave no stone unturned until I reach that ultimate goal.
“I HAVE ONE ULTIMATE GOAL NOW. I WANT TO BE MS. FIGURE OLYMPIA.”
GILLON’S SUGGESTED LEG WORKOUT
Note: Warm up with five minutes on a stationary bike; cool down with four minutes of jump squats (20 seconds of jumping, 10 seconds of rest).
GILLON’S TRAINING SPLIT
SNAPSHOT: CYDNEY GILLON
(as of June 2016)