Interview with Jenny Hendershott, Two Time Miss Olympia Fitness
On his way back from Las Vegas, MW Senior Editor Shane Ray had a layover in Charlotte, North Carolina, and took the opportunity to catch up with 2-time Miss Olympia Jenny Hendershott to learn Jenny’s thoughts about the current state of womens’ fitness, her opinions on figure and bikini, and to fill in everyone on exactly what the world’s greatest fitness athlete has been up to lately.
MUSCLEWEEK: Why hello Miss Hendershott, it’s great to have you with Muscleweek. What’s new with you? What’s keeping you busy these days? Off of the top of my head, the last thing I remember was that you were running a bunch of Phat Camps. Are those still going?
HENDERSHOTT: LIFE IS REALLY AWESOME. I AM HEALTHY, HAPPY, AND WORKING MY TAIL OFF. I AM STILL DOING PHAT CAMPS ALL OVER THE WORLD. I AM OFF TO AUSTRALIA FOR THE 5TH YEAR THIS YEAR AND BACK TO CANADA SEVERAL TIMES THIS YEAR, AND JUST CELEBRATED 10 YEARS IN PHAT CAMP BUSINESS. I ALSO HAVE AN AMAZING ONLINE BUSINESS OF TRAINING CLIENTS AROUND THE WORLD ONLINE AND GETTING COMPETITORS READY FOR SHOWS. I HAVE MY OWN TRAINING STUDIO I DO CHOREOGRAPHY AND TRAIN CLIENTS OUT OF. I HAVE AN AMAZING STAFF OF PEOPLE WORKING WITH ME TO IMPACT THE WORLD. I CANNOT COMPLAIN! I AM BUSY, BUT BUSY IS GOOD AND TO ME IT’S THE WAY I LIKE MY LIFE — FULFILLED!
MW: How did you fall into the whole physique competition/fitness world? Was it a natural transition from sports? You have a dance and gymnastics background, correct?
JH: YES, I WAS A BALLET BABY SINCE AGE 2, THEN DANCED MY WHOLE LIFE TILL HIGH SCHOOL WHERE I DISCOVERED CHEERLEADING. THEN I WENT ON TO CHEER IN COLLEGE, THEN WAS INTRODUCED INTO FITNESS BY A FRIEND, AND I FELL IN LOVE! TWO MINUTES ON STAGE BY MYSELF, ARE YOU KIDDING ME!! THAT WAS THE BOMB! IT’S WHAT I MISS MOST!
MW: Are you officially retired from stage competition? I remember seeing you at the 2009 ASC. I tried reaching out for one of your chocolates.
JH: (Laughs) LET’S SEE EVERYONE TALKS ABOUT THAT AND MANY OTHER OF MY ROUTINES STILL TODAY. I AM DONE COMPETING. I TOLD MYSELF THAT AFTER I WON THE ARNOLD AND THE OLYMPIA ONE MORE TIME I WAS DONE. I WAS GONNA RETIRE ON TOP AND LEAVE THE STAGE WITH MY PRIDE AND LOVE FOR THE SPORT. THATS WHAT I DID. I AM SO GRATEFUL FOR THIS DECISION. I NEVER WANTED TO BE PLAYED OUT OR HAVE PEOPLE ROLL THEIR EYES WHEN THEY HEARD MY NAME BEING CALLED 1ST PLACE. I AM PROUD OF WHAT I DID WHEN I DID IT, AND NOW ITS ALL BUSINESS AND HELPING OTHERS ACHIEVE THEIR DREAMS.
MW: You came in at a very transitional era of the IFBB where Figure was kind of making it’s professional debut, most girls did Fitness including Figure and the Female Bodybuilders were just starting to really push the envelop. Are you happy to have had the chance to shine during that time? Sadly, it seems Fitness is an afterthought now.
JH: UNFORTUNATELY IS SO TRUE. I HAVE ALWAYS SAID TIMING IS EVERYTHING. FITNESS IS THE HARDEST OF ALL THE WOMEN’S DIVISIONS AND I DON’T THING ANYONE CAN ARGUE THAT. AND YOUR RIGHT IT WAS VERY TRANSITIONAL WHEN I CAME ON BOARD IN THE PRO’S IN 1999. SO MUCH HAS CHANGED AND I FEEL LIKE A DECADE LATER WE ARE SEEING IT AGAIN WITH BIKINI AND PHYSIQUE. IT IS WHAT IT IS!
MW: Many people, including the MuscleWeek contigent, contend that Fitness is the only division that requires athleticism. Whereas we view the other division as simply pageants no different than a Little Miss Perfect or Toddlers & Tiaras show except for adults. Can a girl who simply walks on stage in a bikini and do nothing more than a few quarter turns have the right to call themselves ATHLETES?
JH: HMMMM…GOOD QUESTION. YOU KNOW THESE GIRLS IN ALL THE DIVISIONS STILL HAVE TO DO THE WORK. IN DOING THAT WORK ITS ALL ATHLETIC. THEY TRAIN VERY SIMILAR TO HOW I TRAINED FOR YEARS. I ALSO CALLED IT PAGEANT WITH MUSCLES! BUT IN SAYING ALL THIS , HERE IS WHAT I WILL SAY, BECAUSE I TRAIN ALOT OF WOMEN WHO WANT TO COMPETE OR HAVE COMPETED, FIGURE, BIKINI, BODYBUILDING, AND PHYSIQUE ALL THESE DIVISIONS GIVE WOMEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO STAY ACTIVE, HEALTHY, AND BECOME ROLE MODELS FOR THEIR CHILDREN. LETS LOOK AT THE AVERAGE AMERICAN OVER WEIGHT MOM, REALLY? I MEAN ANY DIVISION IS GOOD IN MY OPINION. YOU WANT TO BE CONSIDERED AN ATHLETE THEN POWER TO YOU,,, ITS ALLOWING WOMEN TO DREAM AND ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING TO MAKE THEM FEEL BETTER ABOUT THEMSELVES. I DIG IT AND SUPPORT IT!
MW: You came in and dominated an era that featured Kelly Ryan, Kim Klein, Adela and other ATHLETES such as yourself. Was that the pinnacle era of Fitness? Can it ever capture that excitement again and grab that commercial success?
JH: I AGREE WITH YOU AGAIN! I THINK I WAS ONE OF THE BEST AND SO WERE THESE GIRLS. I THINK FITNESS IS DIFFERENT NOW AND I DONT’ KNOW WHAT IT IS! I LOVE THE FITNESS GIRLS AND I DON’T KNOW IF ITS EXPERIENCE OR MATURITY OR WHAT BUT THIS IS DEFINITELY A DIFFERENT TIME IN FITNESS THEN IT WAS BACK THEN. MAYBE BIKINI AND FIGURE OUR TAKING FITNESS GREATS FROM THE INDUSTRY? NOT SURE! CAN WE CAPTURE IT AGAIN? I THINK SO BUT I AM NOT REALLY SURE HOW! I NEED TO THINK ABOUT THIS.
MW: It seems that Figure girls today hold a certain amount of resentment for the Bikini girls the way Male Bodybuilders hold a little resentment for Men’s Physique competitors. Did you ever hold any resentment for the NPC/IFBB to steer the direction of the professional stage to non-athletic divisions?
JH: I AM SURE I DID AT ONE POINT OR ANOTHER BUT I BELIEVE THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN BECAUSE OF THIS. ONE MINUTE FITNESS GIRLS GRACED THE COVERS OF MAGAZINES AND THEN FIGURE GIRLS CAME ALONG, NOW BIKINI GIRLS ARE TAKING COVERS AND LAYOUTS FROM FIGURE AND FITNESS GIRLS. SOON IT WILL BE SOMETHING ELSE. I DON’T THINK ITS THE COMPETITORS FAULTS I THINK ITS THE MEDIA! THE MEDIA PUTS OUT WHAT THEY FEEL SELLS AND THEY CAN EASILY MAKE SOMEONE A STAR OR A DIVISION A STAR BASED ON WHAT THEY AND WHO THEY PROMOTE. THAT’S JUST MY OPINION.
MW: What do you feel needs to be done to resurrect the dominance that Fitness had at one time. I know it still exists but face it. From 2003-2009 I KNEW who was competing at the big shows and would actually pay attention to the winners. Now? I can’t name one girl besides Adela, who did an interview with Muscleweek before.
JH: YEAH, I HEAR THIS A LOT. I THINK WHAT MAKES US (ADELA AND I) DIFFERENT THEN MOST FITNESS GIRLS IS THAT WE ARE ALSO PROFESSIONAL PEOPLE OUTSIDE OF BEING PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES . WE PAID OUR DUES FOR MANY MANY YEARS, WE LEARNED TO MAKE A BUSINESS OUT OF WHAT WE DID BETWEEN SHOWS AND NOT JUST BANKING ON SHOWS. SO MANY ATHLETES LIVE TO COMPETE AND LOSE SO MUCH OF WHO THEY ARE ALONG THE WAY. MANY COMPETITORS SEEM TO BE TRYING TO PLEASE SOMEONE INSTEAD OF STICKING TO WHO THEY ARE AS A PERSON. THEY LOSE THEMSELVES, I SEE THIS OVER AND OVER AGAIN. AND YOU CANT’ DO THAT, YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER YOUR COMPETING IN A BUSINESS, YOUR NAME IS A BUSINESS, AND AFTER THE SHOW YOU GO HOME TO BEING THE WIFE, MOTHER, SISTER, FRIEND, CO WORKER, AND DAUGHTER YOU WERE BEFORE THE SHOW.
MW: In your dominance did you have a nutritionist in your corner? It seems like EVERY single girl who dons a bikini and a layer of Pro Tan needs a “guru” these days. How necessary is a diet coach. How necessary was it for you? Were you a Fitness Factory girl?
JH: I DIDNT KNOW SQUAT TILL I MET MIKE DAVIES IN 1995. WE WORKED TOGETHER AT A CHEER COMPANY AND HE SUGGESTED FITNESS. HE USED ME AS A GINNY PIG AS HE DIDN’T KNOW MUCH EITHER AT THE TIME. WE TOGETHER MADE EACH OTHER WHO WE ARE. I WAS AND WILL ALWAYS CONSIDER MYSELF A PART OF THE FITNESS FACTORY. MIKE IS A VERY INTELLIGENT PERSON AND TRAINER AND FRIEND. WE ALWAYS HAD A LOVE HATE RELATIONSHIP AND THATS WHY WE WERE SO GOOD TOGETHER. WE WERE ABLE TO WIN SOME BIG TITLES TOGETHER AND I AM FOREVER GRATEFUL FOR WHAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM HIM. I ENCOURAGE DIET COACHES BECAUSE IF YOUR TRAINING AS HARD AS YOU SAY YOU ARE ITS HARD TO THINK STRAIGHT, AND YOU NEVER WANT TO HAVE TO STRESS OVER WHAT YOU ARE EATING OR DOING, JUST FOLLOW THE PAPER!
MW: It seems these days the girls who compete in the most dominant two divisions being Figure & Bikini feel a strong obligation to join a “Team” for the political card. Can you comment how political things really can be? Is it hype and hysteria or is there something to be said without saying for a girl to join a Team such as… Bombshells, for example.
JH: I WOULD SAY ITS WAY MORE LIKE THAT NOW THEN IT USE TO BE WHEN I CAME INTO THE INDUSTRY. I HAVE A TEAM BUT I DON’T MAKE PROMISES AND I KNOW SOME TEAMS DO. I HATE THAT BECAUSE THEN ITS NOT COMPETING ANYMORE ITS GIFT GIVING. I NEVER WANT A GIFT LIKE THAT. I WANT TO EARN IT! I WANT MY GIRLS TO EARN IT. ITS JUST SO WRONG IN SO MANY WAYS CHEAT YOUR WAY TO THE TOP. YOU KNOW I CAN HONESTLY SAY THAT I WAS MYSELF THROUGH MY WHOLE CAREER, AND I DIDN’T SLEEP WITH ANYONE OR DATE ANYONE TO GET A PRO CARD. BUT AGAIN I DIDNT’ HAVE TO. I GUESS I JUST DON’T GET ALL THAT. WHERE IS THE SELF RESPECT?
MW: We’ve spoken to several girls in the gym in Chicago who are beginning local competitors already feeling that they need to dabble with alchemy and pharmacy – even for Bikini. Can high levels of competition be done without the need to go that route?
JH: OMG YES, THIS IS SO CRAZY TOO! AGAIN THIS HAS CHANGED LOTS OVER THE LAST TEN YEARS. I MEAN COME ON PEOPLE, WHERE IS YOUR HARD WORK BACK BONE?? NO ONE CAN EVER SAY I DIDN’T WORK MY ASS OFF FOR MY ACCOMPLISHMENTS. I AM NOT SAYING I DID EVERYTHING PERFECT BUT I FEEL LIKE SO MANY ATHLETES TODAY DO LESS CARDIO, AND MORE DRUGS! WHAT IN THE WORLD? I DID 2-3 HOURS OF CARDIO ALONE FOR DAYS AND DAYS LEADING UP TO SHOWS ON 900 CALORIES, I SUFFERED SO BAD I ATE DOG FOOD ONCE I WAS SO DAMN HUNGRY. PEOPLE COME ON, WORK FOR WHAT YOU WANT OR ITS NOT REAL.
MW: The industry has never been very kind to any of the professional girls as far as monetary contracts and options go. Did things change for the better or are their even less opportunity now? I see far too many people working for FREE or for the false idea of “Exposure”. Does that hurt everyone else?
JH: YES IT HAS CHANGED. I WAS FORTUNATE TO HAVE HAD SOME GREAT SPONSORSHIPS OVER MY YEARS, PROLAB, ISATORI, SCIVATION, ETC…. ITS NOT THAT GREAT RIGHT NOW FOR THESE GIRLS AND THAT’S A BUMMER. WORKING FOR FREE IS NOT BAD, IT’S YOUR TIME AND TIME CAN BE FREE AND LEAD TO BIGGER OPPORTUNITIES AND FOR NETWORKING IT’S GOOD SO I DONT’ SEE ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT. I WORKED FOR FREE MANY TIMES AND I MADE GREAT CONNECTIONS AND FRIENDSHIPS ALONG THE WAY.
MW: I agree winning a Pro Card is a pretty notable achievement. On your way to a Pro Card did you see the industry differently? Maybe you thought it would rain money and contracts for you? What is the reality of a Pro Card for the people who may not land in the money slots of the stage like you did?
JH: I DIDN’T WANT TO BE PRO TO MAKE MONEY — I WANTED TO BE PRO BECAUSE IT WAS AN ACCOMPLISHMENT AND I WANTED TO DANCE ON THE BIG STAGES. I SEE MANY WOMEN THINKING THEY WILL GET RICH WITH A PRO CARD AND THE TRUTH IS IT’S PRECISELY THE OPPOSITE. YOU GET TO BE A PRO THEN YOU HAVE TO START ALL OVER AGAIN GETTING NOTICED AND INVITED AND QUALIFIED. IT’S REALLY HARD, AND AGAIN THAT PRO CARD LOOKS GOOD ON A RESUME BUT IT REALLY DEPENDS WHAT COMPANY YOU’RE TRYING TO GET HIRED FROM. THE REAL WORLD HAS NO CLUE WHAT AN IFBB PROFESSIONAL CARD MEANS!
MW: How has your life changed since taking a step back from the deep trenches of the bodybuilding industry?
JH: I REALIZE THERE IS A LIFE OUT HERE THAT I TRULY LOVE. I WORK OUT WHEN I WANT, OR IF I DON’T WANT TO, THEN I DON’T. I SEE ALL THE PEOPLE WHO NEED MY HELP. I HAVE A VERY BLESSED LIFE, AND AN AMAZING FAMILY, HUSBAND, AND GROUP OF FRIENDS. I HAVE FANS AND CLIENTS THAT I TALK TO EVERY DAY THAT I CAN’T IMAGINE MY LIFE WITHOUT. FOR ME, LIFE IS GREAT AND I HAVE NO COMPLAINTS.
MW: Who is your ‘IT’ Guy in the bodybuilding world? Whose glutes would you love to squeeze?
JH: JAY CUTLER IS DELICIOUS. I THINK HE KNOWS I FEEL THIS WAY, AND MY HUBBY KNOWS TOO! (Laughs) TO BE HONEST, I DON’T REALLY FIND BODYBUILDERS ATTRACTIVE. I APPRECIATE THEM TREMENDOUSLY, BUT I LIKE MY GUYS A LITTLE SOFTER!
MW: If you were going to be stuck on a desert island for a year which 3 items would you bring with you?
JH: ONE, MY BOOK ‘THE 7 SECRETS‘ — I HAVE READ IT NINETY TIMES! THIS WOULD BE TO KEEP MY MENTAL STATE IN THE RIGHT PLACE. TWO, A COLLAGE OF PICTURES OF MY HUBBY AND FAMILY TO REMIND ME OF WHO I AM WHEN TIMES GET TOUGH. AND THREE, A TWENTY POUND CHOCOLATE BAR , CAUSE I KNOW I CAN LIVE JUST ON CHOCOLATE!
MW: If you had to pick ONE supplement to use forever which would it be?
JH: SCIVATION XTEND. I AM IN LOVE!
MW: What clean meal can you eat every day for the rest of your life?
JH: BACON AND EGGS. I LOVE BREAKFAST FOOD!
MW: What is the best piece of advice you can give upcoming girls who want to get into the whole bodybuilding scene?
JH: KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GETTING INTO. PLEASE DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU HEAR. DON’T DO EVERYTHING YOU’RE ASKED, AND DON’T GIVE UP YOUR LIFE TO COMPETE — MAKE COMPETING A PART OF YOUR LIFE — NOT YOUR ENTIRE LIFE.MW: Where does Jen Hendershott see herself in 5 years?
JH: OH MY GOSH, AT THE PACE I AM AT, I WILL BE RETIRED FROM WORKING AND STILL IMPACTING THE WORLD ONE LIFE AT A TIME.MW: Is there anything you like to plug, promote or talk about? How does one get in contact with you for any opportunities?
GETPHATWITHJEN.COM IS MY CAMP BUSINESS, THIS IS MY DREAM JOB, MOTIVIATING AND INSPIRING PEOPLE. LETTING PEOPLE KNOW THEY CAN DO AND I BELIEVE IN THEM. I REALLY DO BELIEVE IN EVERYONE I MEET.
GETPHITSTUDIO.COM IS MY HOME OFFICE AND STUDIO WHERE YOU CAN TRAIN ONE ON ONE WITH MY ANYTIME, I DO CHOREOGRAPHY HERE AND RUN PHITNESS RETREATS, AND CONSULTS FOR COMPETING AND NUTRITION.
GETPHATPROMOTIONS.COM IS MY HOME SITE FOR MY NPC EVENT THAT I ABSOLUTELY LOVE DOING EVERY YEAR. I WAS BORN TO BE COORDINATE LARGE EVENTS.
SPEED ROUND BONUS QUESTIONS:
MW: Favorite movie?
CHRISTMAS VACATION AND WEDDING CRASHERS
MW: Favorite song – has to be one?
‘GOOD LIFE’ BY ONE REPUBLIC
MW: Book you are currently reading?
MW: Favorite cheat food?
MW: Favorite exercise?
MW: Describe the perfect Date?
HOME IN MY PJ’S WITH BRIAN AND A PIZZA AND A MOVIE
MW: Favorite Drink-Drink?
VODKA RED BULL
MUSCLEWEEK: Jenny, thank you so much for your time. Everyone at Muscleweek wishes you the best!
HENDERSHOTT: I appreciate you thinking of me. If you ever need anything else, do not hesitate to ask!
For those interested in contacting Jenny Hendershott, she can be reached directly through her website at Jenny.com