Muscleweek.com’s Seinor Editor, Shane Ray seems to be more of a New Yorker than native Chicagoan. On another recent business meeting with new shareholders in The Big Apple this past weekend, Shane needed to take a break from the suits and talk about stock and head to the gym to put in the real work. Walking down 49th st and a quick left on Broadway there was NYSC staring him in the face.
Heading to the second floor Shane spotted the lovely GiGi Amurao taking the stairs and not the escalator like Shane was and anybody who knows Muscleweek’s very own Shane Ray knows that Shane has been seriously infected with Yellow Fever for quite some time and board certified medically diagnosed with the fortunate plague.
With a little tricks from The Mystery Method and a few negs, false time constraints and a few sentences using neuro-linguistic programming an interview with Muscleweek was underway…
MW: GiGi Amurao. Welcome to Muscleweek! It’s great to have you. So tell me now how you got into this crazy circus that is the Bikini competitions and bodybuilding. Did you sort of fall into it with your Eyes Wide Shut or did some bodybuilder at the gym feed you a line and tell you that you were perfect for all of this?
GA: [Laughter] Actually a little bit of both. I have always been into sports and I started lifting around when I was in college. I actually got the itch to go on stage when I was in colleges and I started training and dieting but it didn’t long. I guess because at that age I was as focused and I wasn’t mentally ready to sacrifice my weekends or food. So I just stuck to working out and keeping healthy. Competing didn’t hit me again until this year. How I ended up competing was actually a girl friend of mine was training and prepping for her first show in the WBBF. I kind of got a little jealous that she was looking good and I guess in my head I sort of started my own little competition between her and myself. Right after that I called the first trainer I knew and was like “ get me in sick shape”! From there I started training harder than usual and after a month of that I said, “ That’s it!! I wanna hit the stage” and from that moment I looked into competition teams.
MW: It paid off. So you won your Pro Card very quickly. In only two shows. Most competitors I know literally enter every single competition on the current Gregorian calendar and never even getting a call out let a lone a decent placing. What do you give the credit to for your rocket-like rise to the top?
GA: Thank you. Yes I did. My first show ever was in June then in about 3 months I earned my Pro Card at the IFBB North American Champioships in Pittsburgh, PA. What do I contribute to my rapid rise? My obsessive compulsive mirror distorted obsession of myself. [Laughter] Just kidding. The truth is I have always been a goal orientated person and I’m very into numbers so when I make something a goal I try to complete it in it ‘X’ amount of time and whatever it takes to get it done I do it. My goal originally was just to place in the Top 5 nationally and before the end of season I wanted to come in the Top 3. The Pro card I had my sights set on earning next year. I guess my future prayers were answered. I can’t be anymore proud and honored. Another reason is of course my awesome coach, friends and family who would tear me apart if I had a glass of wine or cookie to the point where I would be embarrassed if I had it.
MW: So staying fit & healthy was always something you were into. What sports did you play in high school and college?
GA: I got on JV Lacrosse as a freshman in high school then made varsity as a sophomore. During the winter season in high school I was on the varsity gymnastics for 4 years. After High School I got a scholarship to play D-II Lacrosse in College but I only played a year. Staying in shape was always a priority but eating healthy wasn’t. [Laughter] I’ll be the first one to stick my hand in the cookie jar. I was the one who had 6 different kinds of chocolate chip cookies in the cupboard. Hey! I worked out REALLY HARD to be able to eat whatever I wanted. [Laughter]
MW: Are Bikini competitors athletes? Can we say bodybuilders are athletes? What makes them athletes when the average Miss America competitor considers themselves pageant contestants. How is what you do not a pageant?
GA: I think that’s a subjective question. Since I am a competitor I believe all bodybuilders are athletes along Bikini. Just like the NFL or NBA we diet and hit the weights everyday even off-season. We work hard to shape, train and make our bodies better or to look a certain way. We constantly critique ourselves and watch videos of us posing so as to see what we do wrong or what pose makes us look weird or fat. I believe that being an athlete is a life altering way of living. We don’t just prep 12 weeks and that’s it we do this all year round it’s a way of life. Miss America is kind of different. I actually competed in the Miss New York USA. Pageants are all about being a lady. Pageant contestants get in shape but not nearly to the point of what body builders or bikini competitors do.
MW: The popular consensus is that Bikini competitors are just Hooter’s waitresses who found the stage. Can any self-proclaimed “hot chick” off Any Street, USA just waltz off the street onto the stage and win a Pro Card in the IFBB?
GA: Tough to say. I mean it can happen. I met a girl who competed with me and qualified for nationals the week before then the following week was at USA’s with me and won her pro card. Who knows if she used to work at Hooters [Laughter]. I think there is a shape and look the judges are looking for and not everyone off the street has it nor do I think anyone with a great body can place well. Bikini is very subjective so you never know. Whoever says that Bikini girls are just Hooter waitresses should be shot! They’re just insecure haters who would LOVE to do what we do and get on stage and be ripped apart inched by inch. Then go home and say OK lets try to do that and not eat this blah blah. Try doing half of what I do or live the lifestyles we do along with work and the grind of everyday life. They wont be laughing after that!!
MW: After 3 years of Bikini it seems these girls are getting harder and harder. They seem to be getting more lean. Perfect visible abs are now a criteria. How long until Bikini transforms into Figure and Figure is totally eliminated?
GA: Well this division is subjective and I think the judges don’t know exactly what they are looking for except the total overall fit package of nice skin, leanness all over, small waist, nice round glutes. I think the leanness and being harder thing is coming in as the media portrays skinny celebrities or an ever-shrinking world. Girls taken upon them to want to look that way. Ugh!
MW: A big secret in the bodybuilding industry is that it isn’t a secret drugs such as anavar, winstrol, clenbuterol, synthroid and growth hormone play a large part in the preparation phase of the competitors. How common is it according to you?
GA: Ya know in my opinion Bikini girls can achieve the results they want just by consistent strict dieting and training. There is no need for the hard stuff. Those things aren’t part of my prep but I can’t speak for all girls. Everyone is different and everyone has their own thinking process of how to get to where they want. I would be lying if I said this stuff doesn’t happen in the industry but for me I don’t touch those “enhancers”. I’m au’ natural. [Laughter]
MW: I notice that girls these days feel they can’t compete without Team affiliation. Gone are the days where girls used a mirror and a scale to come in shape. How important is it for the girl to join a Team such as the Oddo Angels or Team Bombshell for her success. Can they do it all by themselves and have a fair shake?
GA: Absolutely. YES. You can do it on your own and yes a girl can place well not knowing anybody. But the reason why I joined a Team was for the support and the knowledge. We all know what foods are good and bad for us. To be honest I had no clue what to eat, how to eat, what exercises builds certain body parts etc. Having a couch teaches me how to train and gives me that added confirmation that what I am doing is right. With any division there is so much prep involved that if I didn’t have my coach/team I would be lost. They know what the judges like and they give you an unbiased opinion on what you need to work on or work out less.
MW: GiGi. You’re a card carrying member of Team Bombshell. What makes Shannon Dey’s organization so popular? Often it has been said her diets are cookie cutter since she has such a high volume of girls. How can she possible pay attention to you? Is she the nutritional wizard some claim or is she just connected?
Shannon Dey is awesome and everyone thinks her diet are cookie cutter but its not. She really targets the workouts and diet to your body. Yes, we all eat the same staple basics, like chicken, asparagus, oatmeal tilapia so yes were all eating that on our plan but I can tell you all our diets are different in some way whether it be with portion, time to eat or what week to eat it at. Since joining Team Bombshell my body has changed so much I definitely see such a difference. I believe Shannon really knows the female body. She makes her own exercises that really targets certain areas. When I first got my plan I saw exercises I never even heard of and when I did them I was like “Holy shit that does work”. I also think Shannon is very passionate about this industry and she really takes the time to prep each girls plan. She wants all of us to do well and she’s super organized and on top of everything!
MW: How do you make a living? Another secret in bodybuilding is the starting salary of an IFBB Pro which is exactly $ -200.00/annually. A pot of gold and endless opportunity didn’t await you, right?
GA: [Laughter] I look at my boyfriend with my cute smile and shake my butt and say “ bbbaabbbyy can you pleeeaasee” Just kidding. That’s so far from the truth. I must say I’m very motivated and I’m far from lazy. I’m a hustler baby! I have a BS in Communications and an M.B.A in Sports and Entertainment Marketing. I have a full time job in TV advertising and I also bar-tend 2-3x a week on top of booking hosting or modeling gigs and I train 1-2 times a day. So my days are full.
MW: You seem like a cool, funny down to Earth girl, GiGi. I respect that. Can I safely assume your better half is a man with a JOB with health insurance who thinks about his retirement? Please tell me such a fine woman such as yourself doesn’t date a lying, lazy secretive broke dick dog loser bodybuilder who lays on your couch all day eating you out of the rent.
GA: [Laughter] Yes. My BF owns a couple business. I think he’s the supped up version of me. He’s driven, motivated and does extremely well for himself. I need someone who’s motivated and isn’t lazy in life. He’s vey supportive of what I do and that means a lot as far as he bodybuilding he definitely can compete and has the body for it but he likes to watch me instead.
MW: Good! That makes me feel better. I would have ended this interview and walked out of this gym if you told me you had a delusional bodybuilder with bad credit and bad resume at home staring into your fridge. So where do you see Bikini competition in the IFBB headed in 3-5 years?
GA: The next 3 years I think Bikini is going to be HUGE at every national show I did before I went Pro there were 40-45 girls in my height class. Usually there are like 300 Bikini girls competing in the division at every national pro qualifying show. In addition to the numbers I think girls in Bikini will be more leaned out, more muscle, much tighter all around as the years go by.
MW: In other words it will become Figure and Figure will be eliminated. I agree. Bikini is huge. It surpassed all other divisions. Men’s Bodybuilding is 100% dead. Competitors often put thousands and thousands into a prep with travel, food, suits and other expenses with no return for winning. I’m no accountant but how does one justify that? Are you in this to make a career or are you just really passionate about it?
GA: Actually both. I love the journey getting to where I need to be. I have always been passionate about health and fitness and living a healthy lifestyle is like second nature to me. Competing is my motivation to do better and to set goals for myself. When I realized that you could make money doing something you love it made that much more sense to me. I’m all for it.
MW: Gigi. You’re getting ready for your first Pro show this month. I bet you’re excited. What are you doing different this time and what kind of improvements are you focusing on right now to bring a better presentation?
GA: I’m doing a lot more cardio and doing completely different exercises that really target the areas I need to work on. For me it’s that I have to be just a tad leaner in my front thighs and bring my waist in tighter. I also know that I have to work on my posing so I can accentuate the better parts of my body. If I can get this all down right I know I can do well.
MW: Okay. Fun stuff. Ready? If you can kick anybody in the bodybuilding industry square between the shoulder blades down a flight of stairs who would it be? Most people would say me.
GA: [Laughter] So I’ve heard. Honestly? I’m a lover not a hater. I want everyone to do well. We all have our time to shine.
MW: If you can squeeze the glutes or motorboat the pecs of any pro bodybuilder who would it be?
GA: Shane! I know you’re trying to get me in trouble. Can I skip this question?
MW: If you were stuck for a month on a deserted island which 3 things would you wish you had with you the most?
GA: A good knife. A plate of white chocolate chip cookies and a good bottle of wine!
MW: What are some things you can’t go to the gym without
GA: My iPod. My workout book log and schedule.
MW: If you can make one huge difference to this world that would influence the masses what would it be?
GA: To be honest I get asked a lot of questions at the gym about my diet and training. I can see that so many people get discouraged and if I can help them in anyway I will. I love when I can help motivate others. I truly believe that with the right guidance everyone can start on the path of a healthy lifestyle. So I wish I can teach the world the importance of living a clean healthy active life.
MW: Outside of the glamour & glitz of the stage tell us one thing about Gigi Amurao that most people do not know.
GA: I have a type A personality. I’m really down to Earth and I love the Giants. I also have an obsession with things that goes fast like race cars, jet planes etc. Honestly, I’m such a tomboy. I love watching football, and playing card games or just relaxing with my friends.
MW: Congratulations, Gigi. You officially survived an interview with Muscleweek.com. Is there anything you’d like to plug or promote? How does one get in contact with you for possible sponsorship or modeling opportunity?
GA: Contacting me is easy. Just shoot over an email to Gigiamurao@gmail.com. I just want to thank Muscleweek for taking an interest in a gal like me. It was fun and not as bad as I thought it would be.
– Favorite Cheat Meal: PIZZA and White Chocolate chip macadamia cookies.
– Favorite Clean Meal: Oatmeal with Almond Butter.
– NYC Pizza or Chicago Style Pizza: NYC baby. I’m a total New Yorker at heart.
– Rangers or Islanders: Rangers
– Favorite Alcoholic Drink: . [Laughter!] All of them. Kidding. Umm, Avion Tequila or wine.
– Favorite NYC Gym: This gym here ( NYSC) but I’m really into David Barton Gym in Miami.
– Obama or Romney: Obama.
– Last Book Read: Holy Cow! I read articles these days I have no time to read an actual book.
– Favorite Vacation Destination: Greece and Cabo San Lucas.
*If you would like to be interviewed with Muscleweek.com contact Shane@muscleweek.com .