I stumbled into the fitness industry by chance. It was never something I dreamed of or planned to do. It happened organically as I natural progression in my life. I was always an active person, but I didn’t have an athletic background and was never involved with any sport. I started working out after my hysterectomy in my mid 40’s. At first, I was just using a treadmill at home, which slowly progressed into doing other home exercises. That led me to open my fitness Facebook page and start posting my workouts, which very quickly became popular amongst “middle-aged women”. That inspired me to get a certification in personal training, so I could feel comfortable in giving advice and helping women on their fitness journeys. Becoming a fitness inspiration to so many women motivated me even more and made me think about competing in bodybuilding. At the time, I had no clue about the bodybuilding world, so I did an online search and found a competition near me. It turned out to be the Muscle Contest production, the biggest bodybuilding competition production on the West Coast. I trained and prepped for twelve weeks, all by myself, and placed top three in my class. After that, I was “hooked” and decided to pursue a competition carrier and become a Pro bikini athlete.
The biggest challenge I have faced on my fitness journey is the fact that I am sometimes competing on the same stage with girls that are half my age. That challenge is more evident each year, even in the Master Bikini Class. The bodybuilding industry has “blown up” in the last few years, especially the Bikini division, so the competition for the top spot has become fierce. Each year there are new and younger girls coming in, so keeping up and training to stay competitive has become increasingly tough. Nevertheless, that motivates me, even more, to keep going and training. My hope is to stay in it as long as I can be a top contender. I want to prove that age is just a number, and if you stay dedicated and work hard you can achieve the “impossible”.
Los Angeles, CA
USA (Originally from Croatia)
ISSA Certified Personal Trainer and Bodybuilding Specialist.
In your opinion, is weight loss more of a fitness issue or a health issue and why?
It is a common belief that people with appropriate weight are healthier and more fit than overweight people. However, the optimal weight does not always mean optimal health. You can be fit and be classified as overweight and vice versa. Weight loss and fitness usually go hand in hand, because as you workout and become fitter, you lose weight. In a long run, that is going to affect your health as well. I believe that weight loss is as equally a fitness issue, as is a health issue. Most illnesses today are connected to obesity and being overweight, and one of the ways to control your weight is through fitness.
If you have 100 tokens in total and you could apply them to the following categories, how many would you apply to each?
- Fitness level: 50
- Health level: 50
Thoughts on HIIT, Powerlifting, TRX, Yoga, bodybuilding, others?
All these types of exercise protocols are beneficial to your fitness, but each of them is focused on a specific goal. If fat reduction is your primary goal, then HITT is a better choice. If you are interested in improving your general fitness level, then I might suggest a CrossFit. For someone looking to improve their strength and/or build muscle, then powerlifting and bodybuilding would be a better choice. TRX, Yoga or Pilates are more for people who enjoy stretching and are interested in core strengthening, body sculpting and/or mind-calming sessions. Which exercise protocol is better depends on what works best for you, your fitness goal and your overall health
Share your unique training/coaching methods?
My training/coaching methods are pretty standard. When it comes to bodybuilding, I like the “old school” approach. No fancy moves, or crazy exercises for me! In my training, I like to incorporate super-setting, time-under-tension, and German training methods.
Get a solid foundation in the basics and master the proper form of each exercise first. Once you do that you can comfortably progress without hurting yourself or wasting your time doing exercises the wrong way. Stick to the basics until you are ready to take on more advanced/complex technics. I also believe that you don’t have to lift extreme weights to build muscle, especially if you are a Bikini competitor.
I train six days a week, Monday to Saturday. Sunday is left for recovery and being lazy. I alternate between training the lower body and upper body, focusing more on a specific muscle group each day. My daily training is broken down into two parts, cardio in the morning and weight training in the afternoon.
I follow a strict meal plan provided by my coach. I don’t like counting and stressing about macros.
Do you prefer to take and recommend all-natural (no sugar, no artificial colours/flavours/sweeteners) supplements or supplements with artificial flavours and sweeteners? And Why?
I do not like artificial flavours and sweeteners, so I don’t use any of them in my supplements or my food. When used daily and on regular basis, artificial flavours and sweeteners can cause weight gain and weight-loss resistance, negatively impact your immune system, and increase sugar cravings. I personally don’t like the taste of them in my food.
Please describe the importance of mental health?
I never thought much about mental health before I got Covid a couple of months ago. Besides having a high fever and not being able to eat, the virus affected my brain function and had caused some mental disturbance. I never felt anything like that before, and for the first time in my life, I’ve experienced how it feels to have depression and anxiety attacks. I also experienced memory loss and brain fog, which lasted for almost ten days. It was the scariest place to be in, and since then I have so much more understanding and compassion towards people who suffer from mental issues. Going back to my fitness routine and exercising had helped me to get out of it and get back to my normal self quickly.
Take us through a typical day in life for you?
I wake up at 6:30 am every morning, have two glasses of water and my first meal. My mornings are reserved for training clients and my cardio session, which I do in my home studio. After lunch, I go to the gym and do my own training/weightlifting for about 1 ½ – 2 hours. I am usually back home around 5:30 pm. Between then and dinner time I might have another session with a client, or I practise my posing. After dinner, I like to relax, read, watch tv or catch up with social media. I have my last meal at 10 pm and try to be in bed by 10:30 pm.
What separates Status from other fitness magazines?
What I like about Status Fitness magazine is its dedication to ordinary people and the diversity of featured athletes.
If you could ask Status Fitness Magazine Editor in Chief Rodney Jang any industry question, what would that be?
What is in his opinion the most important quality which separates an athlete from ordinary to a fitness superstar?
Status Fitness Magazine runs model searches across North America including the largest one at the Arnold Classic for the Status cover. As part of the Status family, you will receive a special participation invite. How excited are you for this opportunity?
That would be an amazing opportunity to represent not only Master fitness competitors but more importantly to be a role model and fitness inspiration to all women in their 40’s, 50’ and 60’s. It would be an honour to be a part of the Status Fitness Magazine family as an example that it’s never too late to start your fitness journey.
Describe your coaches and the impact they have on you?
I had a few different coaches over the years, and all of them had helped me to be a better athlete. Last two years I’ve been with Team Atlas and my coach James Ayotte. James is an exceptionally knowledgeable and talented coach. I like his straightforward, no-nonsense approach, which fits well with my own personality. To have a coach who understands what works for my body type and whom I completely trust is very important to me. James has helped me to take my physique to another level. The last two years were my most productive years with twelve Master Pro Bikini wins. I also have a posing coach, Angeline Jeanson. She had created my new presentation routine, worked with me on my posing and helped me to become more polished and confident on the stage.
Do you have a sponsor? List them and what they mean to you?
I had a couple of sponsoring offers, unfortunately, they were not a right fit for me. If I am going to commit to representing a product, it would be really important for me to actually use the product and believe in it.
Can you share with us your goals for fitness and life?
My goal is to continue growing as an athlete and competing for the next few years. I have big plans for the next competition season and hope that 2022 will be my best year yet. I would also like to become a sponsored athlete, expand my personal training business, and get more involved in the IFBB Pro League.
5 things people don’t know about you?
- I was born in Germany but raised in a communist country, former Yugoslavia (today’s Croatia).
- I pursue modelling in my early twenties and lived in four different countries before coming to the US.
- I have two grown-up sons. My older son is an Art Director in one of LA’s graphic design companies. My younger son is a West Point graduate US Army Captain, now deployed overseas.
- For most of my adult life I was a “stay-at-home-mom”, and I am a great cook.
- I got my first gym membership when I was 45 years old.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
There are so many lessons I have learned over the last five decades that is difficult to decide which one is the biggest. But if I must choose one lesson to help others on their journey, it would be that nothing in life is permanent, to let go of the past hurts, to live in the present and be fully aware.
5 most important attributes you see in a person?
The most important attribute I see in person is to be trustworthy. Without trust, everything else falls apart. Other attributes I admire in a person are authenticity, positivity, curiosity, and playfulness.
If you could inspire one person, who would that be? And why?
I hope to be an inspiration and a role model to my sons to never give up and to live their lives their own way.
Who inspires you? And why?
I am inspired by anyone who stays focused on the pursuit of their dreams, despite difficulties.
What is your number one tip for people on their fitness journey?
Don’t compare yourself to others, instead make and follow your own path. It’s a process, so take one day at a time. Set the goals and continue doing what you said you were going to do, even after the mood you said it in has passed.
What does success look like for you?
It is very difficult to define success because I see success as a journey and not a destination. Success means different things to different people, but for me, anyone who masters going through lifeless stress, less worried and more peaceful and happy, is a successful person.
What is your favourite quote to live by?
There are so many great quotes out there. I can’t really say that I have a favourite one because it changes depending on the circumstances I am in. Recently I’ve heard a quote that resonates with me right now and which I like, “It is always too soon to quit”. I also like the quote “If not now, when?”
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