The Muscle Couple is at it again! One of my favorite married couples showing us all how they enjoy life in Las Vegas with two young daughters (yes, Anh had 2 children!) while keeping up on a fit lifestyle. Anh and Jay are back for round 2 Interviews and a special photoshoot together in Sin City. This year has been special for them as they have taken a leap into the competitive fitness world and they are ramping up to their big show, Model America, at the end of November. I went in a little deeper this time around with their fitness, diet, and scheduling methodologies and as you can see by the pictures, it’s working like magic. Check out the interview below to learn all of the juicy details.
1. You have inspired a lot of people to stay in shape. Are you working with any clients now for personal training/coaching? Do you train them in a gym, at home, or where?
In the late 90’s Jay was licensed by ACE and also had his CSCS license. He was a independent trainer at Gold’s Gym Pasadena working at night after his normal “office job” as a Digital Media and Advertising Sales Manager in Los Angeles. Currently both of us are studying for our personal trainer licenses through ACT. We do currently consult with a number of people (gratis) in Las Vegas and So Cal offering advice and instruction relevant to HIT Training. Upon receiving our licenses before the end of December, we plan on training people in Las Vegas at a number of gyms. LVAC, Anytime Fitness, Golds Gym and some additional independent studios. We will also offer fitness instruction, program design and nutritional/diet consulting through our website within the next 4-6 months.
2. You’ll both be competing in Model America in November, tell us what your preparation is like? What is your dieting approach like before the big show?
It has been a very busy year for both of us in maintaining “contest ready” body fat levels for much of the year. Thankfully we only took the last 3-4 weeks off (Anh’s last contest Miss Fitness Long Beach was on Sept 17th and Jay’s prep for our photo shoot with Natalie was on Sept 13th). Yesterday Oct 10th was the official “start date” for our contest prep for Model America/Fitness Universe. Our prep is three pronged. Training moves from 3x every 7 days to 4x . Our diet moves to 4-8 feedings a day (depending on daily training level). And our cardio moves to 2 a days on non lifting days. You can see our new pre-contest workout program Hybrid Training Day 1, Day 2 and Days 5&6 on our site.
We will also be writing a very detailed breakdown of our pre-contest diet soon as well. Our nutritional strategy is based on limiting kcal intake and increasing clean EFA and protein consumption. Caloric cycling is an important component. We will usually move anywhere between 9-13kcals per pound of lean bodyweight. Protein comes from Chicken, Salmon, Tilapia, Egg whites and lean cuts of Red Meat. Carbs are very redundant coming from sweet potatoes (Korean Yams are Anh’s staple), brown rice, and oatmeal. We will eat lots of greens primarily broccoli, green beans, spinach and salads. All processed food and bread is out. Fats come from Udo’s Oil (thrown in shakes, salads, and used as cooking oil), Ultra Oil Capsules, Almonds, Almond Butter, Sunflower Seeds and Natural Peanut Butter. We will use MRP shakes up until the last 14 days. The last 14 days we switch to solid foods completely and eat as much Asparagus as possible due to its diuretic qualities.
3. Anh, you placed 2nd in the 2011 Miss Fitness Hollywood Contest, how does it feel? Can you tell us more about your experience?
Actually I placed 5th in Miss Fitness Hollywood (out of 18 contestants) and 2nd in Miss Fitness Long Beach (and was told by everybody judging the event I should have won). It was truly an incredible experience for me. For the first time in my competitive life, I realized I wasn’t just another girl on stage but somebody with the conditioning and know how to win. I owe a lot to Jay as he has experimented with my diet, supplement routine and last 7 day strategy for the better part of a year now. He has truly helped me “dial everything in” to where I feel confident I have a shot to finish in the top 5 every time I step up on stage. I actually would recommend him to any female or male competitor who is looking to shore up and solidify their last couple of week strategy so that they hit the stage in peak condition.
4. From your past contests, what have you learned you need to correct or improve that will help you prepare for the next show?
Great question. Probably the greatest learning curve was building my stage presence. I usually have solid conditioning due to my focused HIT training and good genetics. But there is so much more that factors into winning/placing in a contest beyond just your appearance. There are many other components in which you must appear razor sharp like, makeup, your strut/walk, your connection with the judges and audience, your grace under fire (such as questions from the MC) and remaining happy, positive and upbeat no matter the circumstances. All of these components can only be improved upon with time and experience. There are few who get it all right the first time they step on stage.
5. Are your diet & training routines different now from when you first started doing fitness competitions?
In some ways our training is, yes. We now train our abs differently trying to focus on areas where we are not as “sharp” like the obliques, serratus. We still utilize HIT principles and challenge each other on almost every rep and set. Anh targets her hamstrings and glute-ham tie in which is a traditional weak area for many women due to estrogen fat deposition areas. (Anh due to having two children is no stranger to this issue). From a diet perspective, we’ve just stopped messing around with “Lowered or Restricted carb” diets and focus more on the total kcal’s in and out equation.
6. You started using HIT in your training program, how is it different from the other programs you’ve followed?
Nothing compares to focused and scientific HIT Training. Jay has been involved in resistance training design and implementation for close to 15 years and experimented with multiple methodologies and protocols such as Periodization, Bulgarian Training, German Volume Training, Doggcrapp Training, HST (Hypertrophy Specific Training) and Full Body Blood Volume Training. After utilizing HIT principles and techniques over the last 18 months, none of those other philosophies compares.
With true HIT training (and it’s not something you can learn from just reading a book or observing a video), you learn a way of life designed to maximize every second your muscles are placed under tension. Once you can apply the 2 Core HIT Principles – maximal muscle fiber contraction and elimination of momentum, consistently to your training, your physique will improve by leaps and bounds. You will realize genetics is not the be all end all many make it out to be. We could write an entire article <HINT-HINT> on why HIT Training is the great equalizer for sub standard to average gene trainees everywhere.
7. How do you balance your life between fitness and parenting? What activities do you do together as a family?
The parenting of our beautiful daughters comes first and is above all else. Many people believe we must live in the gym to look the way we do at our age. It’s not true at all. When not preparing/training for a show, we are “at most” in the gym together 3x a week. Due to our hectic work/life balance, sometimes it only amounts to 2 training days every 7. During the last 10 weeks it’s been incredibly difficult as Jay has been traveling to Phoenix AZ for work usually from Monday to Thursday evening. This has made us become incredibly mindful of our time together and limited our “free time” away from the girls.
We’ve also had to be very creative with our training. Lots of weekends in the gym for sure. But we always find time for the girls. Usually that time consists of Thursday Night dinners at iHop. Trips to the park on Friday Evenings and then most of our Saturdays are spent with them on family shopping excursions, trips to our local Summerlin Community Pool and dinner at of course iHOP! Sundays in the summer is usually “Jay and Anh time”. We try and do a Vegas Hotel Pool Party for about 3.5 hours finishing up with Dinner with Friends at Blue Martini. The 5-6 hours we spend together away from Alex and Gabbie keeps our passion and love for each other strong and at the same time allows us to reconnect in ways we are unable to during the busy work week.
It’s important to understand especially during the last couple of months how hard Anh’s job has been trying to maintain her razor sharp condition, balance the everyday requirements of maintaining our house and somehow having enough left over to see to the care of Alex and Gabbie. Both of them are just bundles of energy and they can wear you out quickly. Anh is truly a Super Mom to be able to keep it all together while Daddy is away during the week.
8. What is it like to train & compete together? How do you both go about supporting each other during this time?
We absolutely love training together. Our motto has always been “couples who train together-stay together”. Sometimes after a long day, having 25-35 minutes together with a singular focus of crushing some iron or achieving one more rep than the previous week, is all we need to stimulate positive energy and renew our zest for life and each other. As far as supporting each other during contest prep time, it’s kind of funny. Reduced kcals and restricted carbs can definitely do a number on brain chemistry and often times can make you irritable or prone to “react” at the dumbest thing. We both try to critique each other once we observe reactionary behavior or moodiness brought on by something inconsequential. And we will definitely jump all over one another if we see any kind of reactionary anger or behavior toward Alex or Gabby.
Please don’t misunderstand us. Crying and wining babies during pre-contest time can definitely test even the most level headed and even keeled person. It’s not easy. But you persevere and make due trying to think about the end game. Often times Daddy or Mommy will just grab both of the girls, strap them into the car and just drive leaving the other parent with some solitude and “alone time” even if for only 30 minutes while the other parent drives the girls around the neighborhood hopeful they’ll stop crying or perhaps even fall asleep.
9. Working towards similar goals in regard to your fitness & training lifestyle has brought you closer together as a couple. Have there been some challenges along the way? If so, how did you overcome them?
What marriage doesn’t have its share of challenges? We have had relationship issues and like most couples -turbulent times. Our marriage has been tested by a number of factors. At the end of the day, we know we love each other and more importantly love our children. They are an absolutely priceless creation and an actual physical part of us and our legacy as a couple. They are now the most important part of our lives and we live every day striving to be positive role models and loving parents to them in every conceivable way possible.
We also engage in regular weekly Marriage and Family Therapy sessions to make sure our communication is open and honest and being objectively guided and critiqued by an outside and neutral party. Our therapist is truly amazing and we’re thankful to have her. We recommend M&F Therapy for all married couples regardless of the stage of the relationship. Open lines of communication are truly the best way to to maintain trust and loyalty which are crucial to the relation prospering for decades.
10. What about nutrition? Do you have the same diet plan? How do you keep your kids away from unhealthy foods?
We usually eat the same. Anh is a really good cook and when she has time often prepares healthy and clean meals for dinner in the evenings. Both of us are blessed with fast metabolisms and as such can get away with “cheat meals” or “eating out” every now and then. Like all health and fitness conscious parents, you start out with this militant mindset your child is only going to eat healthy and clean. You learn really fast that it usually comes down to just getting them to “eat at all” as what matters most. This presents a real challenge to our conditioning because there are “snacks” around our home which are not conducive to the conditioning necessary to win contests. 😉 Cookies and treats anyone? HA.
10. Do you want your kids to become involve in the fitness modeling industry in the future too?
Great question. We’re definitely not going to be “Hollywood Parents” and try and persuade our girls into anything they don’t want to do themselves. We believe the modeling we’re giving them now (cardio in our home, eating healthy, talking about health and fitness regularly, going to the gym etc) will provide all the stimulus necessary for them to be naturally inquisitive about the why, what and how of the TMC lifestyle. We will support them in everything they do and definitely encourage them to do what makes them happy.
11. What’s next for The Muscle Couple? What are your future goals in this industry and with your family?
Our immediate goal is build our site’s brand. Currently Mike Torchia the architect of Shape Up America is in talks with us to build TMC and what we represent into the core philosophy of the Shape Up America Directive. We don’t know how this will shake out but we’re excited to be a part of such an incredible cause. We’re also determined to push our images and photos across the web. Whether through photo shoots in magazines, pictures on on the interweb or increased visitation to our website, we would like to continue to champion our mission statement “THE Online Destination for Improving Your Health, Fitness and Family Life. We definitely plan on competing in both Muscle Mania/Fitness America, Shape Up America and when ready -NPC for at least the next 3 years. (provided we can maintain our good health and avoid injury). Anh also has ideas about a Fitness Clothing Line built around expectant mothers and their children to be.
12. Any shout outs?
We definitely like to make a number of “Shout Outs” if we could. First off a a huge Shout Out to Natalie for without her incredible talent behind the lense, our likeness wouldn’t have been captured in the essence we are currently representing.
Another one to Mike Torchia for wanting to integrate his incredibly worthy cause with the TMC brand.
To the HIT Master Practitioners who have shown us the way to both better physiques and a way of life.
To Alexandra and Gabriella Campbell for being forgiving and loving children through it all.
To Mike Cernovich and Jason Greene for being in both of our corners when few were willing to choose sides.
To Josephine Dalton aka Trainer Joe for her pre-contest coaching and stage awareness preparation.
To Rebecca Narinen for being a friend few people ever get a chance to truly experience.
We also wanted to say we are truly Thankful for the awareness and exposure Natalie has given us. We will try and return the favor as often as possible. 😉
If you haven’t read Part One of my interview, you can check it out here: Interview with The Muscle Couple.