Thanks for doing this interview, I guess you feel like a minor celebrity doing this? Many people have seen our posts on various social media sites about you but now at least we get to here straight from you and Im sure people would like to find out how from nothing you finished 3rd in the British National Bodybuilding Federation.
1. For people who don’t know you, talk a little about who you are?
My name is Jo Perruzza and I am a 45 year old woman with 3 children ranging from 9 years to 5 years. I work full time as a senior Manager within the NHS. As you can imagine my life is very busy like most women, I have a lot of challenges in achieving a work life balance. I have always trained and with that I am competitive, mainly with myself.
Jo Jo at the beginning!!
2. Why and when did you decide to train to be a figure athlete and do you think anyone could do what you have done?
On the 31st December 2010, I always write my list of what I have achieved over the last 12 months and what I would like to achieve over the next 12 months. A reoccurring theme was to train as a figure athlete so in February 2011 I discussed this with my coach, Sean Keefe and decided this was going to be my year. For me it was important to set out how I was going to achieve my goal and break it down into achievable small goals on a monthly basis. I think that people can achieve their goals no matter how large or small, if they really want to do it. You have to remain focused and remind yourself of what you want to achieve. I once saw a great logo from Paul George who is a champion body builder. ”It’s not impossible… It just takes longer than you think.”
3. Talk me through your weekly training schedule?
My training was split over 3 days, the main focus was strength work and I let my diet take control of my fat loss. The days were usually split into upper and lower using both compound and isolation exercises with various training techniques and I also used different equipment such as sleds, prowlers, sandbags and chains. Three weeks before the competition I added a fourth day which was a metabolic circuit. In the week prior to the event, I tailed back the intensity and volume to let my body fully recover.
Different equipment was used in Jo's program
4. Do you think more females should lift weights?
Yes I do, if you want to change your shape, its no good just doing cardio, you need to lift the weights, feel strong and reap the benefits.
5. You are very strong and dead lift an easy 90kg x 10 and can do chin ups all day. Do you think STRONG is the new sexy?
Yes I do think strong is the new sexy. Women who have muscle, who lift weights, to me are very sexy and I think can still look feminine. For me this made me feel more confident in myself and therefore I portrayed that confidence on the outside. We live in a society where people will stereotype the over 40 working mum of three. I’ve never been one for conforming and want my daughters to grow up believing the same. There is a great saying “why do you try so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out”
Happy Jo Jo
6. What is your favourite gym exercise?
I have many favourite exercises in the gym but they become my favourite when I know that I can do them well and I have to say that I have two favourite exercises, they are dead lifts and chin ups
7. Do you use any supplements, if yes which ones and why?
I use various MyProteins supplements from whey protein powder three times a day always first thing in the morning and after training. During training I have BCAA, Branch chain amino acids, this helps the body cope with the stress of exercise CLA assists in weight loss, vitamins C /D, I also use daily Udo’s oli which is full of omega 3.6 and 9 and lovely.
8. How much does diet play in competing as a figure athlete?
Diet plays a huge part in competition preparation. The training and the diet have to be as balanced with each other. I started my diet earlier than most competitors as I was not sure how my body was going to respond. The diet is challenging to say the least but what I have learnt from dieting is to listen and respect the human body and the dieting for me then became a lot easier. I made mistakes along the way and depleted my body of carbs and to a certain degree became carb phobic. This had a massive impact on my training and when I realised that I could not lift the weights I had to change my diet and increase my carb intake. I found carb cycling worked for me and once I began to understand the science I look forward to the days that I could eat carbs.
9. What was the hardest part about training?
The hardest part about training is when you are really tired having been at work all day and finding that last bit of motivation to get you to the gym and taking the motivation to take you through the session. It was always important for me to remind myself why I was training and what I wanted to achieve at the end of it, to remain focused and see improvements, by that I mean being able to lift more and noticing small but positive changes in my body. Knowing that you want to lift more but that fear of failure, of not being able to achieve extra weight or another rep
10. How did you cope with the fear of standing on stage in front of hundreds of people?
The more I became confident that I could achieve this goal, I realised that I had to conquer my next fear of standing in front of people in a bikini and letting my body do the talking. I decided that if I could put myself in “work mode” as a manager with authority who is used to presenting in front of large audiences, then this would help me…and it did. I believe that everyone finds their own way of coping with their fears and this is what worked for me; it does help when people tell you your looking good!
11. Posing plays a huge part as a figure athlete, how many hours do you think you spent posing?
I didn’t know anything about posing until I decided to take on this challenge. When I watched DVD’s and video footage, I thought there is no way I can do this! I can train all day, I can diet but I couldn’t pose. I sought advice from the BNBF (British National Body Federation) who taught me the compulsory poses and also told me that I would need to do a “T “walk, which sent me in a spin. I practiced for 5 or 10 minutes everyday and eventually got the confidence to start posing in the gym and then in front of people and eventually got in my bikini and did my “T” walk in the gym with a small “select” audience which was the most terrifying experience. I realised that once I could do this posing in a competition in front of people I didn’t know, wouldn’t be quite so daunting
12.You have been a big inspiration for many people at S&P, they see what hard work you have put in and they want to do the same, does this make you feel?
I feel that even if it encourages and motivates one person to make a small change then I think that is a positive step in the right direction for them. I feel proud to be part of the S&P family, without Sean and Zoran’s support, encouragement and challenging behaviour….at times I wouldn’t have achieved my goal
13. What are your future plans and will you be competing next year?
I have decided I want to get bigger and stronger for next year I know where I need to improve so I will be sitting down with Sean and getting his thoughts and feedback too, I want a bit of time to reflect on what I have achieved and savour the moment before it comes to distant. It’s really important to get feedback from people, even though sometimes it can be quite painful, but that only makes me more determined to improve. I will be competing again next year, I have found something that I love, I have been challenged emotionally, mentally, and physically and have proved myself wrong on so many occasions.
14. Have you enjoyed your journey?
The answer to that is easy Yes…..Its been a love hate relationship but a journey that I learned so much about myself , my drive and determination have surprised me and my ability to be very snappy and irritable have not.. I hold the diet fully responsible for my forgetfulness. Like all journey’s they can be lonely at times, on this one I have had so much support encouragement and lots of laughs from the S&P Family.
Hope you have enjoyed this interview, and this just shows that anything is possible
Until Next Time
Lift Big Get Strong