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There was a little girl in Queens New York, who just loved to perform in front of a crowd. She took dance lessons such as Ballet, Tap, and Jazz from the early age of two until she was a teenager. She performed at recitals every year and felt very natural and comfortable on the stage. She loved the crowd’s reaction and the feeling she got when all eyes were on her even more than the actual dance. As she became more mature, she would enter talent shows and competitions, as she was very competitive by nature. She possessed an inherent drive to win whatever competition she entered, and would work very hard at making sure that she would. In college she organized Fashion shows and was the MC at most of them. Performing in front of a large audience was euphoric. After college, there was a period of her life where there were no crowds, no audience, and no competitions. It seemed like it was all but in the past. That is, until she discovered Fitness Competitions.
Hi, that girl is me. My name is Tara Scotti, and I am a fitness model/Figure competitor and personal trainer from New York. I have been on the fitness scene for the past 6 years, (On and off). I started working out about 10 years ago and became a gym rat almost instantly. I started seeing changes in my physique right away and it got me so excited that I wanted to train harder, learning as much as I could on any topic related to fitness and nutrition. Consequentially, I became obsessed with muscle. My trainer Gerry was very instrumental in the early years. It was he who encouraged me to get certified and become a personal trainer. I was working unhappily in the garment district of NYC at the time, utilizing my college major, which is Fashion. Gerry also encouraged me to do my first fitness competition, a decision that changed my life.
June 1997. My first NPC show, The Bev Francis Atlantic States. When I took the stage to do my routine, the adrenaline rush was intense. At that moment, I knew competitions would be a part of my life in the years to come, as I took third place in my class. More important than my placing was the feeling I got from being in front of a crowd once again. I continued competing and excelled. I never placed out of the top 3 in any fitness competition I entered. My highlight was probably the 1998 NPC JR. USA’s. I took 1st place in the tall class, but by then, I started to see a change in the fitness division. Most of the routines were gearing toward gymnastics. Now to be straight up with you guys, I can’t do a somersault correctly. And I saw some of these girls doing flips in the air. I have no background in gymnastics training, and wasn’t interested in learning at that point in my life. I stopped competing for a little while, but then they introduced a new division called figure. Basically, it constituted the same look as fitness, without the routine. I thought this would be perfect.
I trained my ass off and entered the 2001 National Figure Championships (Team Universe). This was the first national figure show ever, and I really thought I was going to do well. The show was great as Steve Weinberger and Bev Francis always put a great show on, but this one had excitement in the air. This show was big. The venue was the Tribecca Performing Arts Center in NYC- My hometown. I had a lot of friends and family in the audience supporting me, and I was ready. After the prejudging, I felt great. Then they announced the winners, “4th place goes to Tara Scotti”. I was floored. I mean really, really disappointed. I honestly thought I deserved a higher placing then 4th, and I was very upset after the show. I was keeping my composure backstage after the show, when a judge came up to me and said, “Tara, you looked great, you will have a great future in the division, but you came into the show a little too hard.” When I inquired why they gave the short class to a person who came in very hard, the judge’s response was, “Well, your competition suit could have been a little better also.” At that moment, I decided to quit competing for good. Let me just say, before I start to sound like a baby, I put a lot of pressure on myself when it comes time to compete. Whether that is good or bad, that’s just my style. I don’t do anything half-assed. I could have looked at it like,” Tara, you just placed 4th in the first ever Figure Nationals, that is an honor. Take it in stride and just try harder for the next big show.” But I was foolish, and I quit. I decided, it’s not even a pro division, why bother anymore. By the way, the top 3 in that show in my class were, 1st- Davana Medina, 2nd Jenny Lynn, 3rd Carrie Fickle. As you all know, Davana and Jenny are the top 2 girls in the Pro Figure division right now. It would be an honor for me to stand on stage with them again someday. I think Davana and Jenny have awesome bodies, and I admire them in the sport. In hindsight, I wish I was more grateful for my placing at the 2001 Team Universe. Who knows where I would have been now if kept on competing, however, instead of crying over spilled milk, I am using what happened as a learning experience. I factor this episode into part of my growing up in a sense. I will not act like a baby any more if I don’t win every competition. I am here to stay this time, win or lose. Ok, I am getting side tracked here.
Let us get back to August of 2001. After the Team Universe, I quit competing. I completely removed myself from the whole fitness/ figure scene. I completely submersed myself in my personal fitness business. And I was happy where I was, but something was missing. I kind of knew what it was, but I still tried hard to ignore the feeling. Ok, fast forward to August of 2003. I am at a friend’s house in Hampton Bays, NY. On a beautiful summer day, laying out at the pool, margarita in 1 hand, salsa and chips in another, totally enjoying life. I looked around for a magazine to browse through while I enjoyed the sun. Maybe a Cosmo or a Vogue would do. But no, the only magazine around was a fitness magazine. I stared at it for a few minutes, then decided, “what the hell,” and picked it up. Now I don’t want to sound too melodramatic. But before this moment, I have not looked at a bodybuilding or fitness magazine in 2 years. So for me, in my little world, this was a big moment. This is another moment that changed my life again. In this one magazine, I learned so much. I learned that figure was now a pro division. I learned that the IFBB was having the first ever Figure Olympia in October, and that Davana, Jenny, and some other girls I used to compete against are all top girls in the division and will be competing at the Olympia. I also learned that Davana had a Met-Rx contract, and Jenny had a GNC contract. I read that magazine cover to cover. As I put it down, I had a smile on my face. I knew right then I was coming back to competing. But I had to start at the bottom again. It’s a very humbling experience, but I think in the long run, it made me a stronger person today. Anyway, it was time to get the ball rolling again. I immediately called my people who helped me in the past with my shows, including my trainer Gerry, and my coach Franky DiCiccio. I told them I wanted to compete again. They were very excited and we put a plan together. Since 2003 was almost over, and I missed most of the competitions for the year, the plan was to get my little ass in the gym and start training. And let’s start in the beginning of 2004 with the competitions. My progress was coming along very fast. Way ahead of schedule. To be honest, I never got out of shape completely. I for the most part, live a very healthy lifestyle, and since I am a personal fitness trainer, I have to stay in some sort of shape. I want my clients to know nutrition and training pays off. But I did put an end to my out all night partying in NYC, and my favorite food in the world, pizza.
I decided to go out to the Olympia in October. I thought it would be good for me to see what the top pros in the world are looking like these days. I was very impressed. I was happy to see one of my all time favorite fitness babes in the sport was competing. Monica Brandt. Yes, the former Miss Fitness Olympia. She was now competing in figure. I saw all the new girls in the sport, all of them looking really good and very conditioned. I especially like the physiques of Dina AL-Sabah, DJ Wallis, and Mari Kudlow. Overall, the Olympia was great, and I also ran into all the photographers I used to shoot with back in the day. I told them I was coming back to competing again, and I set up some photo shoots in the months after the Olympia with them.
When I got back from the Olympia, Franky told me we are going to enter 2 shows in November. They were the East Coast figure Championships in NJ and the Eastern USA Figure Championships in NY. They were one week apart. He told me not to worry about my placing in these events. We were not doing any type of pre-contest dieting tricks for these shows. He just wanted me to get the feel of the stage and practice my quarter turns, as almost like a big warm-up for the 2004 season. To make a long story short, I won the tall class and the Overall at both shows. The Eastern USA was especially nice, because it was held in the Tribecca performing Arts Center, the same place where I last competed in 2001. Once again, Steve and Bev put on another great show. A few days after the Eastern USA, I signed an endorsement deal with Twinlab. My long-term goal is to be a top IFBB competitor. Only time will tell. Stay tuned…