Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Leigh Penman – RX Muscle
For newly instated Pro, Gina Quinn, life has currently taken on a somewhat surreal quality. From regular wife and mother to one of bodybuilding’s elite athletes. She is certainly proof of the concept that if you really put your mind to something and make it your goal to achieve it…stuff happens! Or to put it more eloquently…dreams do come true!
However way back in those early days when weight training was still a somewhat unusual diversion from her daily schedule, Gina was not always sold on the new body that was beginning to come out of its shell, but I will let Gina fill you in on the details beginning with just how she got involved in the sport in the first place….
So Gina, can you tell us a little about your entry into bodybuilding since I believe you stumbled across it relatively late in life?

“That’s true…I walked into the gym for the first time just a few months prior to my 40th Birthday. My husband taught me everything he knew over the first 2 years. And I could see my body changing…but, to be honest, at that stage I didn’t like what I was seeing. It was that bulky look that every woman is afraid of. On the other hand my husband loved what he was seeing and, in an effort to keep me happy, he sought out help from friends and eventually consulted with Colette Nelson. It was a gift from my husband for me to learn from Colette and that was where it really all began.”
How were those early days in the gym for you? Did you have a trainer back then?
“My trainer at that time was my husband and we trained together. I would visit with Colette every couple of months….come home with more knowledge and put it into action. My husband was always there to support and encourage my training and was always ready to re assure me when I doubted my progress.”
Was the discipline of working out easy for you to adapt to?
“The first year was probably the hardest because I struggled with letting many things go at home. As a wife and mother your priorities are always your husband and children and it was hard to fit bodybuilding into that scenario.”
What about your diet, what changes did you have to make initially and were certain things hard to give up?
“I like good food and always cooked quality meals for my family….but it doesn’t compare to how I eat now. I can’t say that is was all that hard because I studied all the material that was given to me on the subject of diet and nutrition and committed myself 100%. Something just clicked inside me and I became very passionate about this pursuit and that passion made the diet very easy to follow as I knew without a proper diet all the effort I was putting in at the gym would be next to worthless.”
Was it always in your mind to eventually compete?
“My husband would compare my body to different athletes he thought I could look like…but honestly I never had it in my head to compete until I started working with Colette.”

Of course you recently became a Pro…how did that feel?
“I always prepare myself physically and mentally to win. That is to say I work to be the best I can be. Winning my weight class had become a dream and I decided I would make the Team U my show…..hoping one year it would be mine.
Winning the light weight class and the overall is beyond words. There is no other individual pursuit I have worked harder at in my life. I have enjoyed the process….so the reward is truly grand!”
Many women in the sport dream of becoming a pro. Do you think the reality matches the dream?
“My family and friends are both proud and happy for me and that means everything. I guess the true reality will reveal itself after I have competed as a pro for the first time. Honestly….I love getting into contest shape. As long as I am able to enjoy the process of always bringing my best to the stage….the dream stays alive.”
It is hard for women to get any kind of financial backing in this sport, even at professional level. Do you think this could lead to a certain amount of disillusionment?
“I guess for those who are in the sport to see how much money they can get out of it that would definitely cause a degree of disillusionment but, as far as I am concerned, bodybuilding is a hobby. I never expected to make a career out of it….just a life style.”
Have you tried to seek out sponsors and what are you looking for in terms of assistance?
“I have not sought out sponsors. It would be nice to promote certain foods though, for instance Cabot cottage cheese – since I eat it every day! Though it is of course not just for bodybuilders.”
Do you think that women’s bodybuilding is losing its way somewhat? I mean the majority of new competitors are hitting the figure and the bikini ranks…
“Clearly there are far fewer female bodybuilding competitors in comparison to the figure and bikini, but for me personally bodybuilding is the best fit. I don’t have the shape for figure and bikini so it is nice to have a category for each body type.”
Your own thoughts on bikini?
“Well…there are a lot of bikini competitors and they do draw in the crowd…so you can’t criticize that aspect.”
How do you feel about the current judging criteria when it comes to female bodybuilding?
“I have not been around bodybuilding for very long. However I have found it confusing at times with regard to what the judges are looking for…..sometimes a harder shredded look is rewarded and sometimes more of a figure shape is rewarded over the conditioning. This makes it hard, as a competitor, to prepare for a show as you never know what is going to be deemed the ‘look of the day’. As far as I am concerned, I just allow the mirror to be my ultimate judge and, if I am satisfied with what I see, that is my trophy!”
Having achieved a reputation for coming in ripped to the bone at every show, how far away from contest condition do you stray in the off season?
“The most I have gained it the off season is 25 pounds….I don’t feel comfortable going above that.”

Do you have any mental difficulties when it comes to handling off season versus contest look?
“Oh yeah!!!! I much prefer the contest shape look. It is hard to let it go. Although I do adjust and embrace the off season in order to make progress. You have to…but it’s not easy!”
In this respect do you think that the off season is easier for the guys than the women?
“I think women always have trouble with weight fluctuations both in and out of the sport and men are less socially conditioned to look a certain way and be a certain weight.”
Now that you are a pro do you feel that there are more opportunities to actually earn a living from the sport?
“The only thing that has changed is that a few more women have sought me out to help them get in shape. I am not convinced there are real earning opportunities in the sport at any level.”
How do you feel about the fact that some of the women are increasingly turning to session work to make money?
“Like anything, only a few make it to the very top… that is as a paid athlete. Most athletes use their talent to open doors – for example education. Eventually ending up with a career. Some continue their sport for the love of it. Bodybuilding is so different there is no scholarship money here! I would never step in and criticize anyone for the way they choose to make money from the sport, that is not my place.”
In terms of your own future, where do you see yourself going in the sport?
“I love getting in contest shape. A show date gives me a goal. As long as I continue to enjoy the process I will continue to compete. If anything else should come of it…It will be an unexpected bonus.”
Finally when can we expect to see you on stage again and how can readers contact you?
“I am looking forward to the Hartford show since I grew up in that area and have many friends and family there. I can be reached by e mail at
Leigh Penman – RX Muscle

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