Sci-Unison Fitness interview with Heather Drake WNBF Pro
Ryan Sullivan: Heather, I would like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview and sharing your thoughts with perspectives with our audience. As a starter can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
Heather Drake: Ryan, thank you! It is my absolute pleasure to share my thoughts and perspectives with the audience of Sci-Unison Fitness. My name is Heather Drake. I am a WNBF Pro Figure competitor from Columbus, Ohio. I’m 35 years old and a mother of 2 boys, ages 15 and 7. Aside from being a mom, working my normal 9-5, and Saturday part-time, I make natural healthy living and fitness an utmost priority. Despite my busy life, I stay active in and outside of the gym. My home-gym, Beyond Limits Training, is where I put my heart and sheer will into the weight room, as well as my conditioning, and my posing. I am also a member of LA Fitness. I hardly have use for that gym except during the winter months when I am restricted to indoor cardio/aerobic activity. I’m 5’5.5” in height. My off season weight is 128; contest weight is 120. My goal during off season is to stay lean while continuing to make muscle gains.
Ryan Sullivan: I have always felt that competing can teach someone a lot about themselves. The discipline, the dedication, and the perseverance. These are all very useful qualities. Please explain what competing taught you about yourself and how you apply the fitness and competitive lifestyle to your everyday life.
Heather Drake: It has most certainly taught me a lot! For the first time in my life, I discovered that I had an incredible gift. One that I never knew existed. I found purpose. My faith and direction guided me to nourish and pursue this life of fitness. Designing a life that would better me by surrounding myself with positivity and become an inspiration for the very people who aspire to do the same. It doesn’t matter where you are in life, it doesn’t matter your age, or what you have been put through, and dreams don’t fail unless you do. That is what it has taught me.
Ryan Sullivan: You are a natural drug free athlete. Can you share with us your reasoning behind choosing this path?
Heather Drake: There’s something great about having the feeling of self-will and discipline to go all out giving 110% in the gym based off of natural endorphins! It’s a tough sport regardless of a natural or non-natural status. The idea of putting even anything into my body to enhance me muscularly? That does nothing to even tempt me. As far as eating clean, that all comes very natural to me. I hold an extremely high regard for the natural athletes because we are often overlooked and we do not get the recognition that is so often deserved.
Ryan Sullivan: In terms of training, I have seen so many over train and never give their bodies the necessary recovery it requires. How much emphasis do you place on recovery?
Heather Drake: This topic is so near and dear to me as I have taken some hard falls myself due to lack of recovery from overtraining. I have learned from this and fortunately for me, I was able to recover, as some people never do or they become discouraged. By no means do I claim to be an expert, but there is some hard truth that so many of us competitors can learn from this. We put our bodies through major stresses because sometimes all we really know is work work work. The muscle joints are surrounded by tiny little micro tears and the only way to repair is to REST. When you return, you will have regained strength.
If you never allow your body ample time to rest (i.e. 6-8 hours of sleep, no days off, inadequate nutrients or lack of alkalizing foods that support recovery), you’re compromising your entire health and the aesthetics of your body. It affects your mood, hormones, focus, and strength… more importantly it can compromise your muscle and the physique that you are trying to obtain. When you put in months of hard work day after day, taking a day or two off or even a week per say will only benefit you and help you to achieve “gains.” As one of my previous coaches would say, “You can train hard fasted or with minimal food, but to train on little or no sleep is nearly impossible.”
Ryan Sullivan: So going into the WNBF Worlds, you were undefeated. With a track record and momentum like that some may ask; Why turn to Sci-Unison Fitness?
Heather Drake: I have been very fortunate over the past few years. I’ve been taught the essence of training from the most amazing coaches and I’ve served as one of the main ambassadors to the most incredible group of BATL team members from inside and outside the walls of Beyond Limits Training, my home gym. The bonds I’ve built with fellow training partners are unbreakable. We’ve felt the same pain and shared the same victories.
Now as I prepare for this next phase of my life, I’m able to evolve more independently on my own. I realize that there’s a lot more for me to learn from. But my ties to Beyond Limits Training remain strong. So why Sci-Unison Fitness? I can give multiple reasons. I met Ryan Sullivan, founder of Sci-Unison Fitness, at the WNBF Pro American in June 2013. I traveled alone from Columbus, OH to Boston, MA for my 2nd Pro appearance. Along the way I met some great people backstage, but Team SUF stood out to me with their “Don’t Be Soft” black tees. I was concealing some health issues that I was experiencing at that time, and we just so happened to bump elbows in transitioning classes, chatted a bit, and continued to stay in touch afterwards.
From that point forward, Ryan introduced me to the “macronutrient world” as he guided me in my prep for the WNBF World’s. I had been dieting down for a very long time and my metabolic capacity had taken a major hit from competing back to back. I lost muscle and my health was at risk. Realizing I was about to start my prep for the biggest show yet, I knew that in order to sustain my health I needed to follow a better approach. Ryan agreed to be my nutrition coach and he really opened my eyes to a much healthier and stronger prep season and I was able to bring my best package yet! Our styles are very similar and are a comparable offset.
Ryan Sullivan: Many say that during contest prep that posing and stage presence is one of the most difficult aspects. Do you share this opinion, and what advice do you have to any new and aspiring competitors.
Heather Drake: Let’s be honest, on show day, it all comes down to stage presentation. You could have the greatest physique in the world, but to be polished in how you pose and how well you are poised is a big part of the preparation and perhaps the toughest part of training. A great deal of time should be spent practicing your posing and presentation both on and off season. It’s essentially the same thing as conditioning and it becomes the most defining moments in your career as a figure competitor. It’s how you are remembered. As I have told many other women and fellow competitors, that moment you step foot on stage is “your time” to shine and show off what you have worked so hard towards. Therefore it is essential that you are prepared to hold your poses for long periods while keeping a calm composure the entire time.
Ryan Sullivan: 2013 was a great year for you. What are some of your goals for 2014?
Heather Drake: I plan for 2014 to be another great year, but I will be playing more behind the scenes in lieu of competing. I have many things on my to-do list so I will surely be staying very busy! In the coming weeks, I begin studies to learn the science behind how to become a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) under the NSCA organization. This certification focuses on more than just training. It includes strength, conditioning, nutrition, and recovery. These 4 elements are very important to me as I have had my own personal battles to overcome with each. Eventually, I will take what I’ve learned from this and from my own experiences to evolve into a CSCS and to provide coaching on nutrition. Wherever it leads me, I’m giving it my absolute best.
Being new to Team Sci-Unison Fitness, I will also be working closely with founder, Ryan Sullivan, to generate many ideas for forthcoming plans. This will be the year that I can finally focus on the business side of things. I will be launching my own website and personal blog to share my perspective on healthy living. More photo shoots coming!! Assisting clients with online posing state-wide. Those are just a few things at work. My plans for competing are still on the books and will likely occur sometime late summer/early fall.
Ryan Sullivan: I’d like to thank you for taking the time to speak with me. Please take this opportunity to thank all those that have helped you along the way. Also, please list all of your social media sites so that your fans can stay up to date with you.
Heather Drake: Ryan, thank you!! I would like to thank everybody who has stood by me during my continuous journey as well as those who have believed in me and my vision. Anyone who competes or has close ties with a competitor knows that this life is no easy road. Many sacrifices are made. My kids and family know especially and for them I am most thankful! We never really truly have an “off-season.” That’s just the art of this sport. It’s an extremely incredible feeling to have the love and support of my closest friends and most loyal followers. They give me reasons every day to stay focused and dedicated to this life.
I also owe much of my success to my Beyond Limits family (http://www.beyondlimitstraining.net) for nurturing my growth as a figure athlete and for allowing me to be a part of the gym. The owners of SupZilla (http://www.supzilla.com/), a local nutrition and supplemental health company, for taking me in at the very beginning and teaching me the rules of the game. And lastly, Sci-Unison Fitness, of course, for coaching me on nutrition and leading me to my most recent win at the WNBF World’s.
Please follow me as I document my every day journey on the following social media sites:
WNBF Pro Figure