Interview with Amber DeLuca by Lori Braun

Interview with Amber DeLuca by Lori Braun

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1. What opportunities has bodybuilding opened up for you?

Although I have just recently started competing in bodybuilding, I have been an athlete my whole life, weight training for various sports. Bodybuilding has opened the doors of athletic opportunity for me in gaining a volleyball scholarship at the age of 17. I had started weight training since I was about 14 years old. I also won some Armwrestling championships in PA, and this is how I met the creator of the American Gladiators, Dann Carr back in 1987. He told me he wanted to see me become an American Gladiator. My big dream came true, ten years later, in 1997 when I was called to play as “Apache” on the live show in Orlando, Florida. I also did some wrestling, Muay Thai (kickboxing), sportclimbing, powerlifting, and obstacle course races–all of which I obtained degrees of proficiency in and set records. I have also had the opportunity to be featured on bodybuilding websites and magazines, and have become more recognizable in the fitness industry. My most recent feature is in Ironman Magazine—an 8-page layout. I was thrilled! This has always been one of my big dreams. Competing has definitely allowed me to pursue bodybuilding as a second career, with opportunities to interact with my fans and travel.

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2. When you compete, do you always think you can win first place?

No matter what I compete in, I always do my best. My parents raised me with good values, to always put in a 100% effort, and be a good sport. So no matter where I place in a show, I consider myself a winner. I know on some days I may win, and other days I may just place. I know what it’s like to be on both sides as an athlete, and I think it’s just as graceful to take second place and congratulate the winner. I think being patient is very important, and to know when to capture opportunities.

3. Please tell us a little about the competitions in which you placed the highest

I won the Mid-USA Bodybuilding Championships in July, 2003 and the New Mexico State BB Championships as a Heavyweight. I weighed 170, I came down from a very solid, strong off-season weight of 185. These were my first true bodybuilding shows in the United States. I had previously competed in the National Amateur Bodybuilding Association as a Figure competitor, which is very big in Europe. The women that come into these shows are pretty much normal girls with not much muscular development, that go on extreme diets. They get shredded to the bone, and many looking like skinned cats. I have no desire to look like that, so I was encouraged by Bill Dobbins to compete in the NPC. I figured, it’s easier for me to gain muscle than to try to “fit” into a category of Figure either in NABBA or NPC, so I decided to begin competing in bodybuilding this past year, 2003. I know I have not disappointed, and muscle certainly becomes me. It was good to win my first show in my hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico. I totally loved being on stage and capturing the moment of all the hard work and dedication. I posed to a piece from Conan, a very classical piece. I nailed every pose very nicely, and did not skip a beat. I have used this song before when I competed in NABBA Figure, but I pulled it off so much better as a bodybuilder, and it felt so much more comfortable.

5. Share with us your typical weekly training schedule and routines

It is pretty much the same year round, with some adjustments at precompetition time. I try to periodize my routines between power partial movements and traditional movements. On Mondays and Thursdays I will employ a routine of power partial movements, which were popularized by Cisco and Little. You read a lot about Little’s training theories nowadays in the musclemags. As an athlete and bodybuilder, I feel they work. I was able to put on some size in between my national qualifier in July and the Nationals in Miami. I had to thicken up my traps and abs to stand on stage at the national level, and I felt I did increase the quality of my physique by a net increase of 5 pounds, and I was in better condition. I will also do on my off days from the partials a full body routine that is higher rep. This technique was employed by the old time bodybuilders, such as Arnold and those guys. Legs get trained on two separate days, utilizing giant sets of squats, hacks, leg presses, lunges, extensions, curls, stiff legged deadlifts, and lying/standing leg curls. Sometimes, if I am really tired, I will split the leg in two days, concentrating on quads one day, hams on the other. I like it that way, because I think a fbb can never have too hard of an ass, and it gets extra conditioning that way. I think genetics have a lot to do with the shape of your ass, too! But we can all improve on the quality. I will also do some stairclimber (the ones that revolve) so of course, I can squeeze my big rump, and maybe the treadmill on a steep incline. (Now I know why all the stairclimbers in my gym are always “up front”!)

6. What first got you interested in bodybuilding?

My volleyball coach took us to the gym at the Cleveland Coliseum where the Cleveland Cavaliers played basketball, and he took us through the Nautilus circuit. This was back in 1982. I saw all the posters of the Nautilus models and Rachel McLish was very populuar during that time. I vowed that one day I would look like that. I continued to study the movements, and then progressed into free weights.

7. How long have you been bodybuilding?
Competitively for only two years, but weight training for the past 22 years.

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8. How has our sport changed your life?

It has empowered me. I have learned how to change myself for the better, making incremental improvements. I look at all the top pro fbbs out there, and know that they had to start somewhere, too. It has changed me in a positive way, as I have many people look up to me and admire what I do. I have not had any negative feedback from anyone, and my friends and family are very proud of me. I think if one pursues bodybuilding for the right reasons, and forget the ego and selfish side of the sport (although that’s different at contest time!) I think women can gain a lot of power from being a bodybuilder. It’s about independence and strength in more than just a physical way, but also in an emotional way. I think the whole bodybuilding lifestyle is very “Zen” like if you allow it to be. It can also be very evil if you take the wrong paths, just like anything in life.

9. Where are you living and training now?

I live in Albuquerque, NM, and train at 4th Street Golds here in Albuquerque. They have sponsored my membership and always support me. I also like to train at different gyms locally just to meet new people and work on different equipment, so I don’t get stale. We are very lucky to have so many high-quality gyms here in Albuquerque. It’s a very easy city to live in, get great food, and lots of sunshine, which makes me happy. I’m always motivated to train here because we have great weather all the time, which affects my moods and disposition.

10. Tell us about your gym, is it a small local place or a chain……do you have a trainer?

The Golds’ I train at is also the one owned by the same people that have owned gyms in Hawaii. It is very small and set up “hardcore” unlike some of the other local chains, where everything is so far apart and there are tons of people. The owners buy the best equipment. I do not have a trainer, but sometimes I will take on a partner to help me with my partials. I train mostly by myself. As I progress into the national and pro ranks, I think I would like to have someone help push me to the next level. Also, it’s nice to have someone keeping me honest, and it’s fun training with a partner.

11. How do people outside of the gym react when they see you?

They love the way I look, and are shocked that a woman can have so much muscle and still look very feminine. I have gotten this from both sexes. I attribute this to my good genetics, American Indian. Most women say stuff like, I don’t want to get “as big as you, but want to be more toned”. It’s funny; most fbbs probably hear this. Men usually react mixed, as they are not sure if they are more attracted to me for my femininity, or intimidated by the muscle and my raw strength. This usually sends mixed emotions. Generally, they will either approach me or run the other way! So, I give credit to the ones that come up and at least say, “Hi, you have great physique!” A few, but very few close-minded people have said mean things or said that I am “too big”. But, regardless of the reaction good or bad, I like the attention, because I got a reaction nonetheless. It makes the effort worthwhile that I am noticed. Not that I crave the attention, but as a physique artist, I expect some sort of reaction!

12. Are there many bodybuilders living in your area?

Unfortunately, no. There is one pro male bb, but no females. I know all of them, but we are all spread out in the city, and on different schedules. There are a couple fbbs that made it to the national level, but they are very busy with personal training. So, I find it to be a very lonely endeavor being a fbb in Albuquerque, NM. It’s like a fish being out of water in a sense, because there are so few of us. But, on the other hand, it’s nice in the sense that I am an anomaly in this population. If I want to flock with other birds like me, I just hop on a plane to Venice, CA. And of course, go to all the big shows like the Nationals, Olympia and the Arnold.

13. Do you supplement your income with work outside of bodybuilding?

I work a full-time job for the government in Human Resources. I have my Master’s of Science in Human Resources Management, and working on my doctorate in Educational Leadership. I would like to one day focus on my craft of bodybuilding and translate that into something that can be my primary vocation.

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14. What do your friends and family think of your serious dedication to the sport?

At first, when I was a young girl of 15 years old, I used to train at this hardcore bodybuilding gym in Streetsboro, OH, called Bodybuilders Unlimited. My parents hated it, because they feared I would get too masculine. They actually discouraged me, but I loved the feel of the iron, and the rawness of the gym. But, there was no stopping me! And not to mention how quickly my body responded and how it made me a better volleyball player and track & field athlete. My friends thought I was bit strange for wanting to always pump iron. My friends and family now accept that it’s not just something I “do”, but my lifestyle and I am dedicated to clean, healthy living. I have long advocated that bodybuilding is the ultimate elixir of youth, and there is a lot of research to back this up!

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