Her day begins around 5.30am with cardio, then a full day's work as an IT Project Manager. Then its back to gym for evening training around 7pm and gets home around 9pm to prepare food for the next day.  Then it starts all over again tomorrow.  Sound familiar to many athletes we're sure!

That is the life of New NZ IFBB Figure Pro Yoko Washington (37) at the moment as she prepares to compete at the Australian Grand Prix in March 2013. 3 weeks away at the time of writing.
In this update we find out how Yoko's feeling as she approaches her Pro debut and how she's using her new found Pro status to help her find another level in training.

Yoko Training Video!  You can also watch Yoko and see what great shape she's in. Thanks to Muscle and Fitness Gym in Botany for letting us film in their gym. You'll find the video mid way down the page.

Height, Off season weight, Contest Weight

5’5”, Offseason: 66kg, Contest 61 kg

What's your background in fitness/training? have you always been into weight training?

Aside from playing sports in high school and playing club rugby in through my late 20’s, I don’t have a huge fitness or training background. I love the discipline and structure of training to compete, and I love how I can transform my body with the right food and hard work. That’s what gets me going.


What's your contest history and placings?

I started competing in 2011 and between August 2011 and August 2012, I placed 2nd, 3rd and 1st in NABBA-WFF. Once I got my bearings in the New Zealand competitive scene, I moved over to the NZIFBB, which is more what I’m familiar with (being originally from the states).

I also found it to be a better fit for me and I can see a clearer future for myself in international competition. Once I got to the NZIFBB, I placed first in my class and overall at the Waikato Champs and at Nationals the following week.

NZIFBB Waikato 2012


You were offered the Pro card after winning the overall title at the NZIFBB Nats in 2012, did you have to think long before accepting the card?

Ha, no… not at all! Going into the Nationals, I really wanted to win so that I could represent NZ at the Arnold’s. Winning a pro card wasn’t even on my radar… I was so stunned that it wasn’t until I got a text the next day that I realized that it actually happened. There are literally hundreds of figure competitors here and back in the US who dream of competing on the pro stage. I know I’ve been handed an amazing opportunity and I intend to make the most of it.


What was the main factor in taking the Pro card and taking that next step on to the Pro stage?

I know what I’m capable of when I commit to something, and not many people get to compete in a sport they love at the very highest level. No matter what happens, I am really keen to see how I will perform as a pro.

NZIFBB Nationals 2012, Open Tall and Overall National Champ.

Are you nervous or do you thrive on the challenge of stepping up?

For my first show, many of the top figure athletes in the world will be on the stage with me, including the reigning Figure Olympia champ, Erin Stern. It’s got to be a bit like running against Usain Bolt in your first race… so yeah, I’m a bit nervous. J But nervous in the way that makes me want to work hard so I can stand next to the best in figure and look like I belong on stage next to them.

How has turning pro changed your focus?

The day after I got my pro card, I spent some time to try to figure out what that meant for me. I decided that for me, being a “pro” means I will put my maximum effort into my training and stick to my meal plan 100%, and that I do it consistently, every single day.

Where before I might have given myself a break on training or on my diet if I felt I “earned it”, I don’t make those compromises anymore. Now if I feel that I’m struggling to get motivated for cardio, for example, I will hit the treadmill instead of the bike, or I’ll find a tough class to mix things up, whereas before I might have talked myself into flagging it. As a pro, I’ve just got to get it done. The stakes are higher and I feel that I’m under a bit more scrutiny and that has changed the way I approach everything with regard to my contest prep… it’s given my training a lot more focus and intensity. I prefer it this way!


3 weeks before Australian Grand Prix

The Pro figure athletes are very much about presentation and being the 'glamazon', is this an area you're comfy with it and how will you go about presenting your best on stage.

Well, I’m no glamazon… I’ll probably have to develop a little bit of an “alter ego” to get onstage and radiate that kind of glam. ;) I think for me a lot of it is going to come down to confidence. If I feel like I brought the absolute best package that I can on show day, then it will be much easier for me to relax and ‘get my pose on’.

So it all comes back to nailing the prep, practicing my posing over and over, and working my tail off in the gym. If I believe that I am the absolute best version of myself that day, I know I will be able to be authentic and communicate my confidence that to the judges.



You're competing in the Melbourne Grand Prix in March, what's your typical training schedule at the moment:

I’m doing 2x a day training, and cardio in the AM and again in the PM. This close to the show my training is getting tweaked a bit each week as I see how I’m coming in, but my PM weights split currently looks something like this:

Mon - Shoulders
Tues – Back & Abs
Wed - Legs
Thurs – Chest and Shoulders
Fri – Legs (hams & glutes focus)
Sat – Arms & Abs
Sun – Plyometric workout

I hit calves almost every day after each workout for about 8-10 sets.

What rep range and sets are you working in at the moment and will this change as the show approaches?

Depends on the body part… I’m trying to gain a bit more size in my shoulders, triceps and calves so they get a bit heavier weight with lower reps. My back and chest are at about 15 reps. My legs are at higher reps (25+) so I can sharpen them up. At this point it probably rep ranges probably won’t change much until show time.


How much cardio are you doing each day and when?

AM cardio, first thing either HIIT or 40 minutes steady state. That’s anywhere between 5:30 and 7AM, depending on the day. PM cardio typically after weights which could be 9 or 10PM, usually 45 minutes.

What is your typical daily food intake?

Not a lot of variety this close to the show… After oatmeal and either egg whites or protein shake in the morning, I’m eating some combination of lean protein (chicken, egg whites, white fish, sometimes canned tuna) and green veggies for the remainder of the day, every 2.5 to 3 hours.

What supplements are you taking?

Aside from protein powder, I take vitamin C, vitamin B, L-glutamine, HMB, BCAA’s pre- and post-workout and ZMA before bed. I’ve also just started taking a fat burner, which is not something that I’ve done for other contests.


Are you feeling good about the changes that are happening and what further changes are you hoping to make to your physique before the Melbourne show?

I know that my body has changed a lot since Nationals, and I feel really good about that. I’ve been able to add size to my legs and shoulders and am working on the calves. If I can just lean everything down and hold onto my muscle, I’ll be happy for my first show. I’m really looking forward to standing on stage next to the other competitors and getting feedback from the judges so I can see what needs to be worked on next.

What comp plans - if any - do you have after the Melbourne Grand Prix?

I’ve got the Pittsburgh Pro Show in May this year. From there, decisions about my next show will probably depend on the feedback I get from the judges. If I have a ton of work to do, my next show will be toward the end of this year, back in the US.


Yoko with Moe

Many thanks to Lisa of GoFigure for approaching me for this interview… I feel like I’ve really “made it” in the NZ bodybuilding scene!

I’d like to thank Moe El Moussawi and the NZIFBB for giving me this amazing opportunity and for guidance … I won’t let you down! I also want to thank Jasmine Pou for the help she gave me as I was making the transition from an amateur to an IFBB Pro. Thanks to my sponsor, Cheryl at Shine Beauty Therapy and to Muscle & Fitness Gym for being my home away from home these past weeks.


Contest prep isn’t easy, and the support and encouragement I get from my family, the other NZIFBB pros and my friends is keeping me going and helping me stay on track. Also my friends in the gym and those people who take the time to post support on my Facebook have inspired me to push through tough cardio and training sessions.

So thanks so much everyone!

February 2013



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