BFT: Were you always an avid fitness person? What got you into fitness?
KR: I am not sure if I have always been into fitness per se, but I have always enjoyed being active and exposing myself to enjoyable new experiences. I am often asked “what got me into fitness” and there has not been one thing or another. Early on in life when I was an only child, I recall my mother placing me in various classes i.e. dance, skate, and swim, but all very sporadically and briefly. During my years in high school and college I played JV volleyball, and performed with the dance squad for a short period. I would have to say fitness or an active lifestyle along with the camaraderie it offered was just something I enjoyed.
BFT. What made you decide to enter the fitness competition?
KR. I made this decision after I realized many seeds were being planted for me to do so. I was always in the gym and my workouts were often intense. On more than one occasion I had been asked if I compete. I laughed at the notion because in my opinion I was nowhere near physically or mentally prepared for whatever that meant! After a few insightful conversations with one woman in particular, Rochelle Parks, who had been and still is an active and successful competitor and supporter, I decided to do a little research then make some decisions. I was thinking it to be a highly unlikely undertaking since I could not imagine making the dietary or more specifically the alcohol sacrifices which I felt I so dearly needed in order to keep my sanity at the job I had at the time [laughs].
BFT: How did you feel to win the fitness competition on the first time out?
KR: I could list to you the entire cliche of adjectives to describe my “amazing,” “unbelievable,” “incredible,” and “unforgettable” win, but none of them would do justice. It still brings on chills and tears when I passionately recollect not only the win, but the journey to get there. I suppose my best comparative would be to my all-time favorite sports movie(s), ROCKY. I went the 15 rounds (15 weeks) and I competed victoriously against my Apollo (opponents who were known and had won in the past). There was no split decision. I, an unknown entry to the judges, the Muscle Mania organization, the figure competition stage, and to most of my opponents took home three trophies that night including the Overall title!! It was my ROCKY scene come true!
BFT: You are a nurse, ZUMBA instructor and now fitness champion, do you believe health and fitness is your purpose on this earth and if so when did you realize it?
KR: I believe we all may have more than one purpose in life. For me, that discovery is daily. I do believe that I have been given a specific innate passion and compassion for people. I know that is what helped me as early as ninth grade decide that I wanted to be a nurse. The longer I live, the more I learn about myself, my talents, abilities, as well as my weakness and areas for growth. As far as health and fitness, at this season in my life yes, I do believe it is part of my purpose. I know this because of the lives I have been able to influence, encourage and uplift. I know this because you have asked me to share in part this portion of my story. I know this because most days there is nothing I would rather be doing than pushing play to the ROCKY theme song and hitting the gym.
BFT: What’s your advice to women who use their hair as an excuse not to workout?
KR: Figure it out or get over it! I worked out prior to going natural. I have worn my hair in various styles over the past years with hair weaves, braids and wigs. I figured it out because I enjoyed my time in the gym, out running, or in fitness classes and I did not want to sacrifice that enjoyment or the awesome feeling afterwards because of my hair. To be honest, going natural a couple years ago was a huge challenge. There were a lot of things I had to figure out and I am not just referring to hair products! I had to dig deep and reconnect with the woman in the mirror and the hair on her head. Who is she? What is she? How does she feel and where had she been? When I convinced myself that I was old enough to care less about the societal thoughts of which hair style was more appealing to the masses and cared more about being free to be me, I began to embrace my shorter natural look. When I embraced it confidently so did and so have many others. I occasionally still have some challenges with hair “issues” but that’s never gonna change. After all, I am still a woman and we all have bad hair days [laughs].
BFT: What are your future plans or goals in the world of fitness?
KR: That has become the million dollar question. The one show I competed in in May 2012 which was to be considered a “bucket list” item has grown into something bigger. I am competing in the Fitness Universe competition in Las Vegas, Nevada November 16 and 17th. This is a bigger show that will be shown live on the internet and will be my second one. There are still many things I am trying to tweak my body in these last few weeks so my final decision to go as a competitor or a spectator will be made in a couple of weeks.
BFT: I always like the last question to be an opportunity for the interviewee to speak to the audience on anything that comes to you.
KR: Thank you for asking me to do this interview. It is such a humbling compliment to be sought out to share an intimate part of my life in this way.
There is so much I would like to say to your audience, but as it relates to fitness I would say to all of you, BEGIN! Begin with YOURSELF. Not with the gym, your significant other, or your best friend. Begin with YOU because once you start on this internal and external path of change, you may end up being the only one on it at some point. Your life/our lives are so much better when we have the energy to conquer and cash in on all life has to offer. Don’t let your laziness, your circumstances, or your surroundings be your excuse for missing out on life’s good deal! BEGIN!