Emily Ingram reaches elite level of bodybuilding

Judd Biasiotto encouraged Emily Ingram to become a bodybuilder.
Emily Ingram stays fit in a variety of ways.

On any given day, in any given gym or fitness center, women can be found lifting weights, pumping iron and sculpting their bodies into premier shape. But in the world of elite bodybuilding, the room is a little less crowded. Cumming resident Emily Ingram, 35, stands among the select group who have taken the sport to the next level. 
Unlike the sect of bodybuilding that focuses on development of massive muscles, the 5-foot-6, 147-pound Ingram competes in the “physique” competition, which emphasizes form and style over mass. In 2014, she was named middleweight world champion at a competition in Boston. 
Ingram describes bodybuilding as her “sanity turned passion.” It underscores her busy family life with four kids ages 7 to 15 with husband Paul and her work as a personal trainer, motivational speaker and work with charitable organizations.
In between training, working and family time, Northside Woman caught up with Ingram to find out more about her life as professional bodybuilder.

Northside Woman: How did you get started with weightlifting?
Emily Ingram: I have always loved being strong and was always very competitive – even as a small child. In high school, I ran track and started lifting weights when I was 14. I fell in love with weightlifting the second I started. My father was a premier athlete who broke records in pole vaulting, and even qualified for the Olympic trials the year we boycotted. My father was my hero, and I wanted to be just like him. I learned to set goals, be determined, stay strong and never give up on my dreams. He taught me many things before he died when I was 19.

At what point did you decide weightlifting was going to be more than a hobby, and that you would focus on bodybuilding?
I was 119 pounds, slender, fit and working out at a gym in Albany, when Judd Biasiotto, a world champion athlete, author, great friend and father figure, told me day after day I needed to compete. He knew I would be a world champion [bodybuilder]. Finally one day, I decided I would take him up on the challenge. I took a few years to prepare myself physically and mentally, because I knew that I didn’t just want to compete, I wanted to become the best.

What was the first event you entered? What was the result, and what did you learn?
My first few competitions were with NPC in women’s physique. I took second, but was getting a lot of pressure to use steroids, which I vowed never to do because I believe with hard work and dedication, I can achieve anything. At one of my competitions, I met Penny Ruff, from Dallas, Georgia, an all-natural professional bodybuilder. She told me about the natural stage, and I was very excited! I took time off to build more muscle and in March 2013, Penny coached me in my first competition as a bodybuilder where I won the heavyweight class and the overall, which earned me my Pro card. With that win, I knew I was in the right place.

Speaking of steroids, it seems to be a big part of weightlifting, even among teenagers. What are your thoughts on this trend?
Ah, steroids. The natural competitor’s worst enemy. I don’t agree with using steroids and don’t agree with others using them either. I hate hearing of teenage boys using at such a young age. Their bodies are so full of testosterone that abusing steroids is absolutely unnecessary and extremely dangerous. They are damaging their bodies more than they can even comprehend. When they are in their mid-20s, they will surely regret what they have done. It is a dangerous drug and if any teen feels pressure to use – whether from a peer or a coach – they need to find someone to confide in immediately. There is no trophy worth risking your health over.

Tell me about your training regimen and your typical day.
I weight train six days a week, between one to two hours a day, depending on what body part I’m working out, how much cardio I’m doing and of course how many people talk to me! I prefer to lift at 5 a.m., because I can get it out of the way. The gym isn’t crowded, and I can work out quickly. I break up all my days into different body parts so I can make sure to hit them all and grow evenly and keep my symmetry. I love the gym more than any other place on earth...lifting is the easy part for me. The hardest part about bodybuilding for me is eating the proper amount of food. I eat six to seven full meals daily with the proper amount of protein, carbohydrates, fruits and veggies. I drink a gallon-and-a-half of water daily. Gaining muscle is not easy. As a 100 percent natural bodybuilder, it takes time, persistence and years of dedication. Today, I weigh 147 pounds, but it has taken six years of nonstop hard work and eating clean day after day to gain 30 pounds of quality weight.

And in between all the training and workouts, you had four kids. The question for all working moms…how do you balance your life? (Emily and her husband, Paul, a CPA for Dixon Hughes Goodman, have been married for 15 years and have four children Lex, 15, Indie, 12, Tadhg, 9, and Olive, 7, along with dog, Rufus.)

I haven’t always had a gym to work out in, so sometimes I would have to improvise. I would do workout videos, study magazines, and write my own workouts. I would often use my children as weights, and they loved it. When I had my third child, we would go to the football field and I would roller blade around the track pushing my 6-month-old in a jogger stroller while the other two raced me on their bikes. After two or three miles, they would play in the field while I put the baby in a backpack carrier and ran the stadium stairs. It was killer! After my fourth child was born, I bounced back very quickly because I stayed active and ate healthy. I have an incredible support system in my family.

Body building is a traditional “man’s” sport. How are women accepted in this world, and what challenges did you face?
You don’t have to be manly or give up your feminine qualities to be muscular. I have been lucky and have been accepted and encouraged by many in the profession of bodybuilding. But I also have a rule I always live by...focus on the ones that support and encourage me and ignore the ones that don’t. I don’t waste any time worrying about what others may think of me or whether or not they support me. I have an amazing family, friends and fans who encourage and support me daily, and I find if you focus on the good and positive in life, it will leave very little room for the negative.

What motivates you?
My goals motivate me, my children motivate me, my fans and supporters motivate me. But most importantly, God motivates me, because I know I have a greater purpose than winning trophies – and that is to help encourage and motivate others to get active and healthy. Our bodies are temples, and we should treat them as such.

What are your short-term and long-term goals? Where do you see yourself in five years, 10 years and beyond?
Short-term goal this off season is to get my weight up to 155 pounds of lean muscle before dieting again this fall. In five years, I will absolutely be at the top of my game, and in 10 years, I hope to be a coach for other competitors and an international figure for natural women bodybuilders. I would love to write a book and teach others how to accomplish their goals.

If someone wanted to start bodybuilding, where do they start? Is there a happy medium between couch potato and body builder?
There are many levels of fitness, and finding what type of look you want to have and maintain is really the place to start. You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to lift like a bodybuilder. Everyone should lift weights. Everyone. Too many women are afraid to lift heavy weights for fear of getting “too big,” and that will never happen. You will, however, get fit and toned, which I think most will agree is ideal. The most important thing to remember is get active and eat clean. Avoid sugars and processed foods, drink plenty of water and get enough rest. Take the time to educate yourself on how to reach your goals successfully and stay focused. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a fit body. Stay honed in on that goal and push yourself daily. Stay positive and find ways to keep yourself encouraged on a daily basis. Keep progress pictures of your journey, and don’t get hung up on that scale!


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