·Where and when have you been born?
I was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas, which is a relatively small town in Southeast Texas. I went to private Catholic school for 13 years and graduated with honors as a straight “A” student. At the age of 18 I moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where I attended Louisiana State University (LSU) on a full academic scholarship.
·Where do you live now?
I moved to Houston, Texas, about 2 ½ years ago, which is where I currently reside.
·What is your profession?
I spent 3 years in Graphic Design at LSU with an emphasis on photography. However, I graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Geology. I moved back to Beaumont and worked for a consulting firm as an Environmental Geologist for 4 ½ years. One of my passions outside of my career was working out. At the time, I had a very athletic physique, closer to that of today’s fitness competitors. As a matter of fact, I was obsessed with watching the Fitness America Pageants on ESPN2 and would rush home at my lunch hour to catch a couple of episodes. Many people would approach me in the gym asking for training & dieting tips or if I was a personal trainer. The more people asked me, the more I considered getting my certification. I studied for the ACE exam and received my certification in March 1999. I quit my full time job to go back to graduate school in Environmental Science/Biology and began personal training on the side. I was not pleased with the curriculum of the school I was attending, so I left graduate school and began personal training in the morning and doing independent environmental consulting in the afternoon/evening. After doing this for about a year, I met the owner of a discount supplement store at Junior Nationals in Houston in June 2000. In August of that year, I helped him open a store in Beaumont, where I was still living. In October, I approached him about opening my own store in Austin. At the time, he was not ready to expand outside of Houston, but he had an existing store available on the West Side of town. So January 1, 2001, I moved to Houston as the proud new owner of Nutrition Depot No. 4. I still own and operate the store, which has developed a great client base and is doing very well. Outside the store, I have expanded into other areas of the health and fitness industry. I now also offer Jan Tana airbrush tanning services to competitors at most NPC shows in Texas & Louisiana, as well as to the general public in the Houston area. I work independently doing this at the amateur level and at times have the pleasure of working with Ms. Jan Tana herself and her wonderful crew tanning the pros at major shows such as the Jan Tana Classic and the upcoming Olympia 2003. Despite my background in both art & science, I have never been as happy with my profession as I am now in the health & fitness industry. I am officially hooked and always keep my eyes & ears open to other potential professional opportunities in this fabulous & exciting industry.
·What kind of activities/sports did you do before you started lifting weights?
I have always been active and athletic. I began playing tennis competitively at age 5 and pretty much played every day of my life until I was 18. Tennis was my life growing up. But, I also played volleyball and basketball competitively as a young teenager. All sports interested me. And I always excelled at whichever one I decided to play, whether competitively or just for fun. I guess I was always a tomboy at heart. I was always much more content throwing a football than I was at playing with Barbie’s.
·How and when did you get involved into lifting weights?
In high school, I fooled around with weights in the girls’ locker room. But our physical education coach did nothing to guide female athletes in this aspect and all we had to work with was a really old universal cable machine – lat pulldowns, bench, curl, & overhead triceps extensions were about all you could do. The guys had all the free weights & encouragement to use them. Girls weren’t allowed. Heck, our physical education coach didn’t even consider tennis a sport! I was always stronger than all the girls (and some of the guys) in school, so lifting weights interested me. I loved impressing people & throwing them for a loop. I had a guy friend that let me use his bench press at his house and it always freaked him out how much I could lift. So one of the first classes I took when I got to LSU was Weight Training 101. I learned alot about the way muscles worked physically and about what exercises trained which muscle groups. I aced the written exam, doubled my bench and squat, but believe it or not got a “B” in the class because at the end of the semester I couldn’t do one wide-grip pull-up! I was devastated. I would love to go back to that teacher & see what grade he would give me now!
·Was it a goal for you to compete in bodybuilding competitions right from the beginning or was it something that grew in your mind as time went on and you saw the progress in your body?
I never in my wildest dreams ever aspired to be or thought I would become a bodybuilder! I have always been athletic and stronger than most women I know, and once I started lifting weights, I developed muscle more easily than most people. When I was about 25, I became entranced by the physiques of the Fitness America competitors and strove to fashion my own physique after such people as Mia Finnegan, Amy Fahdli, Monica Brandt, & Timea Marjorova. I longed to compete in this fashion, but did not have the acrobatic or dance skills to do so. If the NPC would have had the figure division back then, I probably would have gone that route. I never thought I had the potential to be a bodybuilder until I went to the Arnold Classic in 2000 and saw the fitness girls in person. When I realized that my physique already dwarfed these girls, I thought to myself “Maybe bodybuilding is something I could do!” About the same time, a trainer at my gym approached me and suggested that I enter a bodybuilding competition. He offered to train me for free. I didn’t spend any time putting on more size, I just basically dieted down from my 145 lb. Athletic physique to a ripped (but scrawny!) 124 lbs. The preparation was challenging & the competition was exhilarating. But the trainer I worked with was not very focused, and I felt I could have been better prepared. I decided I wanted to continue to pursue the sport, but with better preparation next time.
However, my progress in the sport was severely hindered by a serious automobile accident six months later. A car ran a red light in front of me, and I struck it without even having a chance to hit the brakes. My head struck the windshield, with only the impact of my left cheekbone on the dashboard keeping me from flying through it. My Jeep was totalled, and I had a concussion, bulging discs in my neck & lumbar, stitches to my right knee, severe trauma to my left ankle, hyper-extended wrists, and a hell of a shiner on the left side of my face. The paramedics and police said it was one of the most severe wrecks they had ever worked & that I was lucky to be alive…they all said it was my excellent physical condition and musculature that likely saved my life. I went through 14 months of physical therapy, pain management, chiropractor visits, and cortizone shots. The doctors told me I would never lift again. I couldn’t move my right arm for 2 months, and once I did regain mobility, I couldn’t lift a 5 lb. dumbbell with my right hand. The therapy didn’t help, as I was in severe pain 24 hrs. a day in my right wrist and at the base of my skull. I was severely depressed and began to eat as a defense mechanism. I ballooned up to 180 lbs. and about 30% bodyfat. In April of 2002, I met a neuromuscular therapist at my store who literally saved my life as I knew it. He convinced me that he could help me and gave me the first session for free just to prove it to me. He worked on me for about 1 ½ hours and said to rest and call him in the morning to tell him how I felt. That was the first night in almost 1 ½ years that I slept soundly. When I woke up, I had no pain in my neck or wrist, my flexibility and mobility had increased exponentially, and I headed straight for the gym. I not only could pick up those 5 lb. dumbbells, but was curling 25’ s the first day back!
I started slow and by July had gotten back down to about 145 lbs. and 18% bodyfat. During this time I had also been taking care of my father, who had developed lung cancer. Training was an outlet for me to help me deal with the prospect of losing my father. He passed away July 12, 2002. Three weeks later, I attended the Texas State Championship in Houston…it was the first bodybuilding show I had been to since competing in Austin two years prior. I was immediately hooked again. I was going to wait until 2003 to get back on stage, but seeing the show inspired me to begin not just training to lose weight but training to compete again. And it gave me something to focus on besides my father’s death…he had attended my show in Austin & loved it, so it kind of became a tribute to him. I recruited a friend in Beaumont to help me prepare. With 14 weeks until the last show of the year in Texas (the Sherman Classic), we made great progress for the first 7 weeks. But 7 weeks out from the show, my trainer stopped returning my emails & phone calls. I flew solo for 2 weeks, but was only blowing up and not leaning out. With the recommendation of one of my distributors, I hired the trainer who had prepared the woman (his fiancé) who won the 2002 Ms. Texas title. He worked with me diligently every day for the last 5 weeks and even convinced me to compete in the Lackland Classic the week before the Sherman Classic. We did what we could, but there was only so much we could salvage. I won the novice heavyweight title at the Lackland show, but placed last in my first open competition at the Sherman. I was not discouraged, though, I was just happy to be back on-stage where I never thought I would be again. And my trainer was so impressed with my dedication and drive – plus he thought I had true potential in this sport – that he asked me to become his workout partner.
The rest is history. My training partner & his fiancé (soon to be wife…Sept. 27, 2003!) are now my two best friends…more like family than anything. We trained together, prepared for competition together, and competed together this year. And we are planning our future competitions for next year together, as well. It is totally a team effort. We call it Texas Muscle. I never thought I had what it took to be a bodybuilder. But with the love, support, and encouragement of my friends, family, and all the great people I have met so far in this sport at the amateur & professional level, as well as the media and press, being a bodybuilder now defines who I am. It is ingrained in my soul & in my spirit, and I promise to do everything I possibly can to be a positive advocate of the sport because it brings peace and, for the first time, happiness to my life.
·Which competition has been your first one and how did you place?
The first show I ever competed in was the Capitol of Texas in Austin, TX, in June 2000. I weighed in as a middleweight at a scrawny 124 lbs. I would have made a great figure competitor! There was only one novice middleweight (myself) and one novice heavyweight (who was about 3 inches shorter & 12 lbs. heavier than me). Rather than give us each first place, the judges decided to bump me up to heavyweight. Needless to say, I got 2nd place!
·And which contest has been the biggest success for you yet?
I would definitely have to say the 2003 USA Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was my first national level competition. I honestly didn’t feel that I belonged on-stage at that competition, as I had just qualified for national level competition two weeks prior. But with the encouragement of several seasoned competitors in my gym and my always-supportive training partner, I decided to make a late entry into the show. I have to say it was the best decision I have ever made. I have been in this sport for such a short time and things have moved so fast that I sometimes feel like an impostor – sometimes I don’t really consider myself to be a real bodybuilder. Even though I did not make the cut for the night show (which was, of course, disappointing), I considered it an honor just to have stepped on-stage beside all those beautiful and gifted women – such as Heather Policky & Collette Nelson - that I have come to admire over the past couple of years. And by participating in that show, I received such positive feedback, support, and encouragement from fellow competitors, judges, and members of the media that I now truly feel like a real bodybuilder. I now know that I do have potential in this sport. Before bodybuilding was just something I did, a personal passion that I thought I would do because I love it and it makes me feel good about myself. But I never thought I had the potential to make it to this level, especially this fast. And now that I am here, I have been made welcome and feel like I truly am a part of this sport. Next time I step on a national stage, I will truly feel like I belong there & will no longer be an awe-struck “newbie” but an actual contender. So even though the 2003 USA’s definitely was not my greatest success as far as placing, it was definitely a personal success in my life...a turning point in making my passion into my life.
·Could you please add a history of all contests that you have entered so far?
June 2000 – Capital of Texas (Austin, TX) 2nd Pl. – Novice Heavyweight
Nov. 2002 – Lackland Classic (San Antonio, TX) 1st Pl. – Novice Heavyweight
Nov. 2002 – John Sherman Classic (Houston, TX) 5th Pl. – Open Heavyweight
July 2003 – Mid-USA Champ. (Albuquerque, NW) 2nd Pl. – Open Heavyweight
July 2003 – TX State Champ. (Houston, TX) 2nd Pl. – Open Heavyweight
July 2003 – USA Championships (Las Vegas, NV) Heavyweight Competitor
·Please describe a typical day in the life of Mary Hobbs.
Pre-season, my universe is centered around competition and every day is just about the same:
6:30 AM – Wake & do cardio
7:30 AM – Eat
10:00 AM – Open the shop & eat
12:00 PM – Eat
12:30 PM – Go to the gym & train
2:30 PM – Return to the shop & eat
4:30 PM – Eat
6:30 PM – Eat
8:00 PM – Close the shop
8:30 PM – Tan, go home, & eat
9:00 PM to 12:00 AM – Watch a little TV, catch up on email, do paperwork for the shop, organize for the next day (and oh, yeah…10:30 PM – Eat)
12:00 AM – Sleep
6:30 AM – Start all over again
The closer it gets to contest, the less time I spend at the shop & the more time I spend at the gym. Practicing mandatory poses and co-ordinating my posing music & routine take up more time. And sometimes I sleep in and do my cardio late at night.
This is my first stab at a true “off-season”, so I’ll have to see how my time is spent over the next six months. But in order to keep things in perspective and keep my goals for next year first priority, I have a feeling things won’t change too much. But I will have a little more free time with the absence of practicing posing & not doing as much cardio, so I would like to incorporate a few distractions into my day, especially on the weekends. What that will entail, I have yet to figure out. But a date every once in a while would be nice!
·Please tell me something about your daily training routine.
We usually train on a 5 day split: Chest & Abs, Calves & Quads, Back, Shoulders & Hams, and Abs, Bi’s, & Tri’s. The days we train each body part varies according to where we are in the season. For instance if we’re pulling heavy deadlifts on back day, we’ll do it early in the week and do a lighter leg workout later in the week. But if we’re squatting heavy, we’ll do that early in the week and do a lighter back workout a few days later.
·How often do you train in a week?
Typically, I train with my two workout partners Ernesto & David 4 to 5 times per week, depending on where we are in the competition season.
·What are the main differences when you train for a competition and in off-season?
First off, I hate…I mean HATE…doing cardio. So off-season…if I don’t have to do it, I don’t do it. One of my training partners is also my trainer and a national-level competitor, so we try to co-ordinate our shows so that we get ready for them together. Our dieting & cardio program is very gradual and starts about 6 months out from a show. We’ll start doing maybe 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week. The closer in we get, we go to doing it every day and for longer periods of time. A lot of competitors start dieting closer in to shows & do more intense cardio for longer periods of time to take the fat off faster. But it works best for us to do it slowly, that way minimal muscle is sacrificed and our maximum amount of cardio right before a show is usually only about an hour per day. It takes a lot of discipline to diet for so long, but it’s easier because we can do it together.
As far as off-season & pre-season weight training, we lift as heavy as we physically can all the way into the show. Granted, as we get closer to a show & start to deplete out carbs, our strength does go down. But we still lift as heavy as we can at that moment. When we’re eating more & bulking, we’ll do a lot of power lifting with lower reps. And a few weeks out from the show, we do more volume & pumping work. Everything in between those two times tends to change every few weeks, just to keep our physiques from adapting to the training.
·If you don’t mind would you give me some stats (best lifts and some body measurements)?
Well, I am 5’7” and weigh around 150-159 contest weight (175 to 185 off-season). As far as bodypart measurements, people ask me all the time & I have just never bothered to measure. Guess I’ll have to get back to you on that one.
Best lifts…hmmm. We don’t really concentrate on how much we lift, just on the form and fatigue. I’ve never done a one-rep max on bench or squats or anything else, because I fear the risk of injury, which could do irreparable damage to my true goals. It’s just not worth it. So when people ask me “How much do you bench?” or “How much do you squat?” (and they ask ALOT), I usually tell them “I don’t really pay attention…I’m a bodybuilder, not a power lifter.” Or if I’m dieting & in a really bad mood, the answer is “Probably more than you!”
What I can tell you is what I train with when we go heavy:
Squats – 275 lbs. for 8 to 12 reps
Bench – 185 lbs. for 8 reps
Deadlift - 275 lbs. for 8 reps
Leg Press – 810 lbs. for 20 reps
Curls – 45 lb. Dumbbells for 8 to 12 reps
Shrugs – 315 lbs. for 8 to 12 reps
·Which bodypart is your best in your opinion?
As far as a foundation, I guess I would have to say my legs, delts, and guns are my best assets. My legs are naturally muscular from all the years of tennis; all I need to do is work on bringing out the separation and detail. My delts have come up quite a bit since last year. I have naturally broad shoulders (which is good, because I unfortunately also have naturally broad hips and waist), I just need to work on the density and roundness of them. And guns…well people always comment on my guns. They’re big, yeah…I just need to improve the peaks a bit.
I think the detail in my upper back and rear delts is probably the most impressive on stage, though. If I can bring out the thickness in my lats, then I think I will really be a force to be reckoned with next year. That is my constant goal…take my weaknesses and make them my strengths.
·What is your favorite exercise in the gym and which one you don’t like so much (if there is any)?
I love power movements. The ones that when I lift, everyone in the gym stops what they’re doing and goes “DAAAAMMMMNNNN!” I guess I’d have to say my favorite would have to be deadlifts. Before January 2003, I had never done them. At first they were intimidating, but now I just absolutely love them…they are empowering for me. As far as one I don’t like, I don’t think there really is one. The only exercise that really aggravates me is squats. I know my legs are strong, but my upper body strength and stability limits the amount of weight I can do on these. I can leg press just as much weight as just about any guy in the gym, but squats just eat my lunch! I don’t hate them, though, they just aggravate me!
·Judging in Women’s Bodybuilding has always been criticised in one or the other way. But please tell me your honest thoughts about today’s judging in Women’s Bodybuilding.
I will actually have to be around it more to give you an honest opinion on that one. All I can tell you is what I have seen and experienced thus far in the past year. What physiques are rewarded in competition at the amateur level varies from state to state. Size is rewarded in some states whereas conditioning is rewarded in others. It is hard to know what they want at the national level until you actually get there. And even then, girls that I would have placed higher seem to get overlooked or punished by the judges by their size. Who wins seems to be dictated by what will not offend or scare the general public, which sometimes means the smaller girls place higher. I understand money talks, and the sponsors do not want to reward women who cannot potentially make them money. I do agree, though, with the whole “total package” concept that the NPC & IFBB seem to taking with the women. Women, even muscular women, should still be women. So I agree that the stage presentation…hair, makeup, suits, skin tone, etc…should all be taken into consideration when judging women. However, I do not believe that a woman with a superior physique should be overlooked or punished because her suit was not as pretty or her hair was not as perfect as the girl next to her.
Right off, though, there are a few things in women’s bodybuilding..and bodybuilding, in general…that I think should be changed. First off, this sport is a combination of science and art. It is a science to get your body to look this way, and it is an art to present it. Therefore, I believe that not only symmetry & mandatory poses should be judged, but also the posing routine. So many competitors spend countless time & dollars preparing for the routine, which at this point basically expresses their personality and entertains the crowd. They stress over picking out just the right music, pay someone to edit it, hire choreographers, and practice, practice, practice…all for what? The self-satisfaction that they have “wowed” the crowd and presented themselves in the most unique and best way they can. If the crowd is wowed, then the promoters make more money, and the popularity of the sport is increased. So shouldn’t competitors be rewarded for such effort and hard work that at this point benefits every one else but them? If it is not judged, then at least there should be a reward at each show for the best posing routine, like there is at the Jan Tana Classic.
And on the note of rewards for effort…the prize money given for professional women’s bodybuilding is a joke. Once again, I understand…money talks. Sponsors provide the money, and they must have an image that makes them money. That is why these great big guys win a $100,000 plus a vehicle plus a nice watch, etc., for winning one of the two major U.S. pro shows every year. It’s like the sponsors try to outdo each other to reward these guys. Which is great…they deserve it. But I have news for the sponsors…women deserve it too! We work just as hard, if not harder, to look this way! And for what..a maximum spoils of $20,000 if you happen to win your weight class AND the overall. Where’s out Hummer, guys? The general public wants to see big guys but not big girls. The average guy wants to have more muscle, and the average woman does not…she wants to be “toned.” And that is why the figure girls are already making just as much if not more money than bodybuilders. And that is why the NPC & IFBB are now looking for the “total package” in women’s bodybuilding. They want us to keep it feminine, and we’re doing it. And I have news for them…the total package costs money! Women are now spending more on their suits, hair, makeup, nails, jewelry, boobs, EVERYTHING!, in an effort to give the judges and sponsors the “total package.” We’re making an effort to give them what they want, now they should make an effort to give us what we need to continue in this sport…more money! If it weren’t for the hardcore female bodybuilding fans and the media that support us, I think women’s bodybuilding would have been phased out years ago. So thank you to those of you who love and support what it is we do!
·Please tell me about what else you are doing when you don’t work out (profession, hobbies, etc.)
I’d have to say that 90 to 95% of my time now is taken up by work or training. In my pre-bodybuilding days, I of course played tennis, but I also loved to camp, scuba dive, jet-ski, rock climb, mountain bike, kickbox, go see movies, and read comic books. I do still manage to make it to the lake every now and then, where my love for jet-skiing is re-ignited. Occasionally, I make it to a flea market or go antique shopping with my mom. I am also quite an artistic and crafty person…I even decorate all my own posing suits. And I hate to admit it, but I have a collection of over 300 PEZ dispensers. There are actually a lot of things that I love to do, but my main problem is not having someone to do them with. If I had someone to do all those things with, I would probably still do most of them.
But for now, bodybuilding and fitness are my main passions. I do love to travel, and most weekends when there is an amateur show in the vicinity or a big pro show, you’ll find me there. The only other place you may find me besides work, the gym, or at home is at Starbuck’s sucking down some overpriced caffeine!
·What are your future plans for 2003/2004?
After doing three back-to-back competitions in July, we’re pretty much done competing for the year. My trainer and I plan on taking cues from the 2003 USA judges and work on what they thought were our weaknesses. We will probably do a state show as a warm-up in the spring of 2004, then hit the stage at Junior Nationals in Chicago, IL, in June. If we place Top 5 in Chicago, then we’ll go back to Vegas and see what kind of damage we can do at the 2004 USA’s. If for some reason the Juniors don’t go so well, we’ll probably regroup and give it another shot at the 2004 Nationals in November. But between now and then, you’ll see me in the mix at the 2003 Olympia working with Jan Tana, in the audience at the 2003 Nationals in Miami, FL (gotta’ keep an eye on the competition!), and at the Jan Tana booth at the 2004 Arnold Classic.