MEET KNOXX’S FIRST FIGURE ATHLETE, MONA LIZA REYES!!
Cali Comes to Vegas
By Kevin Myles
When Mona Liza Reyes won the 2006 overall title at the California State Championships she broke into two things; tears of joy and a very memorable edition of the funky robot. What also should be remembered was the great physique she worked so hard for through much trial and error. Coming to compete in the USA Figure Championships in Las Vegas, she has the same hopes and dreams as the other 150-plus girls who have trained and dieted so hard. But, as is true with most champions, there is a little something else about Mona Liza. It goes beyond the physique and the exotic looks. It is a matter of heart and determination. She truly has a love for what she does and the reasons why she is doing it. Her talents go beyond the stage and even the fitness industry. The longer you look, the easier it is to see. Come Saturday evening, six girls will be awarded professional status and one crowned as overall champion. But in Mona Liza you have the girl who represents all the ones who are champions before they even arrive.
Bodysport: This will be your third trip to the USA and at your last show you placed a respectable 13th at the 2007 North American. Did you learn anything in your previous national competitions that you feel will help you this time out?
Mona Liza : Absolutely! National shows are so much more intense and the quality of the athletes is the cream of the crop in the country. In the past, I’ve allowed that kind of “pressure” to get the best me, not keeping my stress and worry in-check, which as we all know, affects your cortisol levels, and in turn makes you hold water. Oddly enough, when I did the North American, it was my “worst” condition ever, however I had to change my frame of mind before stepping on stage. I had accepted that although I wasn’t on-point, I wouldn’t allow it to reflect on stage. In my mind, I had to pretend and act confident, even though I wasn’t and it made all the difference.
Bodysport: You won the overall California Figure Championship in 2006. You fought your way up through the ranks to get that title. Do those memories help fuel your training and focus as you pursue professional status?
Mona Liza: Yes. “Fought” my way up through the ranks is definitely an understatement! J I had competed in a total of 11 shows, including the Cal in 2006 when I earned that overall title. The moment I won was captured on video, downloaded on youtube and has circulated all over. I love the fact that I’m known as the crazy girl that did “the robot” when she won. In my mind, at that moment I thought, “If this is the ONLY time I will ever win a title, I want to be remembered!” The memory is still very strong in my mind and heart and definitely the added fuel behind my training and focus. It is by far, ONE of the best feelings I have yet to experience in my figure career.
Bodysport: What physical improvements or changes have you made that you hope will positively effect the impression you leave on the judges?
Mona Liza: I have trained to bring more development in my back and shoulders. My legs have always been more dominant, so I’m trying to create more symmetry to balance my upper half with my lower. I’ve backed of lifting weights for my legs this season, focusing more on plyometrics, track work to bring the size of my legs down. Incorporating this on my leg days is getting my cardio in at the same I train my legs. With the new judging criteria and by the looks of athletes who have been placing top 5 on the regional, national and pro-level; I think that I will step on stage with a lean, tight yet “fuller” physique and not as “shredded” as I have been in the past.
Bodysport: The look of figure has evolved and changed a bit since last year. What do you think of the new mandates for the physiques and how do you think this will effect you?
Mona Liza: I’m actually really excited! Not sure if it would be to my benefit or to my disadvantage, but change is always interesting and exciting. By the looks of how the NPC and IFBB are placing top 5, it seems they may actually be judging based on the stated criteria. For the past 2 years, on a national-level I have always competed as “class A” – height 5’2” and under. This year, with the new height changes, I fall under “class B” – which is over 5’1” to 5’2 ½“. My height is 5’ 1 ½”. Again, this is exciting because I’ve been told that I get lost in the shuffle at national shows because there as SO many athletes that fall under the A class. My hope is that breaking up the classes a little more may give the judges an opportunity with more time and less athletes per class to review the physiques.
Bodysport: You’ve been known to have some pretty enthusiastic support crews at your shows. Will “Team Mo” be in effect in Las Vegas?
Mona Liza: (smiling) Yeah.. I pretty blessed in the support and cheerleading department. GO TEAM MO has truly evolved beyond my wildest dreams. I was inspired by past competitions where I saw other figure girls wearing their trainer’s company or business, like a walking billboard. I think that it’s awesome when you can be a walking advertisement for others but what if you could have walking advertisement for you? The friends, family and “fans” that come to support me, WANT to show their support and will gladly wear it on their chest. The most exciting thing because of this is I have picked up a sponsor: KNOXX Gear (www.knoxxgear.com) who sees the value in my established and growing support and jumped on the opportunity to cross promote. Which is awesome for me, because that’s an extra expense I don’t have to worry about for a show and I’m affiliated with some of the best athletes that KNOXX sponsors in the pro MMA, skateboarding, and music industry. They designed my shirts for the upcoming Vegas show, simply stated, “I (heart) LOVE ME SOME MO”
Bodysport: What is it about competing as a figure athlete that keeps you striving for more?
Mona Liza: Honestly, whenever I am asked this question I can’t help but get emotional and sentimental. Everyone knows that there is NO MONEY to compete in this sport. Winning an overall title and a sword doesn’t pay the bills or bring sponsors to your door. From the very 1st show I competed in, in July 2003 with the IFNB, I wanted to simply be a living example to other women that IT CAN BE DONE. Some people compete to win, others want to be a role model. I am both. Unfortunately there is a negative stigma about bodybuilding to mainstream America. It’s “assumed” to be a dirty sport, but I am living proof that it isn’t – if you don’t want it to be. Receiving emails from aspiring figure athletes, thanking me for “representing” naturally is the greatest award EVER! Sure, it has taken me 5 years and 18 competitions to get the love and recognition in this industry, but I truly believe everyone has their time and in all humbleness, I believe my time is now. There are many doors of wonderful opportunities that have opened to me because of my love to compete. Regardless of how I have placed, people and businesses are more intrigued to support Mona Liza the athlete and the person behind the athlete. I continue to interact, network, and be open to ALL the possibilities. I am an athlete in all respects, but for now, I am an athlete passionate about figure.
Interview can be seen at http://bodysport.com
www.goteammo.com (it’s under construction but will be re-launched shortly after the USA’s with pictures from the show, etc)
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