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Muscle Talk

Jaime Filer

Jaime Filer graduated with a kinesiology degree from York University, where she was a varsity athlete. She’s also a former competitive bodybuilder who competed in drug-tested events throughout North America. If something new is trending in fitness, chances are Jaime’s already tried it!

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"I know I’ve gotten by on a smile."

1-On-1 interview with Simone Sinclaire, IFBB Bikini Pro

“I thought that getting my pro card would have been enough, but it’s proven to me I can achieve seemingly unattainable things. “

Very rarely in my line of work, do I have to remind an interviewee that what they are saying IS on the record. Usually, it takes clever probing and slick wit to get personalities to answer tougher, more personal questions.  In the following interview, I actual found myself REMINDING Simone that what she was saying was being written down. She was honest, candid and forth-coming with her answers, almost to the point where I was worried she forgot she was being recorded; but that’s just her personality.

I should preface what you are about to read by saying this isn’t your typical, “Tell me about your daily diet” and “What exercise works best for your glutes” Q & A. This is more of a personal, intimate, “What’s it like to have just won your pro card?” and “Is it hard to balance being a mom with being and IFBB Bikini Pro?” dialogue.

This interview is about the person behind the Pro card.

1-On-1 interview with Simone Sinclaire,
IFBB Bikini Pro

You’re a 4x CBBF National bikini champion. The Pro card eluded you on 3 separate occasions. What made you keep going back? Where did your tenacity come from?

The first few times, it came from the fact that although I wanted the pro card, I knew that I wasn’t ready yet. Judges told me what my deficiencies were, what I needed to bring up, and I actually saw them myself. So for me, it was really a matter of, “Whenever I do get that pro card, I’m going to make last years win look like a “Before” picture.” After that third win, I felt pretty defeated because at that point I thought that was my best package, and I felt like it looked really in line with what the pro circuit was rewarding at the time.  The feedback that I got, unfortunately, was not to change anything at all. That was hard to hear, because I think, as an athlete, you always want to improve, and there’s nothing negative in that. After that 3rd national win, when I asked for feedback from the panel, and I heard “Just come back, you looked amazing.”, I felt as though I didn’t have any goals anymore. I wasn’t going to go out for a 4th after that. Dean Brandt, Leigh Brandt’s husband, reached out to me. He basically said, “You ARE so deserving and so ready. If you don’t do this one more time, you’ll always wonder.” And he was absolutely right. I was so grateful he did. The fact that he did that so selflessly was what gave me the motivation to go at it one more time.

Why did you want your IFBB Pro card so badly? Was that always your goal?

 I always heard people say, “You   look so great for having 3 kids.” The first part of the sentence was amazing to hear. But it was that second part… As though it was an excuse, as though I was working from a deficit, as though my ceiling was lower than someone else’s. Hearing that time and time again was one of the things that drove me into the industry. I wanted to change conventional thinking about the way a mother was SUPPOSED to look. The Pro for me represented that. For me to be able to stand on stage with women literally a decade younger than me, who didn’t have children, and actually be able to take them on and win – That was huge; huge for me, for my contemporaries, for any mothers. Aside from that, it’s one of the few goals that I really saw through. I don’t sit still for very long: I’ve changed my career a million times, my husband and I have moved houses 11 times; this was the one I stuck out. I wanted to see if I rode it out, would I be good enough?

Now that you have it, is it everything you planned on it being?

No. It’s some of the things I thought it would be, and it’s other things I never imagined it could be. The day that I actually won, I wasn’t humbled, I wasn’t moved, I wasn’t overwhelmed. I didn’t even feel honored. I just felt so insanely proud in that moment, and I didn’t expect that. I expected waterworks. I felt like I owned that moment. As far as what the Pro card meant, I thought that would have been my ceiling, but now it’s the floor that I stand on. I thought I’d get my pro card, and then hang out in the moment, not set goals beyond that. I thought that would have been enough, but it’s proven to me I can achieve seemingly unattainable things.

What’s next for you in terms of 1, 3, 5 year plans?

I’m not ready to go. It’s definitely interesting being in my mid-30’s on stage with my kids yelling in the audience. I want to make my kids proud. Now that my kids are at an age where they can appreciate how much work goes into my training and my prep, there are a lot of lessons for them to take away from this. I do have a long-term goal to move into figure. I love lifting heavy, and I appreciate visible musculature. It’s a beautiful sport, and I love to see that physical strength. I don’t want to commit to anything just yet, but I do see myself settling into figure. I like the structure of it; I like the discipline of angles having to be precise.  With bikini, there’s pageantry to it. But there’s this grace in the restraint of figure that I really admire, and I think that as I grow in the sport, I think it’ll suit me well.

Run us through a typical day in your life. How do you balance your 3 children with training, cardio and contest preparations?

The common misconception that moms in general believe, is that they just don’t have the time. But I think moms have a really unique skill set in that we are able to micromanage our time down to the second. We’re really good at packing lunches, we’re really good at not sweating the small stuff, focusing on the things that are important and letting everything else fall by the way side. We are more forgiving of the hiccups in the road; those are things that have helped me manage the balance of family life and the prep to the pros. We wake up bright and early at home (my kids are 10, 8 and 5). My husband is amazing – he’s more of the morning person, and he is amazing at filling in all the blanks. We have breakfast together, and we drive the kids to school. We both work form home which is nice because we’re able to spend time together when it might be unconventional to spend time together – so we may not get a date night, but we get a date lunch. We do try and fit in time together whenever we can. I don’t tend to see my clients after my kids get home from school, because my family time is my priority. I get my workouts in once the kids are off to school. It’s a great time because my head is clear, and it injects my entire day with a sense of accomplishment, and the ability to not resent doing for other people because I’ve already done for myself. I think that’s so important and so key. And also my energy levels are so high post workout., that takes me through all I have to do.

Is there time for a social life during prep?

There’s time for anything if you want there to be. I go out all the time. There are different approaches to a prep. What’s been important to me is to have the kind of prep that fits into my kids’ life, my friends’ life; I don’t want to isolate myself from society, from my friends, my family, just to get ready for a 5 minute appearance on stage. I get the idea of an on-season and an off-season in terms of what your body is going to look like, but my lifestyle has to be consistent year-round. It has to be. So there’s always time for coffee dates with friends. I just don’t have to eat the way they eat. We spend so much time celebrating around food, but I don’t think it’s the be-all end-all of how we need to relate to each other.

You’re currently working with Layne Norton, and have been since early 2013. Tell us how that came about, what his approach is like, and where you see the two of you in the future.

I love him. I’ve worked with several different coaches in the past. Each one has had a completely different approach; some have been healthy, some less so. But I’ve definitely learned a lot about my body, my mindset, and myself. From all those experiences, I’ve learned that I need something that ‘s sustainable, something I can practice in front of my children and be OK with. I need to know that if they’re watching my habits, that I’d be OK with it. So I turned to Layne after working for 3 weeks with another high-profile team. I wanted someone who operated with integrity and a sense of humanity as a coach. Yes, I wanted to place well, but I also wanted to walk away from the stage feeling really good with my body.

As a mother, I am accountable to 3 awesome little people. It’s my responsibility to do it the right way. So while there are different approaches, I do believe there is only one right way, and it’s whichever way is going to keep you healthy. I didn’t realize how gifted of a coach he was until I started watching his videos and interacting with him. In one of his videos, the one that sealed the deal for me, he was talking about a supplement, and when he suggested a dosage, he said, “There isn’t any scientific evidence defending this, but it feels intuitively right.” I thought that was amazing for someone who had “doctor” at the beginning of his name and “Ph.D.” at the end. For someone so rooted in science and proof, to actually be completely OK with saying “I feel…” that was amazing to me. When you have a goal in bodybuilding, there are going to be a lot of people who focus on what will get you to your goal faster, but might not intuitively feel right to you. It’s a gut feeling. That was part of his coaching platform. That resonated with me. I reached out to him, and that was it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t give him the mount of  time he needed to optimize my metabolism as well as he could have because I contacted him quite late in 2012, and he had to get right into my Nationals prep. But we’re back in “Metabolic optimization” now, so we’re reverse dieting, adding calories back in, and we’re 5 weeks out from the Valenti pro. So definitely a backwards approach. Not just Layne, but the team in its entirety so unique. This is the first time that I’ve seen a group that sincerely supports each other. There’s a feeling of family there – it’s an amazing place to be. I’m so proud to be a part of this team. There’s a whole bunch of MEs on this team He’s proven his worth: I won my pro card with him, and I had a fantastic debut at the Toronto pro with him. 4 weeks after my win at nationals, he brought me in leaner, I felt incredible - I have no reason to go anywhere else.

Do you feel like you chose bikini, or did bikini choose you?

Bikini chose me. I have a background in dance. I have a background in television. I’m a performer. And bikini is the division where there’s an element of pageantry to it, which gives me the opportunity utilize my performance ability. It was a great starting point. When I came into the industry I didn’t have the conditioning I do now. I competed at 114lbs at my first show, but when I won my pro card, I was 124lbs. 114lbs at 5’7” definitely would not have allowed me to compete in anything but bikini. It was a perfect fit for me when I started. I love bikini. I get to step into character.

Is there anything you’d like to change about bikini as a category, ie. the judging criteria, the presentation, the scoring?

Bikini is tricky; some people would say it’s because of how young the division is. I still think that the ideal bikini body is still undefined. Maybe it means what they’re looking for is something different every time. I don’t know. I actually don’t know what they’re looking for. I know I’m pretty close, but I don’t know exactly what it is. It seems to change from one show to the next. Some shows girls succeed with more musculature, and some are later rewarded for more curvature. You have to know who the panel is that you’re going to be presenting for. I don’t know what I would change because I’m still learning so much about what they’re looking for. I’m 5 weeks out, and I don’t know what to fix about my own body. From one show to the next, I know I want to improve, and I know it’s not always based on the judges’ feedback, but what my own feedback is. Ultimately, it’s about what I feel comfortable presenting.

What makes you stand out, in terms of physique and presentation, from other Canadian bikini Pros?

My presentation, I sincerely believe, is second to none. I know when I step on stage, I shine, and it’s always been my calling card. It’s so important to understand your angles. I’ve never been on stage with the ideal body because we’re always improving, but it’s important to know how to present your strengths, and how to diffuse some of the deficiencies you’re still working on. And I think that my background in dance has really helped me to figure out what my best angles are, so that when I do see a stage shot is being taken, they’re only really seeing my best. I’ve been told that I’m fun to watch. I’m not shy on stage; I know I can get a bit “dancey” at times, but I think I do well in this division because of that. I know I’ve gotten by on a smile.

The elusive IFBB Pro card is near impossible to get in Canada. They’re given out infrequently, and it’s a grueling process to qualify. Do you think this process has any merit, or should we have more pro-qualifying shows?

I wouldn’t change anything. Number 1, Canada is a smaller population than the US. There are more athletes competing in the NPC than we have in the CBBF, so it wouldn’t make sense for us to award as many pro cards. It wouldn’t make sense to award the Top 2 in every height class. With the pro card being so elusive, it’s so much more precious, so when you do win it, it’s so much sweeter.  That fact that it was so elusive is what pushed me to get outside of my comfort zone, to work that much harder, to be honest with myself, to realize there were things I needed to bring up. Being 34 and a mother of 3 doesn’t earn you any points on stage. If we hand them to the winner of every height class, I don’t think I would’ve ever had that motivation to keep going. 100% we could have more qualifying shows. I don’t think the goal is to have more Canadians representing the sport; I think it’s about having the BEST Canadians representing the sport. By having so few cards awarded, we’ve in essence done that.  We can’t all ride Justine Munro’s coattails. When I won my pro card, it was a shock, and I said, “Oh my God, I have this huge responsibility because there was another woman on stage who absolutely deserved it, but they gave it to me. What am I going to do with it?” I’m going to show up better, stronger, and fiercer. It’s a huge responsibility because it’s so rare.

In terms of your competitive career, is there anything you would have done differently? Anything you would have changed?

Nothing. Sometimes, to know what you want, you have to know what you don’t want. And having gone through all these experiences with different coaches, trying different approaches, has taught me a lot about myself. Things I’ve been able to use for myself. It’s taught me a lot and has helped me build my own reputation as a coach. I’m so happy with where I am right now. And I’m so grateful for the opportunities and the relationships I have in the industry right now, that I don’t know if I would’ve been as appreciative if I hadn’t experienced the things that I did. I had some hard times, some dark moments, that I could’ve done without, but ultimately, they have gotten me where I am today.