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Cover model Chris Bumstead and older sister Melissa were the only brother-sister duo at the Olympia, while representing the Great White North. If you don’t know them yet, you soon will.
While some of us spent late summer getting ready to head off to college and others were gearing up for the start of football season, siblings Chris and Melissa Bumstead were instead in Vegas. Far from the slots and gaming tables of Sin City, mind you, each had been dieting and training for months for the biggest competitions of their lives at the Olympia Weekend.
Younger brother Chris, just 23, placed but a single point away from taking the Classic Physique title, but still finished as runner-up for the second straight year. Older sister Melissa is closing in on a top-10 finish in Figure, but we’ll excuse her this time around as her impending wedding was mere weeks away. (And bonus points if you correctly guessed Melissa married yet another competitor from the men’s Olympia open, fellow Canadian Iain Valliere.)
That’s a helluva lot of muscle in this big, oh so very big, Canadian family. Chris claimed this issue’s cover, but given their unique status at the highest levels of professional physique sports, we wanted to hear from each of them.
MI: You finished second in the Olympia two years running. The 2018 contest is in the rear-view mirror now, so any thoughts on what it’ll take to dethrone the champ?
Chris: It’s going to take everything I’ve got. Breon [Ansley] is an amazing champ with a very complete physique, while I still have some lagging body parts, namely arms and back. With the time I have this off-season, I’m sure I’ll be able to bring them up. If I’m dialed in next time around, I believe I’ll have what it takes to dethrone the champ.
MI: There aren’t a lot of guys in their early- to mid-20s competing successfully on the Olympia stage anymore. You’re an exception. Why do you think that is?
Chris: I’m extremely grateful to be where I am, and I know I’ve been lucky enough to have every tool at my disposal in order to lead me to success. Not just a hard work ethic and dedication from a young age, but the knowledge to do things smart, a good coach teaching me and pushing me in the right direction, and, of course, amazing genetics.
MI: You’re still got plenty of time ahead of you in this sport; have you mapped out any kind of plan on where you want to be in the longer term?
Chris: Since I’ve started out at such a young age, I look at it as though I can accomplish what I want, build a legacy, and still get out while I’m young. You won’t see me competing into my late 30s or later; rather, I want to make some achievements and get out while I still have some youth to enjoy life.
MI: Any advantages to having a brother-in-law who also competes in pro bodybuilding?
Chris: There are countless advantages to having a brother-in-law in pro bodybuilding, in addition to my sister. For starters, Iain is the one who got me into bodybuilding, and he taught me almost everything I know. His insane work ethic and dedication are constant motivation for me to do better. And there’s nothing more reassuring in times of doubt than knowing that, no matter what, I have my sister and Iain at my back supporting me.
MI: Tell us something about yourself most people wouldn’t know about you.
Chris: I like to read fantasy genre novels before going to sleep at night.
MI: What food are you craving right now?
Chris: That would be chocolate-chip Eggos with Cool Whip.
Melissa Bumstead Valliere
MI: Thinking a few months back to your Olympia competition, what’s evolved in your mind as to an off-season strategy about what you need to work on.
Melissa: I definitely look at off-season more like prep than I did when I first started competing. Earlier in my career, I think I sort of turned my brain off as soon as comp season was over. I stopped training as hard and tracking my nutrition. Now my goals are at the forefront of my mind every month of the year. Don’t get me wrong; I like to chill for a few weeks after the season is over, but it’s impossible to relax for that much longer when your dreams are knocking!
MI: Is it possible to get any more bodybuilders into your life?
Melissa: [laughs] Absolutely yes. The more the merrier, as long as they’re smaller than Iain!
MI: How do you balance your own needs against those of a needy, pre-contest bodybuilder?
Melissa: Iain and I are really good at balancing beach other out. If I’m having a rough day, he tends to be the support, and vice versa. It’s almost a mind-set of putting the team over the individual. And that ends up working out for both of us when prepping.
MI: Fill in the blank: I’m a sucker for __________ (and your husband is not an acceptable answer!).
Melissa: Frenchies! And cookies, too.
MI: Nobody knows it, but Chris is a sucker for ______.
Melissa: A good cry. And Iain’s verbal taunts on Instagram!