| By Vince Pe |
Strong-Athlete proudly profile’s Tina Goinarov. One of our industry’s hardest working and most dedicated individuals, I had the pleasure of finding out more about Tina and how she got involved to the sport we all love. Regularly helping our industry’s most predominant athletes such as Mboya Edwards and Nancy Di Nino, Tina’s entry to our industry began in 2010 with a simple email to Jim Morris that has resulted into becoming a major player herself in only a couple of short years. With a belief in a friend’s goals and dreams, as well as being tired of sitting on the side and doing nothing to help out, Tina is now a mainstay of the Ontario Physique Association and all of their endeavors. I, happily, feature my friend – Tina Goinarov in a much deserved profile piece on Strong-Athlete.com.
Q: Tina, you are one of the hardest working people in our industry. Where did your drive and passion for fitness/bodybuilding begin?
A: First of all, thank you for that compliment. It feels nice to have others recognize the work that I have done and know that it is appreciated. I have always loved sports and athletics. Growing up with an older brother and all, it was sports all the time. Even in school, I was part of all the teams just because I enjoyed participating. In high school, I went through a low due to a track injury and I stopped all athletics. It wasn’t until university that I decided that I had to get back into it again. Like most people I joined a gym and it was there where everything changed. I had become friends with one of the trainers who saw that I had the potential to do more and lift more in the gym. With his guidance and advice, I started to lift and train heavy and fell in love with weight training. This trainer, whom I have known now for over 11 years and is one of my closest friends, turns out, was a Canadian bodybuilder on the rise. Who is this great friend and athlete? None other than Canadian IFBB Pro Mboya Edwards.
“Like most people I joined a gym and it was there where everything changed.”
Not knowing much about the sport, through him, I learned. It is funny as I look back on those days, to me he was just my friend, but then when people would see him around, the reaction was sheer delight. Over the years of training and this friendship, I learned so much about the sport and all of the hard work, dedication and sacrifices the athletes had to make in order to succeed. Seeing what it did to him, made me appreciate it all that much more. Mboya showed such drive and focus when it came to his sport and training, but also in the way he worked with others. Watching him inspired me to work that much harder, and the more I learned about the sport and all it entailed, I found something where I fit in and it was okay to be a strong female. It was also through our friendship that I decided to compete. In a bit of a “mood” due to the diet, Mboya had commented that I did not understand what it takes…so with that I decided to prove him wrong and compete. Talk about motivation! I thought I fully understood what it was like for him, but it wasn’t until I did the diet and prep that I fully appreciated everything.
Q: You do a lot of work with Mboya Edwards and, what a lot of people don’t know is that you are both teachers. The first question many people will ask is how do your new students react to both of your incredible physiques? I know when I was at school, physical fitness (as I know it today) wasn’t a focus for any teacher I had.
A: It is funny. When people find out that I am a teacher, the first thing I get asked is if it is high school Phys-Ed or high school in general. When I tell them it is elementary and that I teach Kindergarten, I always get a comment related to Arnold from Kindergarten Cop. I guess that would be a good comparison…since I do the sport he used to compete in and I run a tight ship. When I first started my teaching career, I taught Phys-Ed. My students at first were not sure how to take me – there was hesitation with the fact of my shape and size and then gender. The older students loved being able to work with me and enjoyed class since I would be involved with them. The boys eventually “accepted” that a female could be strong and have muscles and the girls thanked me for being a positive role model.
“When I tell people that I teach kindergarten, I always get a comment related to Arnold from Kindergarten Cop.’
As I went into the younger grades, the little ones did not seem to care but the parents seemed to question their child being taught by a female…especially in gym. Many without meeting me assumed I did not know what I was doing and then when seeing me and learning what I did, there was a new found respect. Working with the Kindergartens and looking the way I do, is very amusing at times due to their comments. There are many comparisons to their dads or being stronger than dad, and also being not as “squishy” as mom. For myself, when I was teaching Phys-Ed, I felt good in knowing that I practiced what I preached and that the students had someone to look up to. Being an athlete had opened up the opportunity for myself in my teaching because I can talk to the students about healthy eating and the importance of working out and they have a visual. My little guys know that only healthy snacks are allowed in our class and I model that for them, and they love to be active because I feel that I have been able to show them that it can be fun too. Mboya works with older students in a specialized program, and his size and shape is an asset for what he has to do and he is also a positive role model for them, because he has become a successful athlete and is from their community.
Q: The Toronto Pro Show has been an amazing success over the last 2 years and Mboya represented Toronto proudly! What does it feel like to have a great champion like Mboya to have been the first one to guide you into our industry?
A: The Toronto Pro Show 2011 was my first Pro show and it was also the first show where I was able to see Mboya compete. Nothing could have prepared me for the emotion and excitement of seeing him on stage and then also being the person to hand him his second place prize. It was one of those moments that you are never prepared for. For as long as I have known him, his dream was to go to the Olympia, and here I was on stage with him, handing it to him…full circle.
Now to answer the question, I have to chuckle a bit. In all honestly I never saw him other than Mboya. It would always make me smile when people at the gym or other gyms would come up to him and talk about his competitions and him as the athlete, but to me he was just the same guy. I feel lucky to have the support and encouragement from him, and that he also believed in me and my abilities to be able to compete. Mboya has been a great person to learn from in this industry and to know him like I do, have trained with him and see him achieve so much in his athletic career, makes me proud to call him my friend.
Q: You also do a lot of work with The Red Storm – Nancy Di Nino. She is one busy lady. What is it like to work with someone with Nancy’s drive and passion?
A: When I first met Nancy, I was in awe. She truly is a force of nature! Nancy is so caring, loving, supportive, insightful and helpful. Not to mention a stunning person with a personality to match. Having the opportunity to work with such a strong, driven and passionate female athlete has been inspiring and motivating. She is pretty much a self made “known” industry role model, who is one of the only non pro athletes with multiple sponsors and work relationships with several industry companies, and also a contributor to well known industry magazines. Nancy is like the big sister I never had. She took me under her wings and showed me the ins and outs of the sport. She has introduced me to important people, given me the opportunity to help promote her and her business, had me join her at certain industry events for more exposure and overall has become a friend who is protective of me and helped guide me in the right direction. I could not have asked for a better female to learn from.
Q: I understand you played a huge part in the Toronto Pro Show this year. That must have been a dream come true! What were some of your duties and how proud were you of the success of the show? You were so busy we didn’t even see each other!
A: This year I had the opportunity of a lifetime really. I got to work for the Toronto Pro Supershow Media Team, as the main person for the Media Press releases, articles for the Newsletter, and updating the other media sources on the weekend. Never did I think that I would be in the position I was, work with the people I worked with and meet who I did. I owe it all to Ron Hache, Jim Morris, Lori Ann Redding and Carla Hache for trusting me with the role, having faith in me and my work and believing that I would be the right person for the job. They allowed me to explore my love of writing again and gave me that confidence I needed to know I could do the job.
“This year I had the opportunity of a lifetime – I got to work for the Toronto Pro Supershow Media Team.”
My duties for the 2012 show were to write numerous articles for the Newsletter, OPA Newspaper and promote the event. I also was asked to update the weekend events and all of the action on Facebook. When Jay Cutler and Phil Heath arrived on the Sunday, I was asked to welcome them and to assist them if needed. I also worked with Mike Bernofsky, and shot video of the Olympia legends talking about the show. All in all, I was everywhere. Through the promotions I did on Facebook for the show, I was able to assist several IFBB Pro and OPA athletes with any questions or concerns they had about the show too. It was a busy weekend for sure and I did miss out on catching up with you and other friends that I was hoping to see at the show. Hopefully soon!
Q: What about your own competition experiences? I know you competed at the OPA Brantford’s in the summer of 2007 and won! After loving bodybuilding for a few years, what did it feel like to compete and win?
A: I tend to be a very shy and self-conscious person. Always was insecure with my shape and size, and did not like my body. Like many girls growing up, self-esteem was a huge issue where body image was concerned. Having said all of that, you have to wonder why I would go into a sport where you are judged and critiqued based on your body?! It was a strange thing to me as well, but I wanted to see if I could do it and if I had what it took to compete. Since I found a sport that actually looked at female muscle in a completely different way than society’s, I felt a bit more at ease. Competing for me meant so many things. I was able to do it, face my fears, show those that doubted my abilities and did not accept my choice to compete that I could do it and do it well. Competing was a whole other world of emotion and personal achievement. Every workout, diet meal, tear, loss of sleep, loss of friendships, loss of socializing with people, family functions, mood swings and bead of sweat was worth it all when I stepped onto that stage. For me, I had already won before the awards because I followed through with the goal when others had doubted and tried to talk me out of it.
“Competing for me meant so many things. I was able to do it, face my fears, show those that doubted my abilities and did not accept my choice to compete that I could do it and do it well.”
I had made a choice and stuck with it, knowing that things would be different from that point on. I don’t usually like to be in front of people, and in the posing suit… that was a huge step for me, but I did it. Learning the poses, routine and being there made me so proud of myself. I was thankful that the stage lights were as bright as they were so I could not see the crowd and that helped me focus on what I came to do on that stage. Being nervous was an understatement for sure. When they called out my number that I had won, I was so happy. Not only because I won, but because I went out, competed, had fun, learned a lot about myself and proved in a way to Mboya that I was serious about fully understanding what he was going through every time he prepped. Also, the win was a huge sense of relief. All of those weeks prepping was worth it in the end. I look back at the pictures and my trophy and still cannot believe that I did a show at times. I was happy that I did something that I feared and survived.
Q: You train under a Canadian Bodybuilding legend – Mr. Essa Abdalla. He easily has a lifetime of training & nutrition knowledge. Essa was a major influence to me on the world of competitive bodybuilding ages ago. What is it like to work with him?
A: I love Essa. I always tell him that he was a blessing in disguise for me. Not only with what we were able to accomplish with my training, but personally on so many levels he helped out. Essa is a friend, mentor, coach, and shoulder to cry on when I need. He had faith in me and believed in me, and that in turn helped me to grow, not only as an athlete, but an individual. I remember our first conversation. It was an hour long telephone interview where Essa laid down his law. He would not just train anyone and you had to prove it to him that you were worth his time. You had to be serious, and listen and if you wanted to talk or socialize, he would gladly pass you on to someone who could do that. My first training session with him was the test. Like every trainer, they seem to believe that legs is a great way to see if you are worth their time and cut out for their program. One and a half hours later, and I did not get sick, I was told that I passed his test with the confirmation of seeing him the following week.
He also said that I proved to be stronger than he thought and that even he was surprised I did not get sick! He said that I made him pull out some of his harder exercises to see if I would break! Essa does not train me differently because I am a girl, there is no special treatment or breaks. He is all about the sport. You want to be a bodybuilder, he will train you like one. Essa also believed in me so much that when I was approached last year to do a photo shoot and I only had 3 weeks to prepare, he did not react. It was down to business and get the job done, and he did get the job done. I was “stage ready” and looked better than when I competed. His words to me after the shoot were along the lines that if we were able to do that in 3 weeks, imagine what we could do in 8. I know that right now I am not ready to step on stage again, and Essa thinks that it is a waste of my talent, but he still does not give up on me and pushes me harder each and every day. Who else can say that they get to train with him and IFBB Pro Mboya Edwards?
Q: The bodybuilding/fitness industry is like a family in the GTA. We’ve recently had some tragedy with the passing of Darren Oliver and Peter Chiasson. Can you tell us some of your favorite moments with these two greats? They’re sorely missed.
A: I can still remember the day that I got the call at work from Essa that Darren had passed. It was one of the saddest days. I had just seen Darren 2 weeks prior at the London OPA show and we had our usual chat and hug. Darren and I had known each other for years. When I changed to my second gym, Darren was one of the trainers. I never knew him personally right from the start, but I knew of the guy in the hat through our hellos. One day I was training arms and Darren just stood beside me and watched as he was known to do, tapped my shoulder and told me to drop it. I was caught off guard to say the least. But that was Darren. Always wanting to help and educate anyone who trained in the gym, especially those who he believed had potential to make it. When I was prepping for my first show, Darren kept an eye out for me, as he said, and in my final week I walked over to him to ask his opinion on my physique. I never wore clothes that showed off the transformation, so when I asked Darren to look at me he had made some comment about him actually having to see my body. So I did and when Darren praised all of my hard work and told me that he would be proud to represent me one day, I knew I was looking on point. After the first show and prepping for my second, my coach at that time had to back out 6 weeks before I stepped on stage and it was there that I also knew that Darren was an amazing support. He offered to take me to the stage and said he would be honored. To this day, I wish I had taken Darren up on his offer, but I lost my mental focus. Getting involved in the industry years later, I was able to reconnect with Darren. He hugged me in his usual way and then told me that he is so proud of me and knew that I was going to make it and change how people viewed the sport.
That December day in 2011, the news of Darren’s passing was a difficult one. Darren had meant so much to the industry and had trained some of the newest IFBB Pros and those that were on the path to becoming one. He left a mark in bodybuilding that not many can explain, but most of all he left memories of friendship and support. It is ironic how on the day of his memorial, one of Darren’s closest friends Peter Chiasson, had sent me his speech to read on his behalf. Peter could not be there because he was teaching in Denver, but he felt that I would do a great job on his behalf. Unfortunately, I was not able to read the speech and share Peter’s words because it was too emotional to read and I was not strong enough to get through it. This is one situation that I regret not having done.
“Darren meant so much to the industry and had trained some of the newest IFBB Pros and those that were on the path to becoming one.”
Who knew that almost 6 months to the day, that we would lose Peter too. When I joined the gym I currently train out of, Essa had introduced me to Peter one of the evenings. I still remember our conversation. I had asked Peter if he was the bodybuilder on that TV show on the Life channel, “Skin Deep”. Peter, in his warm and charming way, smiled and replied with something along the lines of, “Oh, is that crap still on?” Peter and I had only known each other for over a year, and that was more than enough time to love that guy and cherish him. Peter was always smiling and gave the best hugs. He was like a big brother to me, where he was always checking in on me to make sure I was alright and to remind me often that I was doing great in the industry and not to let negative talk and treatment stop me from continuing. I cannot really put into words that Friday afternoon when I received the call from the hospital from a mutual friend with the devastating news. No one can prepare you for death, but an accidental death always seems to be much harder to grasp. The night before the accident, Peter came to the gym. I got my hugs and as I left, as Peter was getting set to go home on his bike, the last thing I said to him was be careful on the road…there are crazy drivers out there. Peter smiled, and told me that he knows. We hugged again and said I love you. What were the chances that my last talk with Peter would be about him and his bike?
Being so involved with the OPA and the industry, I see how close we all are and how we are very much like a family. Some of the athletes have become more family and friends than people I have known for years. When we lose one, it is a loss for the industry on the whole and their absence is felt.
Q: You’re a huge advocate for females in our industry. Our readers always want to know “who inspires the great ones?” Who, in our industry, inspires you and why?
I have been so fortunate to meet many outstanding and talented female athletes these last two years. Some have been women I have looked up to and others have been so inspiring because of their personal stories. As a female athlete who chose bodybuilding, it was so refreshing to meet and connect with other females in the same sport. I found a great group where I felt like I belonged.
The Canadian industry has numerous female athletes who have shown nothing but heart and dedication to the sport. These women I am proud to be friends with and/or know. Last year at the Toronto Pro, I was so lucky and honored as I presented my role model IFBB Pro Nicole Ball her award. To meet someone you look up to, and then present them with such a prize is amazing. This year, as I was working the show, I caught up with Nicole in the lobby and we had a lengthy and inspirational conversation about the sport, her choice to change to physique and what she faced personally with that decision. I feel really lucky to be able to have these conversations with the athletes I look up to because it makes you appreciate them even more and realize that they struggle with the everyday just like you.
“The Canadian industry has numerous female athletes who have shown nothing but heart and dedication to the sport.”
Another female bodybuilder who inspires me is Joanne Williams. I have the pleasure to call her a friend as well. I had met Joanne back in December at Darren’s memorial. She and I chatted and it was there that I learned about her, her competitions and her having had cancer. Joanne to me is what being an athlete is about. Heart, drive, determination, focus, strength, will and a “don’t give up” attitude. She did not let her illness stop her dreams and goals. She dealt with it and came back to compete, not using the cancer as an excuse not to, but almost as a way to prove that if you really want something, nothing will stop you from reaching your goals. Joanne is a fighter with a big heart and I truly admire her courage and discipline to continue on. I am proud to say that Joanne and I have also become friends. She is definitely someone I look up to.
Q: Tina, how do you want to see fitness/bodybuilding grow over the next decade?
A: This industry is growing and changing all the time. It never ceases to amaze me how big the market really is and how many people are drawn to it as well. I would love to see a bit of a change and shift in women’s bodybuilding and how it is seen. I have noticed that they seem to be a group that the sponsors do not look at or pick up to represent their brands and it is also a sport where there are not many competitors. The women are seen as masculine and the group that has a challenge being represented equally. I understand that companies want their products to sell so they in turn make a profit, but how is it that one whole group of athletes can be “ignored”? So I would love to see more companies step up and have female bodybuilders as sponsored athletes.
I think I would also love to see an equal playing field for the physique classes. I would love to see the men’s class have the same expectations and regulations placed on them as the women. As of right now, the men do not have to do routines or mandatory poses and I think it would be a great thing if both classes were expected to perform the same elements.
“I would also love to see fitness/bodybuilding grow and become bigger in Canada and the mainstream market of sports.”
I would also love to see fitness/bodybuilding grow and become bigger in Canada and the mainstream market of sports. It is still an industry that is not widely picked up or reported on by media outlets internationally or in Canada. The athletes work just as hard as athletes in other sports, yet they do not get as much or any coverage by the media. If an event is happening, most often the newspapers and television networks will not be there to report. The industry is basically relying on its own people and companies to share the information with the public. I also find that the athletes are not paid as well as other athletes. It would be nice to see the competitors treated like other athletes and paid to train and compete. Also, being offered sponsorship or financial assistance that will help in their prep and maybe draw more individuals to the sport.
To keep up with one of the hardest working people in bodybuilding, follow the Ontario Physique Association at http://www.facebook.com/ontario.physique?fref=ts
Vince “Fitness Financier” Pe
Vince Pe, founder of the Fitness Financier, has spent the last ten years in the fitness and bodybuilding industry. He has worked for some of the most prominent sports nutrition companies in North America, dealt closely with the IFBB, NPC, and OPA organizations, and managed some of the industry’s top athletes, including Mr. Olympia champions. Vince will be a regular contributor with feature interviews from some of the most interesting personalities in bodybuilding, fitness and martial arts. For more info about Vince, check out his company website at www.fitnessfinancier.com.