This article was first seen on the Huffington Post. For this installment, we are joined by Julie Germaine.
Let’s start off with a general introduction. How would you describe yourself, what are you all about and how did you get involved in health and fitness?
Thank you for your continued interest in me, Miriam! I am incredibly honoured that you reached out to me to reconnect after all these years. I am happy that we are both blessed to be pursuing our dreams and successful in our lives. Cheers, beautiful! I am inspired by other hard-working women!
I would describe myself as passionate. I don’t have a “light” interests – I am either obsessed or over it! I’ve been fortunate to be able to follow my passions in life. My plans are always leading me toward my ultimate goal of happiness and fulfillment on a daily basis. If I had the talent to twirl and jump like a ballerina, I would have been a dancer, regardless of salary! Sadly, I was not blessed with their ability, so I discontinued dance classes when I entered University. Instead, I followed my love of art to secure my first career as a graphic and web designer. My strong work ethic also helped me grow to become an entrepreneur in that competitive industry.
My life changed to earn my income in fitness full time in 2008 and I’ve never looked back. I always had an interest in health and started lifting at the age of 17, alone in the dirty basement gym of my high school. As athletic as I am, I am terrible at team sports, so I tried weight training to develop a body I was confident with. (Side note: in grade 10, I faked an allergy to chlorine so I didn’t have to put on a bathing suit in front of my class! I certainly did not have a healthy body image.) After my winning debut in a fitness competition, I established the premier online personal training company and enjoyed many years of helping hundreds of competitors get ripped for stage and was also proud of thousands more clients who made incredible weight loss transformations.
I love introducing men and women to active living and have turned my focus away from competitive athletes to focus on general public clients.
Was nutrition also important when you were in dance?
Having a stay-at-home mom during my youth meant well-round, home-cooked meals and lunches, so my diet was always good. When I was competing in dance (jazz and tap), I was still young and didn’t have to follow a ‘diet’ to stay fit. It is so important for kids to learn good eating habits and to provide them with nutrient-rich foods so they have energy and more easily maintain healthy weights.
You’re now running a Physique Consulting Agency, can you tell us a little bit more about that?
I also recently launched a glute-priority workout program that includes a diet outline and daily emails for my members for the first 4 weeks to help educate and motivate!
You follow a very strict training regimen. This may seem daunting to people who are just starting out! What kind of training program would you recommend to someone who is just starting out?
I love to lift and be active daily, but this is not where newbies should start. If you want to change your body and increase your energy, making a commitment to exercise three times a week for 45-60 minutes is a great start from inactivity. I would also recommend doing a lower body day, an upper body day and a day dedicated to core training and priority body part training. You should do cardio after these workouts for a minimum of 20 minutes.
For example, a woman who wants to lose excess body fat and grow her glutes could do the following:
Monday: Lower body (exercises: squats, ball leg curls, lunges, calf raises, plie squats and spin 20 minutes)
Wednesday: Upper body (exercises: push-ups from toes or knees, overhead press with dbs or using resistance bands, row for back using resistance bands or dbs, bench dips, bicep curls and elliptical for 20 minutes)
Thursday or Friday: Core and Priority Training (exercises: high bench step ups, kneeling glute kickbacks, glute hip thrusts, ball crunches, bicycle crunches, oblique crunches on floor, alternating leg raises and any form of cardio for 20 minutes)
Muscle soreness is going to be a factor when you start, but remember to take care of your body by drinking plenty of water, lightly stretching after every exercise, soaking in hot baths and starting slowly! Listen to your body and rest as needed, but believe me that you will not always be so sore – your body will adjust and grow stronger.
Some experts say that a body is built in the kitchen, not in the gym. What do you think? And how big of a role does nutrition play?
Abs are built the same way as any body part, which is through using the muscle under stress of resistance. Weighted exercises trick the body into believing that a specific area needs to perform more difficult tasks, so our incredible machines strengthen the muscles to respond to the demands. The saying that abs are built in the kitchen refers to core definition. You first have to develop the muscle, then diet down to reduce body fat to showcase your hard work.
I know you work incredibly hard not just on your physique but also in your business. Do you feel that because you are a woman you are primarily judged by your appearance, despite your other talents and abilities?
I do believe this, unfortunately. Sometimes if I’m at a party, I don’t bother to put in the effort to change someone’s opinion of me if I can tell they think I am just a dumb model… although none of us are necessarily at our best after a few martinis!
More frustrating is that people often assume I use a trainer, whereas I have always trained myself. Even in my consulting business when I had a business partner, I was responsible for training all the female athletes or members. It is also very challenging to be organized in business and to devote the time required to make a business successful. My dedication and passion for my work is what helped me reach success in all areas of my life.
How important is the support from family and loved ones when it comes to your ability to do what you do?
I love my family!! I am so lucky – so blessed – with the most supportive parents. I also have been lifted by friends who helped me find opportunities that kept me going when I thought I had run out of options. I must be doing something right to find myself entering my 12th consecutive year as a competitive athlete! This is a team sport without question and my career has been incredible because of people who believed in me, encouraged me and refused to let me give up on myself. Thank you to everyone – you know who you are!
What are the most unexpected lessons you’ve learned on your health and fitness journey this far?
Meeting so many people from around the world has been such an eye opener. I have developed a deep compassion for the struggles of others. Life is complicated and so many things fall into the messy grey areas. It is important to stay true to your core beliefs, of course, but we should not judge people for their choices as we did not live their life or have their experiences.
If you could only choose one thing, what would you tell your younger self?
Find a way to keep your girlfriends closer. Being the best at anything takes a lot of sacrifice and the dedication it takes to excel can lead to isolation. I wish I had been better at balancing my life, especially when it came to relationships. I love the strong women I am now blessed to know but wish I had put more emphasize on female friendships all throughout my journey.
Where can people go to learn more about you online?