I first saw Sheena Martin while looking flinging my thumb through inspiring women on Instagram. After reading more about Sheena on Facebook, I was truly inspired – I mean who wouldn’t be inspired by a woman who enters her first Bikini Competition in New Zealand and then qualifies for the Arnold Bikini Competition?!? Weeks away from her wedding (February 7th) then a few MORE weeks away form the Arnold Stage (in March) I had to share Sheena’s story for all to know how this real time lawyer and fitness instructor keeps up with her bikini body workouts that will take her to the Arnold stage.
1) Tell us more about yourself. Who are you? How long have you been training and what are your goals and aspirations in the fitness industry?
My name is Sheena Jayne Martin (soon to be Anderton, I am about to get married on February 7th 2014!). I am a small town gal from New Zealand now living and working in Auckland City. I am a lawyer by day, but I also teach 7 group fitness classes a week at Les Mills. With a dancing background (I started ballet at the age of 3), I got into teaching group fitness in 2007 as a part time job whilst I was studying toward my LLB (Hons) at the University of Otago. Instructing was the most dance-y student job I could get! I fell in love with the fitness industry and have never looked back.
Photo Credit: Shaun Poh Photography
My main goals for 2014 are to do New Zealand and the NZIFBB proud at the Arnold Classic in February 2014, to become an IFBB Bikini Pro, and to launch my own online Personal Training and Nutrition business (“Sheena Jayne Fitness”) so that I can make a difference in people’s lives and make a living doing what I LOVE!
2) What was your motivation to start working out and get into bikini competitions?
I started teaching group fitness whilst studying because I wanted a job that was active, fun, and fueled my passion for movement to music. Fitness is a huge party of my life – it is a lifestyle for me and an investment in my own health and well-being. Training, especially weight training, makes me feel strong, powerful, confident and alive – the way every woman was designed to feel!
When my partner decided he wanted to do a competition mid-2013, after some encouragement from him and others, I decided I would join him and do an IFBB bikini competition. I never dreamed that I would be the New Zealand IFBB Bikini Short champion some 13 weeks later and now be preparing to represent New Zealand at the Arnold Classic!!
3) Training to step on stage for a bikini competition, especially a famous stage like the Arnold, requires a lot of focus and dedication to the gym. What does your training look like? How do you balance cardio and weight training?
My training during my off-season (October 2013 to December 2013) was focused on building lean mass. I put on over 3kg of pure muscle in that time. How? Lifting HEAVY weights, eating more calories, and easing off on cardio.
“I put on 3kg of pure muscle…How? Lifting HEAVY weights, eating more calories and easing off on cardio.”
In the lead up to the Arnold Classic my training is made up of 5 weights sessions per week (each session followed by 30 minutes of HIIT cardio) and 7 Les Mills group fitness classes that I teach. My current weights split is separated into back/chest, arms, glutes/abs, shoulders x2 (not in that order). I am training this way to keep working on my upper body which doesn’t acquire muscle as easily as my ballerina legs, which are naturally muscular.
After each weights session I finish up with 30 minutes of HIIT cardio either on the treadmill, bike, or cross trainer. I alternate periods of steady work with periods of sprinting – 1 minute on/1 minute off or 30 seconds on/20 seconds off – I change it up so it doesn’t become routine! My main aim with cardio is to bring my body fat back down below 10% (where it was during my 2013 competition season) and in particular, to lean out my legs. To really get into the legs and butt I do my sprint intervals standing up if I am riding the bike.
4) The other key component to getting stage ready, probably the BIGGEST part, is diet. What does your diet look like? How does it change as you get closer to stage time?
To keep it simple, the staples in my diet are oats, 100% whey protein powder, blueberries, chicken, kumara, and vegetables. That’s it. Every now and then I swap chicken for fish, venison or beef. I eat 6 meals a day and always eat every 2-3 hours. It involves a lot of preparation – but it’s worth it!
During the off season my calories increased by adding more carbs and protein with the aim of bringing my body fat up slightly (to a good muscle building level) and also having those extra calories to be able to put on muscle. I also had one cheat meal each week during my off season – this was my opportunity to cook lots of my yummy clean treats (check out my Instagram).
Towards competition calories decrease, at this stage my carbs and protein have dropped slightly. How low my calories go really depends on how well my body responds to this ‘cutting’ phase each time I am preparing for a competition. During the 2013 season my calories never went below 1200, and I imagine this season will be similar.
There is also an art to the final week prior to the competition. For example, certain foods are dropped out to manipulate the way my body holds water. It’s that final week that science comes into play to ensure I look lean and tight on stage and reveal all the hard work of my preparation.
Please don’t ever think that starving yourself will make you lean or toned or happy. Eat clean, nutritious, whole foods. Fuel your body often to keep your metabolism cranking. I have never eaten as much in my life as when I was on my competition prep and I have never been leaner or felt better in my own skin!
5) If you could eat one food without it affecting your body negatively what would it be?
Only one!?! It’s a tie between my homemade protein bar, homemade muesli (these recipes are on my Facebook and Instagram), and natural frozen yogurt.
6) What is your favorite body part to train? Why?
Shoulders! Everybody needs a sexy set of sculpted shoulders. I love working my shoulders because it challenges me – my shoulders are an area that I need to focus on growing, my weak point if you like. I feel tough when I am training my shoulders (ha ha) and I am starting to see real growth too – the reward for my hard work!
7) What songs are on your iPod right now that help you get through a workout? Give us the top 5.
Popular songs often come and go off my gym playlist – but some that I have been around a long while:
Phresh Out The Runway – Rihanna
Show Me The Money – Petey Pablo
I’mma Shine – Youngbloodz
Till The Dawn – Drew Sidora
Snapbacks and Tattoos – Driicky Graham
You’re not wrong in thinking majority of those come from one of the Step Up movies (ha ha).
8) Your stomach is amazing! What are your FAVORITE moves for a flat stomach?
It’s important to know that you could do one million crunches every day and not have visible abs or a flat stomach. When my body fat comes down, my abs pop out (which I love!), but they don’t do that all year round. Having a strong functional core, however, is high on my list of priorities – it’s crucial to be able to lift weights with great technique. The types of things that are great for this are hovers (planks), and any big functional moves, like squats and lunges.
I teach Les Mills CXWorx twice per week which is a 30 minute functional core conditioning program and is full of great functional training. In my own time, I focus on the same functional core training. Once a week paired with my glutes session I do things like heavy weighted crunches and reverse crunches on an inclined bench to work on the definition of my abs.
9) What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you about going after your goals and dreams? And what advice would you pass on to other women who are reading this interview?
I have very high standards for myself and I never “settle” for any less than I know I am capable of. This is an attitude that I have learnt from my amazing mother whilst I was growing up. Each and every day I wake up with that thought in mind – what can I do today to make myself a better version of me? I know that with every challenge I face, I become a stronger, better person.
Where to start… There is so much that I have learnt on my journey that I would love to share with other women. Most importantly, believe in yourself, do what makes you happy, and be HAPPY. Take control of your life – don’t be a result of what ‘happens to you’. If there is something you are not happy with, change it. If you want something, make changes in your life to make it happen. Dream a little too big, and wake up each day with a positive vision of how you will get closer to your dreams. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you aren’t good enough, or that you are incapable of something. If they do, prove them wrong! Don’t forget that the road to success is seldom smooth – drive, ambition, and determination will take you a long way. If you want it – work for it!
10) What is your favorite motivational quote?
“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best.
If you’re not, pretend you are.”
~ Muhammad Ali ♥
It all starts and ends with YOU!
11) What’s next for you in 2014?
I have an action packed year ahead! I am getting married on the 7th of February 2014. Then I am straight off to America to compete at the Arnold Classic in Ohio (February 27th – March 2nd). As soon as I get back from America, I am back on stage here in Auckland, New Zealand at the NZIFBB Pro/Am show on 15th of March 2014. Then there is my business! I hope to have Sheena Jayne Fitness operational by mid-year! Watch this space!
12) Where can we can we find more information about you?
Please like my page on Facebook: Sheena Martin – IFBB Bikini Athlete
; and follow me on Instagram: sheenajayne_fitness. Through both accounts I share workouts, recipes, and motivation on my endeavor to inspire as many people as I can to make healthy lifestyle changes!