WENDY RUSSO INTERVIEW
Posted on May 7, 2013
With 35 years of experience in athletics, training, nutrition and fitness , Wendy has come into her 50′s as a highly successful and recognized personal trainer and fitness guru. Starting out as the skinny kid in school who was active in sports and moved into weight training to gain weight, she has never stopped since. Recently at 50 years old, she competed in the Senior Olympics gold medaling in powerlifting, swimming and track and field events. This is not all her hobbies but some, as she lives her life to be physically active and take on a challenge. She is a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach and specializes in training all age groups, levels of fitness, male and female from overweight to underweight and every weight in between. Recently she can be viewed on her you tube channel showcasing some of her personal training routines. She wants to continue this as a tool to spread her expertise and help people to get healthy and fit. “Whatever I can do to motivate people, whatever works. I am learning more and more about this world of technology and know through it, is a power of outreach that I just cannot do from my small town.”
Find Wendy on: Facebook | YouTube
When did you start training and what motivated you to start?
My life story is highlighted in the background tab on my website called “My very own 10 steps to becoming a personal trainer” It is a short but longer version of this. When I was 15 I was a basketball player in school, I weighed 96 lbs. soaking wet. Everyone was growing big but me. I got pushed around on the court way too much and the coach basically sat me on the bench and told me to take weight training before I got really hurt. I signed up for weight training, quit basketball and starting swimming and lifting weights. I fell in love with weight training. Strength and conditioning coach took me under his wing and helped develop me into a power lifter/ bodybuilder. After High School I competed and went towards the bodybuilding side because I could play a lot of sports, stay active and still look good, where powerlifting was really a dead sport back then- especially for females. Plus I found out through x-rays I have scoliosis and 2 bulging discs in my spine, so all that heavy squatting was hard on me. I was strong, but I wanted to look good more than be strong. So when I say 35 years of experience, I literally started lifting weights seriously at 15 yrs. old and here I am 50, and never stopped. Even for 10 years as a golf professional, I still lifted weights and played other sports. I was told by my fellow professionals I would never get to a higher level of playing because of my “cross training lifestyle” (It was seen as a hindrance back then) so I gave golf lessons instead and kept lifting weights and playing other sports.
Has there been a time in your life when you have ever considered giving up? And what motivates you to keep going?
I seriously thought of giving up weight training for golf during that time I was almost convinced that was hindering my progress. I gave up for about 6 months, and got really skinny again and it did nothing to help me play any better, so I started lifting again. The diagnosis of scoliosis drove me harder to keep my spine and core strong so I would never end up with a cane, and the bulging discs really are a part of scoliosis- it just happens. Believe me, I was really laid up when each disc first bulged, but it even drove home harder the need to stay in shape. I started seeing a chiropractor when I was 16 and have always kept a close relationship with one over the years. I believe in massage therapy (I was one of those also) but first and foremost, nothing beats staying in shape for being healthy.
What does your typical training routine look like, and did anybody influence you and your training?
There is no typical training routine for me! Every few months I change it all up. My training styles come from a few leaders in the field, but as a personal trainer, we all get stuff from somewhere, it’s how you put it all together and apply it that makes you successful or not. Especially in this day of cross fit, p90x, plyometrics (add names here) all the big name workouts that are selling like hotcakes. I just love training. Take a look at my videos to see what I do these days. I do like having a routine day, as I schedule all my clients, I must schedule my workouts too. I always train with someone and if someone cancels on me it throws me all off, but I can typically find someone to fill their place. I never work out alone lately. I had enough of that while training for the Sr. Games, so right now the past few months I do this- Cardio (swim& run) on Tuesday and Thursday, strength train on Monday, Wednesday & Friday,
and work legs and core specifically on Saturday. I also do a 30 minute plyometric type- core training each M&W morning at 6am. I ride my bike whenever I can- but only for a few miles and not as a workout per se, just because I want to get out on the road. While training for the Sr. games last year my training schedule was much more intense and specific. I would say now I am just taking it easy till the next big personal challenge comes along.
What does your typical diet look like? Do you have cheat days/meals? Do you drink alcohol?
I don’t use the word “diet”, I like following a nutritional plan. There is so much information on the internet it is mind blowing. As a coach I try to find what’s best for each person I am training and apply it to them. We all are different. I am a little over the top personally, but I feed myself based on what I am doing. I can cut up in 4 weeks at any given time, and eat thousands of calories and not gain a lb., but only for short periods of course. I eat very clean most days. Recently I went off sugar and processed foods (a very difficult task for a sugar-holic and someone who ate pasta every single day of my life), and then I read a book called, “Wheat Belly” and am just beside myself. The sad thing is the American Heart Association, Diabetes Association, the food pyramid and anything else you can think of, they have it so wrong. If it was correct, then why the heck are heart disease, obesity and diabetes the biggest killers on the planet? I mean, c’mon we are all guinea pigs to these lies and as people get sicker and sicker more is revealed , but never enough to change their way of thinking, resulting in destroying people’s lives,. I eat to fuel my body, change my life (genetics), extend it, feel good and lastly, look good. But let me tell you- people are so addicted to food these days, ( I was too) I wonder when are the Physicians ever going to stand up and say your health starts with the quality of food that goes into your body?? I mean will they ever? I too am a guinea pig as I search to find out what is the best to eat, not to eat, etc.,, Listen, I can get on a soap box. I would love to be on a TV. show where I can talk about this, but the sad thing is, the people that listen, do it right, it’s the ones that don’t listen
don’t do it and are dying out there. I have cheat meals or cheat days, I don’t drink alcohol, or anything really except hot tea and water. I can say at least 95% of each week I eat very clean, and healthy.
Do you use many supplements? What do you use them for, and what have you found the most effective supplements to be?
Once again let’s talk guinea pigs; Right now I use a multi vitamin with all kinds of antioxidants in it. Now that I think about it I have used a multi my entire life (started with Flintstones for kids when I was young!) Other than that I love BCAA’s. I use a powdered form that is pure with no flavors or colors in it- it taste like aspirin in water, but I drink it while working out. I use pure glutamine at night before bed; I use extra antioxidants and Krill oil. I have a cabinet in my kitchen filled with whey protein powder and vegan protein powder and super foods. I do not use herbs unless I am using them for medicinal purposes. They are very powerful and I don’t want to mess with that. I have to say the only sweetener I use is stevia- that goes for all my protein powders too.
Do you have any inspirational figures you look up to? How have they influenced your life and your training?
The worst part of this question is forgetting someone who had an impact on me and my life. I mean, I am 50 years old! I have known lots of people over the years! So I will be very pointed and careful about this and just name the few that have been the biggest part of influencing my life. Listed in the order they came into my life, starting at age 15: Coach Chuck Almeida, Bill Phillips, Pastor Larry Linkous, Marty Goldman, Ron Preacher, Dr. Kareem Samhouri (he is the only one I do not know personally) Corrine Ham, and every single client and or friend I have had over the years which I have personally told they inspire me. Other than those I listed, I am inspired by people who work hard to reach healthy goals and never stop trying no matter the circumstances they face in life. Living a healthy lifestyle leads to happy people who live vibrantly and passionately. I am drawn to that.
Is there anything you are working towards in the future?
I want to be a relevant source for people looking for information on achieving and continuing a healthy, fit lifestyle. I figured the first 50 years of my life was my biggest leaning experiences, although I never stop learning- but now the last 50 years (yes I plan to live to 100) I want to show and teach those that want to learn. I want to continually be a motivator for people to live healthy lives. It all starts with me. I am the example of all I want to bring to those whose lives I touch, whether it be in person, through videos, magazines, internet or all of the above. Technology is great- although I may be considered a dinosaur when it comes to it, I try my hardest. I have always said I want to be a female Jack La Lane- but now I want more than that.
What is your overall goal or your dream?
Didn’t I just answer that above? Laughs out loud. I really want to be all I can be and do all I can do to help this world get healthy and fit. I have literally saved some lives of clients who were on a fast road to an early grave. That is not my biggest goal, although it is quite impacting, my biggest goal is to help thousands come to realize it is possible to live healthy and fit. But in this day and age, with time flying so quickly (at 50 it does) it starts with them. They must want it to do it. I can’t tell anyone ultimately what to do, I have found through experience that I can lead many, but I can’t be there with them to slap them on the hand each time they do something to hinder or destroy themselves. I can’t make choices for them. I can only live it in front of them to see, and hope I move others to do as I do- to have what I have.
Where did you hear about Physique of the Week, and what do you think about it?
The young man I was helping get ready for his first bodybuilding show had applied for it a week after his show and asked me to vote for him. I went to the site and was amazed by what I saw. To me it looked like the perfect avenue for me to expand my wings into the world of internet exposure. I think you should take your entire weekly winners and have a Physique of the month, then take all the monthly’s at the end of the year and have a Physique of the Year!! But the person must be in shape for every contest (basically all year around) to be eligible.
Finally, If you could give our readers one piece of advice, what would it be?
Being healthy is NOT all about how you look. Yes, great bodies are good to look at, but if you live healthy, eat healthy and have healthy habits you will look great. Anybody can get in contest shape, but what is your shape after the contest? Are you overweight, sluggish, unhealthy and unhappy? Make this a lifestyle. One you can live with. Don’t ever go to extremes to get there, because you will extremely lose your results once you attain them. Just make good choices each and every day, with some off days in between. In the end you can say you did it. I am 50 and I have never stopped – and I plan to go to 100 living this way. You can too, but you have to decide each and every day. I do, I really do.
Geez, was that one thing or many? Sorry. I’ll stop now!