You’re not supposed to mention a woman’s age, but in the case of Catherine Basile, I feel it’s appropriate. Catherine recently turned 47, but has a body that any 18 year old would love to have.
A fan of the Goo Goo Dolls, and of the actor Johnny Depp, Catherine Basile is a genuine, and multi-faceted competitor. She prefers the squat to the bicep curl. And if she hadn’t discovered her passion for bodybuilding. Catherine just might have ended up behind the wheel of a race car.
Muscle and Strength: When did you start lifting weights, and how did you get involved with competing?
Catherine Basile: I started lifting weights when I was in college. I was a runner and my then boyfriend and now husband Frank introduced me to the weight room. I went a couple of times and I was hooked! (laughs) I loved the way I felt and the way my body responded. Weightlifting became a part of my life from then on.
My profession was in teaching, but after the birth of my two daughters I became a stay at home mom. I loved to read and study about anything that had to do with weight training, exercise and diet so I decided to study and get my personal training certification. I was certified by the American Council on Exercise in 1998 and have been training clients in a local gym since receiving my certification, I went on to become a nutrition consultant and an Advanced Fitness specialist as well. My second certification allows me to work directly with physical therapist to help post rehabilitative patience continue their programs.
I have always thought about competing and admired and followed the amazing figure and fitness athletes in the industry. I knew it would take a lot of work and sacrifice so I waited until my daughters were older and I had more time. My oldest daughter Nicole is now twenty and my younger daughter Laura is sixteen. Last summer with the full support of my husband Frank, and my daughters, I decided to set a personal goal for myself and train to compete in a local amateur figure competition. I researched the many federations out there and I felt the philosophies and ideals of the WNBF/INBF aligned best with mine so I registered for an INBF show in April of 2009. I competed in the Novice Figure and Masters Figure divisions. I was awarded first place in the Novice Figure division and first place and received my Pro card in the Masters division! I was so happy to have achieved my goal to train and be in the competition but to receive two first places and a pro card was beyond anything I could have ever imagined! This was especially humbling when I looked at the high caliber of athletes I was competing against.
I enjoyed the discipline and training so much I decided to further challenge myself and try a new division in the WNBF/INBF called Ms. Fit Body. This division really appealed to me because it combines figure with some bodybuilding poses. I competed in June of 2009 in both the Open Figure and Miss Fit Body divisions in an INBF show in New York City. I placed fourth in the Open Figure division and received first place and my pro card for the Ms. Fit Body division. I was very happy with my placings and enjoyed competing once again with some amazing women!
I hope to this year compete on the Pro level in the WNBF! (winks)
Muscle and Strength: Did anything about competition surprise you, or catch you off guard?
Catherine Basile: I did a great deal of research to prepare for my competition but two things did surprise me. The first being how difficult posing is. You can have an outstanding physique but if you do not present yourself well it can make all the difference in the world. The athletes that make posing look effortless have practiced hard and know how to pose in such a way that it brings out all their strengths and distracts from their weaknesses. I knew being on stage and presenting myself was going to be my biggest challenge because I am shy by nature. Keeping that in mind, I devoted a large amount of time practicing my posing and T walk so when I was nervous on stage I knew instinct would take over.
The second thing that surprised me was how much energy I had the day of the show. The dieting and workouts prior to a competition are difficult and I anticipated feeling tired and hungry. The day of the show I felt strong and had energy. I was glad to see that was the case because the timing of my food, what I ate and how I planned out the last week before my show when it came to my workouts and rest proved to work well for me.
Muscle and Strength: Tell me a bit more about your pre-contest dieting approach. How long do you diet, and what do you eat?
Catherine Basile: When it comes to my diet I try to eat very clean for the most part. Even when I am not competing I stay within five to eight pounds of my competition weight
so I don't have to go crazy trying to get to where I need to be. My diet mainly consists of lean proteins like chicken, fish and turkey as well as a few protein shakes using whey, casein and soy. I am very sensitive to carbs so I am very careful which ones I use, the quantity of them and the timing of when I eat them. I use mainly yams, oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa. My fats are moderate but mainly come from nut butters, flax seed oil and fish oil. I limit my fruit and eat a great deal of green vegetables. I slowly lower my caloric intake the closer I get to a show and usually carb cycle. I like to get most of my nutrients from "real" food, make sure I food combine when I eat (most of the time my meals have a protein, carb and fat), eat several mini meals a day and I am very disciplined with making sure I eat on a schedule.
Muscle and Strength: Do you ever allow yourself cheat days or meals in the off season? And what are your favorite cheat foods?
Catherine Basile: If it is more than six weeks out from my show and I am maintaining 5-8 lbs more than my competition weight I do allow myself cheat meals and occasional treats. Having that cheat meal or treat is actually very important for a lot of reasons. First of all, slightly increasing caloric intake on occasion actually benefits your metabolism, and secondly because the dieting becomes so strict prior to a competition having those cheat meals and treats helps you mentally when you need to maintain such a difficult diet regime right before a show. I don't eat fast foods but when I have a cheat meal it is usually a nice dinner out. My favorite cheat foods are dark chocolate covered almonds, pizza and red wine!
Muscle and Strength: I have to say that you look absolutely amazing. Are you constantly swarmed with questions from other women, asking you about your secrets to looking so young?
Catherine Basile: Thank you for your compliment. :) As far as looking young I have some good genetics to thank for that! lol I do get asked frequently what my secret is and I have to attribute most of that to trying to live a healthy and balanced life style. Having two daughters and being a personal trainer I try to be a good role model both personally and professionally. When it comes to exercise and dieting there is so much mis-information out there and so I spend a great deal of my time trying to help educate (especially women) about what the truth is. Many people believe it’s just one thing that makes the difference when in reality it is a combination of healthy habits that help you achieve your goals. It’s making good choices when it comes to eating, combining both cardiovascular and resistance training, get enough sleep, addressing the stressors in your life and finally being CONSISTENT that makes it all happen.
Muscle and Strength: What are the best and worst things about being a personal trainer? Do you ever feel like you want a trainee to succeed more then they seem to want to succeed?
Catherine Basile: I find my job very rewarding because I enjoy helping people feel better about themselves. Being a personal trainer has many advantages. One of the main reasons I decided to choose this profession is because of its flexibility. I started when my daughters were young and it was great to be able to work around their schedules. I enjoy working with people of all ages and with varying needs. Setting goals with my clients and helping them to reach those goals is very rewarding as well as motivating. At times I do feel frustrated when a client is not reaching their potential. I feel this way because in the end I know it will only end up hurting them.
Muscle and Strength: Have your daughters followed in your footsteps? Or has the bodybuilding bug not grabbed them?
Catherine Basile: Both of my daughters are active and try to eat healthy for the most part but so far have not showed an interest in bodybuilding. My older daughter goes to the gym and works out and my younger daughter Laura plats soccer and lacrosse in high school. Both my husband and I try to be good examples to them as far as leaving a healthy active lifestyle. One thing I hope they both take away from observing me is that it is good to have goals to work toward in your life and with hard work and motivation you can achieve them!
Muscle and Strength: Do they think you're crazy because of your eating habits? Or do they ever try to get you to break from your eating plan, and eat more normally?
Catherine Basile: (laughs) ..Most of my family and friends think I'm crazy for eating the way I do! My daughters are use to me being strict with the way I eat. Long before I competed, I watched carefully what I ate because I was diagnosed with severe reactive hypoglycemia. For the most part, my family really supports me when it comes to eating clean and enjoys a lot of the recipes I make.
Muscle and Strength: What's it like backstage at a contest? Is it organized chaos? And how do the contestants treat each other? Is there much talking?
Catherine Basile: Backstage the day of a contest you never know what to expect! (laughs) You really need to be prepared for anything and mentally be ready for any last minute changes the promoter decides to make. This can be hard especially when you have been dieting and preparing so long for this day. I usually try to make sure I have everything I need with me...food, an extra suit, weights and bands, tanning products etc. Because things always seem to happen and it helps to be prepared. For the most part, the contestants are quiet and keep to themselves...many of them are focused and getting ready to go on stage. Occasionally people will be talking to one another because they have met at previous shows. Usually after the pre-judging is done things become a bit more relaxed and it is at these times that I have met some wonderful people. Even though you may be competing against one another, for the most part, there is a great deal of mutual respect amongst the competitors because each one personally knows how much work, dedication and sacrifice it takes to be in this sport.
Muscle and Strength: What are your short term and long term bodybuilding and fitness goals?
Catherine Basile: Now that have my pro card in the Master's figure and Ms. Fit Body divisions of the WNBF I plan on competing this year on the Pro level. I am presently training for an upcoming show and after that will compete again in the spring. Long term, I hope to train other women in the industry and I would eventually like to write for a bodybuilding and fitness magazine.
Photo Credits: Jim Kapinos