THE IPL WELCOMES FIVE NEW BIKINI PROS! FEATURING AURORE COTTET, CAROLINE TSUTAKAWA, KATIE JEFFERS, DANA HELGESON, AND AMBER DANIELL
By Tawnya Cline | Michael Brooks Photography
The IPL Arizona Championship & Tawnya Cline Natural Bikini Magazine Classic took place on May 28, 2016 in Mesa, Arizona. It was another successful event, as well as the second largest in IPL athlete participation to date.
The competition was held in the beautiful Mesa Arts Center and brought one hundred and four athletes to the stage. Bilbo Baggs Sportswear was the title sponsor and had top of the line designer competition suits on the majority of the athletes. They made the swimsuit round difficult for the judges.
We had a very skilled and passionate line of judges who contributed to the successful event. Nutrition Head 2 Toe (www.nutrtitionhead2toe.com) sponsored our event by holding our registration for the athletes and serving up their delicious healthy smoothies and energizing tea. The athletes were tanned by Bronzing Head 2 Toe (www.bronzinghead2toe.com), whose team made sure everyone was bronzed to perfection on show day.
Of course we had the wonderful Michael Brooks Photography (www.michaelbroooksphotography.com) capturing each athlete on the red carpet, backstage, and stage shots. David Marsh with AZ Video Marketing (www.azvideomarketing.com) was behind the scenes getting interviews and precious moments to share for the IPL. We also had some sponsors set up their active wear including Fiber Las Vegas and Beleza Brazil.
Of course I had my Tawnya Cline Collection Scrunch Butts (www.tawnyacline.com) available at the show and featured by many of our Sports Models, including the Novice winner Eryn Clark, Masters Pro Qualified Caroline Tskutakawa, and Overall Open Pro Qualified Aurore Cottet. It is my hope that the following interviews will be relatable and that our readers will see that putting a competition on your to do list is possible, as long as you set your intention and follow through.
On that note, I had the opportunity to speak with Aurore Cottet who also took the Overall Open Bikini and Pro Qualified Title. She has a very unique story on how competing played a role in her life.
“I flew all the way to Arizona from Tahiti to pose with you. I have fallen in love with the IPL. Everything was perfect. The people were so kind, and helpful.”
Tawnya Cline: I always love watching you on stage. I know this was not your first competition, but it was your first experience with the IPL. How was your experience with the IPL?
Aurore Cottet: Thank you, Tawnya. You inspired me so much when we first met. I flew all the way to Arizona from Tahiti to pose with you. I have fallen in love with the IPL. Everything was perfect. The people were so kind, and helpful. The competition started on time and everything was ready to go. There was no stress on my side, which made it easy. The venue was incredible, and honestly it was the best experience ever.
“I missed a flight and had to sleep in the airport and wait for another one. I really wanted this title and experience, so I had to find solutions when something went wrong.”
TC: You mentioned flying from Tahiti to pose with me the day you had your fitting with Bilbo Baggs. Tell us a little about that.
AC: I live in Tahiti, French Polynesia. We only have two contests a year with another organization, so I decided to join my team “Smoothies and Blenderz” and compete overseas. It was a long trip for me to make it to Arizona.
I was actually on a holiday I qualified for with Herbalife. This led me from Greece to Paris, then to LAX, then to my final destination of Phoenix. I had a lot of challenges with all the travel. I packed food for many days. I missed a flight and had to sleep in the airport and wait for another one. I really wanted this title and experience, so I had to find solutions when something went wrong.
TC: I have heard rumors that you would like to bring the IPL to Tahiti. Is this really something you want to accomplish?
AC: Yes! We need to have the IPL in the French Polynesia. They currently only have Bikini, Men’s Physique and Bodybuilding. I love how the IPL has other options like Inspiration Dedication, Sports Model, Athletic and even a Bikini Mommas category. This gives opportunity for everybody to become the best versions of themselves and share it with others. I also like that you are never limited to competing in only one federation, and you can earn Pro status. As of now you can not in Tahiti. Lastly, I think competitors would love the islands in Tahiti and it would make for a fun vacation.
TC: Wow! You can count me in on that competition. I am so glad you shared some of your struggles and how you overcame them no matter what. I feel there are others who can relate but don’t have the belief that it is possible for them. You won your class in Bikini Open, the Overall Bikini Title, and the Sports Model Open. If that wasn’t enough, you also took the title for Open Evening Gown. This gave you all three IPL Black Cards to compete as a Pro in your next competitions. I know the Evening Gown was a new division for you. What was your favorite division after experiencing all three?
AC: That’s a hard question. Evening Gown was a bit scary for me, believe it or not. I am not used to dressing up and live mostly in fitness clothes. I would say that I like them all equally and think all are fun. Because there are different people in each category, it is opportunity to meet new people. The only category I won’t do is Fitness Angels, because it is too difficult to travel with those wings in my suitcase.
“I say just go for it! Do not worry about crossover divisions. I make packages with all my outfits, so everything is ready to go for me.”
TC: That’s really funny. The wings are so beautiful, but I can see how hard it would be to travel with them. You were incredibly stunning in all of your classes and managed to handle your wardrobe changes really well. Is there any advice you can share with others who are nervous about crossover divisions?
AC: I love that the IPL put some thought into that situation. They actually start the competition with the athletes in the least amount of clothes (Bikini) and finish with the most (Evening Gown). This left enough time for wardrobe changes and really helped your tans to remain nice, unlike some other organizations I have competed in. I say just go for it! Do not worry about crossover divisions. I make packages with all my outfits, so everything is ready to go for me. Nerves can sometime get the best of me, so I like to have my time occupied. Keeping me busy back stage is better. It gives me something to do.
TC: I have competed in crossovers too, and couldn’t agree more. The way we do the lineup is awesome. I am also the tanning sponsor for the West Coast and keeping the tans as fresh as possible really helps the athletes look their best through all divisions. It’s always good to stay busy. The anticipation is what makes me nervous. I love your idea of separate bags for each outfit. What is the next show in your calendar and what divisions will we see you in?
AC: My next competition will be in Sacramento in the fall. I will be competing as a Pro in Bikini, Sports Model, and Evening Gown. If my flight attendant schedule allows it, I will do the IPL Southwest Grand Prix in Tempe, AZ on September 4th as well. As for you and Tahiti, I will welcome you at the airport. I love being a part of the “Smoothies and Blenderz” family and would love to have you on my side of the world.
TC: I could not pass up that opportunity. Thank you for sharing with us Aurore and bringing your charm to the IPL. We are blessed to have you and I know I look forward to seeing you in Sacramento, if not Arizona, real soon.
We have a lot of really great athletes moving up in the world of the IPL. I had the opportunity to be a part of the journey for a lot of these girls, so having the chance to feature them as they move up on that stage is extremely rewarding. Caroline Tsutakawa, is another beautiful athlete who earned her Masters Bikini Pro Card with the IPL.
“I increased the weights heavier than ever and worked around several physical challenges. I had some old injuries along with a couple car accidents and scoliosis. I pressed through them all. No excuses.”
TC: Congratulations on your quadruple IPL Black Cards at the Arizona Championship. You definitely made a lasting impression. How did you feel going about your final placings?
CT: Thank you, Tawnya. I am super stoked and very humbled to earn four Pro Cards in one evening. It certainly was a fierce group of beautiful and fit women. I am very honored.
Going into the competition I was very focused due to the goals I had set for myself. I stayed focused on working weights with my trainer. I increased the weights heavier than ever and worked around several physical challenges. I had some old injuries along with a couple car accidents and scoliosis. I pressed through them all. No excuses.
I visualized my goals daily, stayed solid on my meal plan and practiced all my poses for all my divisions daily. I knew there would be some that would outscore me on certain areas, so I thought posing would strengthen my weaknesses. I put my best foot forward in every class I entered.
TC: Now that you have had the opportunity to try the divisions and win them all, do you have one you are more drawn too?
CT: Wow. Great question. I love them all. [laughs] It’s my personality. I am so diverse. I have the most fun with Sports Model, yet feel so elegant in Evening Gown. I also love feeling like one of the Victoria Angels in the Fitness Angels division, so it’s hard to pick one.
TC: I have been getting great feedback with Sports Model. It is obviously dear to me, as I was the creator. I am so honored to have been given the green light to create it. I know Fitness Angels was dear to your heart when you created that. It is a good feeling to earn Pro status in a division you created.
CT: Absolutely. It feels awesome! I am grateful for Ben Yosef being willing to take that on, as well as make it a Pro Qualifying division. I love theme wear, especially angel wings.
“I wanted to inspire others, especially in my age group, that they can be the best versions of themselves. I want women to celebrate and embrace every year.”
TC: I am so inspired by middle-aged women that choose this sport as a passion. It’s great to inspire others to feel good in their own skin at every age. This is one of the reasons I started the “Smoothies and Blenderz.” What advice can you give middle-aged women that let fear hold them back or simply doubt themselves?
CT: That is my reason, too. I wanted to inspire others, especially in my age group, that they can be the best versions of themselves. I want women to celebrate and embrace every year. I’m certainly not perfect, so I’ve learned to accept imperfection. I want them to know they are beautifully and wonderfully made. The most beautiful and confident women are those who own their unique look, age, and style and to never apologize for who they are. I want them to recognize that while pushing yourself to do your best is a noble quality, being your own worst critic can hold you back. Learn the healthy balance. LOVE who you are and know it is never too late to create the best you. Fall in love with the journey to the stage, like I did. It is one that is filled with such growth (physically, mentally, and spiritually) and fulfillment.
TC: So, now that you have taken the Pro Title in every division you competed in, when do you plan to compete next as an IPL Pro and in what divisions?
CT: Great question. I would choose two divisions, max, to compete as a Pro since I want to continue to bring a better package to the stage each time. As of now I would say Sports Model Masters Pro, and either Fitness Angels or Evening Gown Masters. My goal is to find a competition to compete and qualify to enter the IPL APEX in November.
Caroline is absolutely a great representation of the IPL and will be one for those Masters to look out for. IPL also crowned Dana Helgeson with the Pro title in her class of Bikini Open A. She shares with us on balance in her normal life as a student with a toddler and her passion for competing.
“Yes, I had to learn to balance between being a mother, a full-time student, and holding a part-time job, along with time to train for the IPL.”
TC: I have had the pleasure of knowing you now for several years. I realize competing required a lot of balance for you. What kind of sacrifices did you make to compete with the IPL?
DH: Yes, I had to learn to balance between being a mother, a full-time student, and holding a part-time job, along with time to train for the IPL. The biggest sacrifice I made was lack of sleep. I averaged five hours a night which was less than I prefer. Thankfully, I have my Herbalife keeping my body fueled and energized with healthy nutrition.
TC: Nutrition does play a huge role. I have loved watching your daughter (Karsyn) grow from an infant to an eighteen month old toddler as you have brought her to visit at Nutrition Head 2 Toe every time you stop in to fuel your body and hers with awesome meal replacement shakes. Who takes care of her when you are working and at school?
DH: As a biology major pursuing a career as a Physicians Assistant, I have an extremely busy schedule. My fiancé and I are very fortunate to have his mother help out a lot by watching Karsyn.
TC: Wow, a fiancé too! He must be super supportive through this process. I know working out and training for a competition takes a lot of time away. I heard a rumor that you have inspired him to compete. Is this true?
DH: Yes, it can take a lot of time away. He is very supportive and we do a lot of workouts together. He did the meal plan with me in order to encourage me to stay on track, and not have to resist so many temptations. After experiencing first hand how rewarding this journey can be, he is inspired to compete with the IPL in the future.
TC: Is he inspired to join the “Smoothies and Blenderz” with you?
DH: Of course. Being a part of the “Smoothies and Blenderz” was a privilege for me. It made the experience very memorable. It was so motivating to have such a supportive team by my side and I know my fiancé, Bronson, would love that.
TC: It has been incredible watching you commit, dedicate, sacrifice and work hard in all aspects of your life. You learned how to balance, competed in your first competition, earned your Bikini PRO CARD, took a chance at your first professional photo shoot, and landed the cover of Vigorous Magazine all in one month! That is remarkable! What is your main focus for your Pro Debut?
DH: My main focus is to gain more muscle, specifically in my upper body.
TC: I have no doubts at all, that you will accomplish whatever it is you set out to do. You are one determined young lady. Thank you so much for taking part in the IPL and this interview.
Katie Jeffers made a serious impression on the judges in her Open Bikini division. I was so excited when I saw her in the line up. I have had the pleasure of watching her compete in previous shows and knew she was a natural.
TC: What inspired you to jump on the IPL stage?
KJ: I wanted to compete in the IPL because I loved how supportive it is towards the natural athletes. I really love all the different divisions it brings as well. It opens up many options to different types of athletes. This league is so passionate and motivating for the competitors to follow our journeys, and bring us to the stage to showcase our dedication to being a physique competitor.
“However, I had one goal in mind. So, I was willing to do whatever it takes to be successful.”
TC: You brought a phenomenal package to the stage. What was your biggest challenge for this prep?
KJ: My biggest challenge was time. I work two jobs with only one day off. That day consists of meal prepping for hours, laundry, cleaning and catching up on the everyday to-do lists. I work late nights, so getting up early to get my gym time everyday was tough. However, I had one goal in mind. So, I was willing to do whatever it takes to be successful.
TC: That is a great and true statement. Has fitness always been a part of your life?
KJ: Yes. Growing up, I was a fast pitch softball player and played year- round in school and on travel teams. This led me to earn my degree in Exercise and Wellness which brought me to my current job as an Exercise Specialist and Physical Therapy Tech. I now work with many athletes from youth to professional players in rehabilitating injuries, helping them become the best athletes they can be. Fitness is not just a hobby, but a lifestyle.
TC: I also live and breathe the healthy, active lifestyle. I admire your dedication. I know what it takes. You bring a beautiful package to the stage. What do you plan to do with your new IPL Pro Bikini Black Card?
KJ: It is such a great lifestyle to live by. Thank you, Tawnya! You have always been an inspiration to myself and so many others. I plan to compete in the IPL Southwest Grand Prix Pro/Am in Tempe, Arizona in September for my PRO Bikini debut. I want to have even better dedication and focus going into this competition. I am so thankful to be given this opportunity and to be a part of the IPL organization.
TC: Awesome interview Katie! I know you will be unbelievable in September. I am excited to have you on our stage again in Arizona, September 4, 2016. Happy training to you and it was an honor to have you share with us. Keep up the good work!
KJ: Thank you so much, Tawnya. That means so much to me coming from you. You truly have an amazing team. I am really looking forward to competing again as a new PRO Bikini athlete.
Last year, I had the privilege of featuring Amber Daniell, from McKinney, Texas. I knew that wouldn’t be the last time we heard from her. She came out to
Arizona in 2015 and fell in love with the sport. She took what she learned back to Texas and came back strong in 2016, stealing the Open Bikini Class D with her outstanding physique and posing skills. Her story caught the attention of thousands around the world and she is going to inspire many as she shares it here with Natural Bikini Magazine.
TC: What brought you all the way to Phoenix again to compete?
AD: I wanted to surround myself with supportive people, my Coach/Mentor, You, as well as my team “Smoothies and Blenderz”.
“I was absolutely shocked in that moment. So much is happening in such short time.”
TC: The “Smoothies and Blenderz” are all over the world now and popping Pro’s like crazy! We had four Bikini Pro’s come out of the show you competed in. How did you feel when you heard your name for the winner and Bikini Pro qualified?
AD: I was absolutely shocked in that moment. So much is happening in such short time. My heart literally felt as though it was going to pump right out of my chest. All in the same sentence, it was very rewarding to be recognized for my hard work and dedication to training for the show.
TC: Your presentation really stood out to me. How did you learn to pose and carry yourself with such confidence on stage?
AD: I give all that credit to YOU! You helped me put that together. I went through numerous poses and selected the ones that showcased my physique the best and we practiced, and practiced and practiced. The main thing to remember (after getting your poses nailed) is to have fun. Stand on stage with pride and confidence. My dear friend, Noble, constantly reminds me that I have already won by completing the challenge of training for a show. Getting on stage is just a celebration of my hard work.
TC: What kind of exercising did you do for training?
AD: I lead Fit Camps at my local Nutrition Club, Nutrition 4 U. The camps consist of yoga, meditation, abs and booty, cardio blast and body weight resistance stuff. I also incorporated CrossFit while training for the IPL. I believe that it was a combination of heavy lifting and adding my Herbalife Post Workout Rebuild Strength that made the extra gains for my physique possible. Outside of specific workouts, I live an active/outdoorsy lifestyle. My hobbies consist of snowboarding, wake boarding, running, hiking, rock climbing and obstacle races.
TC: You have a very active schedule. Can you speak of the obstacles you have had to overcome concerning your health?
AD: I was diagnosed with an auto immune disease at the age of twenty called Ulcerative Colitis. At the age of twenty-one I underwent emergency surgery to remove my entire colon, rectum, and appendix along with many other procedures along the way. I am now thirty years old and I am in the best shape of my life after discovering Herbalife.
I had spent my entire twenties as a “skinny fat” and “unhealthy” young adult. My body has a difficult time processing anything that I put in it and only absorbs a small portion due to the rate that things pass through my body. After discovering Herbalife and focusing on my cellular nutrition, I put clean products into my body and my absorption rate has gone up. I can feel that I am healthy now from the inside out. I have been able to pack on healthy weight, and I am down almost fifteen percent body fat. I feel great!
TC: That is so incredible. Talk about anything is possible. You are a true inspiration. Thank you for sharing with us. I know the IPL is happy to have you as a new Bikini Pro and looks forward to your continued success.
AD: I am so honored and super stoked to continue this journey with the IPL. I want to give a huge shout out to my Coaches/Mentors, Tawnya and Vince Cline, for believing in me and pushing me to my fullest potential. Love you guys!
The International Physique League has added a handful of incredible athletes to the Pro line up. I cannot describe the respect I have for this organization and Ben Yosef for his vision years ago. I hope you found these stories inspiring and I hope the athlete’s vision, along with Ben’s, inspires you to be your best. Whether you have medical challenges, balancing challenges, age challenges, travel challenges, YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU SET YOUR MIND TO DO. The mind is INCREDIBLE; use it to its fullest potential. The reward is worth it. Thank you for your continued support of Natural Bikini Magazine. It takes all of us to succeed. NATURAL BIKINI