Every year, thousands of competitors enter physique competitions, but only a handful of them are remembered after they walk off the stage. One of those who is not only remembered, but also revered, is Canadian Nadine Young, who first came to our attention in 2010.
Nadine’s unique combination of exceptional muscularity and movie-star good looks has made her popular on the stage – Nadine competes successfully in figure in a variety of organizations, as well as in fitness modeling in SAF (SeriousAboutFitness.com), which is where she’s gained a lot of attention and fame. She’s just as popular off the stage – Nadine is one of SeriousAboutMuscle.com’s top models, having appeared in the “Hot Shots” galleries several times, and is highly regarded by famed physique photographer Paul Buceta, who has photographed her several times, including a feature for Oxygen magazine in 2012, where she was the focus of a multi-page training spread. Nadine’s images are also the most-viewed on the SeriousAboutFitness.com site.
Nadine’s fitness career is currently in full swing, and her popularity continues to rise. As a result, we continue to expect big things from Nadine in 2013, so I personally contacted her in January in order to discuss her fast rise in popularity and what it has meant to her. Here is what she said:
Doug Schneider: How tall are you?
Nadine Young: 5’ 5”.
DS: How much do you weigh, if you don’t mind me asking?
NY: About 130 pounds in the off-season, and as low as 120 pounds onstage. But it changes all the time and I never focus on the scale. Just how I feel. I just stepped on it for curiosity sake. And, god, I love 5" heels – long legs!
DS: I first saw you and talked to you at a competition in Montreal in the fall of 2010 and told you about the potential that I thought you had. Did you believe me at first?
NY: To be completely honest, when I first met you, I did not believe much of what you said to me. While I was certainly intrigued and honored by your perception of both myself and my potential, I wasn’t quite sure how to take you. I was just entering a very big, very fast-paced world and was surrounded by so many successful people that the whole thing was somewhat overwhelming. I felt very confident in my abilities, and in my drive to succeed and achieve, but the thought of achieving success at that level of fitness seemed surreal. I had experienced many false promises in the past and was naturally cautious and skeptical.
DS: Shortly after that, you earned your pro status with the IDFA and also with SAF, which I run (in addition to SeriousAboutMuscle.com). As part of the SAF team, you shot with Paul Buceta. Did you even know who Paul was at that time?
NY: Other than having seen some of Paul’s work in magazines and online, I had no idea who Paul was at that point. I had no idea how incredibly talented Paul is nor did I understand how much expertise, hard work, and creativity is required to produce the quality product that Paul delivers each and every time. Having had the opportunity to work with Paul has been a true honor and is something I will forever be thankful for. Paul is a true professional.
DS: In that first photoshoot, Paul took that amazing “firefighter” shot that we published. Everyone loved it, including the late Robert Kennedy (MuscleMag, Oxygen, etc.), who thought that the picture was “genius.” That picture did two things: First, it let everyone know you are a firefighter, and second, it made you into a Canadian fitness sex symbol, pretty much overnight. Did you know you’d get so well-known so fast?
NY: I never imagined that I would become anywhere close to that well-known, ever, let alone that fast. That photoshoot was very special for me because it combined two of my most sincere passions: fitness and firefighting. In an almost entirely male-dominated profession, being able to inspire women to chase their dreams of being a firefighter through hard work and determination is what I enjoyed the most about that shoot.
The response to that photo was amazing! I had women and men from all over the world reaching out to me, asking me for advice and guidance on both fitness and achieving success in the fire service. While I take my career very seriously and thoroughly enjoy the tradition and professionalism of the fire service, I am equally happy to show people that you can be a professional firefighter and have fun at the same time. The two are not mutually exclusive in any way. The challenge becomes understanding that you need to wear a few different hats – “on duty” is a place where professionalism and focus come first, while “off duty” is where people get to see the other side of me, the fun, energetic, and crazy side.
DS: Do you still work as a firefighter?
NY: I am a First Class Firefighter and love every minute of my career. To be very honest, though, the demands associated with a career in the fire service are very real and can be very challenging. The never-ending rotating shifts take a physical toll and the lack of “normal” schedule often makes it tough to do many of the things that non-shift workers consider to be normal. There are many things that I truly appreciate about the fire service, including the general recognition of the importance of health and fitness, the ability to make a difference in people’s lives, and the ability to be a part of something much bigger than myself. However, the culture of the fire service is not without its challenges either. Given the fact that you literally live with your crew members, it is not always an easy place to thrive.
Much of the social aspect of on-duty crew life revolves around crew meals and, given that my lifestyle demands far different food choices than most people are interested in or prepared to make, I often find myself having to fend for myself during meals. I appreciate that many people won’t understand the significance of that example, but I can assure you that the cultural dynamic in any fire station, when it comes to food and eating, is very powerful. From time to time, I encounter people who feel slighted by my choice to enjoy my salads and lean protein rather than sharing in the multiple “meat lover” pizzas that are being ordered. This is really just an example of what it means to pursue fitness at the level that I do – I don’t choose to eat what many people eat and, like many of my fitness peers, I sometimes feel like a social outcast for making those choices in public.
In the end, when you weigh all the pluses and minuses of working in the fire service, I wouldn’t change a thing. I love my career, have the privilege of working for one of the finest fire services anywhere, and have many amazing and supportive colleagues and friends on the job. There will always be tough days, but they are outweighed by the awesome days and that makes it all worthwhile.
DS: The following year (2011) we sent you to photoshoot with Paul again and he took those pictures with the studio chair and mirror. You had a glamorous, blond-bombshell look in those images. Were you surprised when you saw those pictures of yourself?
NY: I was shocked when I saw those photos! I don’t often see myself as those pictures portray me. While I am extremely proud of the way that I look and I am painfully aware of what it has taken to get to that level, I see myself as an everyday, normal woman.
My hope with every photoshoot is that someone will be inspired to push themselves to achieve their own personal success. I really enjoy the playful, sexy, and erotic energy that is associated with that photoshoot. Paul captured an incredible blend of fitness and sexy, playful energy. Being sexy is all about being comfortable in your own skin and then being able to express that to other people. I can’t think of any better way to make that possible than through fitness. Seeing the results of your own hard work is cool. Having other people see and appreciate those results is very cool. I believe that being sexy is all about the energy that you project and I am very pleased that Paul captured that so effectively in that photoshoot.
DS: We have some photos coming out this year that Paul shot of you and a Cadillac. We don’t want to give away too much to readers until the pictures come out, but was that a fun photoshoot?
NY: I can’t wait for those photos to be released and published. Doing the shoot in the Caddy was something very new and very exciting for me. We had a ton of fun and I am looking forward to seeing the final result.
DS: Just after that photoshoot, Oxygen magazine booked you in for a training photoshoot with them. Oxygen seems to be every woman’s dream to be in. How was it working for them and how did it feel to finally be in the magazine?
NY: Having the opportunity to appear in Oxygen was a dream come true for me. The Oxygen team literally made me feel like a million bucks. Shooting for Oxygen is different than some of the other shoots I have done. There was a much larger production team involved in that shoot. A larger number of people were reviewing and critiquing all aspects of every shot, from lighting, exposure, and shadowing, to context and movement.
As always, Paul Buceta was nothing short of awesome and working with him was as much fun as it has always been. The makeup and preparation for the Oxygen shoot was the same as my other shoots: Valeria Nova is the bomb! She is an extremely capable makeup artist who works miracles right in front of my eyes. I have had the privilege of working with her at all of my professional shoots and competitions, and much of my success and confidence is owed to her. The Oxygen team is fantastic. They are extremely friendly, caring, and, above all else, professional. Having the chance to work with them is nothing short of a true privilege.
There is a distinct difference in the style of an Oxygen shoot compared to a SeriousAboutFitness.com or SeriousAboutMuscle.com shoot. An Oxygen shoot brings out a fit and flirty style. SAF and SAM both bring out a definite sexy, erotic, bombshell style. Both are a ton of fun to shoot and it is amazing to see the end result of each of them.
DS: Were your friends and family surprised and impressed to see you in Oxygen?
NY: Many of my family and friends have been surprised with everything that I have been able to achieve in fitness, and appearing on Oxygen was certainly no different. My adventures in fitness have not always been easy for my family and friends to accept. As we discussed before, the fitness and health lifestyle that I choose to live is often much different than the choices that most people make. This often results in me needing to make different food and lifestyle choices than other people and that is not always easy. I have experienced situations where people feel slighted by my choices, as if I am in some way attempting to be critical of their choices. Nothing could be further from the truth. While I am always willing to help anyone in any way, I am never critical of the choices that other people make. I respect that my lifestyle is mine and your lifestyle is yours and that I will often choose to eat, live and train differently than most. I don’t judge anyone – my only goal and interest is to be there to help in any way that I can.
Choosing a lifestyle of fitness, especially a lifestyle as a professional competitor is not easy by any means. Obviously, the hard work and dedication that is required both to get to that level and then to stay at that level is extreme. But there are other consequences that someone choosing this path needs to be aware of. For example, many people, especially men, find me intimidating to be with and especially to train with. I lift heavier and train harder than most, and very, very few people are able to deal with that. In my past, I have encountered a number of people who have tried to slow me down and limit my drive, and some who have even tried to sabotage my success. I simply choose not to be with those people. It takes a very confident, very special person to fully support the demands that my fitness and firefighting careers place on me and I have had to accept some very real criticism for life choices that I have made. In the end, though, we need to have people in our lives who support us, push us to be all that we can be, and encourage us to chase our goals and dreams. This is the person I choose to be, and I am thankful for the special people in my life who support me in the pursuit of my goals and dreams. The difference that a positive, supportive, productive person can make in our lives is tremendous.
DS: You compete successfully in a few organizations. But at the end of it all, what do you want to be remembered for most when it comes to fitness modeling and competing?
NY: The most important thing to me is that I have been able to help other people reach their goals and achieve their dreams. Whether it is in the gym, on-stage, back-stage, in the kitchen or in the media, I am always ready and willing to help anyone in any way that I can.
My achievements in professional fitness are meaningful, but what means the most to me is being an inspiration to those around me. Helping someone else achieve their goals is really what this is all about. My sincere hope is that I can be remembered as someone who brings a positive, helpful, encouraging energy everywhere that I go. I believe that nothing is more rewarding than helping others achieve their goals.
DS: I want to thank you for sharing this with us, Nadine.
NY: Thank you for the opportunity to share a little bit about two of my passions. My hope is that everyone believes that their goals are within their reach and that they never give up. One of my favorite personal beliefs is that there is no point in looking backwards because we are not going in that direction. I encourage everyone to set their sights on the goal and never give up. In the end, success is not measured by what we achieve; rather, it is measured by what we overcome, so never give up and don't get discouraged.
I wish everyone nothing but success and hope that they have a ton of fun along the way. Here's to an awesome 2013!
SeriousAboutMuscle.com Founder and Publisher