|Body Building Champion, Denise Richardson|
"When I was growing up, we were called 'tomboys,' but I didn't care! I am who I am & have always just been me!"
At almost 55 years old, the 2x Ms. America, bodybuilding, fitness dynamo is positive about who she IS. And, after speaking to her for just a few minutes...you'd be pretty sure about who she is & what she stands for too! She is a no- nonsense, straight-no-chaser, tell it like T-I-is kinda woman! But behind the heavy New York accent & super-stronger than normal, muscular structure, is a gentleness that gives way to the true Spirit behind her confidence: her Faith.
Denise Richardson, born in New Bern, North Carolina, always had a love for sports; any sports. She would "play" anything: basketball, track, & even touch football. "My grandparents, David & Eva Richardson, would have me jump fences for the neighbors," shared Richardson, "I guess I just always liked putting on a show athletically." That love for performing paid off BIG for Richardson during her professional, competitive career as a bodybuilder, winning her not one, but two, titles as Ms. America in the Physique category. And, although she credits dedication, hard work, & discipline to her success, there is another obvious component that comes into play: Confidence.
I had the honor of speaking with her recently about her career, being a female, professional athlete, & her faith in God & in herself & her seeming ability to master anything & everything that comes her way. Below is a bit on that conversation...
XS: How are women viewed in your industry?
DR: In terms of competition, it really depends on the “mood,” whose show it is, and what show it is. For example: In many instances, the judging criteria changes almost similar to that of clothing fads. The standard is to look for symmetry, muscularity, overall conditioning, posing finesse (to music), and overall stage presentation. The judges that particular day, month, season, or year, may give higher scores in bodybuilding to very muscular women, tall and leaner women, short and not very muscular, average height and ripped muscle, tall model type and the variables continue.
XS: How does that impact your performance?
DR: It is “tres importante” that we do not try to fit into the “fleeting mood” or mode of the industry. Build and Sculpt as you feel and see FIT, (pun intended). Use wisdom but have fun and enjoy the better health benefits. YES, it is important that my posing performance is seen as SPECTACULAR by judges and MY AUDIENCE! However, it is still of utmost importance for me to call the shots and set the standard for my own physique. Hey, I’m part of the bodybuilding community because I enjoy bodybuilding, not to fit someone's mold of what I need to be.
XS: Has the industry & competition changed you?
DR: My profession was in Public School Education before I stumbled into DARBY PARK, and still is, long after after I won back- to- back titles of the prestigious Ms America in 1997 and 1998. I was truly blessed to excel in this arena for many years. I determined how I wanted this physique and frame of mine to look, feel, and speak! My desire was to tell a story whenever I stepped on any stage, at any time, and any place, worldwide!
XS: What are some of the prejudices you've faced as a female athlete?
DR: Politics and favorites at shows is always a bummer. Uninformed/misinformed folk who still think women should not workout---let alone have fabulous muscles, are fewer these days! One compliment I used to get over and over was, “And you don’t look like a man!” Clearly some still think it is not feminine to train and compete in Physique Competitions. As in anything else, women are unique and have zillions of looks, styles, "swaggas," etc! Thank GOD more people are coming to realize this and actually embrace a firmer, more toned healthier version of previous self!
XS: How does your faith come into play in your career as a bodybuilder & fitness trainer?
DR: I love and support others and encourage and train them to succeed. I am empowered through my relationship with God and it is ONLY through that relationship, the one with my Abba Father, that I can accomplish anything at all. I am STILL amazed at the Power of the Word manifest in and throughout my life. The bodybuilding is only representative of the faith building in my life!
XS: How have you cultivated a body-positive image for yourself?
DR: I designed and sculpted my body based on my decisions…Enhancing what gifts and genetics I had already, then building and training from head to toe, as this is what bodybuilding is all about.
|Denise Richardson in Exhibition|
XS: What tips for building body-confidence do you have for women struggling with their own self image?
DR: Presently, I mentor and train women (and some men) in the gym, on the phone, online….Most need encouragement and a boost or a jump-start to begin living a healthy lifestyle; to get fit and stay fit. Many simply need to be told, "You can do this and I will HELP you!” Many need to just MOVE and BEGIN…some know how, but need to take time out and make time for themselves. This is Y/our health. Definitely seek out reputable people; certified trainers, fitness educators, and other professionals--including your physician’s clearance to get started in any serious fitness program. Be sure to take precautions when joining the local gym…SAFETY is first, beloved! Once you get started, I promise, you will enjoy the many benefits! Pursue a HEALTHY LIFESTYLE…Feel good, LIVE WELL…LOOK good from the inside out…that is B E A U T Y….true beauty baby! Can I get a witness?
For more information on Denise Richardson & her fitness programs, follow her on FACEBOOK or email her directly at: MsAmerDR@aol.com.