Meet Charlotte Quillen – She is one of the many success stories I have come across recently and am thrilled to have her give us her story on FFTF this week. I posted recently on my FB page about Guidance. I know it can be difficult to ask for help when you’re taking the plunge and doing something brand new. Online training is a great way to get started on your fitness journey. So if you’re considering asking for help, read on to get Charlotte’s story and perhaps you might want to sign up with her by the time you’re doing reading how she went from Fit to Figure. Enjoy!
Name: Charlotte Quillen
Occupation: Online Personal Trainer at Fitness Poynters
Hometown: Originally from Franklin, Ohio. Have lived in Richmond, KY since 2005.
FFTF: Take us back in time and tell us a little bit about how you got started on your fitness journey.
Let me begin by saying, I grew up an athlete. I played multiple sports all through school, and even stayed relatively active when I went away to college, but then I started drinking and smoking pretty excessively, and soon my active lifestyle was a thing of the past. When I found out I was pregnant, I was living an unhealthy lifestyle. I drank too much, smoked, ate fast food and drank pop ALL the time. I cleaned up my act when I got pregnant, I quit smoking and drinking (obviously) and I cut out caffeine but really didn’t change my eating habits too much. I gained between 35-45 lbs. during my pregnancy. That put my weight after I had my daughter close to 200 lbs. I first started going to the gym in 2008 with Steve, who had been into fitness and bodybuilding since 2001. He was an avid gym goer and after I had my daughter I was really unhappy with the way I looked so we got me a gym membership and I started going with him. I did pretty well, and lost the baby weight, but once I went back to college I let my workouts slip and I never really got a handle on nutrition. It wasn’t until Feb. 2009 that I really got serious and dedicated myself. I had started smoking again, so I quit. I started on a meal plan as Steve had just started up www.fitnesspoynters.com, and I made the decision to treat my training as important as a business meeting. Basically, going to the gym was no longer optional. To this day, I haven’t missed a workout without A. making it up, or B. having scheduled rest time.
FFTF: I know you started to workout and change your diet significantly after Steve started his business. When did entering a competition enter your life? How did that decision to compete come about?
After I got serious about my fitness in 2009, I started seeing very drastic changes quickly. I was a member on BodySpace – Bodybuilding.com’s site for fitness enthusiasts to track progress, share pictures and find motivation to continue on their journey. Here I started to see images of women who competed and I decided then I wanted to compete. Ava Cowan actually gets the credit of the first figure athlete I really admired and looked up to. Deciding I wanted to compete though, didn’t mean I was ready to. I didn’t have a lot of muscle, and I still had a lot to learn about training and nutrition. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into!
FFTF: How many times have you competed? What shows (name of organizations) have you done and how did you place in them?
I knew I wanted to compete in 2009. I didn’t actually step on stage until 2012! My first show was the NPC Tricky Jackson Classic in Oct. 2012. I won my class. 3 weeks ago, I competed in my 2nd show, the NPC Kentucky Open/Kentucky State Bodybuilding, Figure, Bikini and Physique Championships. I placed 5th in my class. My next show is Nov. 9th, the NPC Kentucky Muscle Show.
FFTF: What is your advice to women who want to compete? Would you suggest or say “Anyone can do it!” or do you think perhaps it takes a certain person to endure the diet and the training and mental toughness to go through something like this?
I do believe anyone can do this. Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to compete. So people use it as motivation to get in shape, some use it as motivation to take their fitness to a new level, and some people just do it to say the did it! The bottom line is, if you want to be successful, you have to be mentally strong, be able to take criticism, and believe in yourself. It’s hard work, it take discipline and a lot of sacrifice, but I believe it’s worth it.
FFTF: What was your first competition experience like? Did you enjoy it for the most part or were you just glad it was over? What was it like backstage?
I loved it! I got nervous right before stepping on stage, but other than that I was just thrilled to have gotten in the best shape of my life, and to be able to show it off. Backstage was awesome, I had Steve and a girlfriend of mine with me (who both also did the show) and there were a few other competitors I knew. Cassandra, my friend and also Team Poynter member, already had a show under her belt so she was able to answer any questions I had and having her there really helped.
FFTF: What did friends/family/co-workers think or say when you told them you were going to enter a bodybuilding competition? Did they “get it?”
My family was supportive, which I have always been blessed with a supportive family, even when I didn’t necessarily deserve their support! I have a huge extended family and we get together every year on Labor Day weekend, which put me about 7-8 weeks out. We camp out for the weekend and it was the first time I wasn’t able to eat what everyone else was eating so there were a lot of questions, “why are you eating that?” “can’t you just have a little bit?” and my favorite comment was “calories don’t count on vacation!”. I just had to LAUGH at that one! But a lot of my them were really interested in what I was eating, what exactly the competition was, and they were impressed with my dedication.
FFTF: Do you ever encounter any negative reaction or feedback when people see you?
Oh yes, I remember just after I started really seeing results the negative comments started and they never really stop. Someone who doesn’t have the disciple to do what you’re doing will always try to rain on your parade. It’s sad but true. I’ve heard it all! I’ve seen this around online “The myth that women shouldn’t lift heavy is only perpetuated by women who fear work and men who fear women.” -Unknown. I believe this to be 100% true. You will find those who have the most negative things to say are typically the ones who have the lowest self-confidence and really are projecting their own insecurities and failures onto you. My advice would be to not concern yourself with what others think of you because at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is what YOU think of yourself.
FFTF: What other aspirations do you have that are not fitness related?
Honestly not much:) Fitness, living this lifestyle and helping others start their own journey is what I love to do. Outside of the gym though I love to spend time with my daughter, and getting those few and far between date nights with my man:) I am a big reader. I’m a huge sports fan, all of them!
FFTF: Who are your fitness mentors (other than Steve of course ha!) Anyone else out there, professional or just a regular person, that you like to follow on social media that inspires you?
Like I mentioned above, Ava Cowan really turned me on to competing from the get go. I have been following Nicole Wilkins since she won the 2011 Olympia, she and I have a similar body type and I’ve learned a lot from her. Oh, and I really love Kai Greene. I watch his videos on Youtube a lot.
FFTF: What is one piece of advice you would tell anyone male or female that’s considering taking the plunge and joining a gym or investing in a trainer in order to change their life?
Don’t wait for the “right time”. The time will never be perfect. You have the ability to create the life you’ve always wanted, you just have to believe in yourself, commit to the changes, and dedication the time and effort to making those changes happen. It doesn’t matter who you are or how far you have to go, you can do it. Dream big, but keep your expectations realistic. If you have 100 lbs. to lose you aren’t going to have abs in 12 weeks. That doesn’t mean you will never have abs, it just means it will take time. Forget fast. It’s not a sprint. You’re changing your whole lifestyle, and you will mess up, you might fall down 10 times but as long as you stand up 11, learn from your mistakes, and never give up, you will get there.
Thank you so much for sharing your story Charlotte! Ladies, and Gents, be sure to check out Fitnesspoynters.com to enlist the help of Charlotte and other expert trainers who can get you moving!