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IFBB Pro Female Bodybuilder Desiree Ellis

Female Bodybuilding Interview of the Month

December 2010 Q&A interview with IFBB Pro Women's Bodybuilding Competitor Desiree Ellis.
Editor's Note:
Special thanks to Desiree for taking the time to speak with All photos courtesy of Desiree Ellis. Hello Desiree, Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to share a bit about yourself with readers! Would you please tell us a little bit about yourself? How old are you? Where are you from? Current Residence? Relationship Status? Family Life?

Desiree: I'm 46 years old. I was born in London, England. I have four sisters and one brother. We moved to Canada when I was 9 years old, and I grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I moved out to Vancouver, BC after graduating high school where I now reside.

I got married in 2007 and I have a 19 year old daughter who's a professional dancer trained in classical ballet. What is your current profession? We understand you are a personal trainer? What kind of services do you offer your clientele?

Desiree: I am a personal trainer, I offer one on one and group training. I specialize in weight loss, muscle gain, and sports conditioning for athletes. I also offer nutrition counseling and prepare nutrition plans for weight loss and muscle gain.

I've also trained many competitive bodybuilders over the years for their competitions, doing their diets, training programs, and entire contest prep. In the last couple years I've chosen not to train as many competitors, as it takes up a lot of my time and focus more on growing the other parts of my business.
IFBB Pro Female Bodybuilder Desiree Ellis
IFBB Pro Female Bodybuilder Desiree Ellis
IFBB Pro Female Bodybuilder Desiree Ellis How did you get involved in the sport of Women's Bodybuilding?

Desiree: I was always athletic and physically active growing up. I ran track all through high school as a sprinter and a hurdler. I also played soccer, which was my favorite team sport, and did a bit of gymnastics, which I wasn't all that good at. I also have a martial arts background in kickboxing and kogido, which is where I acquired most of my flexibility.

In 1989, I developed an interest in weight training after having to take several months off from running due to a bad ankle sprain and needed to do something to stay in shape. In 1990 I had my daughter and started back with the weights when she was 6 months old, though I had no intensions of being a bodybuilder. Shortly thereafter I was talked into doing a show in 1992 and won, and hence started my competitive career in bodybuilding.

I won the Canadian Bodybuilding National Championships in 1996, which earned me my pro card and enabled me to move on and compete in the IFBB Professional League.

As one of Canada's top competitive bodybuilders and an IFBB Pro, my passion and determination for personal best kept me highly ranked amongst the world's top female physique athletes. I competed for 15 years with my highest accomplishments having competed on the Ms. Olympia and Ms. International stages in 2004 and 2005.

After having to slow down and take some time off from training due to a chronic elbow injury, I decided in early 2008 that it was time to retire from competition and pursue some of my other goals. What do you enjoy about being a bodybuilder?

Desiree: What I enjoyed most about being a bodybuilder was the hardcore training. I enjoy being able to push myself to the limit. I loved the challenge of being able to transform my physique into a sculpted work of art. I enjoyed the challenge of dieting and training for a competition, although very hard, but very addicting and rewarding, and knowing the fact that not everyone could do it. And of course I love the look of muscles on a woman, I find it sexy, as long as it's not too overdone and still looks feminine. You told us you have retired from competition, what did it mean to you to compete at the highest level in this sport?

Desiree: I started competing in 1992 and never imagined that I would have competed for as many years as I did or even compete as a Pro. I certainly never thought that I would one day compete on the Ms. Olympia stage. It took a while before I qualified for my first Olympia, but it was such a sense of accomplishment to have made it that far and to be competing amongst the top physiques in the world. Then getting my first invite to the Arnold Classic was a real honor, knowing only a few top competitors from around the world are invited.

I decided to officially retire in early 2008 after struggling with a chronic elbow injury since 2005 and could no longer train as hard as I wanted, and need to. I had to take a lot of time off throughout those three years, a couple months here, a couple months there, to let my arm rest, then I found that when I tried to get back to my routine that I had lost that mental edge. I realized that that drive and passion was no longer there, so decided at that point, after 15 years of competing that it was time to pack it in. For me it was always all or nothing. If I couldn't give it 100% then it was time to move on. Do you still follow the sport of women's bodybuilding? The competitors? Who's your current favorite and why?

Desiree: I don't really follow the sport as much as I used to. I find that the more time that's passed, the less I follow. I don't really know any of the new girls that have come on the scene in the last couple years, but I'll still check out the results of the Olympia and Arnold to see how the girls that I competed with are doing.

But to be quite honest, and I hope no one takes this the wrong way, but I don't really watch the shows anymore because it's been pretty much the same top 6 girls for the past few years now, so it's become quite predictable and boring to watch, nothing new, always the same O same O. How does your friends, family and the general public react to your physique?

Desiree: When I was competing, my friends and family were always supportive, they understood the hard work and dedication it took to do what I did. My parents didn't quite understand it at first, but they did after I was in it for a few years.

As far as public reaction, I would always get stares, but it didn't really bother me, I got used to it after a while, especially when I started to recognize myself as a bodybuilder and that my physique was a lot different than the average person. The comments were mostly positive, any negative reactions were from people that just didn't understand, you know, that fear of the unknown.
IFBB Pro Female Bodybuilder Desiree Ellis
IFBB Pro Female Bodybuilder Desiree Ellis
IFBB Pro Female Bodybuilder Desiree Ellis What has been your greatest personal moment in this sport?

Desiree: My greatest personal moment I would have to say was getting my first invite to the Arnold in 2005. I had sent in my request a few times in previous years, but never got it, so just to know that I was selected to compete with other top physiques in the world I was quite ecstatic. Then to place third and qualify for the 2005 Olympia again from that show, well you can imagine I was very excited. Would you please share your competition history with us?

  • 2005: Ms. Olympia - 15th
  • 2005: Ms. International - 3rd Lightweight
  • 2004: Ms. Olympia - 5th Lightweight
  • 2004: Southwest USA Pro Cup - 2nd Lightweight
  • 2004: Night of Champions - 5th Heavyweight
  • 2003: Night of Champions - 2nd Middleweight
  • 2002: Southwest USA Pro Cup - 2nd Middleweight
  • 2000: Jan Tana Pro Classic - 4th Middleweight
  • 1999: Women's Pro Extravaganza - 6th place out of 14
  • 1997: Jan Tana Pro Classic - 16th place finish out of 29
  • 1996: Canadian National Bodybuilding Championships - 1st place Middleweight and Overall winner. Received IFBB Pro Card.
  • 1995: Canadian National Bodybuilding Championships - 3rd Middleweight
  • 1995: North American Bodybuilding Championships - 1st Middleweight
  • 1994: Canadian National Bodybuilding Championships - 3rd Middleweight
  • 1993: Canadian National Bodybuilding Championships - 3rd Middleweight
  • 1993: Western Canadian Bodybuilding Championships - 2nd Middleweight
  • 1992: B.C. Provincials - 1st Middleweight
  • 1992: Golds Classic - 1st Middleweight Any chance we might see you back on-stage again?

Desiree: No, there'll be no coming out of retirement for this gal. I had a great time, but happy to move on and find out what else life has in store for me.
IFBB Pro Female Bodybuilder Desiree Ellis
IFBB Pro Female Bodybuilder Desiree Ellis
IFBB Pro Female Bodybuilder Desiree Ellis What is your current height, weight, and how does it compare to when you were competing? Do you still carry a lot of muscle mass?

Desiree: Well, I'm still just under 5'1", haven't grown. My weight is around 145 lbs right now so I'm still carrying a fair bit of muscle, of course not quite as big as I used to be or as lean. I tried to downsize after retiring, but it's hard to burn off mature muscle that easy, especially when I still workout, so it's taken awhile.

When I was competing, I would probably be around 150-155 lbs off-season, and 135 on-stage in the later years, 140 in the earlier years when there were no weight classes.

My goals right now are to lean down to about 135. Would you please tell us a little about your training schedule? How does it compare to when you were competing?

Desiree: When I was competing, it was the typical bodybuilding routine, 5x/wk, 1 body part a day, then 6x/wk pre-contest, 3 on 1 off. It actually took me awhile to adjust mentally after I decided to retire. Going from being a hardcore competitive athlete for over 15 years to, 'now what'? I couldn't do that same bodybuilding routine without having a purpose for it, so it took awhile to find a workout routine that gave me the same feel of intensity.

I do more conditioning type workouts now, strength, core, cardio conditioning, I mix it up. It's different, I like it. Do you have a favorite exercise?

Desiree: I can't really pick one. Back and shoulders were my favorite bodyparts to train, so I pretty much loved all the exercises that trained them. What do you consider your best feature?

Desiree: My back definitely.
IFBB Pro Female Bodybuilder Desiree Ellis
IFBB Pro Female Bodybuilder Desiree Ellis
IFBB Pro Female Bodybuilder Desiree Ellis What is a day-in-the-life of Desiree Ellis like?

Desiree: When I was competing, I would pretty much train, work, and take care of my daughter. I'd drive her to school in the morning, then I would usually head straight to the gym to train, then back again in the evening if it were pre-contest season and I was training 2x/day.

My daughter is now graduated from high school, so my days are mainly focused on training my clients. My schedule varies from day to day. If I don't have a client first thing in the morning I head to the gym and get a workout in, otherwise I fit it in sometime throughout the day. I also got a dog 3 years ago, a Shih Tzu, so my day revolves a bit around him also. What are your hobbies and interests outside of the bodybuilding world?

Desiree: I learned how to downhill ski about 5 years ago and I really enjoy that. I enjoy going for little hikes in the trails, cause where I live is great for the outdoors. I also like to read, although I don't get as much time to relax and do so as I would like. And my latest hobby is riding my motorcycle. I just learned to ride in the fall of '08 and got my license in the spring of '09. We spend 6 months of the summer riding on the weekends if it's not raining, and take little trips. I really enjoy it. What's currently on your iPod?

Desiree: I have an MP3. I listen to a mix of music. I like slow jams, R&B, old school, and some soft rock, soul, and old Rock n' Roll. What are your "Top 5" favorite movies? Favorite actor and/or actress?

Desiree: Some of my favorite movies that I can recall are: Titanic, The Departed, Imitation of life, Braveheart and Beaches. A few of my favorite actors: Leonardo Dicaprio, Julia Roberts, Dakota Fanning, Denzel Washington and Paul Walker. Who are your role models? And/or who do you look up to in your life?

Desiree: My role models would be my parents for the values they instilled in us. My dad taught us how to appreciate and enjoy life. I also admire Oprah for her strength and humanitarianism, and Maya Angelou for her wisdom and spirituality. What advice do you have for women who would like to get involved in the sport of bodybuilding?

Desiree: Apart from training hard and giving it 100%, I would have to say to do it for yourself because you enjoy it, and create the physique that will make 'you' happy, cause you'll never be able to please everyone.
IFBB Pro Female Bodybuilder Desiree Ellis
IFBB Pro Female Bodybuilder Desiree Ellis
IFBB Pro Female Bodybuilder Desiree Ellis Who are your favorite bodybuilders?

Desiree: My favorite female bodybuilders would be Lenda Murray, cause for me she had the perfect balance of symmetry and femininity. And Diana Dennis for her physique and artistry. My favorite male would be Flex Wheeler. For me, the perfect balance of symmetry and muscularity. How can people contact you? Do you have a website?

Desiree: They can check out my websites,, and Thank you Desiree, for taking the time to speak with us and share a little bit about yourself with readers, is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?

Desiree: To my fans, my friends and family who have supported and encouraged me throughout my competitive career, Thank you!

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