I have gotten to know Susan Thorn a little bit. One thing I love about her is she is so supportive of others and always encouraging. She lives the fitness lifestyle and likes to inspire and encourage others to live it as well. And of course thee is Susan the competitor, someone who always looks incredible and always improving on stage. The fitness industry needs more Susan Thorn's in it.
Q: First, Susan, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: Sure. I am blessed to have an incredible family! We are so the norm with everyday challenges. Ron and I will be celebrating 25 years together next month, we have 4 kids between us, all grown and gone, and are grandparents 5 time over. I live in a very rural area on 20 acres, 2 miles out on what essentially is an old logging road, so getting to work and working out can be a bit challenging at times. But the beauty of it makes it all worthwhile.
Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: I was never very athletic. I remember ads a senior in high school I joined the gymnastics team, I begged the coach to let me compete. She finally agreed to let me do the exhibition for balance beam. I was shaking so hard I fell off like 10 times, it seemed to go on forever. I am sure my parents were cringing!
Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: What initially led me to the gym was the weight I had gained during my first pregnancy-54 pounds of it! On a 5 foot 1 inch frame that is a lot.
Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: I think it was easy for me-once I picked up my first weight. It was overcoming my lack of confidence in being able to pick up that first weight the 5 years before that was the hard part. I really did see the results pretty quick, which initially is normal for everyone, it is sticking to it with the plateaus that is hard.
Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: Honestly? I was 40 years old and had some very big personal struggles in my life. I had failed miserably in several areas, they were areas that I had all my life used to define who I was. I had no idea who I was, where I was going, or any confidence or desire to figure it out. I began running as a form of dealing with some major depression. It was during that time I picked up Karen Andes “Book of Women’s Strength Training”. That was in 1999. There was a picture of Monica Brant in there. After reading the book and looking at Monica I had decided that before I was 50 I would compete. I truly thought I was safe and 50 would never come! LOL
Q: Is competing something your family and friends supported?
A: Not initially, of course initially I never told anyone, I really didn’t know how I was going to get there, I was so far away from competition material. - It was a very personal goal. It was not until I gained some confidence in myself-and that was a lot of work- that I had the confidence to tell others. I think I probably shared it with others at the gym before I told my family. And now- there is not a girl in the world that has more support from family and friends than I. It is truly incredible!
Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you about it?
A: It way surprised me. When I first decided to do it. I think it was about the trophy. I just wanted to win and be good at something. Like is said, I was never athletic, I was always the last one to be picked for the baseball team (and I still am, lol) but I realized that lifting weights and transforming myself was my own competition and something I was capable of. The journey to competing became more about discovering my personal best.
Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: This will be my third year competing and I have competed six times in the last two-three contest per year. I have competed in the natural body building realm as well as non-natural. I have placed all over the board from first on down. I always tell everyone though, where you place is not so significant really, sometimes its all about who shows up! Sometimes you just have to show up!
Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: Honestly I just don’t know- I always think it is about the whole package. I love working on and improving my arms and shoulders, that is what I would like to make my best this year.
Q: Do you have a part you most like to train?
A: My most favorite is my legs and glutes, also my most challenging and stubborn. Maybe that why I like it, I love a challenge!
Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep ?
A: My training routine always changes, not only to prevent your body from adapting and reaching a stagnant point but for several reasons. I tend to get bored and off track very easy. Once that happens I lose my motivation, I need to switch things up. Right now I am lucky to be training with Jen Hendershott so my training and diet come from her. I just do what I am told. I need structure and someone to be accountable to or I can easily lose my way.
Q: When someone sees your physique or hears you compete for the first time, what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: It cracks me up, it is always positive, always. And the most common reaction is that they want to do it too, or they want to get in shape, so I love that! The conversation that ensues is always motivating for me.
Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing ?
A: The comment I am most hear most often, that I am sick of, is the same one I used to say inside myself, so I totally get it. People often say that “I wish I could” or “Its different for you, you’re lucky”. To them I say “Nonsense!”. I work my butt off to get here, it is not easy. I used to say the same things to others so I totally understand, I get how it is to be in that place that you do not believe it is there for you, those are the people I like to work with because I was there and I really do get it!
Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: The biggest misconception, or the reason some women tell me they won’t lift a weight is that they do not want to get big muscles. That could not be further from the truth, it just won’t happen. I lift like crazy to TRY to get bigger muscles. It just doesn’t happen by natural means, the work your glutes off means. If you eat right, and lift hard you will have muscles to die for!
Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: The worst part is trying to fit it all in. I can never seem to find the time to devote to the kind of training I would love, and the best part is the same. I love the weekly challenge of organizing and prioritizing my life, my self, and my workouts. The sense of accomplishment I get at the end of the week, and the frustrations of not getting it done, are what drive me to the next.
Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: Jen Hendershott and Ava Cowan. They both exemplify, live, and work in the manner that I strive to. In all they do you can see the devotion to the promotion of fitness in mind, body, and heart. They are both incredible givers and inspire so many. To them is about way more than the competing.
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: I don’t know if I could limit it to a cheat food, for me it’s a whole cheat meal! LOL When I cheat I do my best to choose wisely, Jen taught me that. I love to cook and eat gourmet food, Italian food is my favorite, and it always includes pasta, any yummy sauce, red, béchamel, pesto……. bread, a great glass of red wine.
Q: If another woman told you she wanted to start training, what is the one piece of advice you would most want to give her?
A: Have a plan! And a plan that is based on your needs, abilities, time constraints, and resources. Otherwise you will suffer defeat and quit early on. You have to understand it is about the process, your own process, and the journey. You have to have a “why”, and it has to be your “why”, not anybody else’s. You have to start there-to be successful it has to be individualized to your need, your journey. Any direction forward and you are a winner! Whatever that direction is for you.
Q: Do you think it is becoming more common to see women in the gym training as hard as men?
A: Seriously??? Sorry guys, but I think as women we tend to work harder, because we have to. And I am probably speaking to the women over 35 because that’s what I know. In order to achieve the same results we have to work harder, our metabolism has slowed down, most of us have had kids and are still trying to improve upon the not so great changes we experienced during those years. I do think that being a women in the gym has never been less intimidating- the guys certainly are supporting it. You guys have to do better at the cardio!
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: Well like I said, I LOVE to cook. Cooking is my favorite hobby- so especially during competition season I miss that. I love to read and do research in the areas of health care and would love to get more involved at the legislative level, at least at the state level. That is an area I would love to pursue more.
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Susan Thorn.
A: The fact of where I live right now dictates most of it. I typically am up at 3 or 4 am. All the years of the ranch and horses dictated that. My work commute was always long so to try to get a workout in before demanded it. Now I am on the road so much that I don’t think I have a typical day anymore. Ron and I after much heartfelt discussion put our house on the market last month and are looking to make some changes this year, simplify a bit. We will be saddened to leave this incredible life we have had here but we are excited as well.
Q: Describe Susan Thorn in five words.
A: LOL ….Difficult, Inflexible, Demanding, Grateful, Happy, and Incredibly blessed. That’s 6 huh?
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I think for as gabby as I am, I really am a very private person, very quiet- when I go to the gym I usually plug in the ipod and get to work.
Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: For the next 8 months I will not compete. I think this might be my last year, I am working very hard with Jen on eating healthy, training hard, improving upon the foundation I currently have. I am very excited. I have completed my Health and Wellness coaching certificate through Insight Zone, I am nearing completion of my trainers certificate through ISSA, I have launched my website that has a women’s health focus, there are so many things I am so excited! When August comes around and with Gods blessing I will be ready to bring the best me I can to the stage, and look to doing three shows this year.
Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: Well, in general Women’s health in mind, body, heart, and soul. I am seeking to do that by the same direction as my mentors, by leading by example, inspiring and empowering others. My new website will be the portal to do that as it matures. I hope to work with women that are facing emotional challenges, chronic weight, or disease issues. As a nurse of 28 years, a mom, a competitor, and fitness nut I know anything can be overcome!
Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Susan Thorn the athlete and competitor?
A: If ever the opportunity arose for a sponsor, especially in the area of promoting women in an older age group such as me I would be so honored, it would be a way to give back the blessings I have experienced in my own journey!
Q: Susan, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: Again Jason, I think it is incredible that you do this, I know that it inspires others. Thank you for providing a forum for me to share and promote fitness and health in mind, body, heart, and soul!