An Interview With Sarada Founder Genevieve Torok
Interview condensed and edited by Benjamin Rhatigan
In today’s post we interview fitness enthusiast and Sarada founder Genevieve Torok, who took some time to explain to us what it’s like to be in a figure competition. For context, figure competitions are similar to bodybuilding competitions in that both are about achieving proportion, symmetry, and a generally lean profile, and holding long poses for the judges to show every angle.
Most people have little understanding or even conception of the competitive bodybuilding world, so your experience is pretty unique. What inspired you to get started?
GT: For me, it came about because I’ve always been enthusiastic about fitness, for over a decade now. I already considered myself comparatively fit, but this was a way for me to really push myself to the next level and see how far I could go, fitness-wise. It’s going out there on a stage in front of a large number of people in a very, very tiny bikini (laughs), so it’s a physical push but also very much mental. Like, oh my God, there are all these people watching me, with super bright lights- and there’s nowhere to hide!
Is there an average profile of person who competes?
GT: This was one of the things that really surprised me. I’d say that previously, bodybuilding competitions were only for hardcore athletes, but now there’s a much broader range of people participating. There were a lot of women in their early 20s, but even some into their 50s, which is so great. I’ve met people who are 60, 65 going out on that stage. It’s very inspiring.
How did you prepare for it? I mean, just looking at your photos, not like you weren’t in great shape before, but your body totally transformed for the competition. What did you do?
GT: My eating habits changed completely. The diet is incredibly strict, especially close to the competition. That’s when it becomes much more about mental strength, than physical. You’re working towards a particular look and you have to cut a lot of things out of your diet. I did a lot of meal planning, and a huge side benefit was that I really thought carefully about what I was putting into my body. I was training every day, with very few rest days, a combo of cardio and weight training. At the end, I was hungry all the time!
Let’s talk about mentorship. Speaking of the mental preparation, it seems like that may be even more challenging than the physical part. Did you have role models? Train with a team?
GT: Most competitors have a coach, and I’m really grateful to mine for all the hard work we put in together. Even coaches have their own coaches! I also chose a gym that was very geared towards this type of competition, so it was a very positive, supportive environment for all people who are competing. Like, “oh, you’re doing that competition next week, that’s so great, good luck with it!” It was really important to be able to share tips and experiences and have that support everywhere around me.
It sounds like it took quite a lot of stamina and focus. Most people wouldn’t have the determination to see it through. How did you overcome obstacles? Did you ever think you would quit?
GT: It was definitely really hard at times. The positive reinforcement and support of the people around me really helped. You’re super, super focused on the end game, so as you get closer to the competition you get more excited. That said, there were definitely points where I was ready to throw in the towel, but then you say to yourself that just because you’re tired or hungry or sore doesn’t mean you can to give up. There are also real, tangible advances, like seeing a well-defined vein in my abs, for example. Never thought I’d see something like that on my own body and even love it!
How did it feel when you were actually competing?
GT: I was so scared to step on stage. It was terrifying because you get up there in a tiny bikini and there are so many people watching and well, also judging you. You’re sweating and your muscles hurt and the lights are super strong. I was shaking, especially because they make you hold some poses for up to a full minute. But also, it was the best feeling ever!!! Amazing to be on that stage and see a supportive and enthusiastic audience, with your friends and family amongst them.
Your competition outfit looks incredible- how did you choose it? Did it influence your understanding of how important clothing is for the exercise experience?
GT: I literally had on a $800 bikini from KHP Designs that was custom made to fit my figure 2 weeks out of my competition. Even today, I love it and sometimes I even try it on for old time’s sake. It’s still a special feeling to have my competition bikini on. After this experience, more and more I started to focus on clothing that made me feel special at the gym, like by accentuating my figure. It just felt better to wear something that was good quality and also unique. You’re working hard for your body, wear something worthy of it.
Did figure competitions have an influence on your decision to start Sarada?
GT: The fact that I did the competition really helped me understand other women who don’t want to wear the same thing as most people to the gym, who want to look good and stand out and work hard for the body and health that they have, and not just wear Lululemon or Nike. It helped me understand these women because *I’m* one of these women. Because of this competition a lot of my customers are this type of woman, this type of personality. Competing helps me connect with my customers on a deeper level. I know how they feel at every step of their competition prep.
photo credit: Sahara Photography by Fitria.
Do you think you would ever do it again?
GT: Absolutely!!! I just wish I could skip the dieting part!