Meet IFBB Pro and Magnum Athlete, Emily Zelinka. Emily is a mother, an athlete, and a paramedic. Although night shifts can be a challenge, Emily finds prepping her meals ahead of time keeps her accountable. Find out what she preps for her meals and much more!
- Born: Welland, Ontario, Canada
- Current Location: London, Ontario, Canada
- Height: 5″8”
- Weight: 155 lbs
- Age: 33
- Favorite Beauty Product: Olay, Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream
- Favorite Style of Cardio: StairMaster
Social Media and Website
For those unfamiliar with you, can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got involved in the fitness industry?
When I was younger I suffered from bulimia; throughout my journey on becoming healthier, I found the gym and fell in love with it! I focused all of my energy on becoming healthier and I challenged my body in a new and positive way. At the time, I had had an interest in Fitness competitions, but I never thought I could do it; until one day I said to myself, I CAN DO THIS! With the good help of Stephanie Worsfold and Brad Fowler, I trained for my first Figure show with the OPA, Ontario Physique Association, and to my amazement, I won first place and overall! Since then, I’ve fallen in love with the Fitness industry as a whole and the rest is history!
What were your biggest challenges when you first started training?
When I first started really ‘trying’ to lift weights at the gym I was not strong at all, but I could do a handful of pushups. Mentally this was very challenging for me, as I am the type of person that wants results immediately. I also love competing against myself, so every day I tried to lift more weight, with good form, or do 1 more repetition. Eventually I grew stronger, and I was lifting heavier, doing chin-ups and push-ups, and I started to see amazing changes in my physique. I learned that patience brings results! My advice is always, if you have a passion for something, educate yourself on it, and be consistent; my results are proof that it works!
What’s your favorite part about competing?
I love competing for multiple reasons. First, I love challenging myself! I love comparing my stage shots and seeing my improvements. No matter the placing, if I can see positive changes in my physique then I have won! Second, I love travelling and meeting amazing people from all around the world. I have met some of my best friends through the Fitness industry. My friends and I have common interests and goals and sharing the stage with them is priceless. I have put a lot of work into my stage presence and competing as an IFBB Pro Figure Athlete allows me to showcase my femininity and all of my hard work! I am by no means a shy person, and competing is something that I do for myself! I love to step on stage for myself as a reward for all of my hard work and dedication that I’ve put into preparing for a contest; the moment I step into the spotlight, I’ve already won!
Tell us about your current job, and do you feel your training makes you better at what you do?
I am a paramedic for Middlesex-London EMS. I have been a paramedic since 2005. In 2014 I was promoted to “Operations Superintendent.” I am the first woman and youngest to ever take on this position for Middlesex County. I am honoured to do what I do and be able to help people. Lifting and training has helped my strength and flexibility which prevents injuries on my job, as I have not had any work related injuries to date. Lifting and training has also given me a healthy outlet, and I’m able to deal with work related stress a lot easier. I enjoy lifting because I’m able to listen to music and focus on myself for that hour of the day; it’s my therapy!
How did you become involved with Magnum Nutraceuticals? And tell us a little bit about the demos and what you love most about them?
I became involved with Magnum Nutraceuticals at the end of 2013 after winning my IFBB Pro card. At the time, I knew several Magnum athletes that I respected, that’s why I felt so comfortable choosing Magnum. After researching the company I found that they were a very family oriented company and had high values, and THAT WAS EXACTLY WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR! I did not want to be disposable or just ‘another’ athlete. I wanted to be part of a team/family and be respected for who I was as a person because I’m a mother, an athlete, and a paramedic. I knew that if I found a solid company that would respect me, then I would respect them and give them my all! I believe in Magnum and their products, and I am so blessed to be representing such an amazing company!
What Magnum products are you currently using?
What a loaded question! (Laughs) I take all of Magnum’s products except for Thrust! But my on season and off season are very different. Why don’t I tell you which products I take all year round? (Laughs) These are an absolute MUST in my cupboard!
Emily’s Year Round Magnum Stack:
- Performance Greens
What does your current training look like, and what is your training philosophy?
My training is always changing, so laying out an exact schedule would be very difficult for me, but I can give you the basic idea of my training. I train 6 days a week and allow myself 1 day of rest. I listen to my body, and when I am sore or tired I will rest.
Legs: I dedicate one day to legs, but I do more high repetitions as my legs have a lot of muscle on them, and for a show I focus on leaning them out. Occasionally, I do perform some heavy major lifts like squats, but in general I aim for higher reps.
Shoulders: Usually, at the end of my shoulder workout, I’ll add in a couple of arm movements. Shoulders have always been my favourite to train, and I am a firm believer that for competing in Figure, I can never have shoulders that are ‘too’ big.
Back: When I train my back, I really focus on my form and the contractions. Over the years, I have learned that it’s not the amount of weight that I lift; it’s about how I lift. Don’t get me wrong, I do use a decent amount of weight, but I make sure my form is perfect.
Supersets: I love doing supersets! Supersets keep my heart rate high while challenging me, and the lactic acid build up is crazy! (Laughs)
I also have isolation days, and I have a love/hate relationship with cardio. (Laughs) To me, the StairMaster gives me the biggest challenge and pushes me both mentally and physically.
What’s your favorite exercise for arms and why?
I love performing pressdowns to work my triceps. I love this exercise because I am able to focus on isolating the triceps, and I really challenge the muscle.
What is your secret to your incredible arm development?
(Laughs) Well thank you! Honestly, I believe it is from lifting heavy throughout the years. Lifting heavy for my back has strengthened my biceps, chest and triceps! Usually, it’s the arms that fail before such a big muscle group.
What is your approach to nutrition?
As of this year, I’ve been trying a new approach with my coach Jean-Jacques from Team Magnum, and it’s proving to be a success! He helped me with my marcros which was very new for me. The diet changed constantly over the course of my prep, but I was able to eat salmon, nuts, egg yolks, coloured veggies, squash and many carbohydrates throughout the prep. He helped me cycle carbs and fats, and we played around with them. I was never hungry, and I hardly had any cravings. I was honoured to work with someone so talented, and his support was amazing.
Do you prep your meals and if so how long does it take you?
I always prep my meals for the week, but since I do shift work, there has never been a specific day. Prepping my meals ahead of time keeps me accountable; it also helps me so that I don’t eat impulsively or overeat. Night shifts are always the hardest since my days can be very long, and I need to eat more meals. I stay prepared by always having extra chicken and veggies cooked up and on hand, just in case. I have also grown accustom to coming home at 7am and grabbing a chicken breast out of the fridge on my way to bed; it’s definitely better than a bagel! (Laughs)
What’s the one thing you look forward to treating yourself to after a competition?
Anyone that knows me knows I love my nachos! (Laughs) The Vancouver Pro was such an amazing experience. My very close friend that I haven’t seen in a long time came to watch me on stage and afterwards, we sought out the most amazing nachos; I couldn’t think of anything better! (Laughs)
What’s something that not many people know about you?
I’ve lived on my own since I was 16 years old. I worked at Tim Hortons and Wendys, and I paid my way through college working as a waitress. This is something I am proud of, and I feel this made me who I am today. I have learned to appreciate hard work and dedication which I feel has helped me in the Fitness industry. I am a firm believer that you create the life you want to live. I have a beautiful daughter, a great career and a career in the Fitness industry that has helped make my life very fulfilling, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of the fitness industry?
My hobbies are spending time with my daughter, cooking, baking, and spending time with the people that I love. I also coach some girls on the side for competitions as well. My life is busy that’s for sure, but I love busy! (Laughs)
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