Hilda Tersanszki - IFBB Judge, Personal Trainer

1. Thanks for joining me, Hilda. Can you start by telling me about your background, and how long you have been involved in bodybuilding? When did you start judging?

Hilda: First of all, I would like to thank you for granting me this interview. I started training when I was about 14-15 years old, using my own weight and some accessories, made by my father at the factory where he was working. I was impressed by the shape of our two local female bodybuilders, by the symmetry and the perfection of their muscular development and thus wished for a similar body. For me that meant a ”different model of feminine beauty”. I started to take part in competitions at the age of 19 and when I was 20 I won the first national champion title at fitness. I also have a Balkan champion title at fitness, bodybuilding pairs second place and one title at figure class at Romanian nationals.

I left all competitions in 2007 and chose to pursue my studies. I graduated the Faculty of Science – Physics and Faculty of Legal Science – Law. I worked for the legal state department for almost 6 years and then I decided to return to my own passion, sport.

In 2010 I joined the personal trainer preparation class of the Romanian Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation and afterwards, in 2015, I chose the stretching specialization of the Faculty of Physical Education and Sport.

I am a personal trainer since 2012 and have started my activity as a judge in 2016.

2. How did you become an IFBB judge? (Process, what does the test include, etc.)

Hilda: In Romania, the judge license is obtained after passin at least two tests in two national championships. I was a judge in 2014 at the National Championship for the following categories: Classic Bodybuilding 175 cm (rounds 2 and 3), Men Physique +178 cm (semi-finals and finals) and Bikini Fitness 163 cm and next year, in 2015, for another 3 disciplines. For each assigned category, there should be at least 6 enrolled athletes. The scores of the tested judges are compared with the ones of the official judges. The scores obtained by the tested judge should meet at least 80% of the ones given by the official judges.

3. What is your vision of perfect presentation?

Hilda: First, the athlete needs to have the perfect physical shape adapted to the chosen area of competition. The outfit has to be suitably chosen to the category (it sometimes occurs that a bikini contest outfit would suit better the figure category). Posing should be specific for the field. The way in which the athlete walks on stage should inspire safety, he/she should feel relaxed and at ease on stage, he/she not display a forced pose and have full control over each group of muscles that needs to be emphasized.

4. In which division - bikini, figure or women's physique - do you find it more challenging to decide who the best competitor is? Why?

Hilda: I think the most difficult to judge is the bikini category. In Romania there is a yearly increase of very well prepared athletes for this category.

5. What happens in the event of a tie for first place? How do the judges decide who wins?

Hilda: Should there be a tie at the final judgement, extreme votes will be eliminated and only the vote of those judges whose decisions were very close will be taken into account. During the 7 contests that I took part in as a judge I did not encounter such a situation.

6. Let's talk about a prevalent decision: switching from Bikini to Figure. How does competing in Bikini contribute to success in Figure?

Hilda: The athletes competing for bikini have a more pleasant on-stage presence than those in figure (because mandatory positions are not so demanding). Obviously, a change of category requires an extra effort, more muscular mass and learning new mandatory poses but what remains is the advantage of their on-stage presence.

7. Buning and Thompson (2015) found coaches’ behavior and words reflecting confidence in athletes to emerge as the most significant contributor to an athlete’s motivation and confidence. Perceptions of coach-athlete communication (including verbal communication) were the greatest influence on athlete motivation. Athletes were more motivated to perform when the head coach’s communication was clear and direct.

Please give two examples of motivational talks you've had with female competitors who hit a wall and stopped progressing (no need to mention names). For each case, what were the difficulties - physical, mental, etc. and when did they appear (pre/post contest)? Which advice did you give them, and how did it help them rebuild faith in themselves?

Hilda: The athlete, irrespective of his/her stage, needs counselling. This is a tough sport, there are dietary restrictions, intense effort, fatigue and it is therefore natural for him/her to have periods when his/her motivation decreases. I support everyone and I keep reminding this to them, at the gym, at the judging table and behind the monitor when they are away for international contests. The way in which they have chosen to live their lives gives them lots of satisfaction. Despite being a continuous process and results are not always the desired ones, if athletes will continue to improve their performance, they will reach all their goals (if their targets are realistic enough).

I had my first motivational talk with a bikini fitness competitor. She lost her motivation after her second contest. She is gifted but she is not mentally strong enough for the preparation. She likes to train hard but the diet, the lack of funds to attend competitions and lately her body weakness made her give up. I tried to explain what results she may achieve in the near future based on her genetics and proper shape but I didn’t manage to encourage her enough to continue. So I figured out it was a lost cause. As a coach, I can’t motivate an athlete who doesn’t want to pursue this lifestyle.

The second motivational talk I had was with a men physique competitor. He lost his motivation after his first contest. He was not muscular enough to meet the standards but he was shredded. I talked to him afterwards, I gave him the advices he needed (how much mass gain he needed, proportions, etc.) and now he managed to improve his shape, is lean enough, has much better proportions and symmetry and last year he ranked 5th in the National Championship (15 athletes/category). I was very proud of him. This year his aim is to reach the finals.

As a judge, I told athletes about discipline standards, changes that emerge year after year, the kind of shape they need to reach to get the best of their bodies (for the discipline they fit in). As a coach, I told them what they need to change with their workout plan, different strategies, how their workout should be approached from different angles to avoid injuries, how to increase and decrease the volume of their workout according to each period (pre-/post-contest and when the body requires a change), every detail they should be aware of to increase performance. Also, I emphasized the importance of recovery, indicated proper means to do it and ways to get increased awareness of their bodies.

8. If you had to pick one memorable story in the years you've been judging, what would it be?

Hilda: There was a really memorable moment in a competition: an athlete has replaced the contest cream with black shoe polish. I was not a judge for that contest but it is the most amusing episode that comes to my mind.

9. Any advice for those who are going to compete for the first time?

Hilda: I want to emphasize the fact that many individuals, after having lost a lot of weight, think it is time for them to become professional athletes. I would never agree to this way of thinking (very popular in our times). One often finds on stage individuals that have nothing to do with any sport whatsoever. It is essential that professionals that train athletes aiming at performance to be realistic enough and not to encourage unsuitable individuals. I am truly glad that a constantly increasing number of people are willing to transform their own lives and become active through fitness, but let us not mix things up. In order to reach performance one needs a good genetic background, nice muscle insertions, skin texture, etc..

10. What would you like to see happening with the sport in the future?

Hilda: I think the future will bring more divisions for everybody. It’s marketing. This sport has become a trend and I think there is no turning back to what it used to be once. When it comes to bodybuilding, I would like to see more harmonious bodies and less abdominal distensions. In Europe, standards for figure class are not the same with those for pros. Women are too muscular, too shredded. During the past years the differences between women physique and figure class were not so noticeable. I would like to see more balanced bodies than very muscular.

11. How do you spend your leisure time?

Hilda: I use to spend my limited free time with my husband outdoors, I love to cook and read a lot.

12. What is next for you?

Hilda: In 2 months time I have a few personal projects aimed at promoting my services. I use to pleasantly mix the personal trainer and the judge activities. It is an excellent competition year and Romania will host the IFBB Junior World Championship. I am proud and honoured that my country will be hosting such an important event.

Contact info:
Email: hilda.tersanszki@gmail.com

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