Robin Clay - Figure Competitor

Robin: I was a single mother of 2 children, unemployed and in school for Paramedics. My personal life was spiraling around negativity and it was sucking me in. One evening I was watching TV when I came upon a program about Changing Your Life. The women they were focusing on had similar personal challenges to me. She had decided to remove all negative influences from her life and embark on a journey that would lead her to a fitness competition….and she did it. Amongst all her challenges, set backs and even daily life, she accomplished her goal. That is when I said “if she can do it then so can I”.

That very next day I removed all negative influences in my life & hired a competition coach. Sounds easy right? Wrong! The choices were easy, the difficult part was to execute those choices. But everyday I pushed through and made it happen, I never looked back, I never made excuses, I NEVER QUIT!! When I started this competitor lifestyle I was on my own and many people didn’t understand why or what I was doing. But with time my friends and family came around & supported me. They showed up at events and cheered me on.

Diet and Training

The changes in my diet vary from off season to off season and it all depends on if I have another competition planned in that upcoming year. But generally I stay fairly regimented and stick to a diet similar to pre contest from Monday to Friday and I do not restrict myself from any cravings or desires on the weekends.

Now, if I am in an off season where I feel I need to grow muscles or sculpt an area of my physique that seems to be lagging behind then that is where the diet will be more strict even on weekends. The type of diet will vary depending on if I need to lose some fat or gain some muscle.

I have actually been very lucky with my nutrition plans. In the early years of my competition life I was given a plan with pretty low carbs, however I truly knew I require more so I added in quite a bit of Sweet potatoes daily, and it worked. With my science background I am able to tweek my programs with some confidence. The only time I have had some big issues is with my depletion phase during what we all call Peak Week, and once again that was in the early years of my competing. It had to do with the water depletion. My water intake was reduced far too early and the amount of water intake was decreased way too much. I now keep my water intake to at least 6 litres up until the day or 2 before stage time and sometimes it may even increase to 8-10 litres about a week out of show day.

My training, once again will vary from competition to competition and from year to year. I always lift heavy and I don't do much cardio, but when I do it is HIIT. I spend about 1.5 hours 5 times a week lifting. In off season I do about 20 mins of HIIT 2-3 times a week and during competition prep it may increase to 4 times a week. I like to train in the mornings. Mornings seem to be the best time for ME time. I find that mornings at the gym are quieter and I get far less interruptions from individuals and clients asking for advice. I LOVE to share my knowledge and experiences, just not during my time at the gym to train.

As for balancing my diet with my training, that all depends on what is happening in my life at that time. What I mean by that, is dependent on how busy I am. Being a coach myself as well as holding down a full-time job takes plenty of balance, which is something I am still learning to do. My personality is ALL or nothing and that can be very difficult at times, especially when my clients are in competition prep as well. If I am very busy I go with food prep companies such as J.W. Foods. I find it very economical and it frees up a great deal of time that would be put towards food prep. If I am prepping my meals myself and spend 2 evenings a week cooking and packing my foods. Those evening would generally fall on a Sunday and Wednesday night.

As for meal/carb/fat timings being coordinated with workouts that all depends on whether it is a leg day, upper body day or rest day. My higher carb days generally fall on leg day and rest days. I don't like using those extra carbs and calories on a workout. I like it to re-energize, fill the muscles without stress and as well, I find the day after a rest/carb day to be when I feel my best at the gym.

A video posted by Robin Clay (@fitforliferobin) on

On Stage

I have always been comfortable in a bikini, but my fear was that I may have been out of my league in terms of muscularity. My coach, at the time, was very confident that I was not out of my league and that I had my posing on point. My friends from my local gym were very supportive and followed my transformation. Their feedback in the weeks leading up to my first show was very positive and that helped me feel like I was ready. When I stepped on stage for the first time I hadn't ever seen a competition or really knew too much about what goes on and how things are done that day. There I was in the Figure Suit with half my butt cheeks hanging out and I was nervous, so nervous that my entire face was twitching, I felt that everyone in the audience could see it and that I looked like a basket case.

That was not the case, thank god, and when I stepped off the stage from pre-judging my coach was very happy. I was happy to place 3rd in that competition. I am very competitive and with that comes a lot of pressure on myself to do well and make sure I am truly ready, so even when my peers tell me "you've got this" I still very much rely on my feelings about my physique. I've learned NOT to compare myself to other competitors and just try every day to be better than the day before and step on stage every time with an improved physique from the previous competition.

My last competition was August 2015. It was CBBF/IFBB Natural Nationals World Qualifier. I was entered in Masters Figure. Upon check in I was told that I had to compete as a Grand Masters Figure due to my age, I was 46 years old at the time but I had qualified as a Masters NOT a Grand Masters so I was a little taken back and confused. But according the rules they vary from Province to Province, however in Nationals you have to compete according to your age category.

The competition of Grand Master Figure was actually pretty tough and there were about 14 of us. They did not split us up according to height, which I'm sure can be difficult as a judge trying to compare physiques and muscularity. I have judged in the past with a different association so I understand the difficulty in comparing physiques in a multi height category.

I felt I was in the best condition of my competing career and my coach, in my opinion, is one of the best out there, at least for my needs and body type. It is not easy coaching 40+ women. Our bodies, hormones and food absorption rates are changing a great deal at that age and it is very challenging to find what works. My coach, Gil Ansah, has done a phenomenal job with myself and all those challenges.

Prejudging was a bit nerve wracking as I was the first one out of stage in my category. I was pleased to make first call outs and after 1 round of quarter turns I was placed in the center position. After another set of quarter turns they placed me on the outside, oh boy was I upset, but I did not let it show. During that next round of quarter turns I said to myself "no way am I staying in this spot, spread those lats and show them that back Robin". And that is what I did, I gave it my all and Bam, they moved me back to the center position. The judges thanked us as said "see you tonight ladies".

As I stepped of stage and returned back stage, my coach came leaping in with excitement, gave me a high 5 and a big hug. He was positive 1st place was mine. Myself, well I like to stay grounded and not assume based on past line up placement. I have seen competitors celebrate far too soon and then be shocked, upset and even angry when that 1st place award is not given to them. So I kept both feet on the ground and hoped for the best.

The night show came and I wasn't as nervous. I usually have fun after prejudging and enjoy the night show very much. They started calling out the Top 5, and as call out passed I got more and more excited. It was now just 2 of us and I was suddenly REAL nervous, then they called out 2nd place and it wasn't me. I smiled a BIG bright smile and was overjoyed that I was now Canada's newest Grand Master Figure Champion.

Currently I have launched my new website, I have been coaching for a few years, but since Nationals it has really taken off. I have a science background, I am a Certified Paramedic but I no longer work in Paramedics, so those backgrounds have been a real asset in the coaching and nutritional industry. I am currently enrolled in the Precision Nutrition program which is geared strictly towards coaching.

I have had great success with my competitive clients as well as weight lost clients. If anyone is in need of a Competitive Coach, Lifestyle change, or even just wants to fine tune their current health and fitness routines you can contact me via my website. I also provide bikini and figure posing and one on one training at a local gym.

As for competing again...that will be happening in 2017! Stay tuned for the announcement of which competition that will be.


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A photo posted by Robin Clay (@fitforliferobin) on