Interview With 8 Time Ms. Olympia - Lenda Murray

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The unprecedented 8th Ms. Olympia victory officially made Lenda Murray the best female bodybuilder in history. Her incredible combination of skills, discipline, strength and muscle building ability instills confidence in many aspiring athletes that success is attainable at the highest competitive level. At age 50, Lenda is a lustrous health and beauty icon and the best proof that age is nothing but a number.

Author: Jonathan.L - owner Models Observer
May 2012

1. Lenda, how are you? Thanks for joining me.

Lenda Murray: Thanks for having me. I love the opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences on bodybuilding.

2. What has been your most exciting moment as an athlete?

Lenda Murray: My most exciting moment as an athlete was when I auditioned for my college cheerleading team and made it (Western Michigan University).

Lenda Murray.
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Cheerleading was my first love and it was major making a collegiate cheerleading squad coming from an inner city type cheerleading structure. Of course wining my first Ms. Olympia in 1990 was surely exciting. I would probably say that my Ms. Olympia win was the most surprising and scary. It was overwhelming.

3. Please tell me about the "Lenda Murray NPC Bodybuilding, Figure Fitness and Bikini Competition".

Lenda Murray: The Lenda Murray Bodybuilding Figure and Bikini Championships are held in Norfolk, VA on July 28th, 2012. I’m in my 8th year of promoting the show. The show is a National qualifier and sanctioned by the National Physique Committee. Close to 100 competitors compete from the east coast For more information, go to

4. How do you perceive the responsibility that comes with monumental success?

Lenda Murray: I've heard some athletes, celebrities, etc say that they are not role models or that they bare no responsibility to others. I completely disagree. When a person achieves monumental success, people tend to follow or listen. Young adults especially follow or listen to whom they admire or those in the spot light. Prior to winning the Ms. Olympia I was clueless to the responsibilities of a champion. When I won the Ms O, I quickly realized that I was being watched in everything that I did. It was important that I carry myself in a certain way. Being a female bodybuilder carries a certain stigma and I did my best to smash any negative stereotypes.

5. In her study, Pumping up the Pomp: An Exploration of Femininity and Female Bodybuilding, Amy Scott asserts that "Bodybuilding is built on a patriarchal foundation that requires women to manipulate their bodies, not for extreme athletic prowess (as is the case with males), but rather to manipulate that body to create ideal femininity." What do you think?

Lenda Murray: Women in the sport of bodybuilding are subjected to criticisms that men don't face. A constant and unfair criticism of female bodybuilders is the condition of the face during competition. Bodybuilders, both men and women must be in incredible shape. Most compete at body fat percentages that range from 5% to 7%. When the human body is that low in fat, it shows in the face as well as the body. Rarely do you read or hear comments on Mr. Olympia's facial features as with Ms. Olympia's. People both inside and outside the sport love to say to me, "Now, you are attractive for a female don't look hard in the face as some". I expect this comment from those unfamiliar with the sport...but it's a little insulting when it comes from those within the sport. It's always a clear indication that female bodybuilders are being looked at and judged differently. If we lack the ideal female characteristics, then we are punished or unfairly criticized for getting the job done.

6. Who has been your toughest opponent on the Olympia stage?

Lenda Murray: My toughest opponent was Kim Chizevsky, second was Laura Creavalle and third was Iris Kyle. I will never forget being onstage with Kim at the Ms. Olympia. I looked over at her in the lineup and she looked incredibly unbeatable. She was a rock on stage…..she was unmovable. Laura, back in the day was the one that constantly challenged me. Laura challenged me with great condition and her mouth. She was good about trying to get inside your head. Of course Iris Kyle is amazing, but I was never truly threatened by Iris. There was nothing she had that I thought was so overwhelming that it blew me away. When Iris finally beat me it was because I had a leg injury that obviously effected my leg development. She did not beat me on conditioning….which she is an expert at. Her calves were better than mine, but calves were the last thing that made up a great bodybuilder. My upper body was always better than hers genetically.

7. Being a top competitive bodybuilder takes a great deal of not only physical strength but also mental strength. How did you cope with the negative aspects - e.g. decreased energy, mood swings, and curtailing of hobbies and social activities?

Lenda Murray: I honestly had no major issues with decreased energy, mood swings or curtailing of hobbies and social skills during contest preparation. I normally would diet for 16 weeks for the show…..but did my best in the off-season to enjoy life. I made a real distinction between contest preparation and the off season. By the time the contest preparation arrived I was ready for the intensity. I think competitors make a mistake when they try and be in incredible shape all year. I’m not saying to get way off from your contest mark….but enjoy life. Train consistently….and stay away from the extremes… that for when it counts.

8. What is your view on the future of bodybuilding?

Lenda Murray: I think the future of women’s bodybuilding really depends on the competitors at the Pro level. If women bodybuilders continue to show up…..they will continue to have a place to compete. At no time have I heard the powers to be saying that they plan on eliminating bodybuilding for women. I can tell you that from the point of view of an Amateur Contest Promoter, it’s about expense and return on the dollar. The expense is trophies per division and classes. The trophies are basically paid for from entry fees, so a few extra trophies not claimed because of lack of participation are no big deal. A professional promoters cost on the other hand includes prize money and the expenses of the professional competitors. So with the addition of divisions like Figure, Fitness and Bikini…the promoters have more choices. Divisions that bring in large numbers of competitors just make promoters happy. Look at it like this, if you have let’s say the Bikini Division and 50 girls show up, the promoter multiplies 50 girls x 4 friends that buy tickets to the event. The promoter can expect to get 200 paying attendees and 50 entry fees. It just so happens that there are more women that think because they wear a size 2 they can compete. It’s a numbers game.

9. Your photographs are masterpieces that will leave a legacy for probably 1,000 years. Could you recall a favorite / unique photo shoot experience?

Lenda Murray: I do treasure my photos. I would say that my photo sessions with Bill Dobbins have been the most memorable. Bill was always thinking of creative photo shoots. My most memorable are the ones taken in the dessert. Photo shoots always meant fun…because the competition was over. The photos were the icing on the cake.

10. What is a day in the life of Lenda Murray like?

Lenda Murray: I usually get up and meditate first and then I’m off to the gym 5 days a week. I work with clients today because they keep me in shape. When I won the MS Olympia in the early 90’s I made the mistake of no longer personal training clients. I only work with a select few that are serious. I spend lots of time working on new and exciting projects. A reality show…auditions……my show in July.

11. What are your interests outside of the bodybuilding world?

Lenda Murray: I love to cook and spend time with family. I love reading and watching mysteries. Shopping and decorating my home with cool furniture and items. I’m also a member of AA and go to meetings on a regular. Most of my best friends are in AA. I spend a great deal of time being of service to others. I’ve been sober for 5 years. I love AA….it’s changed my life in a major way.

12. What advice do you have for women who would like to get involved in the sport of bodybuilding?

Lenda Murray: Bodybuilding can be an awesome experience if you approach it with the right attitude and discipline. It was never my goal to be MS Olympia. It was my goal to compete and do it well. I think that it takes the following to be a successful female bodybuilder: Genetics, Discipline, Independent thinking, Consistency, Willpower. Also, this was a hobby for me. I never looked at it as a means to make my sole living.

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