Quebec's Jennifer Lambert Foster is a SAF success story. Jennifer entered her first SAF competition in 2007 and placed third, high enough for her to qualify for SAF Elite Pro status. She was brand new to competing then. The next year she made marked improvements and surprised everyone by vying for the top spot at the first ever SAF Elite Pro Championship. In subsequent years, Jennifer continued refining her physique and saw her placings climb – not just in SAF, but in other physique organizations too.
It was in 2010 that Jennifer really came into her own, winning the SAF Summer Elite Pro Challenge in a very tight race and taking the runner-up spot in the Bikini Universe competition. In 2011, Jennifer won the SAF Fall Elite Pro Challenge as well as SAF's top competition: the SAF Elite Pro Championship. Jennifer was only the fourth woman to hold the title of SAF Elite Pro Champion.
The 2012 competitive year has just begun, so we caught up with Jennifer to find out how she feels about her past successes and where she plans to go from here. Here is what she said:
SAF: How did you feel the moment your name was announced as the winner of the SAF Elite Pro Championship?
Jennifer Lambert Foster: I was shocked. I remember standing onstage with all the other women who were competing for that title, with no thought in my head. I was simply listening to hear whose name was going to be called out. It was a very hard competition. Every girl on that stage that day had brought their "A" game. I was obviously hoping to win, but not expecting it. It even took me a few seconds before reacting when they called my name. Once I realized that my named had been called as the SAF Elite Pro Champion, I had a very warm feeling in my chest followed by a huge boost of energy. I was on cloud 9!
SAF: I know you put a lot of effort into that show. Was it worth it in the end?
JLF: Absolutely! I have been competing with SAF since 2007 and this was one of my fitness goals: to win the SAF Elite Pro Championship title. To me this title means a lot as I love, love, love what the SAF federation does for its athletes. I also fully support what SAF stands for – encouraging women to achieve and maintain a healthy and fit lifestyle.
SAF: How long had you been training before you stepped onto the SAF stage in 2007?
JLF: I have always had an active life. I’ve trained for other sports before, such as lifeguarding, soccer, figure skating and horseback riding. But it’s wasn't until 2005 that I started to train for a physique competition. SAF 2007 was the third physique competition I ever competed in, but my first swimsuit model competition. Before that I had never found a federation that offered this category to competitors, so I always competed in figure, which didn't suit me as well
SAF: What made you decide to compete?
JLF: Anne-Renée Séguin! A year before my first competition I was working as an aquafit instructor at the same gym where Anne-Renée Séguin was working. At that time, I was training and dieting by what I call "the girly way," thinking that this was the way to obtain the physique that we see in the Oxygen magazine. Of course, "the girly way" was not getting me the results because "the girly way," at least to me, is what most women think is the right way of toning: starving yourself with poorly nutritious foods and doing cardio, cardio, and more cardio. So, basically, my body was in starvation mode and eating away the little muscle I had. As I watched Anne-Renée training hard and heavy to prepare for her first figure competition, I realized that I was probably not doing the right thing. I then booked an appointment with Ken Clement, owner of Florida Fitness Aylmer, and told him what I was doing and that my goal was to compete. It was at that moment that Ken Clement became more than my trainer – he became my mentor and dear friend, and he taught me everything he knows about health and fitness.
Ken and Jennifer
SAF: You've competed many times and have won a number of titles. Do you want to compete again?
JLF: Yes! I love being onstage. In fact, performing my posing routine is my favorite part of the whole process.
SAF: Will you defend your SAF title in 2012?
JLF: That’s the plan. I would like to try to be the first SAF Elite Pro Champion to have that title for two years in a row.
SAF: You've created a business around fitness. What exactly is it?
JLF: Yes, I have, without even intending to. It kind of just happened. As I mentioned earlier, I enjoy the stage aspect of competing, and I also enjoy sharing my experience with other athletes. I started by helping out Ken Clement by showing the girls that he trains a few pointers on posing. After receiving compliments from judges and other competitors on my stage presence, I decided to become a stage-presence coach. I still work with Kenny as a team. He trains and diets the girls, then I teach them posing and help them create routines for their show day. For more information on my method of teaching, please take a read on my website at www.pinkpumps.ca.
SAF: You're also sponsored by Interactive Nutrition. How has that been?
JLF: Full of fun-ness! I am very proud to be a part of the Interactive Nutrition team. The sport supplements they make are among the cleanest and most efficient ones that you can find. They are a Canadian company based in my hometown, Ottawa. More important, I love the family vibe that the workers have between them. Everyone supports the athletes that Interactive Nutrition sponsors and they are always open to marketing ideas that we suggest to them. They really make me feel like I’m an important part of the company, even though I am not working as an official employee.
SAF: Are you currently training right now?
JLF: Of course, I am always training. I don’t think I can ever stop doing that. It would be like asking me to stop dying my hair pink! As most people have heard before, training and eating clean is a lifestyle. This will be a part of me until I’m 100. That’s another of my fitness goals: to live healthy until I’m 100 years old. Even my doctor says that, based on my family history and my lifestyle, this is not an unrealistic goal. Yay!
Jennifer at Paul Buceta's studio
SAF: How many days per week do you normally train?
JLF: I train four to five days. I will admit that when I started competing I would train five to seven days a week. But now that I have obtained a good body "base," I can allow myself to reduce my weekly cardio and spread my weight training over four days a week.
SAF: What's your favorite body part to train?
JLF: My back. As my trainer Kenny calls it: back attack! One of the reasons I like training my back is that this was one of my first body parts to develop. I also enjoy building my back because the bigger your back, the smaller your waist looks. This is an important physical aspect when being judged in a bikini category.
SAF: Least favorite?
JLF: Hmm . . . guess I would have to say biceps, as I have a hard time training them how I would like to, due to an elbow injury.
SAF: Do you eat clean year-round?
JLF: Yes, I follow a maintenance diet year-round. To stay sane I do have one cheat meal per week, and maybe a glass of wine here and there – after all, I am French. Eating clean year-round allows me to stay within about five pounds of my competition weight. This means I don’t have to diet as long.
SAF: You've competed consistently for quite a few years and have had your share of ups and downs. What advice can you give someone so they don't burn out or get discouraged?
JLF: I would strongly recommend being consistent. There are many women in this industry, so if you want to stand out you need to always bring your "A" game onstage. This means that you want to be careful not to do too many shows back-to-back as it is very hard mentally and physically. It is best to read as much as you can about all the different organizations and choose the ones that best correspond with the your personal reasons and/or goals for competing. Second, don’t get carried away. When any athlete decides to do a physique competition, part of them follows through with it for personal accomplishment. This means no matter where they end up placing on the day of their first show, they have already won. That initial feeling of accomplishment often gets forgotten by veteran competitors, and, when it does, it is dangerous because you can end up as a "fitness airhead," meaning your whole life revolves around you and your competitions. It is important that competing stays as a complement to your life.
SAF: What's your advice for someone competing for the very first time?
JLF: Not to be too hard on yourself. A lot of new competitors think that they will obtain the physique that we see in fitness magazines within a few months, which is not possible. You have to train and diet properly for a few years before having such a package. When I look at pictures of myself during my first competitions, my body was nothing like it is now. I would say it took me about three to four years before feeling that I had fully achieved the body that I wanted.
A second piece of advice I could offer is not to do too many shows during the first two years that you are building your physique. I only did one show a year for the first three years that I was training, since I wanted to focus on building muscle. I am happy I did so, because when you are dieting for your first show/shows you don’t know enough about how your body is going to react to different diets and training combinations. Because you want to always bring your "A" game to the stage, it’s best to do your shows further apart from each other so you have time to experiment with your diets.
SAF: Thanks, Jennifer.
JLF: Thank you, SAF.