IFBB BIKINI PRO
Being inspired by one of the top IFBB Bikini Pros, Ashley Kaltwasser... Calysta was ready to take the plunge and start competing herself after spending years cheerleading at a high level. After competing and winning her class in two shows and an Overall here in the Pacific Northwest, Calysta set a goal to turn pro! She entered the NPC Team Universe and did just that.. She won her class, the Overall and her very own IFBB Pro Card! Meet Oregon's newest IFBB Bikini Pro, Calysta Upperman!
1. When and why did you decide to start competing?
I started competing in 2015 when I still lived in Ohio. I had wanted to compete for about 2 years before I actually did. I trained at the same gym as Ashley Kaltwasser and saw her train to win the Arnold Bikini International twice and the Olympia three times. It was definitely a motivating environment.
Prior to lifting and competing I was a cheerleader 8 years. I cheered for an all-star competitive team where I had over 25 team and individual national titles. I then cheered for two years at a division 1 college in Ohio, The University of Akron, then briefly cheered professionally for a Cleveland, Ohio indoor football team. I also ran track during middle and high school.
I have always been an athletic and competitive person. Finding bodybuilding and competing in this sport was just a new way to challenge myself and continue to work towards new goals.
2. What makes you want to go farther in the sport?
I love the challenge of improving myself and my physique. This sport has proved to be incredibly beneficial to me in ways other than aesthetically. Since I got back into competing in 2017, I have become more confident and happy with my body. I have a new sense of self love and appreciation that I do not know I could have achieved without competing. I have also created some of the most genuine and irreplaceable relationships with other competitors and those in the fitness industry that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Competing has also opened up the opportunity to see different parts of the country I possibly wouldn’t have traveled to otherwise.
I feel go further in bodybuilding can continue to help grow as a person mentally and physically. The shortcomings teach you something as well as the victories.
3. What type of training do you implement during contest prep and the in the off-season?
My training does not change much between contest prep and in off-season. My cardio will become less once we transition to off-season, but that is the biggest difference between the two. I train with Cem Eren in Tigard at Gem Fitness (“The Lions Den”) 1-2 days a week year round as well. A majority of the work, and ‘gains,’ are done in the off-season when your body is finally not in a caloric deficit as it is in prep. It is easier to move the heavier weight then. I do think it is still possible to gain muscle in a caloric deficit/in prep, but it is much harder to achieve.
4. What is your favorite type of dieting meals and what is your favorite type of cheat meal?
My contest prep diet stays very simple with foods I know my body tolerates well. I have what many consider a ‘bro diet’ for contest prep. I do use IIFYM/flexible dieting at the beginning of my preps and in my off season. Close to show I generally eat the same things; chicken, 99% turkey, whole eggs and egg whites, zucchini, asparagus, peppers, sweet potato, black rice (my carb loading go to!), raw almond butter, and avocado. Like I said, not the most exciting food items ever, but it is what works for me and what my body likes! Also, deep in prep it is more about fueling my body to complete training, cardio and working full time!
My go to cheat meal or post-show meal is a burger with sweet potato fries!! In prep, when I do have this as a cheat, I will almost always home make my cheat meals so I can control the ingredients and most importantly the carbs and fats! I will usually have a small dessert to with my cheat meals. I also have a weakness for under baked cookies and donuts!
5. Who are some of the people that have helped you along the way to get where you are now in life or in the sport?
Number 1 person would have to be my husband. Without his constant support of this crazy journey I would not be where I was today. He is the one who has to live with me day in and out. It does help these days that he is in prep for his first NPC show! He understand the prep life even more so now. We plan on competing in the same show in the very near future!
Also, my coach Shane Heugly who totally helped transform my physique this year. His coaching style was totally different than what I had done in the past, but it was just what the athlete in me needed. Without him and his guidance I would not have earned my IFBB pro card and overall at NPC Universe.
Chris Leong totally revamped my posing as well! He taught me so much about angles, positions, lines, footwork and overall presentation. It is safe to say my posing is now one of my strongest attributes thanks to him.
Lastly, my sponsor Warrior Fuel and Ryan Alspach. Without him, my Warrior Fuel family and their constant support I wouldn’t be here without that.
6. Who or what inspires you to strive for more in the sport?
One of my biggest inspirations would have to be my older brother who passed away from stage 4 lung and brain cancer in 2010. We had a 14 year age difference between us, but that didn’t inhibit our bond. He was always into fitness and attended the Arnold Sports Fest yearly in Ohio. I even used to steal his treadmills at the gym he would sign up for. Although, he never competed himself I think he would be my biggest cheerleader these days.
I also want to make those who support and believe in me proud. I want to be someone new competitors can look up to and approach and talk to. To be someone who balances married life, working a full time job, owning her own training business and being a successful natural athlete in the IFBB.
7. What is next for you as a competitor?
I am currently still in prep for my pro debut here in Portland in August! After that, my coach and I, have a game plan for a potential 2019 Olympia run. I would also love to get an invite to the Arnold in Ohio, my home state, this spring. Big goals, but so far I have been able to reach my goals and beyond. Why not keep reaching for the stars and then some?
8. What is your favorite memory good or bad while prepping or competing?
I think one of the hardest parts about competing is learning to accept that this is a completely subjective sport. In 2017 I won my class at two different events and 1 overall here in the PNW. I then went to my first national show and didn’t place, it was heartbreaking. Then I started off my 2018 season with a 6th place finish at a show I had won my class at the year before. I could have quit, thrown in the towel, but I used both of those ‘failures’ to drive me into my nationals run this year. In 11 months since that last place nationals finish I worked my way back up to 1st place at NPC Universe, Overall bikini, and my IFBB pro card. So, that journey alone was filled with many good and bad memories, but that’s what makes my current state so much more rewarding. Competing is not all butterfly’s and rainbows, its grit, grind, sweat and some tears. That is what makes it great though.
9. Any website you would like to plug, Facebook, Twitter, personal site, etc...
10. Anything you would like to say to all the visitors to NPC Oregon?
Believe in yourself and your abilities to go after your dreams. Don’t listen to those who try to downplay what you want to go after. When you do go after that big goal, go after it with all your heart and with passion. Walk on that stage with love for yourself and your body. You confidence and self-love will shine bright.