Ironman Bodyspace Spokesperson Contest-Nicku Aghaipou

With the Ironman Bodyspace Spokesperson contest in full effect I wanted to reach out to some of the competitors and see what training and fitness knowledge that they had to offer.

1) So tell us a little bit about you. How did you get into training and modeling? What made you decide to enter the Ironman/Bodyspace model contest?
I have been a gym rat for the last 10 years, but didn’t think seriously about competing in Figure until I moved to Hawaii 2 years ago. I had always toyed with the idea, admiring the physiques of the fitness models I saw in magazines. Also, being a goal-driven kind of person, I had always wanted a reason to train that motivated me more than just trying to stay in shape. My first week in Honolulu, I was approached by a trainer that asked me if I had ever thought of competing, saying he thought I had the genetics to do well in the sport. The rest, as they say, is history. He planted the seed, and became my first figure coach. As far as modeling, I’m pretty introverted and shy by nature, so it has been a challenge for me to put myself out there. However, I decided it was important to gain some personal exposure, not only to help with marketing myself as a personal trainer who eventually hopes to open her own private gym, but also to serve as a role model to all those women out there who have struggled with the same body image issues that I have in my past. The process of competing has taught me to embrace, not fear, my body’s ability to easily gain muscle, and that in turn has made me healthier in body and mind.

2) What are you 3 favorite body parts to train and why? Give us a training trick or tip for each.
My favorite body parts to train are back, abs, and glutes. For back, I would recommend really lifting the chest and arching up when doing pullups and lat pulldowns to  isolate the muscle and get a full contraction. For abs, I personally have found it is a common misconception that they need to be trained every day with high reps of numberless crunches. I train abs like any other body part. I usually hit them 2x/week with load bearing exercises like cable crunches, and I pick a weight that has me failing at 10-15 reps. With my glutes, I had always struggled to get them to look high and round, especially when I would get really lean. Single Leg squats on the smith machinehave been AMAZING for curing pancake butt!

3) Do you ever have a typical “offseason” or do you stay “picture” lean year round? How does your diet vary between the two?

As I said earlier, when I was younger I really struggled with my body image. I had always had a naturally athletic frame, but I was a sprinter in school who always envied the marathoner body! As I got older, I started to embrace a more muscular physique, but the process of accepting my body and really bringing out my best attributes has been a slow one. I struggled with what a lot of women struggle with – I was deathly afraid of looking too bulky. So I maintained a low-carb diet year round, I never lifted to my maximum potential in the gym, and I thought the only path to fat loss was through endless hours of cardio. As a result my body NEVER progressed. This year I made a conscious decision to put everything I had in to competing. I did some research, hired a great competition coach in Layne Norton, and decided to put 100% of my faith in him and his expertise 7 months out from my 2nd competition. Saying that I had spent years damaging my metabolism, he slowly increased my calories and carbs, and had me doing less cardio than I had ever done in my life. He also introduced a lot more volume and intensity in to my resistance training. Although I was terrified, I followed his recommendations to the letter. We worked to put more muscle on my frame, and didn’t even start competition dieting until 10 weeks out – which was still more calories and carbs than I had been used to eating before I started working with him. Plus, even at 2 weeks out from my show, I never did more than 45 minutes of cardio! This year I placed 1st in the figure tall division after a dismal 4th place showing last year, and it was done without suffering, starvation, and endless hours on the stepmill. Now I am in off-season again, and realizing that I need to put on more muscle to be competitive on a national level, we have started increasing my calories and carbs for the next few months.

4) What has been the most frustrating area for you to train? How have you approached it to bust through your plateau?

Having played basketball and softball in school, I thought my shoulders would have been one of the easiest things for me to develop, but ironically they have been my most frustrating and lagging body part. Layne says it will simply take time and a couple more competition prep cycles to bring them to their full potential. So I just keep pressing away and putting more focus, both in terms of frequency and training intensity, on that body part. Also, I have always shyed away from training my legs with heavy weights in the lower rep ranges, feeling that they were a part of my body that was already over-developed from my background as sprinter. Because of this however, they never reached the level of tightness and tone of many of the other girls I would see on stage. This year I started training my legs in a variety of ways – some days for power with compound movement and lower rep schemes, some days for size, and some days with plyometrics for explosiveness. It has helped bring in a lot more lines and leanness to this lagging body part for me, and I think next year they will look even better.

5) People get very motivated looking at in-shape people like yourself. How has your social life changed? How have guys responded to you develop a fantastic physique?
I think the thing I love the most is that now I get a lot of respect in the weight room from guys! I’m not just some girl lifting baby weights in their area anymore. Of course, I get a lot of compliments that are very flattering, but I love being one of the boys when I am in the gym. Plus, my husband is 6’4, 220, so any time he’s around, other guys tend to keep their distance. As far as social life, the only thing that I think has changed for the worse, is that I am the “no-fun” friend when I am dieting for a competition. Not only do I feel like I am missing out on the fun when my friends get together to go out for dinner, but I am sure I am a damper on their fun when they want to have good food and good wine, and I am trying to be there in spirit, while sitting there with my lean fish and steamed veggies (or pulling out a chicken breast from my purse)!

6) Where can we find out more information out about you?

My bio, photos, and personal training services can all be found on my website, I also run a bootcamp with my best friend here in Hawaii called “2 Crazy Wahines”, and we can be found at Plus I am always updating my bodyspace profile on under “AFASHIONADO”. I love that website because I love being part of a fitness community, and gaining motivation from other people’s success stories, as well as sharing some of my own personal journeys.

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