Where and when were you born?
Santa Barbara, CA
What is your profession?
Gym owner, nutritionist, personal trainer, competitive bodybuilder, speaker/educator of nutritional seminars, wife and mother of 3. I retired from a management position with Trader Joe’s company in 2000. I was with them for 23 years.
Were you involved in sports or fitness prior to bodybuilding and how did you get started with weight training?
I have been active in sports my entire life. I considered myself a “tomboy” while growing up, as I would rather play football with the boys then play dolls with the girls. I learned to slalom water ski at 8 years old and during the summer we water skied almost every weekend. In junior high and high school, I played basketball and softball in city leagues in Lynwood, CA. In college at Cal State Fullerton, I played intramural flag football. I started lifting weights at 13 in my house. I used my dad and brothers home weight set. I really did not know about training principles then, but I lifted anyway because I liked the way it felt. I finally learned how to train properly from my husband, Freddy. Our first date was at the gym. We worked out and then went out to eat. We were hard core back then. He had a broken leg and still trained in his cast and crutches. We sometimes trained two or three times a day. This was before children of course.
Funny story: In our first week of dating, Freddy almost broke up with me because I was such a SPAZZ when I squatted. I had never free squatted before and I did not have my sense of balance or form yet. He was embarrassed. Luckily I did improve and one year later I was squatting 275 to the floor for 8 reps. We have been married for 17 years and we still squat together.
Was it a goal for you to compete in bodybuilding competitions right from the beginning or was it something that grew in your mind as time went on and you saw the progress in your body?
Competing was my husband’s idea. Early on I lacked confidence to take his suggestion seriously. However, He saw great potential and continued to push and train me. My first contest in 1998 was the Arizona State Bodybuilding Championship. I actually used this contest as a goal to get lean.
I followed my husband’s advice in training and saw great results. However, following his nutrition advice bombed! He is a slow gainer with a fast metabolism and I am an easy gainer with a slow metabolism. When I ate as he did, I got fatter. I wanted leaner. So, I studied nutrition, got certified and put my knowledge to work. I picked the first bodybuilding show as a way to meet my goal of getting lean. I was nervous the first time on stage, but by the second and third competitions I was really having fun. I like competing and I like knowing that my work ethic inspires many to start exercising and get fit.
Can you give me your competition history?
1998 – Arizona heavyweight 3rd place.
1999 – Arizona middleweight 2nd place.
1999 – USA middleweight 6th place.
2003 – Costa Rica Nationals 1st place.
2003 – Costa Rica Night of Champions 1st place and overall.
2003 – Guatemala Night of Champions 2nd place.
2004 – Guatemala Night of Champions 2nd place.
2004 – Excalibur Culver City, CA middleweight 2nd place.
2005 – USA Light heavy weight 15th place.
2005 - NPC Nationals Light heavy weight 15th place
Greater Gulf States Bodybuilding Championship
June 2007 New Orleans
1st Place heavyweight division
July 2007 Pittsburgh, PA
5th Place heavyweight division
Which contest has been your biggest success; which has had the most meaning to you?
The first contest was my biggest success. It started the road to who I have become. Achieving a life long goal of being fit and the satisfaction I felt are indescribably amazing. Winning first place was not my goal; getting lean and feeling good about myself was. I felt invincible, empowered, and that if I put my mind to it, I really could accomplish anything.
The 1999 USA was meaningful also. At that point in time I thought I wanted to be a pro. But when I saw many of the female competitors up close and how hard and masculine they looked, I changed my mind. I was naďve about the drug use and seeing the results up close scared me. I always was more muscular than most women, but I was not willing to do EVERYTHING it took to win. I was not willing to risk my health nor lose my feminine facial features. So I took some time off from competition and considered switching to fitness.
I started competing in Central America because my body type was more in line with what the judges were looking for. I switched my focus back to competing in the states when I heard about the 20% less muscle mandate. That’s me! I am naturally 20% less.
Please tell me something about your training routine (ie: how many days per week / training split /cardio, etc.)
I train six days a week and take Saturdays off. Day One - Legs and Abs. Day two – chest and calves. Day three – Back and calves. Day four – shoulders and hamstrings. Day 5 – Biceps, Triceps, forearms, abs. Day six – shoulders, calves. I try to hit my shoulders twice a week as this is an area I need to grow. I do cardio year round in the morning, but only 30 minutes in the off season. I work up to three sessions per day the last 6 weeks before a show.
What is your favorite exercise in the gym and which one you don’t like so much?
My favourite exercise is the post workout meal! Ha ha, just kidding. I like leg press the most and would not lose one minute of sleep if I never had to low row again.
Which body part is your best in your opinion?
My legs, specifically quads and calves.
If you don’t mind would you give me some stats (best lifts and some body measurements)?
Leg press 26 plates for 8 reps. Leg press 8 plates and 2-25’s for 111 reps. Low back row 280 for 8. Seated calf - six plates for 12 reps. One arm dumbbell row 140 pounds.
What do you enjoy about training for competition....what do you enjoy about the 'off season'?
I enjoy watching the transformation of my body, seeing what has changed since the last time I dieted. It is like unwrapping a present each time I diet, it is a surprise.
In the off season, I enjoy the activity of weight training. I will always train. I will train until I die or until I am physically incapable. Point of information, I trained even on the days I gave birth to my three children. I was in labor with my first child, while I trained chest in Mission Viejo’s World Gym. It was 27 hours of labor and I had to do something…
Please describe a typical day in the life of Marlene Churchill.
I wake at 5 and wake my children to help get them ready for school. I cook their breakfasts and make their lunches. I believe in the importance of feeding the brain and letting my children eat cold cereal before school just doesn’t cut it for me. I like knowing they are eating a healthy meal. I like making their lunches for the same reason. I want to make sure they are receiving good nutrition. I am not totally clue-less, I know they still eat junk at school. That’s part of being a kid, but I do feel a responsibility as a parent to provide the best possible nutrition for my kids. I believe in setting a good example and that includes me living a good example, too.
After the kids leave, I do my cardio. Then I shower, eat, and get ready to go to work. My husband and I own a gym, so my day usually starts with accounting work and updating client’s accounts. After that, I train a major body part in the a.m. and a minor part in the p.m. I also eat most my meals at the gym. We have a fully stocked kitchen and a chef at the gym. Our chef prepares all the meals for my family, so I don’t have to. In between training sessions, I have nutrition clients and I run errands. I usually leave about 5:30 to take dinner to my kids and feed them. We do homework, I make sure they take showers, and get them to bed. After my last meal which is usually about 6 p.m., I do another cardio session. I then take a shower, study my bible and go to bed by 9 p.m. Pretty boring but I enjoy it. I have learned the most valuable thing about this life is the time we spend with family and friends. I try to enjoy each minute and not take anything for granted. This life is a gift from God.
Please tell me about what you do when you don’t work out ( hobbies, what do you do to relax?, etc.)
I love to read, I love roller blading, I love cooking, I love eating, I enjoy meeting friends for lunch, I love camping, water skiing, sun bathing, vacationing in Cancun with my husband, and I love studying The Bible.
To relax, I get weekly massages, lay in the sun, take naps, listen to music and spending intimate time with my husband.
What do you enjoy most about the bodybuilding/fitness lifestyle?
Bodybuilding and fitness is not a fad. It is here to stay. Being fit is a lifestyle; it is not a temporary diet or workout program. I enjoy being a representative for what healthy living can add to your life.
Tell me something interesting about yourself, something people may be surprised to hear.
I think training chest while in labor is surprising. I think only gaining 13 pounds during pregnancy and being able to leave the hospital in my pre pregnancy pants is surprising. My daughter weighed 6 lbs. and 13 ounces when she was born.
Normally, I am a fat person with a pear shaped body. In other words, genetically my shoulders and back are more narrow then my hips. Weight training has allowed me to transform my body, literally sculpt my shape into a more aesthetically pleasing “X” shape. I want people to know, especially women, that weight training is a good thing. Many women think that by lifting a weight, overnight they will develop huge muscles. Gosh, I wish it were that easy. But it is not. You need not worry about becoming overly muscular, as it takes years to develop a lot of mass. I have been training for 17 years and I still have muscle I need to develop.
What are your competition goals or personal future goals?
My goal is to become a pro, this year or next. I plan to continue leading by example the benefits of a healthy life style by promoting exercise and nutrition. I may continue to teach classes and conduct nutritional seminars. I need to lead a stress free existence and continue spending time with my friends and family.
Thank you for this interview and opportunity for exposure. I appreciate it very much.
Marlene “Ice” Churchill-Wolverton
Marlene does not not do sessions or wrestling of any kind. Please don't ask!!