Where and when were you born?
I was born in Denver, CO and was raised in New Mexico... Santa Fe until I was four or five years old and then Farmington, in the Four Corners area, until I graduated high school. I attended the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque for six years and completed degrees in Philosophy/English and in Fine Arts in sculpture.
What is your profession?
I suppose I might best be described as a homemaker, truly a privileged occupation. I'm also beginning to coach athletes for bodybuilding competition.
What kind of activities/sports did you do before you started lifting weights?
I was not very athletically inclined growing up. I did become an adequate skier and found activities such as archery and Thai Chi to be gratifying in my college curriculum. Team sports never really attracted me.
How and when did you get involved into lifting weights?
I began training with weights in 1985. I found myself gaining weight and I knew that lifting weights would help along with a cleaner diet. I was living in Brooklyn, New York and trained at home with the aid of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Bodybuilding for Women. I had some pretty basic equipment and good friends who lived in my building who encouraged me to use their home gym.
The summer of 1987, I spent 3 months in Tucson, Arizona and began training with Casey Viator, a professional bodybuilder. He laid the foundation for my training that I continue to use today.
In going through my notes, I found some interesting statistics about how my body responded in my first few years of training. In July of 1985, I weighed 117 pounds and measured 34 (chest), 26.5 (waist), 35 (hips), 21 (thighs) and 12.5 (calves). In October of 1989 I weighed 140 pounds and measured 38 (chest), 28 (waist), 35.5 (hips), 22.5 (thighs), 12.5 (calves) and 14 (biceps). Currently I weigh 145 pounds and measure 40 (chest), 30 (waist), 35 (hips), 23 (thighs), 15.5 (calves) and 15 (biceps).
When I returned to New York from Tucson, I began working in small midtown gym and eventually began training others which I found to be gratifying work.
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?
My body responded well to training and adding size was relatively easy for me. It didn't take long for me to feel the desire to compete since I began to like the look of the female bodybuilders I saw in the magazines. Additionally, competing gave me the incentive to get in top shape, as it continues to do now.
Who were your role models when you first began training and who inspired you in latter years?
Among those I admired in the beginning were Gladys Portugues, Mary Roberts, Juliette Bergmann, and Ellen Van Maris. Other bodybuilders who inspired me in latter years were Marie Mahabir, Claudia Profanter, Laura Crevalle, my good friend Christa Bauch, Denise Rutkowski and Kim Chizevski.
What was your first competition and how did you place?
I believe it was in 1988. It was John Kemper's Suburban in New Jersey. I entered the novice class, but since there were so few female competitors, all novices were placed in the open. I competed as a middleweight at around 125 pounds. I was alone and petrified and didn't place well. Afterwards, I was told by a male professional bodybuilder that I had potential if I continued to add muscle and that I needed to smile.
And which contest has been the biggest success for you yet?
The USA in Denver, Colorado in 1995 was very gratifying since it was my first pro-qualifying national level show. I was in such excellent condition placed 2nd, missing the win by one point. My goal for that contest was to make the top 5 so I was quite happy with the outcome. It was an extremely tough class that year. Chris Bongiovanni won the class. Following me were Betty Pariso, Ericca Kern and Suzan Kaminga. The middleweight, Valerie Gangi went on to win the overall and her pro-card and all the other heavyweights from that class went on to win their pro-cards.
This year at the Nationals in Dallas was not as gratifying because of the erratic judging standards, however because I was in even better condition and improved in so may ways, I would say the 2004 Nationals is the most gratifying for me on a personal level.
Could you please add a history of all contests that you have entered so far?
W I N S - (Over All Champion)
Northeastern Championships - 1st Middleweight and OA Champion 1989
Master's Nationals - 1st place Middleweight and OA Champion 1989
Women's Extravaganza - 1st Heavyweight and OA Champion 1992
New York Metropolitan Championships - 1st Heavyweight and OA Champion 1995
Sacramento - 1st Heavyweight and OA Champion 1998
John Sherman Classic - 1st Heavyweight and OA Champion 2004
T O P 5 (NATIONAL LEVEL)
USA Championships - 2nd place Heavyweight 1995
Nationals - 5th place Heavyweight 1998
USA Championships - 2nd place Heavyweight 2000
Nationals - 5th place Light heavyweight 2004
Please describe a typical day in the life of Robin Parker.
I get up around 8 or 9 A.M., have my coffee, feed my 2 boxer dogs Booda and Big Suge, my 3 koi fish and my Manx cat Oscar. I drink a protein shake and most days do 30 to 45 minutes of cardio on the elliptical climber I have here at home. Then it's back to the kitchen for a small serving of oatmeal which I eat while checking my email. After that, it's shower time and preparing for the day ahead. On training days I usually have errands to run, such as grocery shopping, so I leave the house in time to do that so that I can meet my husband at the gym at 4 P.M. I usually prepare my food to take with me so that I can eat on schedule, especially if I'm training for a competition. If not, I usually just make sure to have my protein powder ready to mix and drink directly after I train. After training, we either come home and eat or go to Outback for a healthy salad, steak or chicken and plain baked potato. If it's not a training day, I usually have many things to occupy my time. I love to remodel my home, do gardening or work on computer related projects. Whether I'm home or away, I try to eat on a fixed schedule and to stay within certain parameters on my diet. In the evenings, I love to spend time with my husband watching television to unwind. My favorite shows are The Shield, The Wire, Real Time with Bill Maher, 24 and anything having to do with surgery. He’s usually in bed by 10 P.M. and I'm usually back at my desk cruising around on the Internet or working in Adobe Photoshop. My computer is set up for video editing and I’m beginning to learn Adobe Premier as well. I usually find myself stumbling to bed at 2 or 3 A.M. On Sundays, my husband and I love to kick back and/or take a drive in my 2002 Corvette Z06.
Please tell me something about your daily training routine. How often do you train in a week? What are the main differences when you train for a competition and in off-season?
If I’m not preparing for a competition, I like to train 3 times a week. I try to do cardio at least 5 times a week. In the past I’ve split my training into back/chest, legs/calves, and arms/shoulders.
When I prepared for this last competition, I trained 4 times a week doing legs/calves, back/chest, leg/calves, then shoulders/arms. One of the leg training sessions would emphasis hamstrings and the next would emphasis quadriceps. I usually do abdominals at home after I finish my cardio session.
If you don’t mind would you give me some stats (best lifts and some body measurements)?
I’ve never been particularly strong or cared about the amount of weight I use, primarily because I want to avoid injury. I do try to use as much weight as possible and to train to failure, but I try to stay in the 8 to 10 repetition range with the exception of calves which is always 30 repetitions and legs which is usually 12 to 15 repetitions depending on the exercise.
Which body part is your best in your opinion?
That’s a hard question to answer. I don’t think I have a best body part. My goal is to have everything in balance. I do have traps and rhomboids that are prominent, but I don’t directly train them at all. They are the result of splitting fire wood during a time I lived in a cabin in the mountains.
What is your favorite exercise in the gym and which one you don’t like so much?
I love doing dumbbell pullovers. Nothing comes to mind as an exercise I don’t like although I suppose abdominal work might be my least favorite.
Judging in Women’s Bodybuilding has always been criticised in one or the other way. Please tell me your honest thoughts about today’s judging in Women’s Bodybuilding.
I became a judge this year for the NPC in Louisiana. I enjoy judging and have a great deal of respect for the judges. At the local and state level, judging is pretty clear-cut in most cases. At the national, there seems to be a lack of consistency in judging. That can be very frustrating for the competitors. My understanding is that the judging standard can be changed prior to a competition without advance notice to the competitors. At a pro-qualifying competition, the standard the athletes should strive for should be set by the decisions the officials have established in the preceding professional contests. This year at the Ms. Olympia, it was decided that Iris Kyle is the best female bodybuilder in the world. A few short weeks latter at the Nationals, the judges decided that Iris’ level of conditioning was not what they wanted to see in the newest professional bound women. A clear standard must be established and adhered to by the judges.
In recent years, I think many amateur female bodybuilders had hoped that the addition of the figure class would take some of the pressure off the bodybuilders. We acknowledged and welcomed the fact that femininity is important. Things such as posing suits, hair, makeup and healthy skin tone should definitely be part of the “total package” being scored. “Femininity” may be a hard thing to define, but let’s just say one recognizes when it is not present and the women who show a blatant disregard for their bodies by exhibiting extreme qualities drug abuse should not be scored high.
In the last couple of years conditioning, separation and definition have been scored as positive attributes. My only complaint is that if that or any other judging standard is to be changed, it needs to be made clear at the beginning of the competition year so the athletes can adjust their contest preparation accordingly. Suffice it to say, it is much easier to come into a contest with a smoother appearance.
What are your future plans for 2005?
I plan to continue to train, judge and be involved in the sport of bodybuilding, but most likely as a coach to other athletes preparing for competition. I doubt I will continue to compete at this point in time. I have several remodelling projects planned for our home and I’d like to spend more time learning to edit video on my computer and landscaping our yard.
Robin does not do sessions or wrestling of any kind. Please don't ask!!