July 2013 – Cassandra Sawyer – Executive Fitness

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PHOTO COURTESY OF:
Nga Azarian

As KickAssWomen.com’s fan base has grown, so have the applications to become a KickAss Woman of the Month. We talk to a lot of fitness model/competitors, but NEVER have we spoken to one who is living the fitness life AND is a corporate executive! When we first spoke to Cassandra, there was INSTANTLY something that stood out about her. Her level of professionalism, and we don’t mean stuffyness, we mean the way she carries herself, is above and beyond anyone we have met in fitness. She jumped right to the top of the list of KAW of the Month candidates and we think once you read her profile, you will understand why! – kaw

How did you get started in fitness?
It was an interesting introduction. I cut off all of my hair one day when I was frustrated with it and decided to start over. Soon after, I was Googling natural hair growth remedies to grow back strong, healthy hair. Most of what I found encouraged eating clean and drinking lots of water. Well, my hair started to grow back AND I noticed that I was shaping up. Additionally, I was introduced to a series of DVD’s that were high impact cardio and I worked out to them daily. While I was seeing some positive changes in my body, they were not the results I was hoping for. Well, one day I dislocated my knee doing “funny face” lunges for my infant son and that took cardio out of the equation. But, like most women, cardio was all I knew to do. I was upset about potentially losing all the progress I had made and went straight back to Google in search of exercises I could do without hurting my knee. I stumbled upon bodybuilding.com and Jaime Eason’s 12 week program. I picked up a dumbbell and never looked back!

Were you an athlete as a child?
I wouldn’t have called myself an athlete, although I did play sports. I went to a Christian private school where athletics was not its strong point. Our focus was largely academic and competition was not encouraged. As a matter of fact, we had “spirit” gatherings, not pep rallies for our games! And while I did play one year of college basketball, I quit when it began to interfere with my extracurricular fun, i.e. party time. So, just goes to show, I was not really into sports all that much!

Who do you look up to in the fitness industry?
Wow… so many names come to mind. It was Jaime Eason, who sparked my interest. She made muscles look cute and feminine. But then, I learned about Nicole Wilkins and Eric Stern and was mesmerized by their bodies and the strength it took to accomplish such a physique. Then I discovered Lori Harder, who has my dream body and such an amazing outlook on self-confidence, achieving success and what commitment means. But ultimately, I’d have to say my coach Roxie Beckles. She’s a coach and a competitor and I don’t know how she manages the training and diet regimen of all of her clients (not to mention the bad moods, life issues and overall insanity any group of women create) while being so successful in her own diet and training, to the point where she just went pro. She’s a class act and is truly engaged in the success of her clients. And most importantly, she will not compromise health for the stage. Not only have I learned a lot, but I’ve learned the healthy way to achieve my fitness goals.

PHOTO COURTESY OF
Aaron Wilson

Is there a strong fitness culture in Northern California?
Yes, there definitely is. We are fortunate to have weather that allows people to bike, skate, walk and run most of the year. And lots of swimming, surfing, kayaking and other water sports in our lakes and the Pacific. There are plenty of indoor exercise opportunities too. There is no shortage of gyms, yoga studios, boxing clubs, martial arts, etc. It is not uncommon to see people pretty much living in workout clothes no matter where you go. And in addition to exercise, we have lots of healthy food opportunities. Lots of farmers markets, health food stores and even vegetarian/vegan restaurants to eat at. It’s not everywhere in America you can enjoy vegan Soul Food!

What does your family think of you being in fitness and in a bikini?
Well, I’ve been very lucky to have such a supportive family. I won’t go as far as to say they love it, but they love that I’m happy. My girls think it’s cool and my youngest daughter, who was four years old at the time of my first competition, stated that she now wanted to be a “professional exerciser” to look like me. At 2 years old, my son has no idea what is going on, but I hope one day he’ll be proud. My husband still isn’t used to sharing me in an itty bitty bikini on stage, but he’s proud to call me his wife and supports me in every show. He’s been motivated to start working out and has even learned to like eating clean, although I do know he keeps a secret stash of junk food in his truck.

What are your long term fitness plans?
I want to take fitness mainstream. My saying is “The Oprah of fitness. Doing for health and fitness what Oprah did for books. Taking fitness mainstream by sharing my passion and uncovering yours.” I want to be a part of creating a culture where it is just as socially acceptable to hit the gym on a Friday night and take shots of wheat grass, as it is to hit the bar and have shots of Patron. Why is it that most groups of friends have the “fit friend” … singular? I’d like to see a culture where fit is the norm, not the exception, in any group or gathering. I recently started a new venture called “Party Like a Fit Girl”, with this idea in mind. Instead of you and your girls venturing to your local TGI Fridays and consuming 3000 calories in cocktails, appetizers and dessert, learn about what the girls in the magazines do to stay fit and have a good time. So, grab your cutest workout outfit, your BFF’s and let’s break a sweat, heavy lifting and then learn about clean eating… this is how fit girls party!

Additionally, I hope to achieve my pro card at some point. I’ll be taking my first attempt at the National Stage in 2014 and am excited about the possibilities. For some reason, it isn’t widely known that many mothers compete. I want to spread the word, as Natural Fit Mom and a Professional Figure Competitor that fitness is achievable for everyone. I believe that a pro card represents hope and inspiration to other wives and mothers who aren’t confident they can get started on their own fitness goals.

PHOTO COURTESY OF
David E. Frasier

How do you fit in being a corporate executive, wife, mother and a figure competitor and make it all successful?
Hahaha… let’s not forget, I’m also an Adjunct Professor! Well, “successful” is a relative term, and for me changes often. Some days, I’m successful if I simply remember to put the laundry in the dryer and not have to rewash it after leaving it there for days!

Seriously though… the answer is I plan everything! Not much takes place in my life spontaneously. I am meticulous in my scheduling so that I can fit everything in. Some people have told me that would drive them nuts, but I find it liberating to be able to live as much life as possible, by simply planning as much as possible. And I really prioritize what is important. I don’t watch TV (except for the news), I stay sober (no drinking or medications) and make sure to eat clean and work out to have the energy to get everything done. My days start at 3:30 am, so I can get to the gym by 4am and from there, it’s a whirlwind of work, kids, chores, making dinner, running errands, after school activities and more. But again, I’m lucky that I have an incredible support system, that includes my husband and sister, who are very hands on in running our family. However, I think the biggest factor in being able to “successfully” manage multiple priorities, is the acknowledgment that it’s going to be hard sometimes, but doing it anyway. I do not fear hard work, but actually seek it sometimes, because I want to live my life to the absolute fullest. So the way I see it, the more I can do, the better!

What is your diet and training like?
Well right now, I’m in my off season, so everything is about building lean muscle in preparation for the National stage in 2014. I’m eating a clean 2000-3500 calories a day. High in both carbs and proteins and I drink lots of water. My training is all about lifting heavy. While my regimen will be switched up from time to time with some lower weight, high reps, for the most part I am in the 6-10 rep range, for 3-4 sets. I’m really trying to focus on bringing together my glutes and hamstrings, as well as putting some size on my arms.

PHOTO COURTESY OF
Aaron Wilson

Do you enjoy the attention you get as a fit beautiful woman?
Why, thank you for such a nice compliment! Although, I have to admit, that is a hard question to answer. In my predictable world of friends, family and work, everyone is used to me and what I look like and I don’t get much attention, actually! And when I am out and about, I’m usually with my kids. They are so stinkin’ cute, they get most of the attention anywhere we go!

But to answer your question, I think the attention I get isn’t from being a fit, beautiful woman. You can find them anywhere. I think any attention I get is because of the confidence I walk around with. I look people in the eye, I smile, I say hi. I am happy. I am pretty darn proud of myself. And I probably exude an energy that people can appreciate and connect with.

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  1. Cassandra – how do you find the balance between maintaining a professional image with coworkers and employers, and living your dream/competing (ie – photos of you in bikinis)?

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