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Elena Keeps it Real
By Hans

Ever wondered what the life of a national-level female bodybuilder is really
like? It's hardly surprising that most fans have no idea. Looking at most
websites, you'd think elite female bodybuilders magically appeared on the
planet perfectly formed the way we seen them in photo shoots, that they
stayed in perfect contest shape year-round, and that they do nothing all day
but pose in cutesy outfits.

If you want to get a reality check, check out www.elenaseiple.com. For those
of you who don't know, Elena placed third in the middleweights at the USA in
2003 and plans to do the Nationals later this year as a light-heavyweight.
But she is no stereotypical gym rat: as well as being a national-level
bodybuilder, she is also the vice-president for Information Technology at a
New Jersey bank. In other words, this is a normal woman, with a life, who
just happens to be one of the top female bodybuilders in the U.S.

Members of Elena's site get to see plenty of her flexing onstage (my
favorites are the shots from 2003 USA with the Christmas tree in Elena's
ripped back) and in photo and video shoots. But that's just the tip of the
iceberg. Let's face it, there are tons of sites where you can see elite
female bodybuilders from every feasible angle, in every possible pose and in
every imaginable outfit; this one, though, is about showing you what makes
Elena Seiple tick. It's beautifully designed and easy to navigate, but the
content is all about the grit: the everyday life of a female bodybuilder,
with all its ups and downs, uncensored and unglamorized ­ "the real stuff as
I like to call it," Elena says.

A big part of that reality for a female bodybuilder is the off-season, when
the goal is not to look perfect in a bikini but to hunker down, train, eat
and improve. Through her journal, photos and video, Elena takes us through
her off-season on an almost daily basis. Other sites have photos and clips
of female bodybuilders in the gym, but the ones on elenaseiple.com are
different. No fake, staged shots with perfect make-up and color co-ordinated
outfits here, just genuine fly-on-the-wall glimpses of what Elena really
looks like, hair tied back and baseball cap on, when she's focusing on the
weights, not the camera (mostly it's Elena's training partner, Heather Lee,
behind the camera as they train). As Elena puts it, "Just a girl in the
gym."

Elena's training is seriously hardcore. Right now she is doing a lot of
powerlifting and making big improvements to her back and legs, which is
amazing to see. In the awesome "Power" section you can even see video of her
squatting 455 pounds. The shots and clips of Elena training may not be
pretty - hardcore bodybuilders don't smile when they train - but they are
definitely motivating. In fact, look at a few of them and it's hard not to
feel the urge to hit the gym yourself. This is a site not just for fans but
for aspiring female (and male) bodybuilders as well.

As well as the training there's a contest countdown section, where,
week-by-week, you will be able to see how Elena makes the transformation
from off-season big to contest ready as she diets down for Nationals (it's
already got extensive countdown pics from previous years' shows). The focus
is all on bringing to life the slow, painstaking journey of a competitive
female bodybuilder as she grows month by month, year by year - exactly what
bodybuilding is all about. Real bodybuilding, that is.