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Off-Season Training & Nutrition

 

by Colleen Fisher certified personal trainer (as told to Marty Gallagher)

 

Performance Press Feb ‘99

“1998 NPC National Masters Champion”

Colleen Fisher exemplifies the old Cliché that life begins at forty. In addition to being the NPC National Masters champion, Colleen is the poster girl for the Parrillo Performance lifestyle: high intensity weight training and aerobics – coupled with strict nutrition and target supplementation. Together, these elements (along with lots of intestinal fortitude and determination) form the finest system ever devised for renovating the human body. Natural, scientific, holistic, precise and intuitive – Colleen’s version of Parrillo Performance System is so effective that these principles will grow muscle on a stick. The question of the month asked Colleen is posed by Stacy O’Neal the current Ms. Maryland: “Colleen; I’ve just competed and have a full six months before my next contest. What do you suggest for the off-season?”

I feel there are important factors that can make off-season training and diet conducive to muscular gains and physique refinement. The goal is to gain muscle, strip fat and bring up weak points through extra work. Here are some rules that I use:

1. Get out of the gym after the contest season ends! As a personal trainer this is sometimes very difficult for me, but I feel it is essential to disengage a bit before starting the heavy training and strict dieting again. I like to plan some down time with my family to ski, bike and just do something different recreationally. Some people think our idea of fun – physically demanding recreation – as just more work, but to us it is fun and physically stimulating in a different way. We love to use our muscles in vigorous outdoor activities. Plus we live in the Pacific Northwest – a recreational playground!

2. Have a game plan: You need to know what the goal is before you commence. Set some goals, know what you want to improve on and then write out a plan of attack. Is there a contest you will be shooting for – or perhaps another fitness goal or form of athletic competition? Decide what the goal is and plan accordingly. Please be realistic. What good is it to devise a goal so large as to be unobtainable? Think long term.

3. Lift heavier with less sets and exercises: For me, I keep my same rep range (lifting in the 8-12 rep range) but I do fewer exercises and fewer sets. I continue to superset many movements. I am a superset junkie and believe this works best for me. However, everyone is different, so play around with different types of training splits and tempos. Try varying rep speeds.

4. Cut down on cardio but do not eliminate it completely: I cut down from two 45-minute sessions a day pre-contest to just one in the morning on an empty stomach (always). I will do this six days a week.

5. Moderately increase calories: Again, don’t use this as an excuse to pig out every day of the week! Gradually, I increase my calories, usually by 300 to 500 a day. I will eat the same types of bodybuilding foods year round. Off-season I will add some whole grain breads and frozen yogurt as an occasional treat. I do take one day per week to eat anything I want! I also rotate my calories, carbs and fats throughout the week. For example: two days will be (somewhat) low carb days (approximately 80 grams), then three days of moderated carbs (125-150 grams) and two days of higher carbs (more than 200 grams) adding a little more fat. This way my calories are also rotated, which seems to keep my metabolism zipping along and energy high.

6. I believe that we need to alter training and diet periodically: We need to change in order to give your body a basis for future change, refinement & improvement. Sameness in bodybuilding and life is slow death through boredom!

a.m.

cardio for 45 min., abs

breakfast

6 egg whites with veggies,

low-fat cheese and salsa

two pieces of whole grain rye toast – 1 tbsp. of jam

Training …

post workout snack

one 50/50 Plus™

one Parrillo Bar

Mid a.m.

one scoop Optimized Whey Protein™

¼ cup pumpkin with equal to sweeten

Lunch

one chicken breast w/ BBQ sauce

one sweet potato (plain)

large green salad with fat free dressing

Mid p.m.

one Parrillo Bar

one brown rice cake

one scoop Optimized Whey Protein™

Dinner

fish, chicken or turkey

veggies

green salad

one piece of bread (not every night)

Snack

sugar free/fat free frozen yogurt or ice-cream (higher carb day)

small serving of frozen yogurt (if at all). Cut out bread, add one Parrillo Bar (moderate day)

Sample back workout:

Wide grip pullups – 4×8-10

Bent-over BB rows superset with low cable rows – 4×10

DB rows – 4×10-2

Sample leg workout:

Smith Machine Squats superset with leg extensions 4×10-12

Leg Press 4×10-12

Stiff-leg deadlifts superset with Lying leg curls 4×10-12

Smith Machine lunges

4×12-15

Seated Calf Raise superset with Donkey Calf Raise 4×15

 

 

Redefining Possibilities

By Marty Gallagher

Performance Press Aug ‘98

“Age is no limiting factor for bodybuilders

Kelly Nelson, 70, and daughter Colleen Fisher, 42.”


The master of ceremonies at the Oregon State NPC bodybuilding championships placed a hand over the microphone and whispered to the tall man who had just handed him the note. “This can’t be right? Is this right?!” The tall man nodded. The emcee stared at the note a moment. He then announced to the packed auditorium. “It seems that our over-35 masters champion and our over-50 grand masters champion know each other – they are mother and daughter! And now it’s time for them to posedown!” Before the stunned audience could react, a sonic wave of rock music tore through the house. Colleen, 42, strode onstage with her 70-year-old mom (no, that’s no typo Bucko) close behind – and, as you can tell from the pictures, Kelly didn’t need a wheelchair or walker! The lithesome twosome broke into a synchronized routine: following each other, matching each other, complementing each other – it was enchanting. Daughter Colleen recalled, “I remember reading something Ken Griffey, Jr. said when asked how it felt to play on the same major league field, at the same time and in the same game, as his dad. ‘Well that was great,’ Junior related, but the important aspect of the whole affair, to his way of thinking, was that they had ‘both hit home runs,’” Colleen Fisher, certified personal trainer, laughed. “I felt as though Mom and I had both smashed grand slams!” It was the first time in physique history mother and daughter had entered and respectively won their divisions. The audience, in rapture, gave mom and daughter an ovation worthy of the occasion: loud, long and sustained.

MOM

“I was a child of the depression and held a job from the time I was 12 years old.” A lifelong native of Washington state, Kelly Nelson lives 100 miles east of Seattle and told of the early day’s mentality. “My formative years were during World War II, when those who could went to work at an early age. I was no exception. I had no real athletic background. I didn’t take up weight training until I was 53.” At 5 feet, 4 inches and weighing a sleek 110 pounds, Kelly, though late to the game, has been making up for lost time ever since. “I weight train four days a week. In addition, since I live in a natural paradise, I do a lot of cardio in the form of bike riding.” This isn’t Grandma wobbling down to the Seven Eleven to buy cigarettes: “Last year my daughter, son-in-law and I went on a bike ride. It was eight straight days of riding, averaging 80 miles each day. This included four mountain passes.” OK: this is what we at INTERPOL call a clue: one reason Kelly looks 35 at 70 is that she has the aerobic capacity of an in-shape 35-year-old woman. “I recently did a 100-mile day trip on my bike. It took us from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to complete.” Is there any wonder she is lean? “I ride my bike to and from the gym every day; it’s about nine miles round trip and allows me to get some good aerobic work in.” Weight training addresses the muscles and daily bike riding covers the aerobic bases. What of the nutritional component? “I follow the Parrillo principles. I eat no beef or pork, a little bit of fish and some eggs. I use Optimized Whey™ three to four times daily, after a workout, mid afternoon and I will take a third shake in the evening.” This provides Kelly with 100 of the 150 grams of protein she tries to intake daily. “I use the 50/50 Plus™ and we love the supplement bars, especially on long bike rides. I use most all of Parrillo’s aminos and am absolutely convinced that the Parrillo supplements have caused me to improve in the four years that I have used them.” High praise indeed from Wonder Woman!

DAUGHTER

Colleen Fisher is a certified personal trainer who lives on a rustic island inhabited by 18,000 people just outside Seattle, Washington. Married to bodybuilder Mike Fisher for 23 years, this duo, like last month’s Parrillo Press featured couple Mike and Marcia Ferguson, attest to the fact that the bodybuilding lifestyle is quite conducive to domestic bliss and nuptial tranquillity. “I guess it could be perceived as odd, but my husband, my mother and myself all enjoy weight training, aerobic activity and clean eating. We especially like the results, the camaraderie and the vibrant health the lifestyle has bestowed on us.” This is one healthy brood. In addition to NPC masters competition, the threesome likes to go on long distance bike rides, eerily reminiscent of Mike Ferguson’s love of 100-mile bike treks. Colleen spoke of the area’s natural beauty. “We travel the roads in rural Washington state. Biking is big out here and sometimes we will ride with a group of 200 or more. It is exhilarating to ride through the woods.” What a great way to do cardio, and it sure beats the heck out of sitting on a broken exercycle. Parrillo has long preached that performing cardio is one thing, busting butt while doing it is something else again. Those who loaf in aerobics or weight training become stagnant. They achieve a certain level and then settle in, forever, increasingly unchanging. To excel you must exceed your momentary limits: by stretching the envelope in weight training and aerobics you force evolution. Growth occurs as a result of applied biology: you stress, stretch, feed and rest your musculature in sequence. The muscle grows and the bodyfat diminishes as a result—the body has no choice but to comply. Colleen preaches the Parrillo gospel. “I tell my clients, physical transformation is not an easy thing. I don’t candy coat it. It’s damn hard work but the system is in place and it works. I have read everything I can get my hands on about John’s theories and agree down the line.” High intensity weight training and aerobics, backed up with serious stretching, structured eating and target supplementation: this is the Parrillo performance training philosophy and Colleen Fisher is a believer.

THE FUTURE

Colleen expressed confidence that she could still make considerable progress. “I feel that I can make some significant gains in the coming year – make that years! I train smarter and the knowledge we accumulate as we get older allows us to become more efficient. Plus, this is a lifestyle, not a hobby.” This is an important distinction. The hobbyist will pick-and-choose, rejecting those aspects (of any system) that are bothersome. Overemphasizing areas of personal preference while ignoring other vital components. This destroys the balance and synergy of the Parrillo Performance System. Those who embrace the lifestyle understand the easy flow and interrelatedness of the component parts. “It all weaves together, the diet, aerobics, stretching, supplements and weight training.” Mom added, “People ask what concessions to age I make and I can honestly say none. My bone density at 70 is better than what it was at 58, a direct result of the fact that I am stronger at 70 than I was at 58.”Really?” I could bench 105 x 1 at 58 weighing 110. Last week I benched 120 x 3 weighing 110.” No concessions to age are allowed in the Kelly Nelson household. Five years past her first social security check, at an age when many oldsters are comparing assisted living prices, Kelly completed an eight-day, 500-mile bike trip, won the Evergreen State Grand Master bodybuilding title and benched 110 percent of body weight for a triple! There is an entire life-extension industry selling what Kelly possesses. People like Kelly, such as 68-year-old Bill Pearl, 60-year-old Larry Scott, Len Schwartz, a 72-year-old psychiatrist who can do 32 chin-ups and has five percent bodyfat, are redefining “the golden years” and what we can expect if we adopt the proper lifestyle.

 

Late in life, these women changed their bodies through

exercise and diet. Here’s how they did it.

Getting Fit After 40

By Lorra Tamplia
REALWOMAN – JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2000


While many women over 40 spend time helping their 70-something mothers in and out of cars for doctor appointments, Colleen Fisher, 43, and her mother Kelly Nelson, 72, put on revealing swimwear and flex their muscles on stage together.

In an effort to firm up her arms, Colleen’s mom began lifting weights at the age of 52. She invited Colleen, then 24, to experiment with her. Over 20 years later the two are in the best shape of their lives, competing in bodybuilding contests and completing weightlifting regimens that many women half their ages could not navigate.

For Kelly, a grandmother from Wenatchee, Washington, youth isn’t just a state of mind; it’s the state of her body. You can often find her shoveling her driveway several times a day in the winter, and carrying 50-pound bags of salt up the porch steps.

“As of May 1997, my bone density was that of a 40-year-old,” say Kelly, who is 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 110 pounds. “As of February 1999, my grip strength was equivalent to a 20-year-old’s, balance of a 40-year-old and power of a 30-year-old.” (These tests were conducted at the Biosports Clinic in Wenatchee.)

Five times a week for one hour, Kelly lifts weights at the gym. She avoids meat, instead centering her four to five meals a day around cage-free whole eggs, protein powder, beans, whole grains, potatoes, sugar-free and salt-free bread, and plenty of vegetables.

“Age is never a legitimate reason to be frail,” she says. “We should prevent getting old, same as any other life-threatening disease. Avoid aging. It’s a disease.”

It’s a strategy that has worked for both Kelly and Colleen, who’ve garnered numerous awards at natural bodybuilding competitions. In 1998, at the age of 42, Colleen won the 1998 Oregon State Masters Overall and the 1998 Emerald Cup Masters (which Kelly won in 1983). And at the 1998 Oregon State Bodybuilding Championships, the mother-daughter pair found themselves on state together.

‘Age is never a legitimate reason to be frail.’

“Mom and I had the incredible opportunity to pose down together (for the overall judging),” says Colleen, who is 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs 128 pounds. She can press 70-pound dumbbells upward in each hand.

Colleen’s diet is similar to her mother’s, consisting mostly of unrefined foods. Once a week, she and her mom will “eat bad.”

“We are average women with average genetics,” says Colleen, a personal trainer at the Human Performance Center in Bainbridge Island, Washington. “The human body will burn more fat and increase metabolism more from lifting weights than aerobics only. Aerobic does burn fat, but lifting weights will change the entire shape of a person’s body.”

 

70 year old grandmother proves you can be…
Ripped and Retired
By Kevin Anthony
WENATCHEE DAILY WORLD – AUGUST 1998

East Wenatchee woman gives new meaning to R&R with late success in body building Kelly Nelson is just like any other person enjoying her retirement.

The 70 year old East Wenatchee resident does her best to stay active and healthy. She has plenty of hobbies to occupy her time and she loves spending time with her children and granddaughter.

In fact, nothing melts her heart more than hearing those magic words from little 8 year-old Kelly Colleen O’Laughlin. “Grandma, let me see your muscles!”

OK, so maybe she’s not exactly like everyone else on Social Security.

To be perfectly blunt, Nelson is ripped. Absolutely nothing about this 5 foot 31/2 , 110-pound lady with a vise for a handshake belies her many years. Certainly not her zest in bodybuilding, and most certainly not her success at it.

“I really believe,” Nelson says, delving into a large bag of philosophical sayings, “as you get older, you really don’t quit playing. But you get older if you quit playing.”

Not that Nelson plans to stop playing anytime soon, fresh off a third-place finish at the National Physique Committee National Masters and Grand Masters in Pittsburgh, three weeks ago. “anyone can do this,” Nelson says in all modesty, “You just have to want to do this,”

Maybe so, but how many body-building grannies do you know?

There can’t be too many, judging from all the national attention Nelson has drawn for her success on stage.

London magazine “Zest” called her the “Body Building Pensioner.” “Ageless in Seattle” was the headline in “Flex” magazine following the Emerald Cup in march, in which she and 65 year old partner Kjell Bakke of Leavenworth placed third in the mixed pairs. “muscle Magazine” run=s a Kelly Nelson update from time to time. In short, she is becoming a national phenomenon.

“I always thought I’d be discovered when I was 17, not 70.”

But discovered she ahs been, and if this past year is any indication, she’ll be under the glare of a spotlight for some time to come.

Nelson and her daughter, 42 year old Colleen Fisher competed together for the first time in the Emerald Cup. Fisher won the masters (35 and over), the same event that her mother won 15 years earlier in one of her first competitions.

But the duo made history two months later at the Oregon State Championships, when Nelson won the grand masters (50 and over) and Fisher won the masters.

Following the age group competitions, the two faced off on the same stage in a pose down. It was believed to be the first such face off between mother and daughter in the history of the sport. “We weren’t fighting up there ” Nelson recalls. “I didn’t try to get in front of her or anything like that.”

The daughter won the overall competition, and mom walked away with the inspirational award as well as the mixed doubles title with Bakke.

Fisher, who hadn’t competed in 11 years, had a strong first year back with four wins, including a national masters title.

But how exactly does a 53 year old woman take up body building, as was the case with Nelson 17 years ago?

It started when her late husband John, brought home a Bench and some weights, the kind sold at any department store. But it didn’t start without a little convincing.

” I thought, ‘Oh, I don’t think so. I don’t want to get muscles like that.”

Eventually, Nelson, who had always been active, gave in and started lifting, and loving it.

Without any gyms in town, her workouts eventually moved to the basement of Lou Corulli, a local power lifter who opened his home to high schoolers looking to bulk up.

“Then somebody came in and said I should compete,” Nelson recalls. “and I said, ‘Not me, not ever.’ Then I thought maybe I could.”

She took a chance and won the over-35 division of the first competition she entered. Since, she has been in 25 competitions, often going against and beating women in their 20s.

“It really works to your advantage,” Nelson says of the age difference. “The longer you train the more mature your muscles get.”

Now she mostly competes in grand master classes. But still the nearest competitor is usually almost 20 years younger.

Of course, the question she hears most is how does a 70 year old woman look like that. The answer is lots of work and a strict diet.

Nelson bikes 14 miles to the gym, works out an hour and a half five days a week, then bikes back home. that’s the routine five days a week, along with whatever additional runs or rides she feels like taking. Sometimes it varies, adding additional cardiovascular workouts.

Nelson is just as regimented with her diet. Vegetables, fruit , beans and rice make up much of her nutrition. At least until the 10 days leading up to a competition, when a special diet helps to first flatten her muscles, and then make them bulk up, absolutely ripped.

“You could eat Satan’s sugar and not get fat,” she says of the final days before a competition.

but isn’t it hard to stick to the diet?

Not at all says Nelson, born in 1927 in Spokane and who grew up in the Great Depression.

“I remember going to bed so hungry, I imagined I was eating a banana and actually tasting it… When my bodybuilding diet gets tough, I remember that… It’s a piece of cake.”

Also, Nelson does allow herself to splurge a little after competitions, like in Pittsburgh.

“That’s a tradition,” she says, adding that Bakke scarfed down a cheeseburger and fries. “After nationals, I had two big salads!”

Two salads? Splurging?

Nelson laughs, finally admitting to partaking of some apple pandowdy.

but then, considering the rather revealing outfits body builders wear on stage, Nelson might just want to stay away from the deserts as well.

“There’s no way I wanna get up on stage out of shape and fat,” she says, adding that she feels perfectly comfortable in a bikini.

“My son probably had the hardest time, seeing his mother on stage in a teeny, tiny bikini.”

Fortunately for Patrick O’Laughlin, a pilot who lives in Pittsburgh, he’s gotten used to seeing his mother up on stage.

But Nelson still doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.

“I stay in shape and do what I do even though I’m 70,” she says. “But it’s no bigger deal now than if I were 20.”

 

Prime Time profile Kelly Nelson & Colleen Fisher

 

MUSCLE & FITNESS MAGAZINE – SEPTEMBER 1999

You don’t often see two generations of the same family competing in s a pose down, Yet, there they were comparing abs and glutes side by side at the 1998 Oregon State NPC Bodybuilding Championships for the overall masters title. Kelly Nelson, then 70, definitely held her own against her daughter, Colleen Fisher, then 42. When it was announced that they’re a mother and daughter team, the audience gave them a standing ovation.

Kelly started training at age 53 in her living room, long before there were gyms in her hometown of Wenatchee, Washington.

The 5’3″, 112 pounder trains consistently four times a week, incorporating a vigorous weight-training regimen with enough cardio work to tire someone half her age. She considers her daughter to be her best friend, and they often do bike rides and hikes together. Colleen lives near Seattle and has been lifting weights for 19 years. At 5’7″, she won the middleweight division at the 1998 Masters Nationals, as well as a number of other titles.

Both women have been training long enough to experience the changes that occur with the aging process, and they realize how bodybuilding can keep them fit and younger looking.

“I’ve noticed that it takes longer to recover from my workouts,” says Kelly. She has increased her rep range, finding that 12-15 reps are more effective than the heavier weights she used to lift. she does 2-3 movements for each body part using a variety of exercises.

“You can pretty much do whatever the kids do as long as you’re reasonable about it. Be consistent in your training, and challenge yourself. You’ll get the results you want in time.”

Colleen, likewise, has modified her training and diet. “I need to change the tempo and variety of my workout more frequently,” she says. “My body has become more adaptable over the years, so I need to confuse it more with supersets and other intensity boosters. My metabolism has also slowed down, so I watch what I eat more than I used to.”

Kelly’s advice to maturing individuals: Never lower your goals. “You can still gain muscle if you do things correctly. Train intelligently, eat well, and you too, can feel great from exercise.”

 

Grandma, 71, is a champion bodybuilder

 

And looks as young as her 42 year old daughter
NATIONAL INQUIRER -JANUARY 1999

“Aging is a disease- and I don’t have it. Nor do I intend to get it!”

That’s a vow made by champion bodybuilder Kelly Nelson- a 71 year old grandmother who triumphs over women half her age at iron-pumping contests.

Equally stunning is her daughter Colleen Fisher, 42, a personal trainer who’s poured from the same dazzling Amazonian mold as her remarkably buff mom.

When I saw what bodybuilding was doing for Mom, I became hooked too,” Colleen told the ENQUIRER. “She turned me on to it 19 years ago. Ever since then it’s been a bond that’s strengthened our relationship and kept us healthy and happy.”

Kelly’s a Grand Masters Champion — and Colleen a Master Champion — the first mother and daughter duo to hold the titles simultaneously.

“We have had the privilege of being onstage together, striking poses. People said we look more like twins than mother and daughter,” Colleen said. “Even though my mom’s 71, I consider it a great compliment. My mom is in incredible shape.”

Kelly’s bodybuilding success began 20 years ago when her late husband brought home a set of barbells. “I started experimenting with them because I wanted to get rid of underarm flab,” she told the Enquirer.

“After two weeks I was getting real tone — and I thought, ‘This is great, I’m going to keep on doing this.’ “

And she has. In the past two decades she’s competed professionally in 32 bodybuilding events, dramatically showing fellow seniors how to keep Father Time at bay. Kelly and Colleen, whose husband Mike is also a bodybuilder, work out five days a week in and outside the gym — cycling 100 miles a week.

The two eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, while avoiding red meat and refined foods like sugar and white bread, eating whole grain foods instead. They also swear by a dietary supplement called RenewTrient which they say induces the body to release growth cells to fight the aging process.

“Exercise and sound nutrition are the key to staying young,” said Colleen.

 

B.I. Bodybuilder wins it all


KITSAP BUSINESS JOURNAL – SEPTEMBER 1998

Female bodybuilder Colleen Fisher of Bainbridge Island won the Emerald Cup Bodybuilding Master Championship which was held recently in Seattle, as well as the Vancouver Natural Bodybuilding Master’s Championship held in that Southwestern Washington city.

Fisher, 41, returned to competitive bodybuilding after an 11 year hiatus from the sport. She is an independent Certified Personal Trainer with 16 years of experience in the fitness industry, and owns Body by Fisher on Bainbridge Island.

Fisher works out with her husband Mike and her 70 year old mother Kelly Nelson, who is also a competitive bodybuilder and Grand Masters Champion.

The mother-daughter duo are currently training for National Masters and Grand Masters Championship to be held in Pittsburgh, Penn. in July.

 

Ageless in Seattle


FLEX MAGAZINE -SEPTEMBER 1998

Kelly Nelson, 70, and her daughter Colleen Fisher, 41, are currently waging and all-out physical war against the aging process. So far, they seem to be maintaining the upper hand.

Their most recent assault took place at the NPC Emerald Cup, where the mother/daughter duo competed at the same event for the first time in their busy competitive careers.

Nelson, from Wenatchee, Washington, was the first-ever winner of the Emerald Cup Masters class back in 1983. Fifteen years later at the 1998 Emerald Cup, daughter Fisher, of Bainbridge Island, won the same title while Nelson was busy collecting a third-place trophy in the mixed-pairs event.

Both Nelson and Fisher plan on competing at the 1998 Masters Nationals in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on July 25.

 

Kelly Nelson Update


MUSCLE MAG INTERNATIONAL – October 1998

Actually, most of this update concerns Kelly’s daughter, Colleen Fisher. Colleen, now 41, returned to competition in a big way recently prestigious Emerald Cup that is held annually at the Paramount Theater in Seattle. She has another competition in Oregon and then goes on to the NPC National Masters Championships in Pittsburgh, PA in July.
“I needed to challenge myself again, and the time was right in my life,” Colleen told a Washington newspaper. She is a certified fitness trainer with the Bainbridge (her hometown) HMC and also has a home based training business, Body by Fisher.
The Emerald Cup marked the first time Kelly and Colleen had competed in the same show. Kelly and partner Kjell Bakke took third in the mixed-pairs competition in a field of seven couples. I am sure most competitors were less than half their age. Kelly is 70 and Kjell is 65. Kelly and Colleen recently received a commendation from the American academy of Anti-Aging at its December convention in Las Vegas for their contributions to fitness and their outstanding examples.
I am not sure if Kelly plans to defend her grand masters title at the Oregon show, but it wouldn’t it be something to see mother and daughter vie for the overall title?
Colleen and hubby Mike have been NPC judges for the last 16 years. They have run judging clinics and promoted contests.
Kelly and Colleen are not only mother and daughter but best friends and kindred spirits. If only all families had some pursuit that could unite them in this manner!

 

 

All in the Family

 

WOMEN’S PHYSIQUE WORLD – March 1999

 

By Mike Bogen


If there is anyone who still doubts that bodybuilding is more than a sport, more than an activity- that it is indeed a lifestyle- then they haven’t seen Colleen Fisher and Kelly Nelson.

Actually, Fisher and Nelson have been pretty easy to see. In October, they got more national television exposure than the vast majority of active competitive bodybuilders. They opened the Rosie O’Donnell Show.

Now, this was not because either won the Ms. Olympia crown. No, it was because in a sport populated by mostly young, or relatively young, women, Fisher and Nelson stand out from the crowd.

Colleen Fisher is 42 years old, and her mother Kelly nelson is 71.

“I started lifting because my mom got me into it about 18 years ago.” Fisher says, “She wanted to firm up her underarms, which at the time, she didn’t even know were called triceps. I guess my mom was about 53 when she started at the gym. I followed about six months later, and we’ve both been doing it ever since.

“My mom started competing before me. I waited longer, I guess I’m not the exhibitionist she is,” Fisher jokes, “Actually, what happened is that my husband and I were NPC judges and representatives during that time, and I finally decided at after so many years of judging that I had to get on the stage.”

Nelson was born in 1927, the year Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs, Charles Lindbergh made the first nonstop solo transatlantic flight that year. And President Calvin Coolidge declared, “I do not choose to run.” a year later. In those days a bar of ivory soap set you back eight cents.

Now in 1998, when you now need a ‘Federal Cleanliness Loan’ to afford a bar of soap, Nelson finished third in a field of six in the Over-50 division of the NPC Masters Nationals.

“I was the oldest one there.” Nelson says, “I’m always the oldest one there.”

When Nelson started to lift, in 1980, there was no gym in Wenatchee, Washington, where she still lives. In fact, when Nelson first competed, in 1983, she still hadn’t trained at a gym.

“My husband bought some weights, because there were no facilities here, and after a couple of weeks, I was already seeing some results,” she says. “There still wasn’t a gym here when I entered the first Emerald Cup Masters Division in ’83. I remember there were three of us in the division. I was 56, and the other two were closer to 35. They looked like babies.”

Nelson won that first contest and has been competing ever since. She’s won several Masters titles, and even taken a couple lightweight Open Class crowns- at the 1983 Evergreen state and the 1984 Idaho Inter Mountain.

Finally, in 1995, Nelson gave in to her age – just a bit and started entering Grand Masters divisions, in addition to competing in the over 35 age group on the national level.

Fisher, meanwhile, competed only twice in the mid-1980’s, before taking 12 years off from the stage and picking it up again last year. She finished second in her first contest, at the age of 29 in 1985, and won her first overall title the following year, at the NPC Olympic Peninsula Championships.

Last year, Fisher made her comeback in the Masters division and positively dominated there, competing four times and winning three titles, before taking first in the middleweight division of the Masters Nationals.

One of Fisher’s victims, in the Oregon State Championships, was her mother.

“We planned this year together, around the Oregon,” Fisher says. “We thought, ‘wouldn’t it be funny if we both won (Fisher in the Masters and Nelson in the Grand Masters)?’ We did, and it was the first time in bodybuilding history that a mother and daughter posed down for an overall championship. But the judges didn’t know we were mother and daughter until we came out for the overall mandatory poses, and the emcee mentioned it. The place went nuts.

“It was a real special moment for us, one of the most special moments of our lives. I can’t even put into words how special it was for us, ” she says.

Fisher defeated Nelson for the title, “and my mom grounded me for a week,” she jokes.

In the time between 1986 and 1998, when Fisher wasn’t competing, she never stopped training.

“Training has just been a lifestyle for me…being in the gym, riding a bike. Getting back into competition this year just seemed like the right time of my life to do it again. My mom and I really wanted to compete together, and since they were offering the Masters and Grand Masters classes at both the Oregon and the Nationals, it just seemed to make sense,” Fisher says.

The key word – for both Fisher and Nelson – is “lifestyle.”

“This is so much more than just bodybuilding and competition for us,” Fisher says.

“Over the years, I’ve gotten involved in other areas of fitness, like my cross-country skiing, and long-distance bicycling. I try not to not spend all my time in the gym.”

“I’m an avid biker, too. I bike to and from the gym, which is a 10 mile round trip, and once a week I bike 30 miles to Leavenworth (Wash.) for lunch.” says Nelson. “I’ve biked across Washington, Montana and the Grand Canyon, doing 800-mile, seven-day trips.

“I also do cross-country skiing,” she says. “It’s all part of a healthy lifestyle. Competing in bodybuilding is a way to chart my progress. I’ve learned to trust in my own individuality. Everyone’s different.”

Fisher agrees.

“We really enjoy being well rounded in fitness,” she says. “I’m talking about the health aspects of fitness, not just getting ready to compete in bodybuilding. I think for us bodybuilding is mainly an expression of our commitment to health. Some people run marathons, we chose bodybuilding.

“My husband trains with me, and does all the other stuff with my mom and me. I couldn’t have done it without his support. He and my mom get along great. It’s like the three of us are joined at the him, sometimes.”

Nelson remembers what it was like to start lifting weights 18 years ago.

“I never did anything until I lifted that first dumbbell in my living room,” she recalls, “Remember it was unacceptable for women to do anything more physical than cleaning house when I was younger.”

It’s a different story now, though.

“My time in the gym is first and foremost to me, “she says. “I fit everything else around that. It makes me stronger for everything else I do. I can’t envision a time when I won’t be able to go to the gym to work out.”

For Nelson, becoming an athlete has made a profound change in her life.

“I was married for 18 years and I was a single parent to Patrick and Colleen for 16 years until they grew up. I remarried and 10 years after that, my husband died in a plane crash. I worked in a defense plant in the 40’s. I was a waitress for years, and now I’m enjoying my retirement athletically.

“It’s all paid off quite well,” she says. “My bone density is that of a 40 year old, and I have the resting heart rate of someone 20 years younger than me. When I was younger, I looked older than I was, and now I look younger than I am,” she says.

“I just think I have a wonderful life.”

They both do!