WOMEN’S FITNESS NEWS FLASH
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (June 18, 2011) – Nikki Venzara has never been beat. After taking overall championships in her first two shows in 2010, including the Florida State Championships, Venzara took overall honors tonight in the 2011 National Physique Committee Jr. National Fitness Championships held at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Hotel.
Venzara, who defeated a very competitive field of 17 competitors, will receive her pro card and has now set her sights on the Olympia, the competition that always defines the superstars.
“That’s my dream goal,” said Venzara.
Venzara, a graduate of Merritt Island (Florida) High School, is the daughter of Dr. Frank and Cheryl Venzara. Nikki graduated last month from Hawaii Pacific University with a pediatric nursing degree.
“I can’t believe this,” said Cheryl Venzara shortly after Nikki’s stunning victory.
Nikki is trained and coached by Dr. Sandy Thomas Stuart, a Central Florida physician and professional fitness competitor.
Even though she’s a relative newcomer to the sport, she is a natural, as witnessed by the awards she recently earned. “I think I have the genes for it,” she said.
The seeds for Nikki’s rapid success in fitness and figure competition actually started when the Merritt Island, Florida resident was in second grade.
“I’ve been cheerleading since second grade,” she said. “I’ve been a competitor all my life. I’m a perfectionist and I always want to succeed.”
Succeed she did with cheerleading, helping her college team win two national championship titles. However, cheerleading demanded too much of her time as she advanced through college, so Nikki shelved it for a while and at the same time searched for a replacement that could both indulge her competitive spirit and keep her weight down.
“Sandy used to train at the fitness gym where I would go to in high school,” said Nikki. “I had seen her practicing and I always wanted to try body building. It was always something in the back of my head.”
Nikki finally decided to give the sport a shot, figuring it would dovetail nicely with her busy and vegetarian lifestyle. Initially, her parents had reservations, but those quickly vanished as Nikki quickly rose in the sport.
“My mom thought I was going to come out looking like a man, but she and the rest of my family soon started coming out to the gym with me whenever I came back home,” she said.
Like a Little Sister
In 2008, while visiting the Space Coast for her sister’s wedding, Nikki sought Dr. Sandy’s help. The connection proved to be the last piece of the puzzle.
“She was already in great shape, she just needed the finishing touches,” said Thomas-Stuart.
The physician became the mentor, helping Nikki navigate through all the details necessary to compete, from the intricacies of proper nutrition to maneuvering in high heels while wearing a competition bathing suit.
“We talk every day,” said Thomas-Stuart. “She’s like a little sister to me.”
Thomas-Stuart even shared her personal trainer, who from not-so-warm Canada guides Nikki online at her balmy Hawaiian paradise. Nikki religiously follows her trainer’s guidance, a regimen that includes a cardio workout in the morning, weight lifting at noon and another cardio to round out the evening.
Regular “Gig” As A Nurse
Dr. Sandy’s good advice paid off, for right off the gate as Nikki took first place in only her first competition – first place honors in the short class at the 2010 National Physique Committee’s Florida State Figure Championships held at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Florida.
Thomas-Stuart had encouraged Nikki, pictured at left, to enter the competition, but wisely didn’t tell her that it was one of the biggest shows of its kind in Florida.
“Out of 18 girls, I came in first,” said Nikki. “I was shocked.”
Nikki’s a natural, says Thomas-Stuart.
“For me, getting into bodybuilding was putting a square peg in a round hole,” said the emergency physician. “Nikki is absolutely a natural. She grew up with a gymnastic background and has a very supportive family.”
She is highly competitive, but also well grounded, so Nikki plans to pursue a regular “gig” as a nurse. Still, bodybuilding will always be in her radar as a second career option.
“I might become a trainer,” she said. “I know a lot of women in the healthcare industry who are doing this.”
Bodybuilding and healthcare are not all that different, says Thomas-Stuart.
“Nikki has what it takes to succeed.”