Interview with Jess Bartges

Name: Jessica Bartges
Division: Figure
Age: 28
Height: 5'7
Contest Weight: 145
Offseason Weight: 170
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, PA

Q: How did you learn about Kodiak Bodybuilding Apparel?
A: Instagram/mutual friends on social media.
Q: What is it that you like about the brand?
A: I love that the idea behind the brand is to work hard in silence and let your results speak for themselves. Too much talk and ego revolved around bodybuilding and social media.
Q: Do you think social media has done more good or bad for the sport?
A: I think both good and bad. I'm sure it has increased revenue for the federations and supplement companies because they can reach out to a larger audience.  The issue is not everything you see online is what it appears to be in real life. I think a big majority of people get involved in competing for attention on social media. Far too often I see competitors posting pictures with captions about how good they are and how well they're going to do but they don't look nearly as good in their stage pictures when show time comes around. I try to stay off of social media when prepping so I don't start doubting myself but I love having access to competitors that I look to for inspiration and ideas.
Q: What would you do to improve or expand the brand?
A: I think really pushing the made in Pittsburgh apparel and adding different styles would go far. The main reason I approached you was because I am so proud of where I'm from and think I represent the city well.
Q: How were you introduced to the weights?
A: I was an athlete growing up and my high school basketball team had weight lifting as part of our pre season conditioning. I've always enjoyed that part much more than the running!
Q: Contest History?
A: I am in my third year competing in figure.
2016 NPC Mountaineer Classic (1st open, 1st novice/overall novice)
2016 NPC Pittsburgh Championships (1st open)
2017 NPC Hercules Classic (1st open)
2017 NPC North American Championships (3rd open)

Q: That's a lot of First's. Third at North Americans is a very respectable placing as well.
A: The 3rd place means more to me than the 1st place ones.
Q: How so?
A: Well, after my first year competing and winning my classes I wanted to see where I'd stand against girls that have won shows, but knew I wasn't ready. I took a year off to improve and gain more size/muscle maturity. North Americans was a huge show (1300+ competitors) and I competed against more girls in my class at this show than every other show combined! My goal was to place top 8, so being top 3 was an honor. It was a proud moment to see so much hard work pay off.
Q: Was there ever a time you considered competing in other divisons? (ie; bikini, WPD, bodybuilding, fitness)
A: I have been interested in figure from the very beginning. I did do a bikini show in 2014 to get my feet wet; and although it was a lot of fun, the division doesn't suit my personality and body type. 

Q: What's your favorite thing about the sport of bodybuilding?
A: The human body and muscle is absolutely beautiful! I've always desired to look and feel strong. I've grown so much on the inside by dedicating myself to competing. I never knew I had so much discipline and strength inside, it's extremely empowering!
Q: What's your least favorite thing about the sport?
A: I know a huge part is being judged and compared to others, but the reason I compete is for my own self fulfillment.  Outside opinions and the pressure people put on you to do well can be stressful. There's a lot of ego and not enough humility.

Q: What would you ultimately like to accomplish? In both bodybuilding and life.
A: In bodybuilding my goal is to make it to the pro stage! If that ever happens, then working toward being a competitive professional and maybe working with some nutrition companies as a sponsored athlete. My life goals are pretty simple as my bodybuilding goals play such a huge role for me. Aside from competing, continue my career with the railroad, buy a house, and one day have my own family.
Q: Are there any athletes that inspired you early on or that you still admire today?
A: My current idol is Heather Dees! Candace Keene, Cyd Gillion, and Swaan De La Rosa just to name a few have really made the figure category have a beautiful balance of muscle and femininity.

Q: What is your opinion on the current state of the sport? And do you think it has improved or downgraded over the years?
A: It seems to me that aesthetics is being replaced with more and more size, and I am personally not a fan. I do love the harder, conditioned look but there's a fine line between bodybuilding and a freak show.

Q: Did you ever have a moment (whether it be with training, diet, posing, etc) where everything just started to click?
A: Yes, very quickly actually! I was never one to stick to a diet. I wanted so badly to move toward figure but didn't have any idea where to start. I met my coach 3 years ago and he saw the potential in me. He helped me with lifting and gave me a diet plan to follow. I started to see results and caught me telling myself it was okay to cheat with multiple reasons why it wouldn't matter. As soon as I realized what I was doing I stopped and thought to myself "if you see results with following the plan 80%, what could happen if you followed it 100%?". Making my coach proud was more important than anything else to me.
Q: How does your offseason training differ from your precontest regiment?
A: I eat a LOT more carbs, and allow myself cheat food semi regularly. My cardio is very minimal and lifting is usually lower reps with heavier weight. I train more for strength rather than endurance and conditioning during off-season.
Q: Favorite cheat food?
A: Toughest question so far! Pizza, pancakes, and mexican. 
Q: Who has the best pizza in Pittsburgh?
A: Fioris! I went straight there after North Americans and probably will after every show I do in the area.
Q: What makes you different from other competitors?
A: I do a lot of things in silence and don't really like a lot of attention with the way I train and eat. I'm approachable and willing to answer questions, but I stick to my plan and happily do what I have to do without saying too much about it. I don't like to think that my way is the only way and I respect other approaches and diet/training styles.
Q: Aside from training, what other interests or activites do you partake in?
A: I am pretty low key! I love going out to eat (when not dieting), watching movies, spending time with my family/friends, and I love home decor.
Q: What motivates you?
A: Overcoming adversary..knowing that I am in control of my life and it can be as great as I want it to be with the right perspective.
Q: What is best in life?
A: "The best things in life are free" I don't think things have to be perfect,  but having a good attitude and a strong support system is better than any material item.