Exclusive: Bodybuilding, Not Just for Boys



The beginning of a new journey. Before and after. photo courtesy of Alex Van Tassell
A. Van Tassell The beginning of a new journey. Before and after. photo courtesy of Alex Van Tassell

Good things will come for those who work their butts off, determine their goals and achieve those goals. Don’t wait, life is too short“.- Alex Van Tassell, Bodybuilder. 

I turned to my eldest son and his friends one particular Sunday afternoon,  I had seven young people sitting at my dining room table.  I observed from a short distance as it is not cool to have mom hanging around but I was on a mission.  Each of these twenty something individuals have character, charm and intelligence.  One however stands out.  Her name is Alex Van Tassell.  

When you first set your sights on Alex, she is not your typical “fit in”.  Her individuality speaks volumes alone by appearance and I would understand if you were to see her standing in line at your local grocery store, you would feel compelled to stare and I challenge you tell me a personal opinion would not have formed by just a glance.   

Clad in her typical tank top, jeans, and runners,  which is her everyday go to closet items regardless how chilly the weather is. She’s not at all flashy, but she is casual and clean.  Big deal right?  It is not her clothes that stand out but rather the tattoos, the piercings and the shaved head on one side, while the other side has long flowing hair.  She could pass as a Sid Vicious follower and she carries it well.  I’ll admit, I was a little intimidated when I first met Alex.  However I do trust my sons judgement when it comes to his friends and he has not disappointed me yet.    

I made up my mind.  Alex was going to be the one I sit down with and get to know  and secretly challenge her to inspire me.

Who is Alex Van Tassell ?

Often referred to as V.T. by those who know and love her.   What is her story and what does she contribute to society?  Convince me that by looking at you Ms. Van Tassell my perception is off the mark based on appearances alone, and do not have a place in your world.  Show me something underneath your self image that you take pride in every day, that you have a lot to contribute and a message to get across.  Tell me something I don’t know.  

All I had to do was ask her.  

Alex Van Tassell is a twenty year old student at Loyalist College in Belleville Ontario.  She is currently in her first year of Pre Health and hopes to become a Massage Therapist and expert Nutritionist.   

Ahhh, perfect.  She is in fact taking her education seriously and is doing something with her life.   I would have assumed, by looking at her,  she was a struggling out of work musician. And there is not anything wrong with that, just the struggling part as most who find themselves in that position will tell you.  Again, I am pointing out what conclusions most would come to by just a glance.    

Opinion one, squashed.  Looks good on me, right ?

Quiet as a child and not the least bit adventurous Alex enjoyed being a homebody who loved hanging out with family watching movies or reading books.   She experienced real anxiety as a child because at the very young age of ten, she didn’t know how to pay bills, or she didn’t know what her “niche” was, or who she was.  

I was playing with barbies at ten and had no idea what bills actually meant.

Alex comes from a strong family foundation who exposed her to a lot of extracurricular activities such as Karate.  She became anxious if what she tried out didn’t fit.  Alex was very aware how much money her parents were doling out to ensure she had exposure to activities.  Their attempt, like most parents, to keep her out of trouble.  Keep her busy, keep her inspired.  Not many young children would be so in tune that it became a worry at night.  Let’s face it, most children look at their parents as though they are an ATM and money falls from trees.

Due to circumstances that aren’t anyone’s business, Alex at a young age found herself being raised by a single mother.  It is because of a single parent, Alex is very responsible today.  One who takes accountability for her actions and is motivated.  Alex I can assure you was raised with love in a fair but firm environment.  

How many of us have the opinion that those children who have been raised by a single parent grow up to be irresponsible, messed up and contribute to most of our societies issues?  Again, unless you know the full story, do not judge somebody based on false facts and textbooks written by perhaps an author(s) who never raised children, let alone single handedly.  

Further to this conversation, I realized how unfair I was to form an opinion of  Alex based on her appearance alone.  I was even more surprised to find out that Alex Van Tassell is training to compete in the 2016 OPA Figure (Ontario Physique Association) located in Mississauga Ontario.  

Checking out the guns and progress .Photo courtesy of -Alex Van Tassel
Checking out the guns and progress .Photo courtesy of -Alex Van Tassel

It would appear there is more to this girl than piercings and tattoos.  

When I asked Alex if she would mind sitting with me for a few minutes to discuss her aspirations a little further, I was fortunate enough that she didn’t hesitate.  I was excited to carry my mission full circle and really get to know Alex Van Tassell.  I think I was about to be inspired.  

Alex wasn’t shy to say the least.  Her knowledge and agenda were empowering.  You see, she understands the struggles of self image hovering over young girls where they feel a size zero is the end all and be all that they will risk their health by binge and purge methods.  Or they become so self conscience their social skills become next to none and they feel worthless.

Alex asked me to promise her that if anything this blog will promote self awareness and that she would like to be a positive influence on young girls of her generation and others.  That people are who they are and nobody has the right to judge somebody based on their appearance alone.  We all walk a different journey but we’re all worth the time and effort.

In just a short time by eating healthy and exercise. Progress. photo curtesy of Alex Van Tassell
In just a short time by eating healthy and exercise. Progress. photo curtesy of Alex Van Tassell

Alex Van Tassell,  Bodybuilder in Training.

SMM – How long have you been in bodybuilding training?

Alex – I started in March 2015, I guess that brings us to eight months. But it wasn’t until June that I started training more seriously.  So, for the sake of argument, I’ve been training full time for five months.

SMM – What made you decide to get into Bodybuilding ?

Alex For personal achievement.  Also seeing women on stage flexing their muscle, the hard work they endured to get where they are today.  At first I didn’t take it seriously when I joined in March but all I knew is, I wanted to look like them.  And I wanted the positive healthy lifestyle.

SMM- Who or what influenced you take the sport more seriously?

Alex – It wasn’t until my trainer, Matt Hvidzten, took me to the Toronto, Ont. Pro Show, which is a Bodybuilding competition, it’s like Nationals, I fell in love with the overall energy and felt inspired by the competitors.  I told him that I wanted in on this action.   Matt then got me on a meal plan and we started training six days a week.

SMM – You’ve come a long way in such a short time.  

Alex – Yes, I have.  In three months I lost %11 of my body fat and I weighed the same so I put on 15 pounds of muscle in three months.

SMM – How tall are you and how much do you weigh now ?  

Alex- I’m 5’4” and I weigh 150 pounds.  Out of that my body fat percentage is %19 and that’s down from %30 body fat.

SMM – Do you take supplements?

Alex – I don’t administer steroids if that’s where you are going. But I do take Whey Protein, it helps me with my bulk. It’s like a lactose protein.  I take Creatine and finally my Pre Work Out which is one scoop added to water and within twenty minutes you’re on an energy high and ready to work out and burn off that energy.  Now with Pre Work Out, you have to take a tolerance break and none of these have been taken without my Doctor’s consent.  

SMM – Take me through your meal plan while training for competition.

Alex – First I have to tell you that I have the most amazing diet coach.  Marie Van Dusen from Ottawa, Ont.    She has given me a variety of foods that I can eat during a strict diet while training.  If I have a cheat day, she also sets that up for me.   There are six clean foods that work during training.  Chicken, rice, broccoli, tuna, egg whites and sweet potato.   I have six meals a day and eight hours of sleep.  I’m scheduled when I can eat and I always have two litres of water a day.  

SMM –  What three things do you need to be successful during competition?

Alex – Nutrition, Conditioning, and Discipline. Nutrition is the biggest even when you are out of training.

SMM – How many hours do you put in at the gym?

Alex – Too many (laughs),  I put an average of 13-18 hours a week at the gym.

SMM – Do you work on everything at once or do you break it down.

Alex – I have leg day, shoulder day, arms day, back day, chest day and core day.

SMM – How long is the training period?

Alex – 12 weeks which allows me five minutes on the stage during competition.  Insane, I know, but I also know I’m healthy and I look my best for the rest of the year and beyond because I just don’t stop once competition is finished.  I continue.  This is my lifestyle.  I have worked too damn hard to let it go.

SMM – What is your philosophy during training.

Alex – The old adage, good things will come for those who wait.  This is NOT true.  Good things will come for those who work their butts off, determine their goals and achieve those goals. Don’t wait, life is too short.

SMM –  What is your advice for anyone reading this and is interested in starting.

Alex – If body training is something you’re serious about, see your doctor first for a full physical check up, hire a reputable personal trainer in your area, do your research then don’t wait. Just do.  You have nothing to lose.  It’s healthy, it’s a confidence booster, and you feel good over all.  

Alex’s appearance is a mirrored reflection of who she is.  One for which makes perfect sense to me now.  Alex is beautiful and there is a flow to her.  All I had to do was listen for it to make sense.  Never judge a book by it’s cover for you will miss a great story.

Looking good. Alex only has a few short months to fine tune before the competition at OPA May 2016
Looking good. Alex only has a few short months to fine tune before the competition at OPA May 2016

You may follow Alex on Instagram –

By: Halina Lee – Bringing you the Power of Information 2015

Christina Vixx

I was born and raised in Toronto Canada. I love writing, poetry and music. I'm a contributor for SocialMediaMorning. Make sure you follow me on Twitter and Facebook!

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