Interview: Meet Finland's Fitness Champ Jenni Maamäki
- Hi Jenni, are you originally from Finland? What was it like growing up there?
Hi, Yes I am. I think that it has been a blessing to grow up here. Finland is an amazing place to live and I think, here in Finland, we have great opportunities for example, we can study for free, we have a good health care system, peace and equality. I think that it is safe to grow up here. I`m very proud that I´m a Finnish. It is always an honor to represent Finland in international competitions.
- How did you get into sports? We did some research and realized you also played ice hockey. Tell us a little bit about that experience.
I indulged in sports from an early age. I`m a very active person and I love to move my body. Sport is not only a part of my life, it’s bigger, it makes me feel alive. I started to play ice hockey when I was about seven years old. I have been practicing in the gym since about 2010. I injured my ACL in 2014 during one game. I started to mainly lift weights, when I was rehabilitating my ACL. At some point, I realized that lifting weights and shaping my physique was so amazing and it became my passion. And I am also addicted to progress. It was very interesting and motivating to see changes in my own body and my power levels. By then, I was also interested in the importance of nutrition. Ice hockey gave me a good base. My injury opened my eyes and led me to this sport. Cliche, but ”everything happens for a reason”.
- Who or What inspired you to get into the world of competitive fitness?
My inspiration is progress and developing myself to a better and better physique. I do this, because I love to live like this sport requires me to. Fitness is not just a workout or eating, it`s more and just that makes it so awesome. You have to be an athlete in every part of your life, if you really want to do your best and find out what is your best physique. In this sport, you need a lot of mind power and attitude. I love to lift heavy weights, push myself to my limits and over them. Last reps are my favorite, because of that burn in my muscles and soul, it’s amazing.. Sport wakes up so many amazing feelings in me and that just makes it so great. After training I want to be able to look in the mirror and be able to say to myself, that I did my best. I have always liked to do things where I can see my result of the work. This sport is that kind of sport. It`s so cool to see changes and results in my own body. I really want to see where I can develop my self.
- You are Jr Finnish Champ and Jr Overall champ. What was that journey like on your way to being a champion and how does it feel to be champion?
It was a wonderful journey and I want to emphasize that it was the journey that made winning feel so great. I really like competition prep and the road to competition. I have an amazing coach, Jiipee Pulkkinen, who I trust like a stone, so it was easy to just do what he says. Of course, at the same time, I want to learn what we are doing and why. I can honestly say for myself. that I did my best every day at the prep. During prep, I keep my focus during workouts, so that my set weights don`t fall down and that my workout doesn`t get lazy. I can honestly say that I really enjoyed my journey to the competition. I think that is why it doesn`t feel ”bad”; for me it is that I like to challenge my self, work hard at the gym, go to my limits, use my mind power and just enjoy this lifestyle.
- How do you stay so fit? What is your daily/weekly routine like?
I think it`s result of years doing it. I have been training like an athlete for maybe 10 years, so my body is accepting that athlete position. I eat clean food around the year, train hard and I´m also a very active person.
I workout 5-6 times in a week and basically after three hard weeks, I have 4 days rest. I like to workout before school. I wake up early and also go to bed early. I sleep 8 hours of quality sleep every night because rest and sleep also are very important part of this sport. Almost every decision that I make is connecting to this sport and ensuring that my development is the best possible. In some situations that means more rest.
When I have holidays at school, I train two times a day, morning workout and evening. By then the sets and reps are almost the same as when I workout once a day but the workouts are shorter and at evening, I can use more weights in sets than if I do everything in one workout. So both workouts are very high quality and I have good energy and power levels throughout the both exercises.
DAILY ROUTINE when I have school 8 am to 4 pm:
4.00 am WAKE UP
4.30 BREAKFAST (liquid ”meal”)
7.00 POST WORKOUT DRINK
8.15-16 SCHOOL: two meals during my school day
HOME: sauna, homework, food prep, home stuff, stretching, some times netflix etc.
19.00 EVENING SNACK
19.30 BED TIME
20.00 I START TO SLEEP
- What does Jenni do when she isn’t training or working out ? What are some of the other things you do during your down time?
Usually after school, I just chill at home doing school work, stretching, listening to audiobooks or podcasts, watching Netflix or You Tube. My favorite thing for relaxing is a Finnish sauna. I like cooking and for me it`s relaxing. So I like preparing my meals. Almost every day, I speak with my mum on the telephone. She is my mom but also at the same time my best friend. She lives in same country and we usually see each other on weekends
- We see that you are also a physio therapy student. What made you decide to study that field and also how do you balance training for championships and studying?
I have always been interested in the human body. I think that the human body is so amazing and it`s so amazing what you can do with it. I also like to help other people. Now, I have one year left in my studies. In Finland, we have a sports academy, which supports the combination of school and sport. They give us the opportunity to practice in different places, do blood tests and support us, if we have some problems. But in the end, I have the responsibility, how I balance my daily life. I think that the key for balance is that I love to live this way and I’m very motivated to develop myself as an athlete. It required a lot of scheduling and planning but I like to make schedules and plan my days.
- Who are some of the athletes you look up to?
I don`t have anyone special. Of course some athletes have my dream physique.
I really like hard workers who are not getting every thing so easily and are not as talented. So I look up to them. I think that hard work beats talent in some places and that inspires me so much. I believe in hard work.
- What makes you addicted to progress ?
You are never ready and you can always get higher and higher. You can't get progress if you don`t earn it and push yourself to limits and over them. So, I think that you have to earn your progress by doing your best and I think that makes the progress feel so amazing. It`s the prize for daily decisions.
- What’s next for Jenni Maamaki? What can we expect in the year 2020 and beyond ?
With my coach, we have plans for 2020 and we are gonna make them happen. Just now it`s time to make progress to my physique and then show it. Our target is to compete at 2020 autumn, and if/when all goes well, I will compete more than once next year and continue to compete more frequently. In the future, I want to compete abroad and win there. We also have to do some big plans for the future but I won`t tell it yet, I will show it.
- What advice do you have for young athletes around the world trying to get get into the world of competitive fitness?
Understand that this sport asks for dedication and real motivation. Stay consistent, focus on your daily routine, be yourself, enjoy the journey, learn to push yourself to limits and have a good coach.
- What music do you listen to when you train?
All kind of music. Usually it´s something that wake up some feelings or wakes up me when I´m warming up. Sometimes I might be whistling or singing at the gym and I don`t even notice that myself. But when I´m doing my sets I don`t even hear the music, I think that I´m so in flow mode and in some ”other world”.
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