Building O'Brien - The Body and the Brand

Building O'Brien - The Body and the Brand

Fytness Fanatik Editor Amanda Lynn Mayhew has been a huge fan of Mindi recently got to sit down with her to talk more about how she got started.  Mindi was first featured in Fytness Fanatik the Magazine in a Person to Admire feature back in 2008.

FFM: When did you start working out, why?

MO: I began lifting weights at the age of 10 after a severe break to my elbow. I was in the hospital for 2 weeks with a broken arm and it was re-broken 5 times!!! After I was I released from the hospital, my gymnastics coach insisted that I work with a personal trainer to help speed up the recovery time and to help keep me in top shape. I fell in love with how lifting weights made me feel and I enjoyed the results that I was getting. My dad had a private membership to Gold's Gym in St. Catharines, so I would often go to the gym with him.

(featured in Fytness Fanatik the Magazine in July 2008 issue)

FFM: What level of your career did you start to train and/or help others into the world of bodybuilding?

MO: I have been a competitive athlete all of my life. I was fortunate to work with some of the best coaches that helped me develop many skills at a young age that carried over into my adult life and into the sport of fitness. I learned determination, discipline, commitment, sacrifice, mental toughness, confidence and a positive mental attitude. For me, training for fitness competitions provided me with great personal satisfaction and helped me develop some “softer qualities”-patience, humility, expression of feelings, faith in my training plan and belief in yourself, accepting responsibility and a sense of enjoyment and fun. I believe learning all of these abilities have transferred into my private and professional life and it has helped me to become more compassionate and more understanding coach that can help guide other athletes place the competitive experience in proper perspective.

FFM: Is your diet a strict diet at all times or do you ever 'cheat'?

MO: A balanced lifestyle is key. Over the years I have tried to become a more well- rounded individual-I find I am more healthy, happier and this has allowed me to have longevity in this sport. I have had to work hard and create a schedule that allows me to distribute my time to spend the appropriate amount of energy to work, family and friends….. I eat clean 80% of the time during my off season. I do allow a few cheat meals a week (I just stay away from sugar), but I do go out for dinner with my family and allow for some social time. When I am in contest mode, I do not ever cheat….I stay 100% on track and focused on bringing my best physique to the stage.

(photo by Dave Laus)

FFM: Your body is so lean and so perfectly symmetrical - how do you maintain this, do you train to get bigger or to maintain the physique you own now?

MO: Like I said in the previous question, this is a life style for me. I do not fluctuate in weight during my off season. I use my off season to work on my weaknesses and try to improve my overall physique. There will never be a day when you look in the mirror, assess your physique and say “done”, in our sport, we are striving to create the perfect physique….

FFM: What are your hobbies that do not include weights? Can we see you ripping up the dance floor anywhere or climbing mountains?

MO: Well you really do not want to see me ripping up the dance floor, that would be quite a sight!! I love the outdoors and I try to get out and hike at least once a week with my husband or my mom, I love to go to Venice beach, love spending time with my family and friends and I have recently been having a lot of fun breaking into the world of wrestling! I have been on pay per view with the HOUSE OF HARDCORE WRESTLING.

FFM: What is your favorite color?

MO: My favorite colors are pink and black.

FFM: Can you do a handstand push-up? (my goal is to do one by July, ;) )

MO: Yes I can….they are very challenging. Keep practicing, I know you will achieve your goal.

(photo by Dave Laus)

FFM: What can you say to someone like myself who has always dreamed of being on stage but just cant find the oomph to gain that extra mile to get up there?

MO: The advice that I would say to inspire someone less driven or fearful in following their dreams would be: When you begin your athletic journey, regardless of your age or ability level, the experience is one of continuous new beginnings. It’s a lifetime of discovery and learning….the lessons may appear on many different levels-emotionally, physically, and spiritually. As you evolve both athletically and personally, you’ll discover that this journey has no final destination.

Fitness, figure and bikini competitions have never been more popular and provide an excellent way to break into the fitness industry.

Before you begin, you need to be realistic with your goals. (I have athletes come to me that have only trained for a few months and think they will earn their pro status their first time competing!! It’s going to take time and you need to understand that this is a personal journey and you’re doing it only for you!)

You need to set both short and long term goals concerning your health and fitness as well as your competition plans.

I would strongly recommend to learn about all of the different competition organizations/federations and learn their rules and regulations. Go to a regional level show and see how the posing looks and see how the show runs.

Know that this sport can be physically, mentally and financially draining.

Here is a list of things that I hand to my clients or potential clients to help them make an educated/financial decision.

It’s very expensive to compete in the fitness/figure world. Before you take the plunge into competing, here is a list of some of the expenses you will incur.

MEMBERSHIP FEES: Once an organization/federation is selected, you will need to become a member of it.

Fees will vary depending on the organization: $50-150.00.

CONTEST ENTRY FEE: these fees will also vary: $50-$150 or more.

NUTRITION & TRAINING PROGRAMS: Hiring an experienced competition coach to design your nutritional/supplementation programs, weight training and cardio programs, and working with a posing and stage presentation coach will definitely take the guess work out for you. It’s very difficult and challenging to prepare for a competition without guidance in these areas. Hiring a coach/trainer should be an anticipated cost.


Posing suits are a considerable cost.

Most suits start at $250 and up (most professional suits are over $1000.000)

I don’t recommend buying a suit off of the rack, they need to fit like a second skin and fit like a glove, enhance your overall physique and suit design/cut can make you or break you.

Routine Outfits: $$$

Heels: usually range between $80-$100.

There are many competition suit designers in Canada and the USA . Do your research and find the best designer for you.

TANNING: whether you order your product on-line or hire a professional to spray you, there will be a cost. (usually $60-$150-cost varies)

JEWELERY AND OTHER ACCESSORIES: Most figure/bikini/fitness athletes wear earrings, rings and bracelets (usually rhinestones) to contribute to the overall package.

PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS: You have worked your butt off preparing for this very special day…It’s highly recommended that you higher the official photographer to take some up close stage shots, capture that special moment!

FOOD: Your grocery bill will definitely go up! Your nutritional intake is 80% of your success rate. You will need to fuel your body with the best foods available.

TRAVEL EXPENSES: If you have a competition in your area, than you are very lucky!! Most competitions are usually a couple of hours away or if you are competing at Nationals, you may need to travel outside of your province.




-food- packing your own food is crucial

Competing is definitely worth it and I highly recommend that you plan well in advance to prepare for your show. The cost definitely adds up, so knowing in advance what will be needed, you can start budgeting your money.

From my experience and my personal journey of being a professional athlete, over the years I have learned so many things about myself. It started off with a vision and passion. Over the years, I have learned a better self understanding, self improvement-by assessing my weaknesses and work towards consistently improving, balance, courage, responsibility to my own training, to do my absolute best and accept my part in the outcome, resilience, and enjoyment.

List your career titles:

Some of my competitive high lights:

FITNESS CAREER: (highlights from 2000-2014)

* Just received an invite to compete at the first ever Women’s Physique Arnold Classic-2015

* 2014-IFBB Women’s Physique Division-6th overall

* Recently won the 2014 Toronto Pro show-qualified for my 9th Olympia

* Have placed top 5 in every IFBB Olympia qualifying competitions

* IFBB 9 time Olympia Competitor-highest placing: 7th overall

* IFBB 6 time Arnold Classic Competitor: highest placing: 6th overall

* IFBB Southwest USA Pro Cup Champion (won with unanimous 1st place scores)

* IFBB Overall Best Fitness Competitor GeneX Award-2006

* CBBF 2005 MVP Award

* IFBB Horizon Award-Most promising Newcomer-2004

* CBBF Canadian National Fitness Champion (won with unanimous 1st place scores)

* Two Time TSN Fitness Series Fitness Champion

*Two Time North American FVF Fitness & Strength Challenge Champion

* WNSO Musclemania Bodybuilding Champion

PASSION has to be at the top of the list. Live it, study it, breathe it, love it. This passion fuels the drive to achieve.


Twitter: @mindiobrienfit

Instagram: Mindiobrien

Facebook: Mindi O’Brien IFBB Pro