If we talk about the area of Estonia I could say that it is a small country, but if we talk about bikini fitness athletes I would say that it is a very big country because of the number of high-level amateur and professional athletes that Estonia has. Their athletes stand out for their elegance and femininity, key points in the bikini fitness category and thanks to this they have great champions on the IFBB stages.
Today I have the pleasure of interviewing one of those excellent athletes that Estonia has, Jana Teder. Jana has been in December bikini fitness master world champion in the city of Tarragona, Spain, and thanks to this interview we will know a little more about Jana and her trajectory in the world of fitness.
Jana welcome to TC10 and thank you for giving me this interview, it is a pleasure to be able to publish your experience.
Hello Juan, thank you for having me it is a pride for me to be interviewed by you.
2019 has certainly been a successful year for you, you have shown on stage many improvements in all aspects, you got the right to apply for the Elite PRO card by winning the Overall in the Diamond Cup in Luxembourg, you got two golds at the Estonian championships and you finished the year with your excellent victory at the Master World Championships. Now that you’ve been able to reflect on all this. What balance do you do from 2019 and how do you remember the experiences you’ve had this year?
Yes, 2019 was really generous year. Early in 2019, I decided to skip the spring season, and focus on the World Masters Championship in the fall season. But the passion to go on stage was stronger and so I convinced my coach in March to do a short spring season. We nailed with competition prep and in June I was blessed to win overall title Luxembourg Diamond Cup and IFBB Elite PRO card, in front of amazing elite athletes! Huh, and of course – becoming a World Champion felt very sweet.
Many dreams came true in 2019 and all the effort, hard work and sacrifices were rewarded. However, I also realized that the pressure of success have taken “lightness” and fitness is more like duty and no longer fun and hobby – what it actually is ?
You spoke recently in one of your publications about the pressure and personal stress involved in focusing on the results. After having a small disappointment just one week before in the world fitness championship in Bratislava Did you have that mental pressure to get a good result at the Master World Championships and beat last year’s silver medal?
My fitness journey has been quite unusual. My first ever competition was Arnold Classic Europe 2017 and already few weeks later, at my second competition, I won two IFBB Diamond Cup silver medals. I have been blessed to belong in top since my first fitness season, but I didn’t had the opportunity to be the beginner and grow naturally, especially mentally, to the top level. Although I have tasted many successful moments, there are few losses that were just mentally difficult to deal with. I felt the accompanying pressure of staying on top and the expectations to win.
I expect a lot from myself and I do not want to disappoint my coach, supporters and my country. I’ve been competing for five consecutive seasons and my ability to work and dedication are above average. And of course I pushed myself through 2019 with one goal in my mind – to be so good that silver is not an option and to become World Champion! But that pressure has drifted me away from the ability to enjoy the journey. Fitness became more of an obligation than something fun and exciting to do. And I felt quite sad about that, because I love bodybuilding so much!
You recently announced your decision to start at IFBB Elite PRO and you’ve talked about the liberation of focusing on enjoying this experience to the fullest without thinking about expectations or results. What excites you most about this new stage that now begins?
I realised the inner need to make the change – to focus on process rather than outcome. So I decided to start from the beginning again and opened the next chapter of my fitness journey – as an IFBB Elite PRO athlete. Of course it’s a bit scary move from being the best amateur to the newest and freshest pro, but I love bodybuilding and personal growth. Now I’m the beginner in the line-up of amazing champions! And as I have no expectations about the results, I can focus more to the process and outcome is irrelevant.
As soon as the decision was clear in my mind – I felt freedom! It’s kind of weird feeling – of course I’ll do everything with the same passion, I want to see the progress and make my coach proud, but I feel no longer that heaviness on my shoulders. I’m happy to feel again the excitement and joy I had about fitness in summer of 2017 – before competing and the pressure to succeed.
I’m ready for new challenges and I know, it might take a years to break in to the top at the next level and achieve the results and fulfil your dreams.
I imagine you’ve had to think and meditate a lot to make the decision to become a professional. The fitness competitor has to make many decisions looking for new goals that can affect their day-to-day life and their environment. How important has the support of the family environment in your career as a competitor?
It’s not always easy to carry all these different roles. I work full time at the office as a process manager, I’m a mother, partner, athlete, friend and so on. But I’m lucky to say -my close friends, family and colleagues are very supportive.
After the World Masters Championship I felt so empty. I also played with the idea of stepping aside and not to compete anymore. However, my partner and also my coach knows me so well and were both sure that this decision would leave me a sense of failure and quitting – because I still had IFBB Elite PRO card in the back pocket ?. They both also convinced me that no matter how I’ll decide, they would support me.
I can confirm, it is very important that you are unconditionally allowed to be yourself and your happiness is important to your loved ones.
Talking about the family, your daughter Reene is also a competitor in the fitness category and you’ve shared some competitions with her, the most recent was in Bratislava at the IFBB World Championships. This is something really beautiful. How do you feel about being able to share this experience with her?
Oh god, the emotions from Bratislava are unforgettable. I have seen here competing and performing since she was 3 years old ?. Stage loves here and you can see her shining, performing and captivating the audience. But to share the all process with my daughter is something unique – to support her through the diet, cardio sessions, ups and downs and seeing her reaching her dream was amazing.
We competed on different days and could support each other emotionally and be there. Since my competition was still ahead, I had to do my own doings, but she was fully for me during my competition day ❤️.
Now let’s go a little further back, at the beginning of Jana Teder’s fitness adventure. What was the reason you started in weight training?
I had a plan to start with weight trainings already years ago. I was a quite a gymaholic ?: twice a day I took group lessons, did a lot of cardio and loved yoga. As a result I looked like a toothpick and I wanted a rounded bum ?.
I knew few bikini girls and thought that Bikini Fitness might be the solution and the way to my dream body ?. Unfortunately one Estonian international judge told that I have no perspective and since I was already 36 then – I gave up on that idea. However, I continued to break my body in group lessons and working out in the gym on my own – it ended up being trapped in various injuries and unable to train at all.
My body started to change, I gained weight and lost confidence. So…I started with stupid low calorie diets and messed my metabolism. One thing leaded to another and when my friend, who was competing bikini athlete, asked again – “Well? When do you start?” I thought to take an action. Also accidentally came across a FB post from my first coach, where she took on new team members and I decided to apply. With the proviso that if I’m not material for the stage, I still want to get in shape for my 40th anniversary. A month later, in January 2017,I started with targeted trainings in the gym.
And what motivated you to make the decision to compete in bikini fitness?
I lowered my expectations and just found the new passion in the weight trainings. But the decision to compete came quite quickly, after three months – when we saw what was starting to peel out, my coach proposed to change the goal and to compete already in six months. First it sounded crazy, because mentally I was working in the direction where “If everything will go perfect, I’ll try the stage on the spring 2018” ? . Few days later I decided to put all in and be crazy, and break all rules of logic.
How do you remember the day you first competed on a stage?
My first competition was Arnold Classic Europe 2017. I know, it’s insane, it’s a dream competition for many contestants. Today I am convinced that this was the right decision – I had no pressure there and I enjoyed it so much! Of course, as it was my first competition, there was so much unknown and I was nervous, but it was more like excitement.
I walked there like in a parallel reality, surrounded by Instagram stars. It’s hard to put those feelings into the words. But about the competing – I remember the moments before the stage and I also remember when I was back at the backstage – but I have total blackout from being on the stage ?. Isn’t it weird how our brain is working?
What was the hardest thing to adapt in your day-to-day life to a competitor’s lifestyle? Diet, training, social relations…
I must say, that at the beginning was hardest part social relations. Unfortunately many connections faded due my lack of time and energy, as in many relations I was carrying the leading role and was more active party – organized the meetings and activities. When I stopped doing that…then the other side didn’t take over the role and also connections lost.
Today I’m in much better place with my life and also people around me are different. They’ll carry me during my competition prep and come along with my crazy ideas when I have more energy ?.
I saw you win the silver medal at the European Championships in Spain in 2018 and I remember perfectly well that you already seemed to me an elegant athlete. I can say that now you are much more and your staging is very good. Your physique has improved a lot since then, but how much have you worked to improve staging and show your physique as you do now?
Thank you! At the beginning of my career I had no clue what to do at the stage, I didn’t see my strengths and couldn’t present myself in the best way. My coach taught me how to pose and so – but it was learned and was not me. When our co-operation ended, I decided to find my own way and change my posing to the direction what is more natural and closer to my personality. I am not a “kitty” and excessive litter is not my cup of tea. I want to show the work I’ve done to the judges with dignity and flirting is not part of it.
Posing is having important part during the competition prep, the closer to the stage, the more I practice. Last 4-6 weeks it’s already routine to pose one hour in the morning and 30min after the gym session, plus long posing sessions on weekends.
Illusions, angles and posing is the art of bodybuilding. In order to show your muscle development and how far you have come with your body development, you have to learn hundreds of hours – to know your physique and then just practice-practice-practice.
I am sure that many things have changed in you since that time you went on stage for the first time. Physical changes everyone can see, but what has changed in you inwardly in all that time?
I have learned a lot about myself and my capabilities and limits. I have learned to be vulnerable and it has made me stronger. I have more courage to be me and opening myself. I love and respect myself more…
You’re a world champion and an experienced athlete so I’d like you to give a little advice to girls who want to become fitness competitors like you, something you would have liked to say to Jana Teder when she started her fitness career.
Dream and be ready to step out of your comfort zone – there happens the magic. If you want to maximize your potential, you have to be ready to work hard and give your heart to bodybuilding – this is the way to do it. You just have to grow through, be proud of every step you take and don’t forget to enjoy the journey. Keep your joyful mind and START TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE EFFORT you are making, even if it might end with the less than perfect result ❤️
I like to see how the Estonian federation welcomes you with flowers and music at the airport when you get important victories or how you go to important events like the Gala of the best Estonian athletes. Do you think fitness is a highly valued sport in Estonia?
The level of Estonian bodybuilding athletes is very high. Estonian Bodybuilder is the winner of 2018 Elite ranking. Three years in a row Estonian Bikini athletes has been ended in Top10 of Elite ranking, last two years even in Top 3! We bring honour and fame to our country.
But, of course, such welcomes would not be possible if the president of the Estonian Bodybuilding Federation wasn’t our biggest fan.
I want you to tell me a little secret (I promise not to tell anyone) Why in Estonia there are so many excellent athletes in bikini fitness?
Awww ? that’s sweet ?
For my opinion, it’s the heritage of the Soviet era. Estonians are a small nation and we have always had to work hard and prove ourselves. The wars have mixed nationalities and this has made Estonian women strong and uniquely beautiful. We are fighters, we can always find the way and giving up is not an option ?
And if we look to the future, Do you see many years on stage? Or would you like to continue in the world of competitions by helping other athletes with your experience or doing other things like being a judge?
I don’t think so far. Today I’m at the beginning of my journey and I’m an athlete. I’m a helper by nature and already today I will advise if asked the questions. Yes, I have my experiences, but I’m not the coach, I’m not the nutrition specialist and for my opinion it’s a big responsibility -you take responsibility for the other person’s life. And at the moment I also feel, that my sense of justice is too high to be a judge.
Finally, I’ll ask you a question that’s fixed in all my interviews. What is the best that this lifestyle has brought you personally?
Everything seems to be in place now. Those who don’t belong in my life are gone and I’ve met new wonderful people..
Jana, I want to thank you for the time you’ve spent on this interview and for letting TC10 readers know about your experience. Of course I wish you all the best in your new stage in Elite PRO and it will be a pleasure to follow this new adventure closely.
If you want to add something else…
We don’t grow when things are easy. Our will will be tested and we grow when we face challenges. But as they say – the fruit of your own hard work is the sweetest and the feeling when you know you have given your all, defeated all the struggles and battles, that’s amazing ?.
Be you…be happy…and don’t be afraid to get in touch ❤️!