Mike Pulcinella

Interview with Mike Pulcinella

The Raising the Bar trilogy struck a nerve with many competitive bodybuilders. Why do you think it did?

I can only tell you what others have told me because the whole thing caught me completely by surprise.

I thought I had made this weird, quirky little thing that would only be of interest to my brother and my family. When it broke out and became the phenomenon that it did, I began getting emails from people telling me that they felt like they were watching their lives on screen.

The feedback I got from the RTB series showed that I had captured many of the struggles that bodybuilders go through which had never before been seen on screen. What I thought were the strange and difficult aspects of my brother’s uniquely weird life turned out to be universal in the bodybuilding world.

As a filmmaker, you have had access to top amateurs and top pros. Do they have anything in common that puts them at the top?

There are a few characteristics that I have noticed that all successful people share. It doesn’t matter if the goal is bodybuilding or competitive quiltmaking; I have seen that success is achieved by following these six principles. Some of these seem clichéd, but there’s a reason things become clichés: they are true.

1. Positive outlook – Successful people are convinced they will succeed before they’ve even begun.

2. Relentless determination – Successful people have a lot of energy and don’t just work 9 to 5. They hone their craft. They take classes. Learning never ends.

3. Good with people – There are notable exceptions to this rule, but most successful people I have known make you feel you are a comfortable part of their world from the minute you meet them.

4. Groom the next generation – Give advice to the younger generation whenever you can. It will pay you back in ways that will surprise you.

5. Take risks and make sacrifices – Nothing great ever comes without sacrifice.

6. Be humble – Don’t be afraid to take a back seat once in a while. Listen instead of talk. Admit to yourself that you don’t have all the answers. Ever.

Do you consider yourself an observer of the bodybuilding world? A fellow traveler? Something else?

I have always said that I’m a “reporter in the field.” When I was given the opportunity to shoot Kai Greene for what became the documentary Overkill, I was handed a script by MuscleMeds. I (politely) handed it back to them, saying, “Let’s see what happens.” What happened was probably one of the most interesting documentaries I’ve ever done, but only because I went out with as few preconceptions as possible about what I was going to see.

I am an observer first, an interpreter second. I give you my opinion, but try to do it with a light enough touch so that you can form your own ideas at the same time.

 What do you hope to bring to the bodybuilding world as a filmmaker?

I like to use bodybuilding as a means to spread positive messages whenever possible. You may come to my videos to see big muscles or training methods, but I like to slip in deeper, more universal messages along the way when I can.

Raising the Bar was about the cost to relationships when you sacrifice to rise above the ordinary. Kai Greene’s videos are about how positive thinking can change your life.

If you listen to the words that Kai says in many of his videos and apply them to anything you want to do in life, you will succeed.

What advice would you offer an aspiring bodybuilder who wants to compete at a national level?

I would tell anyone who wants to compete at that level that you have to find a way to enjoy the journey and not just the goal. The mindset of “I want to be a pro!” will not get you there.

The mindset, “I love everything about bodybuilding,” will!

Interview by Mike Emery, February 2013.

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January: Vicki Nixon

Please see our review of Vicki Nixon's video Beyond The Pain.

Interview with IFBB Pro Vicki Nixon

Do you have an inspiration among pro bodybuilders?

Vicki: The first people to inspire me were Rachel McLish and Cory Everson. They were among the first women to change the way the general public viewed muscle on women. Back then their look was accepted by the general public, and the shows were even on ESPN. They inspired me to start lifting weights because they were not only muscular, but very feminine.

What is your favorite memory of your competitive experience?

Vicki: My favorite memory would be when I won the NPC Team Universe in 2004, and qualified for my IFBB Pro Card. I was then able to travel to Spain to represent the USA in the 2004 IFBB World Amateur Championships.

Other than testing, have you noticed any difference between the IFBB and the WNBF in pro competitions, demands on pro competitors, or anything else?

Vicki: Well, to be honest, I was also a WNBF Pro many years ago. The men and the women were much bigger and harder in the IFBB. From the few WNBF shows I have seen recently, some of the men are pretty big and ripped, the women not so much. The demands on the IFBB pros to look a certain way seems much tighter and stricter than in the WNBF.

Do you compete with your previous personal best, as opposed to competing with others onstage?

Vicki: I always tried to come into my shows better than my previous condition. My goal was to be 100% onstage, but being one of the smallest IFBB Pro Bodybuilders put me at a disadvantage. If I was 100%, that’s all I could really ask for.

There has been discussion on a women's board recently about whether NPC/IFBB competition is an individual sport or a team sport. Do you have a view on this issue?

Vicki: I view the NPC/IFBB as an individual sport. Back in 1984 when I first started to compete, there were no "Teams"; now there are so many! Even though I have a Team, they are all out to be the best they can be and to win for themselves, but it’s also pretty cool to have other Team members that support you and want you to do well.

What do you think of the new emphasis in the NPC/IFBB on non-bodybuilding competition: physique, figure, and bikini?

Vicki: I think the divisions are great so more people can bring it to the stage, but I don’t think they should all be held at the same shows. It has made the shows far too big, and competitors sometimes have to wait forever to get on stage. It would be nice if promoters could keep the bikini and Male Physique Division separate, or something of that nature, to insure that shows are not so long.

Do you have advice for any national-level NPC competitor wanting to go pro in the IFBB? Something like, "If I knew then what I know now."

Vicki: First of all, stay true to who you are and don't lose sight of why you’re competing. Don't ever sacrifice your health to become a Pro, because life is too short. Stay consistent with your workouts and nutrition plan, and give 100% each day. Balance the other things in your life that are also very important to you, such as family and friends, because it can be lonely at the top. And don’t give up.

Are you training anyone right now who is planning to compete in the next year or two? If so, in what kind of competition?

Vicki: Several of my clients competed in 2012, and one did qualify for national-level NPC shows, so at this point I am working with her off-season to put on some muscle in the figure division. I have several bikini competitors, and one male bodybuilder I’m training won two shows in 2012, and all will be competing in 2013. Brian and I are excited to see what’s in store for our Team in 2013.

You said "our Team." Are you and Brian training clients together?

Vicki: You could say that. I had the clients coming to me for contest prep, and I have asked Brian to sit in on consultation and posing practice as much as he can. We both travel to my clients’ contests every time. It's good to have a second pair of eyes, especially with all the years Brian has competed himself. Brian allowed me to do his diet and cardio program for an INBF contest in 2011. He won the overall and masters division in bodybuilding, and now he’s a WNBF Pro -- so two pros are better than one!

What is the best way to get in touch with you if someone wants to hire you as a trainer? Do you offer online training?

Vicki: Anyone who wants to get in touch with me for training can email me or hit me on Facebook. My personal email is I have two Facebook pages, one under Vicki Davette Nixon and the other under IFBB Pro Vicki Nixon. Yes, I do online training as well. My website is another place people can learn more about me.

Interview conducted by Mike Emery, December 2012


Contest history for IFBB Pro Vicki Nixon

(Top five class placings or overall wins and pro qualifications in bold, all contests in bodybuilding except as noted, all locations US except as noted)

1985 - Philadelphia, 3rd
1986 - Ms. Altoona, Overall Winner
1986 - Ms. Delaware, Overall Winner & 1st couples (mixed pairs)
1987 - Ms. Leigh Valley, 1st
1989 - Eastern Seaboard, Overall Winner
1991 - Ms. Delaware, Overall Winner
1991 - Ms. Gladiator, Overall Winner
1992 - Natural Delaware Valley, Overall Winner
1992 - Natural Eastern Classic, Overall Winner
1992 - NPC Junior Nationals, 5th
1992 - NPC Nationals
1993 - NGA Capital Physique Classic, 1st, Qualified for WNBF Pro Card
1994 - WNBF Pro Worlds, 3rd
1994 - WNBF Pro Universe, 3rd
2001 - Mid Atlantic, 2nd
2001 - NPC Philadelphia Classic, 1st
2001 - World Police & Fire Games, 1st
2001 - NPC Masters Nationals, 1st
2001 - IFBB Team Universe, 3rd
2004 - Leigh Valley, Overall Winner & Figure, 2nd
2004 - NPC East Coast Classic, Overall Winner, & Figure, 1st
2004 - NPC Masters Nationals, 2nd, & Figure
2004 - NPC Team Universe, Overall Winner, Qualified for IFBB Pro Card
2004 - IFBB World Amateur Championships, Barcelona, Spain, 4th
2005 - IFBB Europa, Dallas
2005 - IFBB Charlotte Pro, 3rd
2006 - IFBB Europa
2006 - IFBB Atlantic City
2007 - IFBB Sacramento Grand Prix, 3rd
2007 - IFBB Jan Tana Classic, 4th
2010 - IFBB New York Pro, Pro Figure
2010 - IFBB Europa Battle Of Champions, Pro Figure
2011 - IFBB Jacksonville, Pro Figure
2011 - IFBB Europa Super Show, Dallas, Pro Figure

Vicki Nixon, interviewed by her husband Brian in 2013.