Don't tell Mercedes Bazemore that things don't get better with age. The Virginia Beach, Virginia, grandmother didn't begin her bodybuilding career until she was 40; an overall victory at the Team Universe in August '03 brought home her pro card less than three weeks shy of her 45th birthday. Now the 5'8', 145-pounder'180 in the off-season'anxiously awaits her pro debut at the '04 Jan Tana Classic.
Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Bazemore married Charlie, an Army enlistee, at 16 and left the area for 21 years, 13 of which she spent in Germany as part of his military tour of duty.
'As a little girl I was what you'd call a tomboy,' says Bazemore. 'I've always had a love of sports, but softball was my favorite. Sports have always been a part of my life, throughout my marriage and in the raising of my two kids, Charlie and Tomika.
'Charlie is 28 and has a four-year old son I call C.J. Tomika is 23 and had a baby daughter named Zeynel seven months ago. I love the time I spend with my grandkids, although I don't get to see them as much as I would like'Charlie lives in San Diego, California, and Tomika lives in Germany.'
Bazemore laughs as she refers to herself as 'the new-millennium grandmother.' There's no cooking fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, collards with fatback, candied yams, mashed potatoes and gravy or baking cakes and pies for them, she quickly points out. 'My grandkids get plenty of baked chicken and fish, ground turkey, green veggies, protein bars and even protein shakes,' she says. 'You know, there are times when I may give in a little, but if they happen to catch me during training, we're all going to eat the same.'
Bazemore, a personal trainer who worked as the fitness manager at a women's-only club for eight years, won both the overall and the masters divisions at her first show, and, as quick as you can say, 'front double-biceps,' a star was born. 'It was so self-fulfilling,' she recalls, 'and at that point I was hooked.'
In 1999 Mercedes sped to the Overall crown at the Armed Forces National Championships, along with a second-place finish in her class at the VA/DC Championships; a year later she won the VA/DC drug-tested championships and followed that up with the first of two consecutive runner-up slots at the Team Universe.
Mercedes found out in 2002 that all that glitters is not gold. She finished a disappointing third at the Masters Nationals and fourth at the T.U. 'Mother Nature hit me in 2002 at the Team Universe, and I was holding way too much water.'
Bazemore says she put everything she had into the '03 T.U., and it paid off. Getting up to 180 pounds in the off-season, she hit the stage in New York at a supersharp 143 to score a narrow victory over Carolyn Bryant, the '02 heavyweight champ. Mercedes then bested two standout class winners'middleweight Debbie Patton and lightweight Jamie Lynn Troxel'to earn an invite to the next level. So, Mercedes, is it safe to say your favorite motto is 'Better late than never?' ALL Mercedes' Workout
Monday: Chest and back
Flat-bench Smith-machine presses 4 x 12
Incline presses 3 x 12
Incline dumbbell presses 3 x 12
Incline dumbbell flyes 3 x 10
Incline dumbbell presses 3 x 8
Pec deck 3 x 12
Pullups 3 x 12 to 15
Dumbbell rows 3 x 12
Lat pulldowns 3 x 12
Dumbbell rows 3 x 12
Cable rows 3 x 12
Pullovers 3 x 12
Tuesday: Abs, lower back and calves
Wednesday: Shoulders and arms
Smith-machine military presses 4 x 12
Smith-machine behind-the-neck presses 3 x 12
Lateral raises 3 x 10
Bent-over dumbbell pullbacks 3 x 10
Elbow pressups 3 x 10
Front raises 3 x 10
Dumbbell presses 3 x 10
Superset on Scruggs machine
Elbows straight up to back 3 x 10
Shoulder to the front 3 x 10
Triceps extensions 3 x 15
Curls (21s) 3 x 21
Machine dips 3 x 15
Seated dumbbell curls 3 x 12
Alternate hammer curls 3 x 10
Leg extensions 4 x 20-30
Hack squats 3 x 10
Leg presses 3 x 10
Leg curls 3 x 12, 10, 8-12
Horizontal leg presses 3 x 8, 8, 8-12
Stiff-legged deadlifts 3 x 15
Monday through Saturday, twice a day: in the morning before her first meal and again before her last meal.
Thursday: Abs, lower back and calves
Diet: Mercedes diets for 20 weeks. 'For the first three weeks I start cutting out the junk food. I have six meals per day containing high protein and low carbs. I play with my carbs up and down throughout my diet.'
Editor's note: You can find Mercedes Bazemore training'and training clients'at South Beach Gym in Virginia Beach, Virginia, (757) 403-1907.