You’ll have to forgive ye olde IRON MAN staffers if we take a proprietary interest in Mia Finnegan, who among so many other accomplishments was the winner of the very first Fitness Olympia. For one thing, she was discovered by IM’s Lonnie Teper, who encouraged her to compete. For another, her photo shoot with Michael Neveux back in 1993 was her first big one in the industry. So when Neveux announced during his recent shoot with the now-43-year-old mother of three, “Mia Finnegan is back!” there was a bit more to it than the customary cooing of a photographer to his subject.
Born with a pedigree of fitness and strength—her great, great grandfather was Professor Atilla, the personal trainer of the legendary Engen Sandow, for whom the Mr. Olympia trophy is named, and her great, great uncle was legendary strongman Sig Klein—Mia Cosimini grew up in Rhode Island and made her initial athletic mark as a gymnast. Earning All-State honors for four consecutive years while she was in high school, Mia attended Springfield College in Massachusetts, where she was ranked sixth nationally and from which she graduated in 1988 with a degree in psychology and a minor in health fitness. Moving to Southern California to be with her college sweetie, Ritch Finnegan, she eventually became a partner in his personal-training business, not to mention his partner in life.
Gifted with a killer bod that was made for physique competition, she got her start in bodybuilding but soon moved to the fledgling sport of fitness, for which she was also a natural. The highlights of her bodybuilding résumé include fourth place at the ’90 ABA Golden Valley Physique, first at the ’90 NPC Western Natural Championships and first at the ’92 ABA Natural Universe. In fitness she won the ’94 Ms. Fitness California, the ’94 Fitness American Pageant, the ’95 Galaxy and the ’95 Fitness Olympia, finishing second to Saryn Muldrow at the Olympia in 1996. She’s been on TV—co-starring in the series “Fitting It In” on The Health Network and appearing for years on ESPN, QVC and the International Shopping Channel—and wrote for numerous fitness publications.
Ten years ago she and Ritch pulled up stakes and went back to Rhode Island, where they built a new business and brought Noah, now 10, Maggie, seven, and Eli, four, into this world. When I got the call to do this interview, I couldn’t wait to talk with our old friend.
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Compiled by Ruth Silverman
Photography by Michael Neveux