I could just as easily have called this article “Wild Horses” as anyone who follows Sandra Lombardo on Facebook or Instagram will be well aware of her passion for horses…but more of that later, for now let’s focus on Sandra’s successful bodybuilding career. Not only has she clocked up 18 years of competing in NPC/IFBB she also has the reputation of being one of the nicest people in the sport. I had the pleasure of Interviewing Sandra for RX some time ago and with her about to step on stage again for The Arnold Classic now seemed like a perfect time to catch up with her and see what is going on in her extremely busy life!
So Sandra I was actually looking back to our first interview the other day and was amazed it was way back in 2011. At that point you had done over 30 shows in your bodybuilding career and you are still going! What inspires you to keep getting up there?
“That is the million dollar question! Bodybuilding is in my blood, sometimes it just becomes who you are, and I can feel a little lost when I am not striving towards a goal. My life is very regimented and it really fits in line with my structure. Going to the gym to me is pointless, unless I have tangible outcomes, as unorthodox as that sounds.”
After moving from figure to physique you have become one of the top names in that division. How do you think it is developing as a category? There are times when the lines between figure and physique are a little blurry at the moment…..
“I am very pleased with the traction that WPD has gained in the recent years. Although we were all searching for a clear definition or set of guidelines that the judges were apparently looking for, I have learned that Women’s Physique division was, and continues to be very diverse in terms of body type. This division really allows someone like me to bring in the best package for my frame (smaller), and still be in contention for top placing at the Pro shows. With regards to the figure division, I do have a couple of friends who have recently moved down to figure, as they felt they were not big enough for WPD. There are some girls who could clearly compete and possibly do well in both divisions, but once again, it is bringing the best package for your frame. I believe that the top figure competitors do indeed have a much different structure than those of Physique.”
You took a year away from competing, what motivated you to do that and indeed to make your return at The Arnold this year?
“The year of the Olympia was very long and strenuous, and although successful in my ultimate goal, it definitely burned me out both mentally and physically. I have a very demanding career and also a Horse Racing business that requires a lot of my time, and after giving 100% to my competitions, I needed to shift focus and energy into making the other businesses just as successful. The layoff was planned and I applied for the Arnold and received the invite to compete.”
Can you tell us a bit more about your race horse business and what got you into that?
“I started Royal Thoroughbred Racing Stables 6 years ago after buying a yearling colt who I decided I wanted to race. I breed, race, buy and sell Thoroughbred racehorses. My farm contains pregnant mares, foals, yearlings, 2 year olds heading into training and also the horses who come home between races. I raise the babies and do a lot of hands on training to prep them for either the sales or the racetrack. I sell my own horses, along with client horses at my consignment in Saratoga, Keeneland, and OBS (Ocala Breeder’s Sale). Most of my time is spent analyzing pedigrees for the purpose of both selling and breeding, choosing stallions, working with my trainer and horses at the track and working with my veterinarians to analyze conformations early on and make corrections. Horse racing is very similar to bodybuilding in so many ways, and I believe that is why it too is my passion.”
Last time we talked you were involved in respiratory therapy and were setting up sleep apnea clinics. Are you still in that industry?
“I am a Medical Sales Rep for a medical device manufacturer and my product of focus is a ventilators. I cover a large territory including GA, MS, Al, Fl, Puerto Rico and am typically on a plane every week.”
So you obviously spend a great deal of time away from home base and a ‘regular’ gym. Do you find it hard to find and acclimatize to ever changing gyms and have you found yourself just having to make do with what is presented to you on occasions?
“I always search for a familiar gym chain ahead of time. I will typically plan my hotel stays around them. It gets a little tricky when I get into Alabama and Mississippi but then I just plan my body parts around what a hotel gym can accommodate. It's always part of planning ahead.”
Moving on to The Arnold….how is everything coming together for that training wise and what kind of package are you looking to bring to the stage?
“I started my prep much earlier and was much stricter earlier on in the prep than in the past. I am currently about 10lbs heavier than the year that I went to the Olympia. I believe I have added some size and have been focusing on my quads in order to balance out my shoulders.”
I believe you have also enlisted the services of Colette Nelson to help you with your evening routine?
“Yes Colette is building my routine for me; I have always admired her stage presence and have complete faith in her abilities. This is the first time I have worked with someone for my routine, and am very excited to be doing so.”
I recall some of the amazing posing routines we had back in the 80’s when the likes of Diana Dennis and Cory Everson were competing. Do you have any favorite posers from that era and do you think that the evening posing routine should once again be judged and allocated points?
“I would have to say that Bev Francis and Carla Dunlap are 2 of my favorites. Bev's physique was like no other and she knew how to display it properly. Carla had the perfect combination of beauty and power with an overall athletic appearance and was an extremely graceful poser.
Personally, I do not believe that the posing routine should be included in the overall placing, unless it is for a tie breaker or close placings. The mandatory’s are where we have the opportunity to showcase each body part and the routine, in my opinion only, is and should be entertainment for the fans.”
I have to agree on the entertainment factor. Now I know the physique division is still relatively new in the grand scheme of things but are there any competitors that you are a particular fan of?
“I first competed with Juliana Malacarne in the NY Pro the year I turned pro. I have always been in awe of her physique. To me, she is a perfect representation of our division.”
Anyone reading this will have got the message loud and clear that you have got a lot going on in your life. How do you manage your time to put the necessary work into getting ready for this big show?
“Compartmentalize. It is how I live my life. Everything in my life has to be extremely structured and has to have a place in my day. I can juggle a lot and I am a bit of an overachiever (which is annoying to most around me), and have to be the best at everything I do. The only way one can do that is to focus 100% on what is in front of you, move to the next, focus 100% on that and so on… most people focus 33.3% on 3 things at once, and then wonder why none are successful.”
I couldn’t agree more with the 33.3% part personally I have to give one thing 100% as well before I can move on. I can’t even talk and text! So, given your hectic lifestyle, dare I ask what Sandra Lombardo does in her ‘leisure time’? ….assuming you get any!
“Any leisure time I may have is spent at the track watching my horses train.”
Finally what can we expect in the future? Any plans beyond The Arnold at this point?
“The only plan I have on paper to date is pizza! I have 3 shows in mind to try to qualify for the Olympia again, but of course I will decide based on feedback from the Arnold.”
Well having seen the way she is looking at the moment I can only say that the feedback from the Arnold will be very positive and we can all look forward to having her grace the Olympia stage again this year…dare I say “Wild Horses” couldn’t keep her away!
- Lee Penman