Date of birth: June 8th 1975
Birth Place: Lillestroem, Norway
I was born and raised in Lillestroem, Norway, not far from the capitol Oslo.
I moved to Los Angeles in June 2002.
I started doing gymnastics when I was 5 years old, and it soon became my life and passion. I loved it! I was competing with Oslo Gymnastic Club and my coaches were Unni Holmen and Valentin Pintea. I participated in a lot of contests, and being only 13 years old, I made it to the national team. In 1992 I sadly had to stop gymnastics because of injury.
Not long after I'd quit the gymnastics, I was convinced by a friend to go to a gym to give weight training a try. After three months of training I did my first power lifting contest, the Norwegian Championship for juniors. I placed 1st!
In 1999 I injured my chest muscle. I lost the motivation for competing in power lifting and quit. After a short while of aimlessly working out I was inspired by Lena Johannesen to try Fitness.
I have become Norwegian Champion in all the three events I have competed in, gymnastics, power lifting and fitness! I have also participated in the World Championships in all three events!!
In December 2003 I decided to give powerlifting a try again, and entered my first Bench press competition. I really liked it, and have been doing it ever since.
I did my first Strong woman competition on May 15th 2004, and I placed 3rd!! I had so much fun!! I will probably try to enter another competition in the future, but right now I am focusing on my bench press
2) Critical Bench: Tell us about your training routine? How do you train for bench press competitions and how do you train for strongman competitions?
I train bench press once a week, every Tuesday with my trainer Charles Glass. The closer I get to a meet, the more weight and less reps I do. I don't really have any specific training Program, I listen to my body, and I just do what my trainer tells me to do!
Most of my workouts are raw. I only put my bench press shirt on 2 - 3 weeks out from a meet. I like to be able to have that strength without the shirt. This way I won't just have to rely on the gear.
I love my bench press workouts, and the others as well off course, but when I decide to do a meet I get extremely focused and I look forward to every single bench work out. I can be excited for 2 - 3 days before my workout. I just can't wait to get into the gym and train!
For a strong woman competition I train a little different. I train with higher reps and endurance. I do Cardio every day, and I superset a lot. I don't have access to the strong women equipment at the gym, so I always have to simulate the events the best I can.
3) Critical Bench: What do you enjoy doing the most away from the gym?
I like to play with my computer, listen to music, and be with my friends.
4) Critical Bench: You are gorgeous like most of the models out there. What separates you is that you are a lot stronger than 99% of the models in the World. So, what got you started in strength sports? And what would you like to tell all the models so they can be beautiful and strong, all at the same time?
When I was 17 I quit doing gymnastics. One of my best friends in school, Lasse Tveten, told me that I could not just quit training and do nothing, so he brought me to this power-lifting/Olympic-lifting gym in our town. I started to train with him, and the other guys there saw that I had a talent for lifting heavy weights! 3 months later I did my first power-lifting meet.
I also had good support from another Power-lifting friend of mine, Ingjerd Pytte, who won the IPF worlds in 1991. She came to my gym once a week to help me out! That really inspired me!
Being a fitness competitor is a different thing than powerlifting. I have done a few fitness shows myself, and it takes a lot of discipline, especially with the diet. The training is also different. Lots of cardio, and reps, but of course, in off season, there is no need to being afraid of putting on some plates and doing squats! Hahaha!
5) Critical Bench: Being so strong and beautiful how do the majority of people respond to you? Have they reacted differently to you since you have started doing strongman shows and bench shows, compared to back when you were just a gymnast? If so, how have they responded differently? And has benching and strongman been more challenging than gymnastics?
I always get a lot of positive response on me being a power-lifter. People always say: you don't look like one……So most people think it is great what I do.
Gymnastics is very different and I was just a kid at the time, so people don't really compare.
Gymnastics is one tough sport that requires a lot of training and practice. I was working out 20 - 25 hours per week from 10 years old to 17. Power-lifting doesn't take up that much time. But if you want to be good at what you do, it is a lifestyle! You have to be in it a 100%, if not you will never make it to the top.
6) Critical Bench: What have been your top 4 favorite moments and what have been the 5 high lights of life and training?
My favorite moments must be
1) The day I made the national team in Gymnastics.
2) When I got 3rd place at the IPF Jr European Championship in 1995.
3) Breaking the American Bench press record in the USPF 148 and 165 with class.
4) The day I packed my bags, left Norway and moved to LA.
7) Critical Bench: With everything that you have learned about benching what are the most important factors for getting a bigger bench and what are the biggest mistakes that other lifters make?
Listen to your own body. If your body doesn't feel like going heavy one day, then don't. If you feel like it, do it! Always use right form! Very important! Your form should be perfect no matter how heavy you lift!
Have a trainer, and a training partner. Get strong without gear. Have FUN!!!!!!!
8) Critical Bench: Tell us about your personal training business? Promote it. And how do you usually motivate others when you train them? What has it been like training the thousands of individuals that you have trained? Are there any special people in particular that you would like to mention?
I train people at Gold's Gym in Venice, and I also go to peoples houses. I train clients one on one, and also work with couples. I do personalized workout plans and a nutritional program designed around my client's individual goals and needs. When it comes to motivating my clients, it all depends on there personality and why they are in the gym. I have clients that I have to boss around and I have clients that need the opposite. They are all different, and it is my job to find out their need and help them reach their goals. When it comes to my clients, I would love to mention them all, because they are all special to me. Right now I have two clients that both have lost over 40lbs each. I am very proud of them, and it makes me feel so good when I see them come to the gym and they are glowing.
9) Critical Bench: I'm going to say a name of a legend that you have met. In one to three sentences tell me what comes to mind-
Dave Draper- "The blond bomber". He was a great bodybuilder from Arnold's time. I went to a seminar this summer that he had in Santa Cruz! This guy is still in great shape!
Ed Coan- Ed is a great powerlifter and a very good friend of mine.
Guy Grundy- Writes for Muscle Mag. Trains at Golds gym, and for a little while I was his sparring partner!
Chris Cormier- Pro bodybuilder and a friend, works out at Gold's Venice.
Mark Henry- He was the winner of the first Arnold Strong Man competition. I met him at the 2005 Arnold Classic.
Bill Pearl-Met him at the seminar with Dave Draper this summer in Santa Cruze. And off course I have his book "Get stronger"!
Dorian Yates- I have met Dorian a couple of times at expos, and seen him a few times at Gold's Gym
Aron Baker- one of the first pro BB I meet when I moved to LA. He's a very nice guy, and a friend
Gunter- He's a pro bodybuilder from Germany. He lives here in LA, and he is a good friend of mine.
Tiny Meeker- He is a great bench presser that always helps me with my shirt if he is around.
Charles Glass- He is my trainer and one of my closest friends. Probably one of the nicest and most honest people I have ever met.
Mariuz Puzianowski- the world strongest man. I met him at the Arnolds 2005, and at the Venice Beach strong man 2005.
10) Critical Bench: You have had a lot of success, from gymnastics, to benching, to fitness training to strongman. What do you want to do next?
Hmmm……. What do I want to do next?
I am not really sure? I guess you never get too old to try something new, so we just have to see what the future brings
11) Critical Bench: Mari, what your closing words to the thousands reading your interview?
I have some people in my life that I want to thank. My mom and dad, they are always there for me. No matter what I ask them, there is never NO! They are the best parents anyone can ever wish for.
So are my two very best friends Lana Battagello, and Lena Johannesen. Without these two people, my life would have been very empty.
I want to make a special thank to my 2nd dad, Jeff Calman. He came into my life when I needed someone the most. Life was really tough, and Jeff took me into his home!
I don't know how to thank him enough. Such a nice, kind and amazing guy!
Friends for life Jeff! Then I want to thank Steve Denison, my husband. What he has done for me can not be described! Thank you so much!
I want to thank Charles Glass who is always there for me in gym. Training me, helping me, and being a friend.
I want to thank my training partner Mike O'Hearn. We have so much fun going crazy in the gym!! And I have to say thank you to my very good friend Randy Jackson who told Critical Bench about me, and also for helping me with my motivation, when I needed it!
Without all of these people in my life, I would not have been where I am today!!!!
I want to give a special thanks to my sponsors, Inzer, for the best gear in the world and to Lanas Eggwhites (www.lanaseggwhites.com) .