Name: Camille Du Plessis
Height: 1,57 m
Current city: Durban, South Africa
Occupation: Medical Doctor
Have you always lived a relatively fit lifestyle? How did you get into gymnastics and how long did you do it for?
I started gymnastics at the age of 7. My mom always noticed me doing handstands and cartwheels around the house, dirtying the walls in the process, so one day after school she surprised me with a visit to Durban North Gymnastics Club. It was really love at first sight and I was addicted since.
Besides gymnastics, I did a lot of other sports growing up, including cross-country, athletics, swimming and netball.
Why did you stop? Having been out of gymnastics for some time, is it easy to still do most things for you?
Gymnastics has this time window of opportunity. Girls generally peak earlier than boys – in their teens. My dream was always to get my South African colours in the sport. In 2005, I represented South Africa at the Zone 6 African championships in Namibia.
It is still one of the most proud moments of my life, more so than graduating from medical school. Once I had achieved that, I was content. I was also at medical school at the time and trying to juggle 13 hours a week of training and academics, which was extremely tough.
So I decided in 2006 to retire from competitive gymnastics and focus on my academic goals instead. I still trained about 2-3 times a week, just not at that high-intensity, competitive level as I did before.
How did you then get more into fitness competitions?
I am a competitive person. Gymnastics instills that trait in you. I was always longing to get back into some type of competitive sport, and one that I could put my gymnastics background to use would be even better. I still remember the exact moment I decided to start competing in fitness. It was a Friday afternoon in February 2011. I was at Kings Park Virgin Active in Durban. I was a “cardio girl”, and was a regular on the treadmill or stepper. However, that day I passed by the weights section and saw this girl with this amazing physique (Kerry Steyn, who I now know), doing bicep curls with a 30 kg straight bar. I was blown away.
I went home that afternoon, googled fitness shows in South Africa, bought a weightlifting book for dummies from Exclusive books, and that Monday completely changed my diet and training regimen. A week later, I met with June Hydenrych, a trainer at La Lucia Virgin Active, who guided me step by step and helped choreograph my routine.
In September that year, I won the Ms Fitness division at the Mr & Miss Fitness show held in Cape Town, and in November, I flew to Las Vegas to represent SA at the Musclemania Fitness show. I did 2 locals shows between 2011-2015, but decided in 2015 to compete in IFBB. It was a great year, and I received my SA colours in Bodybuilding & Fitness, and traveled with the SA team to Budapest for the IFBB World Championships. The Arnold Classic was the last show I did last year.
Being a doctor must be quite demanding on your time, how do you manage to fit everything in? Do you believe in having a ‘balance’?
I happen to love this particular quote:
“You have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce.”
What could be more motivating than the reminder that one of the most successful women in the world is restricted by the same laws of time and nature that I am! Yes, I am extremely busy! But, you make time for the things that are important to you.
It is all about priorities.
What are your future plans?
I want to specialize in Emergency Medicine and also go work on the international cruise liners as a Doctor on board. I love travelling, and what better way to work and travel and see the world simultaneously.
No plans to compete this year. I decided to take a year off to focus on my career and to spend some time learning a new sport. I love scuba diving but have always wanted to learn how to surf, so this is the year for that.
Take us through an average day of yours:
It is difficult to describe an “average” day, because of work I do overtime, so I often go through a 28 hour work shift once a week, then sleep in the afternoon. On the day I am on call, I don’t train.
On a “normal” 8 hour work shift:
- I get up at 6:30 am.
- Work from 8 – 4 pm.
- Train from 6 – 7:30 pm, then go home, indulge in an episode of my favourite TV show (at the moment it’s “Famous In Love”) then study from 9:30 pm till midnight.
- Sleep, and get up and do it all over again.
I work 24 hours every second weekend as well, so I don’t even have every weekend to myself.
Give us a brief description of your philosophy on your diet? Do you pay close attention to what you eat during both pre-comp and ‘off season’?
Pre comp I am extremely strict on my diet. If it is not on the plan, then it is not eaten!
“Off season” I am definitely less strict. However, I still do eat healthy 90% of the time. I am lucky I don’t have a sweet tooth, so I never feel the need to overindulge in chocolate or cake.
I always start the day with my oats and egg whites, I include lean protein in every meal, and good carbs such as rice or sweet potato. I love yogurt and strawberries, that’s a staple in my diet.
I don’t believe in starving yourself or denying yourself the simple delicious pleasures in life, as long as it’s in moderation. I like to keep my dessert days for Sundays.
What are your top Nutrition tips for staying in shape?
- I always opt for the fat-free or low fat options in yogurt and milk.
- Cut out sugar.
- I prefer sweetener and coke zero (although I know about the long term effects of Aspartame – I just prefer the taste of coke zero over coke).
- I don’t eat bread, but rather eat rice and potato.
- Eat small meals 4-6 times a day with a good lean protein source in each meal.
- Rather grill or steam your food – I never fry food.
- Find healthy meals that you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy what you eat, you won’t stick to your eating plan.
- I don’t believe in a “diet”, but rather a lifestyle plan.
What process do you follow when it’s time to start getting ready for a competition/photoshoot?
- I do a 12 week out plan.
- So I first start “cleaning” my diet – cutting out the occasional sweets and popcorn that I indulge in.
I love a glass of wine about 2-3 times a week, and that is probably the hardest for me to cut.
- The first few weeks I still eat 4-6 small meals a day with carbs in each meal, and oils.
- As the weeks draw closer to competition, I gradually decrease my carbs.
- A month before, I start cutting out dairy, protein shakes, peanut butter and I eat more fish.
- I only cut salt 4 days out from a show.
About 8 weeks out, I start doing early morning fasted cardio, starting at 20 minutes and eventually increasing to 40 minutes. In the evenings about 3 times a week, I also have to practice my routine. Doing a high intensity 90 second gymnastic routine on little carbs is extremely tough.
What do you most enjoy about preparing for a competition and about the competition itself? And what are some things newbies should be aware of going into their first prep?
Definitely abs!! Who doesn’t love wearing crop tops with a chiseled six-pack!
To the newbies, know why you are competing and what your goal is. If you are stepping on stage just as a weight loss goal, that’s the wrong reason. Competing is a physical and emotionally taxing journey. Be prepared that this journey may interfere with your social life – you will learn to say no to many lunch and dinner engagements, either because you have to train or are on a strict diet.
Although, most of the time you have no energy, never let it affect your personality and your relationships with friends and family. I have seen athletes who, along the way, became withdrawn and had no time for others.
Competing should never change who you are.
What does a typical training routine look like for you? What does your weekly training schedule look like and what kinds of exercises do you incorporate?
I always try to train 5 times a week. I superset a lot (mostly due to time constraints).
- I superset shoulders/triceps, back/biceps, shoulders and legs twice a week.
- I do 20 minutes of cardio after each weight session.
- I train abs about twice a week.
- I mostly do 5 sets of each exercise, and about 4-5 exercises for each muscle group.
- I do a lot of compound movements in my training, such as barbell bench press for chest, barbell squats and lunges for legs, wide-grip lat pull downs and one arm dumbbell rows for back and dumbbell shoulder presses.
- Approximately two of my exercises would be isolation exercises.
- I still go to gymnastics occasionally as well.
What was or is your stretching routine and how long do you spend stretching each day?
When I did gymnastics, I use to stretch every day for about 20 minutes. I am still very supple and have no difficulty getting into the splits, even without warming up. Nowadays, I stretch about twice a week. I can still do most of the gymnastics elements I learnt years ago – muscle memory is amazing.
My best stretching exercises are pike stretch, straddle stretch, the splits and back bends.
What are your 3 favourite exercises?
What other forms of training do you enjoy and incorporate into your weeks?
I’m learning how to surf at the moment, and I scuba dive occasionally. Surfing is a lot harder than it looks.
What are your most important tips to becoming more flexible?
Stretch, stretch, stretch! Practice makes perfect!
How often should a person stretch and for how long?
As much as possible! Every day if you can.
I use to do my homework and study for exams in middle splits and in a straddle stretch when I did gymnastics. I still do it occasionally.
What are your nutrition and training tips for the ladies to achieving that firm flat tummy?
A balanced, healthy diet. Cut out sugar, you will never get a firm flat tummy if you are eating cake and chocolate almost every day.
For me, training is my sanctuary. The one place where I switch off and listen to all the new music I recently downloaded. I love weight training and cardio (shocking, I know). But, I’m a firm believer in doing fasted cardio to get a firm flat tummy. It works for me.
Do you have any tips for people wanting to get past the fear of doing things like back flips and front flips?
I feel like I have to use the WWE warning, “Don’t try this at home!”
There are a lot of gymnastic clubs that offer adult classes, and learning to do a back flip is very possible, but with a coach that is experienced and able to assist you. There are a few steps to go through before being able to somersault, like doing a lot of drills prior. Once you have gone through many drills, and you have a coach you trust to assist, and learning the skill on mats, there really is nothing to be afraid of.
Favorite male Fitness models or bodybuilders?
Burkley Goss who is my cousin, mentor and Musclemania Pro.
Favorite female fitness icon(s):
“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” ~ Marilyn Monroe
(I’m obsessed with Marilyn Monroe)
What are your essentials that are always in your gym bag?
Do you have any fit fashion tips for the ladies?
Wear what’s comfortable and what you love! If you have a great physique and are proud of your body, then wear what you want, and not what people say you should wear.
I have worn everything from denim shorts, booty shorts, crop tops, cargo pants to full make-up with contour (this wasn’t planned lol). Fashion is about expressing who you are, your individuality and what mood you are in. I don’t think there are set “dress rules” to gym. My own rule is that if I wear a crop top then I wear leggings or track pants, and if I wear booty shorts I tend to wear a long top.
And for the guys?
I don’t like tight tank tops on guys. I think your physique can be seen without wearing such tight, constricting clothing. Otherwise, no preferences. I have seen some guys rock tights too (my gym crush is one of them lol).
What is the most common question you get asked?
How much do you bench?
I tend to laugh first, then respond with “60 kg.” Dynamite comes in small packages!
Best piece of advice you ever received?
“Don’t be impressed by money!” ~ My dad.
My dad has always grounded me and taught me that humility is one of the most important qualities you can possess.
Where can people get hold of you?
- Facebook: Camille Nicole Du Plessis
- Instagram: caminic44