Theresa Ivancik: From Cardio Freak to Champion Pro Bodybuilder

We are in an era of “mass monsters,” for both men and women. The size of many top pro bodybuilding competitors can be amazing. But that is not true of Theresa Ivancik (I-Van-Sick), who at 5’6” and 150 pounds is not small, but not as big as many of her competitors.

Theresa reminds me of somebody like Frank Zane, whose strength was an outstanding aesthetic balance, symmetry, and conditioning that allowed him to defeat much larger competitors. Frank was also a master of presentation, and that’s something Theresa has been working hard on. “I have a posing coach and I love to incorporate many of the classic bodybuilding poses from the history of the sport.”

This has paid off for Theresa. At the Chicago Pro 2020, she not only won the show but got the best poser award as well.

“We are all limited by our genetics,” she says, “but until you push yourself hard enough, you never know for sure what your limits are.”

Success in bodybuilding, she says, is a combination of both hard work and genetics. You can’t change your genetics, but you are in control of how hard you try.

Courtesy Wings of Strength


I grew up as a highly active child, always running around finding something to do. I got my first job at 16, and I remember coming home after work and going straight to my room (that I shared with my sister) and doing Tae Bo at 10 p.m., while she was sleeping.

I would even come home on breaks and go for a run since I lived so close! This is when my fitness addiction truly began, I just loved how I felt after working out! I was on the Butler Sequinette dance team in high school and enjoyed every minute of it, loved to dance but never played any sports. Then after graduation I didn’t know what career I really wanted to pursue. Nothing seemed interesting to me at all. My friend got me a job at a local gym working the front desk and I  loved it!! I enjoyed the people; the atmosphere and it really did not seem to be work at all!

I was a cardio freak then and didn’t touch a weight and ate very little food. One day I was looking through the Oxygen Magazine and saw pictures from a competition. I instantly became inspired by the way these girls looked. I thought to myself one day I will do that, I’ll compete!!I wanted to go the distance, I wanted what these girls had!! I had a vision of becoming a professional athlete, and possibly having the honor to step on the Olympia Stage!

Courtesy Wings of Strength

I also wanted to own my own gym and be a personal trainer someday. I finally found something I was interested in! So, I was told to go see this local trainer. Jeff Harlan, because he did contest prep. I did, but it didn’t last long, he told me I needed to eat. Well with me being a cardio freak and also suffering from bulimia, I thought he was crazy. So, I didn’t continue consulting him. I then started training on my own in my basement for my first competition in 2006.

I entered my first figure competition shortly afterwards in 2007, followed by two more — preparing using tips and information I got reading magazines and the internet. I placed first at my first show, but still didn’t look the way I really wanted to look! It was seven years later I ran into trainer Jeff Harlan again, and I told him I was ready to do it! He began to train me and over time we developed a personal relationship.

Jeff is still my trainer, but now my boyfriend and fiancé as well.

May 2008 was my first real big show, with a much stricter diet and harder intense training. From then on, my boyfriend (the trainer) and I have been together ever since. I got a personal training job with him after he helped me with my certification. Which then led into us owning our own gym, two of the three goals were now complete, everything but the pro card!

In 2010 I decided to make  a switch to bodybuilding. I loved hitting the weights and I loved the feeling of lifting heavy. The crazy pumps and harder intense training were extremely addicting. I entered my first bodybuilding show in Pittsburgh at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum.

I also took my 83-year-old grandpa, Pete Ivancik, with me to compete for his first time in the Mr. Pittsburgh masters over 80 class. It was so rewarding to see his face light up when he won the title and held up the huge trophy and Most Inspirational plaque. That day changed his life forever. It brought a different aspect of his personality out of him, something I had never seen! We both got to share that stage together for our first bodybuilding competition!! He continued to pump and train with weights to the end of his life.

Courtesy Wings of Strength

We lost my grandfather at 91 but I continue to be motivated and inspired by his example.

Bodybuilding has changed my life in so many ways; from the people I have met, to the places I have been. I am here to inspire and help others reach their goals, the ones they once thought were impossible! I am living proof that you never really know what is possible. ! It is largely a matter of how bad you want it!

So, after several shows, and learning more about the diet and training, I hired my current coach Brian Hoydic in 2016. Together we conquered my third goal, and I am now an IFBB Professional Female Bodybuilder!!! In 2019, we won my second professional show at the Norfolk Pro, and placed six in the world at the Rising Phoenix World Championships. Then in 2020, we won my third pro show, received an invite to the Rising Phoenix once again — and are now qualified for the 2020 Olympia, and the return of the Ms. Olympia!

My next journey begins here, now with a new goal: to be best in the world one day!!!!  I have learned to not follow my dreams but to chase them! You get one life, make sure to live it to the fullest each day!

I want to give a huge thank you to the IFBB Professional league and my sponsor Wings of Strength!!! Thank you, Jake Wood, Lenda Murray, Alina Popa, and the entire crew of Wings of Strength, for making all this possible! What you have done for female bodybuilding and the sport has been incredible! We all appreciate your giving us all the opportunity to fulfill dreams and inspire the world!

A vision is the art of seeing the invisible! Believing in yourself is the first secret to success!

Theresa’s website:


  • 2020 – IFBB Chicago Pro – 1st Place – 2020 Olympia Qualification- Best Poser Award
  • 2020 – Sponsored Wings of Strength Athlete
  • 2019 – IFBB Rising Phoenix World Championships – 6th in the World
  • 2019 Rising Phoenix – Top 5 Best Poser
  • 2019 – IFBB Norfolk Pro – 1st Place – Qualified for Rising Phoenix 2019
  • 2019 – Sponsored Wings of Strength Athlete 
  • 2018 – Model  for the Underneath we are women – Published Book
  • 2017 – Model for Wings of Strength Music Video – Legacy Woods
  • 2017 IFBB Arizona Pro – Wings of Strength Rising Phoenix World Championships
  • 2017 Honored Guest Speaker at BC3 College – Sociology Class on Breaking Norms
  • 2017 – IFBB Norfolk Pro – 2nd Place – Qualified for Rising Phoenix 2017
  • 2017 – Filmed Pilot for “Buff Dynasty;” Reality TV Show with Lenda Murray
  • 2016- NPC Miami Nationals – Heavyweight – 1st Place – IFBB PRO CARD
  • 2016- NPC Mid Atlantic Grand Prix – Guest Poser
  • 2016 – Pittsburgh Sports-line Channel 21 TV Show
  • 2016- NPC Northern Americans – Physique – 8th Place Pro Qualifier
  • 2016 – NPC USA Championships – Heavyweight – 2nd Place Pro Qualifier
  • 2015 – NPC Miami Nationals – Heavyweight – 2nd Place Pro Qualifier
  • 2015 – NPC IFFBB Northern Americans – Heavyweight – 1st Place Pro Qualifier
    2015 – NPC IFBB Northern American’s – Physique – 4th Place Pro Qualifier
  • 2014 – NPC Great Lakes Championships – Guest Poser
  • 2014 – NPC USA Championships – Heavyweight – 3rd Place Pro Qualifier
  • 2014 – NPC Pittsburgh – Heavyweight – 2nd Place National Qualifier
  • 2014 – NPC Perfect Posing DVD – Model for Female Bodybuilding Posing
  • 2014 – Featured Female Bodybuilder Role – Mikes Hard Apple Ale Commercial
  • 2013 – NPC Northern Americans – Heavyweight
  • 2011 – Honored Guest Speaker at my 10 Year Class Reunion
  • 2011 – NPC Bill Grant Classic – Heavyweight – 1st Place and Overall Winner
  • 2011 – NPC Junior Nationals – Heavyweight – 5th Place
  • 2011 – NPC Pittsburgh – Heavyweight – 2nd Place
  • 2010 – NPC Pittsburgh – Heavyweight – 3rd Place
  • 2008 – NPC Pittsburgh – Figure – 6th Place
  • 2008 – NPC Upper Ohio Valley – Figure – 3rd Place
  • 2007 – WNSO Fame World Tour – Figure
  • 2007 – NPC Mid Atlantic Grand Prix – Figure – 2nd Place
  • 2007 – NPC Pennsylvania Championships – Figure – 1st Place

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