IN THE RING, LOVE NATALYA
PHOTOGRAPHY Paul Farkas STYLING Kimmie Smith MUAH David Stella
Over the past few decades, we have been a big fan of the WWE - you get it all! There's the athleticism of the sport, the dynamic personalities, the drama of the storylines, the costumes and all of the backstories. Throughout the year, the members of the WWE travel to a number of cities domestically and internationally to perform, while also doing a number of acts of philanthropy to make the world a better place and spending time with their community to engage with fans!
This electrifying experience is fostered by the brands' athletes who put their own fingerprint on what it means to be a part of the WWE Universe! Last summer we worked out with some of the ladies of WWE Divas at TapOut Fitness on the UES to go through workouts that these women do. Included in this group was Alexa Bliss, Alicia Fox, Lana, Maria Menounos, Naomi, Renee Young, Summer Rae (our Feb covergirl) and this month's cover girl - Natalya - also known as Nattie! A few weeks ago, right before her match at MSG, our team shot a gorgeous fashion editorial of this 3rd generation wrestler at Monarch's rooftop and then chatted with her about wrestling, being a member of wrestling's legacy family and her role on E! Total Divas which is back from their midseason break on April 5th and more!
ATHLEISURE MAG: You come from an iconic wrestling family - tell us about them and the impact that they made on the sport.
NATALYA NEIDHART: My family has been the biggest influence on me. Starting with my grandpa, Stu Hart, who built an empire by the name of Stampede Wrestling in the 1950's. I'm a third generation superstar and I come from Wrestling royalty. My grandfather is WWE Hall Of Famer, Stu Hart and my uncles Bret and Owen Hart and the British Bulldog have paved the way for me. My father is a two time WWE Tag Team Champion himself and formed half of one of the greatest tag teams of all time. My family's contri- butions to WWE have been huge and I'm deeply proud of them.
AM: When did you know that you wanted to continue the legacy by being a wrestler?
NN: When I was 18 years old, I first started training in the dungeon… And from that moment on, I remember it crystal clear… I was hooked on wrestling. I knew it was what I wanted to do as my career. Wrestling is part of my heart... it's part of who I am... what makes me tick. I'm fortunate beyond words that I was able to discover my passion and touch my dreams.
AM: What was your journey to get to the WWE?
NN: I trained in one of the most notoriously hard wrestling schools in the world: the Dungeon, where only men trained. I was one of the only girls to ever train there under my family. I also had a world class Japanese coach by the name of Tokyo Joe, who helped train me for my first tour of Japan where I wrestled some of the very best Japanese female wrestlers in the world. I lived over in Japan for a while honing my craft and trying to be the absolute best I could be. I spent nearly 5 years sending in tapes and resumes and letters and pictures to WWE… Trying to get them to see that I was special. I went to Japan and England and all over the US to try to gain enough experience to get my big break. I was rejected for five years! It was so hard to get hired, but so worth it when I finally got my dream job in the WWE. Finally .... in 2007, I got the call and then the really hard work began!!!
AM: Your job allows you to do a lot from participating in the sport, philanthropy and even filming for E! Total Divas - what's that like?
NN: I am so lucky that I get to do so many different things! Giving back to the community is one of the most rewarding
about my job… I never take that for granted. It just makes me feel good giving back! I love filming Total Divas, it's a great way for us to show that we're human… And it's OK to fall down, get back up. Working in the WWE allows you to wear many hats and be very diverse in so many ways other than wrestling. My job in the WWE has prepared me for anything in life it seems!
AM: What's a typical day like from working out/training, filming for Total Divas, taking time with TJ (Tyson Kidd) etc?
NN: I am usually very busy. When I'm working on the road, doing live events and Smackdown Live, it's a grind of working out and eating healthy and driving and flying hundreds if not thousands of miles to make it to our shows. It's a whirlwind, but so fun. When I'm home, I run errands, relax with my husband TJ and decompress and enjoy my family. I also work on my weekly columns for the Calgary Sun and OK Magazine.com. I love to write.
AM: You spend a lot of time traveling, how do you bring a piece of home with you?
NN: When I go away from home, which is a lot. I bring little love letters my husband has written to me. I keep them in the bag where I put all of my wrestling gear. I read them when I get lonely and it truly lifts me up!
AM: Tell us about 2Paws as we're obsessed!
NN: 2Pawz is rich. He's famous. He's a rap guru. Named after the illustrious Tupac Shakur .... he's all about working to OWN... not to rent, lease or refinance! Lol. He's a Lilac Persian and basically the most intense, but sweetest cat I've ever had. I love him more than words can say. AM: We loved hanging out with you during the photoshoot and saw that you're a serious multi-tasker as you had a match right after - how do you keep so many things going at one time?
NN: I just take everything one moment at a time and try to be efficient. In WWE, we are always busy .... we only have time for "one take," so we make everything the best we can possibly make it the first time! It's a lot of hustling at times, though !!!! Sometimes I go "hey... i need to use the washroom !!!! Everything else can wait!" LOL
AM: What's a day off look like for you?
NN: A perfect day off is relaxing at my home with my husband and having NO game plan at all!
AM: What's on your playlist right now as we know you're a fan of Lana Del Rey.
NN: I love Tom Petty, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Kings of Leon, George Strait, Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson and anything Lana Del Rey! Love her !!!!!!
AM: What is your personal style when you're outside of the ring if you're running errands versus a night out.
NN: I love being comfortable. When I'm running errands or working out, I like a pair of great leggings, a cozy hoodie and tank top I can rock if I need to grab a quick workout. Lately I'm obsessed with Adidas, Goldsheep and Lululemon! So comfy and cool! I also love Roots of Fight! They make my favorite Tess with vintage boxers and athletes like Mike Tyson and The Gracie's. Soon they're making shirts with Andre the Giant! Eeeek!
AM: You're always busy - what are your go to's meals or snacks for energy and what do you splurge on?
NN: I always carry snacks with me. Proparts
tein powder is a go to -- ESP for hotel life! First thing I have when I wake up! And I am obsessed with Lenny and Larry's cookies the Snickerdoodle flavor. I also love to splurge on sushi. Like the fattening stuff with tempura and may-onnaise and avocado in it! I love sushi !!!!!
AM: Summer is around the corner, what are some moves that you suggest for toned abs, arms, legs, and butt?
NN: Lunges, squats, deadlifts, and clean and jerks. I love Olympic lifting so much because it always gives me a total body workout! And it makes me feel strong and powerful. Keeps my body toned everywhere. I also love running. With the right running partner I can run for hours!
AM: As you're always busy, will you be adding anything new to what you already do in terms of business ventures, charity etc?
NN: I have been writing a fun column as I mentioned before for the Calgary Sun, I am also working on an advice column for OK Magazine.com. My husband and I have dreams to one day open up our own wrestling school since we both share a passion for wrestling .... but it would also be cool to continue to film reality TV too. I've loved the whole process of being on a reality show - SO fun!
AM: What's it like to be on the road with the WWE and who are your faves to hang out with?
NN: It's fun being on the road, but it's also a lot of time away from home. So you have to make friends because strangers become family! And sometimes family become strangers. I love Renee Young. I can turn to Dolph Ziggler about anything. I adore our girls in the Smackdown Locker room. I share a strong bond with the Bella twins because we started in the WWE together and have been through so much. Naomi is my girl .... and one of my husband's favorite in the ring. I always get jealous when he says "she's the best!" LOL !!!!!
AM: Do you mentor other wrestlers in the WWE?
NN: I try to be there for all the girls. I love being able to pass on the knowledge I've acquired over the last 15 years to them. I definitely try to help the girls in any way that I can !!!! It's the best when our work comes together and ALL of us shine!
AM: Tell us about Summer Slam and what we need to know!
NN: SummerSlam is the biggest event of the summer. It's taking place in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center and you know that the females in WWE will be front and center ... stealing the show!
AM: Why do you enjoy being in the WWE so much?
NN: Because I get to live my dreams! I get to travel the world and I get to impact people's lives in such a positive way through the global platform we have in WWE. And I get to bodyslam my arch enemies and not get in trouble! LOL!
PHOTOS PG 26 - 31 COURTESY Natalya/ WWE