2015 Krush of the Year – Claudia Fijal
Photos by Mario Barberio
HMU Michelle Vanderhule
Stylist Hiromi Oshima
When we sat down to narrow the list of potential 2015 Krushes of the Year, a few names rose to the top and Claudia climbed above all of them. Throughout 2014, our first runner-up to 2014 Krush of the Year Jessica Hall set out on a mission to capture the 2015 crown. She was constantly flooding our text messages with ideas on how to further the Kandy name and brand. When we took to the road with our sponsorship of NHRA Pro Stock motorcycle racer Angie Smith, Claudia immediately bonded with her fellow Kandy girls and Angie. Angie and the Kandy girls immediately became fan favorites and Claudia a favorite of the men of Kandy with her jokes and open faucet of ideas. Her enthusiasm towards Kandy since she first became a Krush of the Month, December 2013, has never waned and we are proud and honored to have Claudia represent Kandy for the next year. Say hello to your 2015 Krush of the Year Claudia Fijal!
For the readers of Kandy who may not be familiar with you when did you first appear in Kandy?
For those of you who don’t know, I like to call myself a Kandy OG (original gangster). My first appearance in Kandy was in 2011 when the magazine was just an online website. I was a Kandy Girl of the Week, the rest is history.
What are your plans for 2015 as Kandy Krush of the Year?
First off, I do have to say that becoming your Krush of the Year is such a tremendous honor. I mean, have you seen the women featured in this magazine? Good Lawd! I think earning this crown comes from a little bit of a different direction for me than one would assume. I think with other men’s magazines and the similar “Year” titles comes a ego with “What can this do for me?” My plans as the KOTY genuinely are what can my skills bring to this magazine that is on the brink of taking over every home in the world. As one of the first original Kandy Girls of the Week, I have been around from the beginning, so I take a sense of pride in this title because I know I have seen the growth and have been a part of it. I plan on making sure that I’m a part of this magazine’s success with my ideas and inspirations. I have already worked with the magazine in introducing new ideas that will put the magazine into women’s hands as much as men’s. My goal is for both men and women to look at my content and commitment as sexy and inspirational. To be able to have a woman look at you and think “Wow, she’s sexy because of…” is almost more endearing than a man’s opinion.
Let’s talk about your Krush of the Year photo shoot. What is the concept behind the shoot?
My KOTY shoot was by far one of my favorite shoots of my modeling career. It’s a concept I’ve always wanted to execute but never quite had the right team for it. Those who know me know that I can be a tomboy and run around with no makeup on all day, but beneath all that is the real Claudia that lives and breathes all things that have to do with the power of being sexy. There’s just a switch that turns on in me when you put me in lacey lingerie and make my hair blow in the wind. The idea behind the shoot was Michael Bay and his Victoria’s Secret commercials. Sexy, powerful, enticing and tastefully provocative – all things you can happily call me. Mario Barberio is a true genius in his craft, and his hair and makeup artist Michelle took my idea and made it happen. It exceeded my expectations. I hope you guys love it as much as I do.
What have you learned from our two previous Krushes of the Year, Irina Voronina and Jessica Hall?
I think one of my favorite things has been learning that you truly can be the ultimate sex icon and maintain a level of poise and class. Both Irina and Jessica are obviously extremely beautiful, but they’re also both very well-spoken. I’ve also learned from these two bombshells to let any inhibitions go and enjoy the ride!
As part of the Krush of the Year we understand you have big plans for Kandy Kares. Tell us about those plans.
I’m SO excited about Kandy Kares. The whole concept actually came to me on one of our NHRA trips where it hit me how Kandy just entered a whole new world of fans and viewers by being a sponsor to Pro Stock Motorcycle racer, Angie Smith. It made me think of what other untapped markets we can hit that would set us apart from other magazines and appeal to more than just the viewer looking for hot women or a good lifestyle article read. One of my passions in life has always been inspiring and helping those in need. Kandy Kares is exactly that. It’s getting models like me who are influential on social media to also reach out and be influential in their communities as well. Some of our current plans are working with animal shelters, battered women’s shelters, and cancer societies. I’m hoping to get my fellow Kandy girlfriends to join in by donating either their time or whatever materials a shelter may need on behalf of themselves and Kandy.
As one of the Kandy girls who promote Kandy at NHRA races, what has been most memorable so far from those experiences?
You know, I can’t exactly count how many gigs I have done on the road with large crowds and the hustle and bustle, but what I can tell you is that working with Kandy and the Angie Smith team have been one of the most fun and rewarding experiences yet to date. You can feel how alive and excited the fans are to be there. It truly is incredible to see fans remember you from past races and even make the trip out to see you for another signed photo. One of my very favorite moments was stepping out on the starting line with Laurie Young and just hearing the crowd go completely wild. Both Laurie and I looked behind us because we legitimately thought Michael Jackson himself resurrected and was about to hop on a bike. Turns out, they were just THAT excited to see Laurie and I! That was a truly awesome feeling, made all the previous trips of sweating or freezing our butts off on long days worth it. But ultimately, who am I kidding… the best memories are when Laurie Young and I finish champagne bottles while dancing on club tables to Beyoncé.
Towards the end of 2014 you competed in your first fitness competition, what was the toughest part of training for that competition?
As a model, you’d think I’d have diet and exercise down to a science. SO wrong! Training for an NPC Bikini Bodybuilding show is a whole different world. Every move you make has to be absolutely flawless – when you workout, what you workout, what you eat and when you eat. My prep for the show was about 12 weeks, with the toughest part being the last couple weeks where we were drying me out and my diet consisted of nothing but 4 ounces of fish 6 times a day. Like holy crap, pass me an Oreo.
Now you are training others to compete, what is the biggest challenge?
My fiancé and I own Premier Fitness, which is considered a tier 2 gym, more for serious people looking to get in and get their job done, we don’t cater to the treadmill walkers. So naturally, our competitors are no different. My first show as a coach was very challenging as I had 8 bikini girls to coach, on top of my fiancé having 3 men in bodybuilding and one girl in a physique class. I just wanted to be sure that each girl felt like she had all the attention and tools she needed to succeed. You’re dealing with 8 personalities, 8 girls adjusting to constant diet tweaks, losing confidence if their weight fluctuates, gaining confidence back when that little extra cardio shows, etc. (Jeez, now I know why Kandy’s staff is always so stressed out, haha). There is a huge maternal side to me and I really did feel like I took these girls under my wing, so as challenging as it was to make sure everyone had everything they needed, it was by far one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
When your time with the crown is up what do you hope will have been your biggest accomplishment?
I can honestly say I hope that my biggest accomplishment as KOTY will be helping further launch the brand into the recognition it deserves, not only as a men’s magazine but also with what I envision Kandy Kares being capable of. I challenge all our readers to go out there and do good for their community and show me how they Kare!
What do you hope 2016’s Krush of the Year will be saying to herself when you hand the crown over?
“Oh man, I’ve got some big cups (shoes) to fill.” HA! In all seriousness, I hope every KOTY after me loves and lives Kandy as much as I do. It truly is an honor to have this title and I carry it proudly. Thank you to Kandy and its team for believing in me and giving me the chance to be alongside the beautiful KOTYs before me. Cheers to a fantastic and very sexy year ahead!