Jennifer Power - Figure Competitor

Jennifer: My journey to the stage actually began over 20 years ago. After competing in a plethora of sports, by high school, I found myself in the weight room trying to build strength to aid my progress but fell in love with what it did for the appearance of my body. I went on to compete in women's bodybuilding while pursuing my degree, all the while trying to emulate the physiques of Anja Langer, Rachel McLish and Corey Everson. But I soon became disenchanted with the politics of the sport, as well as the direction that women's bodybuilding was headed. Back then, the 'fitness' category was still in its early stages, but since I've never done gymnastics it wasn't an option, so I vowed the ill-fated 'never again'.
In early 2015 I was goaded into stepping back on stage and actually jumped at the challenge. Not only would it be good for me, but I felt that my training clients would benefit from not only watching my prep - but also knowing that I wasn't all talk!

Part of why I was able to simply jump into a 16-week contest prep, is that I never stray too far from my nutrition program. After my early foray into bodybuilding, I had simply switched focus and competed in everything from triathlons to boxing while maintaining a healthy nutrition balance.
Now that I am continuing on my journey, I can say that off-season has never really meant more than increasing my macros (and a few more treats, but nothing too crazy). My nutrition protocol now - even as I close in on 44 years young - has not differed much from what it was, some 20+ years ago. While back then, the terminology was different, the principles and science remain the same - carb cycling; LOTS of carbs; increasing my macros during the off-season, decreasing them during competition prep; and never truly denying myself of anything - dairy, fruit, etc. I must admit though that it is definitely a bonus for me, that I have never been a "sweets" kind of gal so that has never been an issue. It is my personal preference to stick to 5-7 meals per day: during the off-season, I find it easier to consume all my food; and during my contest prep it aids in maintaining my sanity.

I've never really tried any 'competition diet plans' in part because I dislike the word 'diet' immensely, but also because the ones I've seen fellow trainers give their clients I find the majority of them to be unsafe, reckless, and truly unhealthy. It should be a long term lifestyle, not a short term 'diet'.

My training regimen currently consists of weight training 6 days/week, with little to no 'machine cardio'. I am about to add in some aqua training in order to assist my lower back issues, but otherwise, the only other components are stretching, foam rolling and yoga. I prefer to keep in check through my nutrition, and by incorporating a lot of supersets, giant sets and circuits. Perhaps this would be different if I was still able to do high-impact activities such as running, but the preservation of my spine is of utmost importance at this point in time.

I suppose my self-confidence in terms of getting on stage comes from the many years of competitive sports, as well as refereeing and coaching various sports, public speaking, and a long career in the hospitality industry, spent coaching, leading and teaching crew, management and ownership alike. Although my return to the stage last year quickly highlighted the fact that it had been a LONG time since I'd been on a stage, and I will admit that my nerves were quite an unexpected surprise, I was able to summon up old habits in order to perform. I think most people grab their stage confidence from a combination of competitiveness, their own personal journey, and the desire to motivate others.

While I don't wish to call out any single organization, I have been involved with several of them over the years as either a trainer, volunteer, or competitor and I can honestly say that I'm not sure what's happening. Twenty years ago, the venues were smaller (as was turnout, obviously) - but they ran vastly smoother. Now the larger and more elaborate venues seem to be throwing off the flow of a lot of these shows which is disconcerting from a competitor or audience standpoint. It is also disheartening to see the cost of a journey to the stage skyrocket so dramatically, as is the level of mind games from the judges. And really, just once I would like to see a show start on time! Lol.

Future plans? For now, I am working on putting some more muscle on, while continuing to try and solve certain health issues, with the goal of returning to the stage in 2017. I will definitely have to consider which division I wish to compete in, since last years' event I chose figure (I love bikinis, and I am fond of heels.....but not at the same time). I recently coached my husband to the stage, and he was exceptional in his debut at the tender age of 55. But now he's 'got the bug', so that will be a whole other challenge for the future!

Instagram: jzpower44
Twitter: JKZ4416

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