Jennifer Scarpetta - IFBB Pro Bodybuilder

Author: Jonathan.L - owner Models Observer
November 2012

1. Jennifer, How did you get started in bodybuilding training?

Jennifer Scarpetta: I started lifting in high school to become stronger at catching the girls in basket tosses in cheerleading, but I was not very knowledgable about training or dieting. I saw some results, but it was not until I really started searching for knowledge years later that I saw a big change in my body. I had a key meeting with a personal trainer for a free session that really launched my research, mainly because he showed me how important nutrition is in addition to the training. I actually knew nothing about bodybuilding or figure until my physique started to resemble a competitor and people in the gym started asking me if I was doing a show! I then researched competing and thought it would be a good goal for me.

2. How did you become so good at presenting yourself onstage?

Jennifer Scarpetta: Well, I feel that I still have room for improvement in this area, but thank you! I had trained hard on my own for several years, but I hired a prep coach three months before my first show, and I have had one ever since. I feel that it is important to have someone with an objective eye look at me throughout my prep and we can work as a team to get my body into contest shape.

3. What's been the most memorable moment of your career?

Jennifer Scarpetta: Well, there are two memorable moments that stand out. First, I competed in a state show in both figure and bodybuilding, and when I realized I only got third in figure, but first in bodybuilding, I had goosebumps. I had always trained like a bodybuilder and considered myself a bodybuilder, I just didn't have the size yet, so I had competed in figure. I realized that I finally became what I looked up to and worked so hard to be for years.

The second most memorable moment is when I received my Pro Card at the 2010 USA's in Las Vegas. I had competed at Junior Nationals five weeks before and took first out of three girls in my class, but that was not very convincing that I belonged anywhere near a National level stage yet. I needed to work on symmetry and posing and conditioning, and definitely didn't win the overall at that show. At the USA's, I was just hoping for top five because there were a lot more girls. When I won my class, I was shocked... and then when I got a Pro Card, I thought it was a mistake! I thought, "Did they really call my name?!?!"

4. Who are/were your role models in the sport of bodybuilding, and why?

Jennifer Scarpetta: Before I started competing, I always looked up to the men in the magazines like Flex and Muscle and Fitness because that is all I saw in the stores. Not too many magazines feature Female Bodybuilders, so I didn't have any women as role models back then. I tried to be just like them, being strict with my diet and consistently working hard in the gym. Once I was a competitor, I looked up to the women on the Olympia stage at present like Cathy LeFrancois and Debi Laszewski and Debbie Bramwell for their femininity and amazing conditioning and mass, and women of the past like Lenda Murray who looks fantastic to this day and is still such a great ambassador for the sport. I hope to learn from all of the ladies before me how to be a better role model for all young women, whether they compete or just want to better their health.

5. What obstacles have you had to overcome to get to the Professional Athlete that you are today?

Jennifer Scarpetta: I have scoliosis, which is an abnormal curvature of the spine from right to left or vice versa. This is different from a curve in the upper back that makes you look "hunchback" or a large curve in the lower back that makes you look like you are sticking your buttocks out. With scoliosis, some exercises are hard, or impossible, due to an uneven load on the spine. I also have trouble activating certain muscles while others are over-active and over-train easily. This makes symmetry very difficult for me. I see a deep tissue masseuse and a chiropractor weekly to keep me aligned as best as possible, and I have to be very scientific in the way that I train.

6. Do you focus on building or maintaining muscle? What do you find more challenging, and why?

Jennifer Scarpetta: Right now I am more focused on building muscle, and I do find that more challenging than maintaining. I don't think that I have the best genetics for gaining size, but I keep taking it one day at a time and focus on doing everything I can do to beat my genetics and create the best environment for growth! I actually find conditioning to be more challenging, and at every show I do, I feel like I am my biggest adversary. If I beat my past conditioning, then I have won regardless of placing.... of course, first place is also nice too! ;)

7. What does a typical day look like for you?

8am - wake up
9am - cardio on empty stomach
10am - Meal 1
12 noon - Meal 2
1pm - workout
2:30pm - Meal 3
4:30pm - Meal 4
5:30pm - Afternoon cardio (only during contest prep)
6:30pm - Meal 5
8:30pm - Meal 6
10:30pm - Meal 7 or a shake
11:30-12 - Bedtime

Between meals I probably spend at least 3 hours per day working on my website or answering emails. I guess I am not that exciting....

8. How has bodybuilding benefited you?

Jennifer Scarpetta: Bodybuilding has shown me how to be a healthier person. I feel it also increases time management and productivity, and makes me a stronger person mentally as well as physically.

9. Your muscles are all tight and firm with veins bursting. Tell me about a common fantasy among muscle worship fans?

Jennifer Scarpetta: Some want to imagine that they are being carried off by a strong amazon woman!

10. Cheris Kramarae argues that successful competitors in women's bodybuilding or success as a fitness model requires that women adapt their bodies to fit the aesthetic desired by males and not attempt to reach their own potential. (Breaking the Body Image Stereotype: Female Bodybuilding and Muted Group Theory, Ronald C. Thomas, Jr. Florida State University). What do you think?

Jennifer Scarpetta: I think that although that could be true to a certain extent, women need to remember that they need to make themselves happy with their appearance, no matter what that looks like... from a run way model to a plus size model, from figure to physique to bodybuilding. Everyone has their own idea of the perfect physique. Also, don't let anyone tell you that you will never be ready or you don't have the genetics or that you will never win. If I listened to everyone that told me I would never be ready for my first show, then I wouldn't have taken first and overall! Hard work can pay off!

11. As a personal trainer, could you recall a time where you made a difference in someone's life, utilizing your vast knowledge of exercise and nutrition?

Jennifer Scarpetta: As a personal trainer at David Barton Gym in Chicago, I had the opportunity to work with the best trainers in the city, and in that environment I worked with clients of all ages, athletic and health levels. I had clients that ran marathons, competed in bikini and figure competitions, males that wanted to get bigger, pre- and post-natal and post-operation clients, etc. I think back to each individual that I helped over the years and I am glad to have had the chance to make a difference, big or small, in each person's life.

12. What are your hobbies and interests outside of the bodybuilding world?

Jennifer Scarpetta: I love animals and have 3 dogs with my partner, Megan Abshire: A 3 year old Shih Tsu Henry, a 2 1/2 year old Chihuahua Lucy, and a 6 month old Chihuahua Foxy Roxy. We also just bought an 80 year old house that we are putting the finishing touches on remodeling, and I have enjoyed being able to fix up something that is old and make it look new. While I briefly lived in Venice, CA next to the ocean and to Gold's Venice, I had started taking up surfing. Although there aren't good waves in the Gulf where I live now, I still enjoy anything to do with the water, and hope to get back to scuba diving and surfing someday!

13. What 3 things would you take to a stranded island?

Jennifer Scarpetta: My partner, Megan Abshire, a pet carrier that would fit all 3 of my doggies, and an endless supply of pancakes!

14. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Jennifer Scarpetta: After competing for several more years, I hope to be settled back into personal training and other small business ventures, and also start a family. I will continue to workout long after competing.

Visit Jennifer's site to watch photos, videos and live webcams!

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