Any competitor knows the feeling of nervous anticipation in the gut that strikes just before a big competition. It stimulates the survival instinct that sets off peak performance. Elite athletes have the innate ability to call upon that mind-set during their daily workouts to push themselves to the limit.
Jaquelyn “Kay” Roberts is one of those people. True to the philosophy of CrossFit training—that “no one ever drowned in their own sweat”—J-Kay, as she’s known, says she gets nervous before her CrossFit workouts because she’s in competition with herself, comparing today’s performance to her previous performances in terms of strength, endurance and time. She thrives on that inner competition, however, using it to fuel her efforts in the gym.
A raging beauty, J-Kay could easily grace the stage of any fitness or figure event. She’s also capable of flipping a 200-pound tire for 300 feet and following that with 60 burpees, 60 box jumps and 60 kettlebell swings. Based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, J-Kay competes in the Women’s Tri-Fitness organization and just won the Bodybuilding.com Spokesmodel contest at the Los Angeles Fitness Expo.
“Obsessed is what the lazy call determined,” she says. Let’s find out what she means.
DY: Nicely done with the Bodybuilding.com BodySpace win. What went through your mind when your name was announced?
JK: When the winners were announced, I could not stop smiling. I was more than excited to win the title of BodySpace Spokesmodel and be a part of such a great community. Not only was I happy to be crowned the winner, but I was proud of myself for sticking with it.
DY: Did you have some challenges along the way?
JK: Yes. My grandma passed away two weeks prior to the event. She was my one of my best friends, so you can only imagine what I was going through. I had to fly home [to Washington State] to be with my family, and with all the stress it’s only natural to want to eat comfort foods. But I kept reminding myself how proud my grandma always was of all of my fitness accomplishments and that she would be disappointed if I didn’t stick with my program. I kept pushing through my workouts and sticking with my diet, and all that work paid off!
Before she passed, my dad told her about me being a finalist and how I was going to L.A. to compete. He said her eyes lit up, so I knew I had to train hard. It was very tough the day that she passed, but I kept telling myself that she would want me to compete. I thanked my grandma the night that I won. I know she was up there watching and cheering me on!
DY: I’m sorry to hear about your grandma. Is that the best condition you’ve achieved to date?
JK: I would have to say that I was not in my best condition. It’s tough during the holidays, and we found out [that I would be a finalist] about five weeks prior to the competition. Luckily, I stay lean year-round, so I never have to diet for long periods of time, but I usually give myself at least eight weeks, if not 12, so five weeks was a quick competition prep!
DY: Would you say that the main competition was with yourself rather than the other competitors?
JK: I go into competitions to have fun. With figure and bikini contests I would not say that I’m very competitive with others; I would never be upset walking away with third, fifth or even 10th place. I’m in competition with myself. It makes me work extrahard knowing I will be critiqued onstage in a bikini, and of course it is a huge bonus being able to walk away with first place.
DY: Tell me something you like about physique competition.
JK: I always meet great people when I go to different competitions. I have fun onstage and enjoy my time. I know that I may have done everything right, but figure and bikini are very subjective matters, so it does no good to be upset if I don’t walk away with first place. When I compete in Tri-Fitness, now, that is a different story. I strive to always do my best, not to be first place. As long as I am improving as an athlete, I am happy, even if that means 10th place!
DY: What does the Tri-Fitness competition involve?
JK: There’s an obstacle course, you bench-press 60 percent of bodyweight for maximum reps, you do 50 20-inch box jumps for time, a shuttle run, a fitness routine and a physique (for guys) or a figure round (for the girls).
DY: Did you get into fitness right out of college?
JK: No, my degree was in human development, specifically in child development, and I was a preschool teacher.
DY: What’s next for you in terms of competition or fitness career?
JK: Nothing is set in stone yet for competition. I’m hoping to be onstage for the Women’s Tri-Fitness again this year. I’ve competed there every year since 2005. I would also like to try Bikini America.
DY: How did you go about designing the nutrition program that you followed for the Bodyspace competition?
JK: This time I followed a Paleo diet, also known as the caveman diet. It consists of meats, nuts, seeds, eggs, fruits and vegetables—nothing artificial or processed. The goal is to eat foods in their most natural state. I never take fruit out of my diet when prepping for a show like a lot of competitors do. I believe that fruit is very beneficial to your diet and there is no need to deprive yourself of it.
For each meal and snack I have a protein, a carbohydrate and a healthy fat. My carbs for this contest consisted of only fruits and vegetables; my vegetable intake was very high because my diet did not allow for grains. A serving of green beans for one meal would be three cups. Healthy fats are my favorite part of the diet—macadamias, almonds, walnuts, olive oil and my all-time favorite, avocado! They keep my energy up while I’m dieting and also help me to lean out quickly.
DY: Do you restrict calories on the Paleo diet?
JK: I never count calories, but I restrict cheat meals, and going out to eat is a big no-no while I’m in contest prep. You are what you eat! If you put the most healthful foods into your body, you will look that way.
DY: Can you lay out a day’s worth of eating, meal by meal?
Meal 1: Almond-meal protein pancakes, made with eggs, almond meal and olive oil, or egg whites, blueberries and uncured turkey bacon from Trader Joe’s
Meal 2: A small apple with almond butter and a hard-boiled egg
Meal 3: Chicken breast or fish—my favorites are mahimahi, salmon or tuna—with green beans and avocado
Meal 4: Egg-and-veggie scramble and almonds
Meal 5: Either fish or ground turkey. I like to sauté onions, peppers and garlic with my dinners and top it off with some homemade guacamole.
DY: Which nutritional products do you find useful?
JK: I’m an Optimum Nutrition–sponsored athlete. I love their products. I use the Optimum Nutrition Opti-Woman multiple-vitamin and -mineral caps every day and also their fish oil and HMB, which is great for recovery time. If I’m on the go and do not have time to make a meal, I will grab a shake; my two favorites are ON 100% Whey Chocolate Mint and Platinum HydroWhey Turbo Chocolate.
DY: And I know you get them at Bodybuilding.com, right?
JK: Of course!
DY: Do you have a trainer, and is that an important part of the preparation process?
JK: I believe that when you are getting started, it’s very helpful to have a trainer; I had one in the beginning. Callie Marunde, who is a strongwoman competitor and also an NPC competitor, helped get me on my way when I was new to everything. We lived in different cities and did everything over the Internet or phone, and when she wasn’t available, I was always researching on Bodybuilding.com to educate myself. There are so many different diets and training styles out there now, a new competitor can be overwhelmed with all of the information on the Internet. So getting a trainer is a great way to get you off on the right foot.
DY: How would you describe your training style, and has it changed much over the years?
JK: I began with traditional training: leg day, back-and-biceps day, chest-shoulders-and-triceps day and then a day for plyometric work—sprints, box jumps, shuttle runs. In April 2009 I was introduced to CrossFit training through a friend who thought I would be interested in using it to train for Tri-Fitness competition.
I tried it out and was instantly hooked! I now only train CrossFit—high intensity, bodyweight, Olympic lifting, powerlifting and gymnastics movements. It’s an ever-changing workout program that keeps me on my toes and challenges me physically and mentally every day. I have seen the best results with CrossFit, and the best part is that I do not have to do extra cardio, not even while I’m prepping for a competition!
DY: Which bodyparts respond easily for you, and which have been more challenging?
JK: My upper body—back and shoulders—is very muscular. My legs, on the other hand, seem to be more challenging when it comes to building muscle. When I was doing traditional weight training, I focused on them so much yet saw only minimal results. Now that I’ve started doing CrossFit, I’ve noticed my hamstrings develop a lot. But I am no longer concerned about the size of my legs; rather, I just want to be the best athlete that I can be.
DY: What are your favorite exercises?
JK: Any exercise involving kettlebells; they’re so versatile.
DY: I know CrossFit workouts are always different, but can you list a sample week’s workouts?
JK: Oh, yes, always changing! I train three days on/one day off. A week might look like this:
Monday: 20 burpees, 15 back squats at bodyweight for as many rounds as I can in 20 minutes
Tuesday: 5 rounds of 30 double unders (jump rope must pass under you twice per jump), 10 squat cleans, 10 box jumps at 20 inches
Wednesday: Heavy deadlifts, 5 x 5—max weight for five reps
Friday: 100 pullups, but every minute, on the minute, you must complete 10 double unders
Saturday: Heavy push presses, 1 x 7—one-rep maxes
Sunday: 4 800-meter sprints
DY: That is unreal! What’s your height, and what was your weight for the Bodyspace competition?
JK: I’m almost 5’2”, and I was about 110 for the Spokesmodel competition.
DY: What improvements did you make during your preparation for the contest?
JK: I think that as I get older, it is easier for me to stay strict with my diet. So an improvement for me this go-round was that I did not cheat on my diet.
DY: Who inspired you in your fitness career?
JK: Jamie Eason has always been an inspiration to me. She is beautiful on the inside and out and is a walking billboard for health and fitness. She is muscular and sexy and small like I am, so she has always been a role model for me. I love everything that she has done with her career, the way she shares her knowledge with others so that everyone can achieve their goals. I strive for that every day, and that’s why I love my job as a personal trainer. I help people one by one take steps to a healthier life.
DY: Do you have a Web site readers can visit?
JK: Yes, absolutely. It’s www.JaquelynKayFitness.com. IM
Compiled by David Young
Photography by Michael Neveux