Work It Out: From Running to Lifting

Competing is not for the faint of heart.


Or for those who dislike asparagus.

Body building requires a lot of hard work and discipline.  I love the weights – that part doesn’t seem like work to me (most days).

The diet… well, those few weeks leading up to a competition get a little rough.  You probably didn’t want to be near me the last week because I was a total bitch tired of chicken and asparagus.



This post isn’t about asparagus.  Today’s Work It Out is a guest post from a friend and fellow comptitior.  Jennifer trains at my gym, House of Payne.

We competed together in the NPC Jen Hendershott Big Shott Bodybuilding Classic last year (Jenn in Physique and myself in Figure).  She was such a great friend – calming my beginner nerves and raising a margarita toast to out successes post-competion.

Team Payne

Jennifer, Christina, Steve (our trainer), Devy, and Me


Jenn is a big inspiration.  Like me, she’s a former runner.  The muscle she’s gained in the ~7 months I’ve known her is absolutely incredible.

Below is the story of her transformation.  I hope it inspires you – even if you aren’t interested in competing, it’s a great reminder that we can do anything we want to, if we want to badly enough.


Close to 2 Decades of Fitness

The year is 1994 and I sign up for my first jogging class at Gainesville State College.  Little did I know at the time what my fitness future would hold.  I had an amazing coach who shared his passion of fitness with me.  He gradually took us, beginners, and taught us how to build up stamina and endurance in running.  Through the class, I developed a liking to running.  I’ll never forget how I felt when I completed running 2 miles without stopping.  My coach told me if you can run 2 miles, then you can run 6 miles.  Well, I kept on running.  I even thought I was “Forrest.”  Forrest Gump, that is.

I ran all the way through college, 3 pregnancies, and into mid 30’s.  Then all of a sudden, I realized my body had massively changed.  I was fat.  I was flabby in a lot of areas.  I couldn’t eat the junk that I ate in my 20’s and look good.  I felt as if my muscle tissue was a lot less than it was in the  previous years.

Be Brave, Take Risks


I took a huge leap and decided to change my eating and my training.  I always loved the way girls looked in Muscle & Fitness Magazine.  I wanted that look.  I wanted biceps and a 6-pack.  So I started weight training at home.  I started out with a beginner set of barbells and a pull-up bar.

I trained 1 year at home and starting transforming my body gradually.  I mainly did strength training 4 days a week and 2 days of cardio.  But I wanted to do more and continue to transform my body.  So I hired a personal trainer.  Also at that 1 year mark, my pursuits became a little different.  At first, I just wanted to get fit and lose some weight.  Gradually as I transformed my body and learned more about weight training and its results, I decided to enter a figure contest.

Jenn Wade before and after


So I entered my first figure competition.  I will be real honest, my first time out I was not even close to the top 5.  However,  that first competition set me on fire to compete.  This was the best thing to happen.  I went into that competition thinking that I was going to win.  Oh Yes!  However, I left that competition and decided I was going to put in the time and build some serious muscle.  I was going to be a competitive figure athlete.

For the next 3 years, I studied and researched training methods.  I also hired a nutritionist/coach who monitors all of my food and helps develop my training splits.  He has developed a plan to help me build lean muscle mass in the off-season and he knows how to turn me into a lean competitor for the stage.

I have competed in 4 figure competitions since 2010.  However, in November of 2012, I stepped on stage as a physique competitor and placed 3rd in the competition, which qualified me for the national stage.

Jenn Wade


Physique is a new division in the body building world.  This division is for women that have a little more muscle than figure.  The Physique division also requires a routine that enables you to present your physique and display your muscles in a way that figure girls don’t get to do.  I absolutely adore it.  I love being on stage and the center of attention.  I especially love showing off my hard work that I have done in the gym and through my nutrition.

As I write this, I am in prep for Team Universe in July 2013.  This is my first national show.  I am giving my 110% to this competition.  I still have the same fire in my soul as I did with my first competition.  I love the structure, workouts, and the discipline required for competing.  Every time I do a  show I feel as if I learn something new about myself.  I have also learned in order for you to succeed, you must step out of your comfort zone and push a little bit harder.

Train Hard and You will be Amazed at Your Results!



Follow Jennifer’s journey on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to check out her blog!

Did anyone try last week’s Super Slow technique?

Would/have you ever considered competing?



  1. says

    Thanks so much for sharing her story!! It’s great to see women owning their power!
    ok so I would love to hear from one or both of you on this…. I love running, truly it’s my passion…I would also like to build some muscle. Are the two just not compatible?

  2. says

    Wow, Jenn, you are a beautiful woman! So inspiring! I’m really working on doing more strength training and less cardio . . . it’s a struggle sometimes, for those of us that are cardio junkies. Slowly, but surely, I’m making adjustments, and so far am liking the results. :) Good luck in July’s competition!!

  3. says

    While I don’t think Ill ever do a fitness competition (never say never, I suppose, but I hate asapargus!), this is a great transformation story. I especially like how it all happened in your 30s, post-pregnancy.

  4. says

    LOVE THIS! Good luck with your prep Jennifer!

    As you know, I’m getting ready for the Provincials in June! 10 weeks away! It’s far but yet so close!

    It’s amazing what we can achieve if we simply believe and trust in ourselves :)

  5. says

    This post is awesome! Jenn is an inspiration–I, too, am a former runner. Yes, I get the days where I have an itch to sign up for a race, but I know it’s the WEIGHTS that do a body good :) Keep up the awesome work, Jenn– YOU TOO, LAURA!

  6. says

    Her determination is so inspiring! Like Amanda, running is my passion and I can’t imagine giving it up. But I also agree that weights are crucial for toning, and running alone can lead to flabby fit… I’ve been incorporating more strength and really enjoy it, but I don’t ever see myself driven to do a competition. I’m in awe of those of you who do! So much discipline, it’s impressive!

  7. says

    I became a ‘relatively serious’ Forrest-style runner last summer, and I did continue to do some weight machine work throughout, but NOTHING like what you’ve got going on. :) I have been doing yoga to tone, but always get lazy with serious strength training. You are an inspiration!

  8. says

    What an amazing transformation! I can definitely relate. When I was a long distance runner, I barely ate anything and I hated the way my body looked. Now I eat 2-3 times as much and absolutely love beasting it up in the gym! Thanks for sharing your story, Jennifer :)

  9. says

    Laura – you know I LOVEEEEE this!!!!!

    Jennifer – CONGRATS!!! From one that has been lifting weights for over 30++ years & did some bodybuilding in my late 30’s, I know how hard it is – huge respect for you & all you have done!

  10. says

    Jennifer, you are awesome! I have so much admiration for you figure competitor ladies. I know it takes SO much dedication and heart… I don’t know how you do it! I have to say- you definitely were NOT fat in the photo in 2009 – you look great in both, but you look absolutely amazing now!
    Best wishes for your big competition this summer- I’m sure you’ll hold your own!

  11. says

    What an incredible story, Jennifer!! Thank you for sharing!!! This is really, really amazing. And it totally reinforces the importance of strength training which I think is something a lot of us girls ignore! I know I’m guilty of not doing enough strength training… but I’m trying to incorporate it into my routine more and more!

  12. says

    Of course I LOVE this post, yes!! Lift those weights ladies!!

    I love seeing how far Jenn came to accomplish this goal. And I love the phrase “Fire in my soul.” You can tell she actually loves what she does and that’s so important. I too love the discipline of it but I must admit I don’t think I have that same fire as her, ha! We’ll see how I feel after my first competition…I think I’m going to be happy with “one and done.”

    Good luck in July at your competition Jenn!! We will be pulling for you!!

  13. says

    Very cool. You both are super inspiring – keep up the great work!!
    I have thought of competing but I am so focused on my own clients! Plus I really am genetically long and lean and not Prone for putting mass on!
    I work with clients that do though and talk about Hardwork.:)

  14. says

    amazing! truly amazing!
    our second oldest sister competed when she was in college so we got to see what she went through 😉
    it is a lot of hardwork!!!!
    but totally agree lifting does the body good!

  15. amanda says

    holy hell!!! jenn looks aahhhhhmazing!!! that is probably the craziest “transformation” i’ve EVER seen. what an inspiration – truly!

  16. says

    Wow! What a story and transformation. As much as I love running, it’s clear that my body responds best when weight training. I’ve never lifted heavy – more higher intensity workouts and bodyweight training – but I’ve been kind of curious about competing…mainly because it means I’d be following a program both food and fitness-wise instead of being consistent but simply doing my own thing day in and day out. I think I could put mass on (I’m more of a muscular body type) and would love to lean out a bit in the process…

    It’s always in the back of my mind! Thanks for sharing your story, Jennifer! And keep it up, Laura! Both an inspiration. 😀

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