to my IFBB Fitness Pro Card by April Jacobs
Someone pinch Me! I must be dreaming. Those
were my exact thoughts, as my trophy was being presented to me at the
2005 Nationals in Atlanta. Newest IFBB Fitness Pro, 32 year old mother
of 3, and wife of an IFBB Pro bodybuilder, that's me April Jacobs.
To understand why this accomplishment means so
much to me, I would like to share a little about myself, and my life.
I was born in a small town Erie PA, into a family that seamed a lot
like an after school special. To explain why would turn this article
into a short novel.
There were 6 of us and my mother who moved
us to a new location about once a year. Not because she was in the military.
More because she was trying to keep children services from taking us
away. We grew up in extreme situations, poverty, alcoholism, and violence,
no child should ever witness. But as bad as my childhood was, I managed
to survive. Of course it was no surprise that I ended up married at
age 16. Struggling to work two jobs, finish high school and raise a
daughter. I learned early on that anything I wanted out of life, I would
have to make happen. Because I was convinced that good things just did
not fall in your lap. So after having another little girl, and putting
up with 4 years of a horrible marriage, lonely and abusive I picked
up my children and moved to Charlotte NC. Unfortunately my husband followed
me, and of course I took him back. Another year went by, another year
of degrading comments, mental and physical abuse. I said enough is enough.
My husband left and I was determined not to fall prey to the welfare
So I again took on two jobs, and focused
on being a single mother. I knew one day I would be somebody, or die
trying. Just imagine all this. And I was just now 21 years old; It was
rough. I was lonely, tired all the time, and worried I would never give
my children much. But I wanted to show them that we could make it. I
finally started going out, and trying to gain some self esteem that
is when I met the most amazing man, Marc Jacobs. Although he was only
19 years old, he and I made a connection. He loved playing with my children,
we became friends, and I realized that there were men
out there who knew how to treat a lady. As we grew closer, I found out
alot about him. He at the time was a bodybuilder and had just won the
Mr Charlotte title. He wanted to introduce me to the world of weight
training, which I thought was hilarious. Especially
considering my diet consisted of Spam and Vienna Sausages.(hey it was
cheap, and we were on a budget.LOL) oh and did I mentioned I was pushing
a size 14.
Anyways, in the course
of our dating, it was now 1996, we had been together for about 7 or
8 months, Marc took me to the NC State Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships.
This is where I saw Susy Curry win the overall title. I was amazed,
I remember telling Marc that I wanted to do that. I also said I would
win that show one day. I immediately started training and I entered
my first show, The Europa Armed Forces, in VA. It was BAD! I had no
business being on stage and I took dead last. The good thing was it
gave me desire to try harder. I will never forget at that show. There
was a IFBB Pro Fitness girl guest posing (who shall remain nameless).
After the show I told her I admired her and what could I do to do better
in the sport. She looked dead at me and said no amount of work I did
would help. The only thing I could do was get lipo suction. I was devastated,
embarrassed, and crushed. But one thing I learned growing up was not
to let anyone keep me down,
I was determined to prove her wrong. I trained even harder, going to
the gym was hard with work and my children so young so I acquired some
weights and a two bit stair stepper, and dedicated myself to working
hard at it. Marc stood by me, taught me how to eat. In the meantime
he also was racking up trophies left and right winning every show he
entered, it inspired me. In 1998 I took third at the Metrolina Classic,
then two weeks later placed 3rd at the NC State. I was content for the
In 1998 my life was about to change, Marc asked me to marry him. He
was doing good working for Europa Sports and he was dedicated to me
and my children( whom from day one he has supported financially and
emotionally). I decide it was time for me to allow myself some happiness,
so as scared as I was considering he was still so young, I said yes.
We were married on Oct. 3rd 1998.
We decided we would both enter the 1999 NC State Championship. As promised
I won my class and the overall. Marc also won the lightweight class.
I remember, the kids were so understanding and patient with us that
we took them to Disney World as a reward to all of us. My life was great
I still could not believe that God was allowing such happiness to shine
down on me. Marc was doing so well at Europa that I was able to become
a stay home mom. Yes I was being blessed for sure, I then decided to
try my hand at a bigger show.
I entered the 1999 Southern States where
even though I felt way out of my league I placed second and was on cloud
nine. I had finally found my calling, not just the shows but inspiring
women and mothers that anything is possible. Just as I was ready to
shoot for the next step Marc decided he wanted to have a baby. I had
my tubes tied at the age of 21 so again, I decided anything is possible.
We took a loan, had my tubes put back together and TADA! I did the Southern
States in August of 1999, had the surgery in September of 1999, and
was pregnant in October of 1999. Talk about alot on your body.
Little Shayla was born on July 6th of 2000. Now we had 3 girls and life
was great. Marc and I again decided to compete together, this time we
were shooting for the 2001 Jr. USA. Everything seemed to be going well.
We were one week from getting on the plane to compete when tragedy hit.
Baby Shayla stopped breathing in the middle of the night. We rushed
her to the hospital, where she was admitted. She had developed a severe
case of croop, which caused her bronchial tubes to swell shut.
April Jacobs and her
I was disappointed, knowing that I had
worked hard for the show. But I also knew what came first, and that
is family. So I encouraged Marc to continue on and compete, which he
did. He placed fifth, which was incredible seeing the week he was having.
I changed my flight and decided to enter the Jr. Nationals six weeks
later where I placed fifth also. I was satisfied, but knew I had a lot
of improvements to make. Marc and I both decided to take some time off
and focus on making those improvements and devote a lot more time to
letting our children shine. During that time I went into teaching preschool
gymnastics, trying to find new ways to stay in shape, and give myself
something to do. I also started working with ISS Research, doing promotions
and working the booth for them at the Arnold and local shows, I really
enjoyed doing things like that.
In 2003 after training hard and preparing
Marc and I were ready to make our comeback. We targeted the NC State
again, to get qualified I entered it this time in figure, Marc entered
it in the middleweight division. We wanted people to see we wanted to
shoot for higher goals not just as trophy chasing, we both won. I also
won the Overall so it was on to the Jr. USA in Charleston, SC. Marc
won the lightweight division and I took third in the Fitness Tall class,
and 6th in the figure.
We decided it was time to shoot for Nationals, mostly for Marc. He was
ready I figured I would try and see where I stood on that level.
After months of preparation we were in the best shape of our lives and
the trip was booked, we were taking the family to Miami. Once again
tragedy at least for me happened again. Five weeks prior to contest
I tore a disc in my lower back determined to continue, I changed my
routine to just basic and simple stunts.
I figured I was going to Miami anyway to support Marc so why not give
it a shot. Well for Marc it was wonderful he took First place in the
lightweight division, winning his Pro card at the age of 27. And first
time out to Nationals. I was so happy and proud of him. I on the other
hand did well in the physique rounds, actually winning that round and
fell short in my routine, I gave it my all. But considering the changes
to accommodate my injury it just was not National Level. I finished
the show in 6th place, I tried no to beat myself up to bad, because
I did my best.
Marc was very encouraging and I did not want to rain on his parade,
he deserved to be on cloud nine. After returning home and visiting the
doctor, I was told I could not compete in fitness again or I would risk
back surgery. So I stopped, and went into a slight depression.
Jeff McCarrel, Amber
Littlejohn, April and Marc Jacobs
I continued my work with ISS, and got even
more involved. In 2004 I decided not to let all of my hard work slip
away I kept training, and found more hobbies like the Strong Man competitions
and training. A friend told me nothing was better at helping with core
strength so I gave it a shot. And before I knew it, my back was getting
better. Without getting my hopes up I started messing with some routine
ideas, starting slow, and not committing to anything. So as to not get
disappointed if my back did not hold up I went ahead and started preparing
for the Nationals in 2004. I flew Laura Mak in to do my routine. We
worked hard but unfortunately 6 weeks into it, my back did cause problems,
so I backed out again. This time I just devoted my time to my family,
we built our dream home, I worked a ton of shows, the Arnold, Expo West,
In 2005 I just trained hard and kept my weight down. And then I decided
to try again.It had been a year and my back had not bothered me at all
so I went for it. This time choreographing my own routine with the help
of my husband and best friend we ended up with a great routine. Early
enough that if I got injured I could take some time off and get right
back to it. Also the biggest help was, I no longer did gymnastics. I
focused on my strengths, which are presentation and strength moves.
So armed with confidence and the help of the best in the industry, my
husband, Jeff McCarrel, and Amber Littlejohn, I went to Atlanta, GA
in November, and decided no matter what, I loved the sport and would
give it my best. As nervous as I was I pulled of a second place finish
earning me my IFBB Pro status... Yeah ME!!
I know this is a lot of info, but If I accomplish only one thing as
a Pro Fitness competitor, it is to show other people that anything is
possible. No matter what life throws your way. It is within your power
to make of it what you wish. My motto has always been to my friends
and family. If anything 'Always Remember Who You Are!!'
Marc and April Jacobs
About the Author...
April Jacobs is an IFBB Fitness Pro as of November
2005. She took second in her class at the 2005 Fitness Nationals
in Atlanta. April has struggled to be where she is at now but
her story is an inspirational one. If you really want to accomplish
something it can be done you just have to be determined.