Issue #13


by Juan Carlos Lopez

20 questions with our cover model: Diana Crandall

Video Interview Cover Model: NPC Fitness Diana Crandall

April Jacobs: Her Journey to the IFBB Fitness Pro Ranks
by April Jacobs

A Twisted Year of Fate: My Road To Fitness Nationals
by Katie Madden

Diana Crandall, Catherine Boushizen, Holly Nicholson, Houng Arcinas and Tara Gooch

Video Interview:
NPC Figure Stephanie Middleton

Gymnastics & Skills Pt. 2
by Linda

Video Interview:
IFBB Figure Pro Trish Mayberry

Interview with Lynda Thoresen Winner of the Excalibur

Video Interview:
IFBB Fitness Pro Kim Seeley

A Twisted Year of Fate Part 2: My Trip to the Heart of the Fitness Industry
by Kaisa Piippo

Sport Specific Training and Conditioning: Utilizing your Heart Rate Monitor
by Traci Redding

My Journey to my IFBB Fitness Pro Card by April Jacobs

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 system.

April Jacobs

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.

April Jacobs

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 moment.

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.

Marc Jacobs

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 3 girls

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.

April Jacobs

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, the Olympia.

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!!'

April Jacobs

Marc and April Jacobs


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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.

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