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👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
My name is Jennifer Reece and I am an IFBB pro figure competitor. I am originally from Richmond Hill, Ontario just north of Toronto, Canada and currently reside in Fort McMurray, Alberta. As well as being a registered Dental Hygienist for the past 10 years, I hold a BA in psychology. I am also beginning to offer one-on-one lifestyle, fitness and wellness coaching for select clients.
I have been training and bodybuilding for many years. My interest in lifting weights started when I was very young; I can remember working out in the garage with my father as a child. As someone who was not born with any extraordinary athletic ability, team sports we’re intimidating to me however, I always liked the idea of having a more muscular athletic build.
During my last year of high school, I joined rugby for the season. During University, I began working out with weights consistently and was also on the varsity Rugby team for a number of years.
I was fortunate to meet a few key people upon completion of my degree who suggested I begin competing in bodybuilding. It seemed like a fun and challenging goal so I agreed. Instantly, I fell in love with the sport. Originally, I started competing in the Fitness division, later switching to Figure where I earned my Pro card in October of 2018.
On the Pro Stage for the first time, I made my debut at the New York Pro 2019 where I took 6th Place. This was a major accomplishment for me on a very personal level. I also competed in the Toronto Pro and Vancouver Pro in 2019 finishing with a 9th and 11th Place.
I am always reading and have an incredible thirst for knowledge. I admit I am a bit of a closet nerd. I am very into documentaries, podcasts and reading a wide range of educational non-fiction books. I am the life of the party!
In the last few years, I have been getting deeper into my yoga practice, evermore fascinated by the mind body connection. Yoga teaches you to create space in both the mind and body which provides an opportunity to improve the body physically while also teaching an established way to master calming the mind.
Bodybuilding allows you to find out what you are made of at the core. You learn how to push your limits and truly get to know yourself. I have learned so much about who I am and have experienced many transformative evolutions both physically and mentally.
⏱ Describe a typical day of training
I am blessed to have had the opportunity to work with my wonderful coach Manny Torres for the last three years. Our goal is to have longevity in my fitness career, while being as healthy as possible. I place a huge importance on rest and not over training. More is not always better. Listening to your body is key.
I train four to five times per week. During my split, I hit at least one body part twice. Currently, I am focusing on training legs twice a week in order to improve my quad sweep. I’m currently in contest prep and doing fasted cardio for 45 minutes in the morning.
I really enjoy doing spin classes for my cardio closer to show date where I focus more on the treadmill and stairmaster.
I try to get in at least three yoga sessions a week. I feel it works very well in conjunction with my weight training and enhances my lifting. I don’t have a training partner as I haven’t found anyone I have clicked with that will push me to where I need to be.
It is difficult where I live because the majority of the people I know work shifts. Ultimately though, I am very focused and work well on my own.
I don’t keep a training log of my lifts but I am obsessive about tracking my heart rate. My Samsung watch is ALWAYS on my wrist during my cardio and training sessions.
As for supplementation, I don’t really use much. I use a good whey isolate daily and glutamine post training. Otherwise, I get all my nutrition and energy from food, good sleep and when necessary, black coffee.
As for equipment, I have recently been wearing a waist trainer and I refuse to train back without my versa grips.
👊 How do you keep going and push harder?
I'm a very driven person. When I set my sights on a goal there is almost nothing that can stop me from achieving it. I put my blinders on, put my head down and just work. I hate the idea that I might not be able to succeed at something and that pushes me to work even harder.
I also do a lot of meditation and visualization so I can see the end result or the end goal as if it has already happened. Success starts in the mind.
One of the challenges that I face that I have not been very vocal about to date are my digestive issues. I have suffered from a condition called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) as well as bile acid malabsorption (BAM). This in turn causes IBS.
I have to be very careful about what I eat. I completely avoid any irritants like sweeteners and other chemical additives in food. There is a long list of foods my body will not tolerate. I eat a very clean diet free of chemicals and processed foods.
I have really had to learn my body and be in touch with what it needs. I work very hard to keep inflammation to a minimum and maintain a healthy gut microbiome. I find that rest is so important and often overlooked by many competitors. I take my rest very seriously. You cannot pour from an empty cup.
I treat my competitive career just as I treat my dental hygiene career. It comes before social engagements. My friends and family have come to terms with my schedule. I still make time for friends and family but it is usually more often during the off season.
🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Currently, my training is going better than ever. I have my rest/sleep schedule down to a science. With the addition of yoga into my training schedule, I am feeling better than ever and my flexibility is at an all-time high. My energy level is great and I feel like it’s going to be a very good season for this year.
I’m heading into this competition season leaner than I have in the past as I was able to stick to a relatively clean diet all year. My goal is to become a 2020 Olympia qualified. I have picked several competitions for this spring and will evaluate as the season goes on.
If I don’t happen to make it this year I will continue to pursue that as a goal for next year as well as the Arnold Classic.
Looking back I feel that if I could start over with my journey I would use all of the knowledge I have acquired over the past few years and incorporate that into my training and diet sooner. I have become much more knowledgeable as the years have gone on. I now use a much more holistic approach to my health and competitive career.
For the future, I am looking forward to moving to Vancouver where I will take my career in a new direction focusing even more on physical fitness, nutrition and overall health in addition to my Dental Hygiene practice.
🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
I avoid injuries by taking a proactive approach. I have an amazing team of health care professionals that I visit often. I regularly attend deep tissue massage. I have frequent chiropractic, physiotherapy and osteopathic treatments.
I use my yoga practice to help keep me flexible as well as limit wear and tear damage from training. I get a lot of rest and make sure to stay very hydrated. Most nights I get a minimum of seven hours sleep and I nap whenever I find the opportunity.
Mostly I listen to my body and if it feels like it needs to break, I give it a break.
🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
My goal is to keep my weight somewhat regulated and not fluctuate drastically between the off and contest season. I generally eat clean all year round and consume more calories during the off-season.
I focus on clean healthy non-processed foods. I don’t count calories or macros but I do eat at specific times of day. I always try to have my breakfast after my fasted cardio and don’t drink alcohol very often. When I do it is usually at Christmas and I will also take the opportunity to indulge in cheesecake and pizza as well.
My weakness has always been peanut butter and I literally cannot have it in the house - I avoid it altogether.
I don’t have a problem eating out with friends as I can always find a way to stick to my diet. I have no shame in bringing my own food to a restaurant and ordering a salad to go with it, and I don't think I need to miss out on social opportunities simply because I cannot eat.
In my opinion, our society places too much of an emphasis on food where as I am more focused on having connected relationships with friends and family.
Meal prep is key and I rarely leave the house without at least two meals. My goal is to be prepared for anything. When I travel internationally I always bring my own food even if I’m going for a week or two I am surprisingly able to prep everything and take it with me. I have been doing this long enough that I don’t have any problems figuring out how to make it work under almost any circumstance.
As far as supplements, I really don’t take many. My coach has taught me how to get everything I need from my food. During competition season as my caloric intake gets lower, I make sure to take a good multivitamin, vitamin C and a good quality B complex. I am religious with my digestive enzymes and probiotics.
👍 What has inspired and motivated you?
I am inspired by so many of the Great IFBB Pros that have graced the stage over the years. I am also inspired by so many people who are not involved in the fitness world but that have followed their journey to realizing and achieving their goals.
I listen to a plethora of podcasts and am currently following Tom Bilyeu. He has so many amazing guests with such deep insight and profound words of wisdom. I would love to one day be a guest on his show.
The best advice I ever received in life is simple. It came from my father who once said to me, “You are the author of your own destiny”. At the time that he said it to me it was in response to some poor choices that I had made.
When I thought I was going to be grounded for life those were the only words he said to me. I still remember that to this day and nothing could be more true. I owe a lot of my strength to him.
Two other people who have been to my drive to achieve my dreams are my best friend Paul and my Mom. Paul who recently survived leukemia with only a 3% chance of living, always wanted to be a pro bodybuilder.
He competed in several shows, looked amazing and had some success in that area however, after being diagnosed with leukemia he realized that competing was no longer going to be an option for him.
Paul is my biggest fan, my number one supporter, and my drive to keep going when I don’t have any. He is the person I call when I am having a hard time mentally. He has always been there for me and never complained even in the midst of his own struggles.
He is one of the reasons that I want to stand on the Olympia stage. He would have loved to be there on that stage himself but I know he will be very happy when I can stand there for him.
I would like to get to the Olympia for my Mom to see me up there as well. She is also a cancer survivor and a warrior. I get my warrior mentality from her although I am sure she doesn’t realize it.
✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
If I were new to bodybuilding and fitness I would sit down and identify my goals both immediate and long-term. I believe this goes for anything in life. You can’t know what steps you need to take unless you know where you’re trying to go.
Next thing, I recommend getting a coach. I absolutely believe in the necessity of a coach to help guide you through. Often competitors think they can get away without one however, anyone who has become great in any area has had a mentor or coach to help them with their sport or craft.
Nothing rivals having the objective opinion of someone who has the knowledge to take you to where you want to be so that you’re not wasting time and spinning your wheels.
Finding activities that bring joy is so important. Fitness is such an individual journey. It is important to try different activities and find the ones you like.
You are more likely to be successful if you are having fun with it. If you are not enjoying the process you are more likely to become defeated and therefore not likely to continue.
I firmly believe that health and fitness need to be a lifestyle informing every aspect of life. You can start to replace bad habits and old patterns with new and better habits over time. It is a commitment to a process of long term growth.
🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?
Pretty much everywhere I go people are trying to pick my brain about nutrition, health and fitness. I often find myself counselling my dental hygiene clients during our visits.
I am not currently actively seeking clients however, I would like to work with very serious people that I can really dedicate time to helping transform their lives.
I like to work more one-on-one following a more holistic approach giving each client the attention and direction they deserve.
📝 Where can we learn more about you?
I have a new YouTube channel Living Free with Jennifer Reece IFBB Figure Pro
I can be reached at [email protected]
💬 Jennifer Reece quotes
Jennifer shares some great, motivating insights in this interview. Feel free to share these quotes on your Instagram, Pinterest and so on 😍