JEANNIE BROWN IS 61 YEARS YOUNG, A MOTHER OF 4, GRANDMOTHER OF 5 & SUPER FIT!
Interview by Ben Yosef // Photography by Jim Wallingford & Rob Sims
It is people and stories like this that really cause me to take a step back and remember what originally propelled me down my path of health, fitness, and following the “Natural” way.
In the hyper-competitive industry that we are all a part of it is easy to loose sight of what we are really doing here. The sets, the reps, the diets, the preps. Is that all this is really about? I don’t know about you, but what compelled me to begin my personal journey about three decades ago was seeing healthy, fit, attainable (read: steroid and PED-free) people and athletes enjoying life, and moving through the world with the ease and grace that a healthy, natural, fit lifestyle can offer.
AND, as we ALL do, I often imagined how this lifestyle would serve me as I grew older. It is this element of “the journey” that has always been of paramount importance to me. So, when I had the opportunity to conduct this interview I felt inspired, and hopeful. When you chose the right path it is possible. It is probable. It is Jeannie Brown.
“The 90’s brought greater awareness of the importance of strength training, so I began adding weights into my workouts.”
Ben Yosef: Have you always been into training and working out?
Jeannie Brown: My health and fitness journey started years ago when, as a chunky inactive 16 year old, I decided to loose the 20 lbs of “baby fat” I was carrying around. I found that eating plenty of fruits and veggies, along with lean broiled chicken and fish brought me the feeling of satisfaction I needed to reduce food quantities and shed the fat. Combined with plenty of hiking and biking, I got down to a svelte 118 lbs. and have maintained that weight ever since.
During the 70’s and 80’s, as a busy mother of four, I was an “aerobic queen”, hitting as many classes as I had time for, or tuning in to exercise programs on TV. The 90’s brought greater awareness of the importance of strength training, so I began adding weights into my workouts. I became more and more intrigued with the change in body composition that I saw in my own body, and decided to go to school to become a personal trainer so I could share my passion with other people.
BY: When did you become interested in competing?
JB: I had frequently been asked if I did competitions, so the idea was on my radar screen several years before I actually tried it. When I was 59 years old, which is the same age my mother was when she died of cancer, I decided I would pay tribute to her by doing something that she would be very proud of me for doing…getting on the stage. So, on my mother’s birthday I met with my amazing coach, Denise Stuart, WNBF Pro, and set the wheels in motion.
“Being a competitor brings a unique rhythm into my life.”
BY: What was your first competition?
JB: I competed in John Nickerson’s 2012 NANBF NW Royal Championships, Figure division.
BY: What has your competition experience been like over the years?
JB: Being a competitor brings a unique rhythm into my life. I begin my contest prep training three months prior to a show, which for me is New Year’s day since I do spring competitions. I am also a member of the Iron Angels, a group dedicated to advancing the health and fitness of women and men. Each year, we do a fitness calendar which requires a training period prior to the photo shoot, which is usually in the late summer.
My year is broken into periods of “in-season” training, and maintenance workouts, which gives my body a rest. I have to pay strict attention to joint integrity, and a back issue. This gives me a great deal of first hand knowledge which I pass on to my clients.
“…my goal is to send the message that age is not a barrier to fitness…”
BY: How hard is to prep for a contest while being a mother and grandmother?
JB: I always eat clean, prep food and workout regularly, so show prep is just a matter of kicking it up a notch. My kids and grand kids enjoy the fact that I compete and like to ask questions about my workouts. My grand daughters are fascinated with the sparkly bikinis, and love to try on my 5 inch heels and jewelry.
BY: What is it like competing against girls that are younger?
JB: I try to only compete in a “Masters” division (35 and over) which still puts me with woman who are my daughter’s age. However since my goal is to send the message that age is not a barrier to fitness, competing against younger women is not even an issue for me at all. As a matter of fact, since my motivation for being there is not so much to win as to inspire, I simply feel honored to be on the same stage with such beautiful young women.
BY: You look amazing and can obviously hold your own no matter who you are competing against. What’s your secret?
“You are helping to change society’s perception about what it means to age and live fully.”
JB: Exercising and eating well for all these years has definitely shaped how I look. And it’s also shaped how I feel about aging. The benefits of regular exercise range from increased muscle, bone and heart strength, to better sleep, mood and sex. Not only that, weight lifting causes the body to release HGH (human growth hormone). If that isn’t enough to reduce my anxiety about aging, I don’t know what is!
BY: What tips would you give to other competitors who are your age or older?
JB: As we age, our ability to recover slows. Joints may start showing signs of wear and tear, so adjust your workouts to include enough recovery time, and pay close attention to using good form. Know that you are doing something that is bold and courageous. You are helping to change society’s perception about what it means to age and live fully.
BY: What advice would you give the younger generations of competitors who will one day be older? Would the advice be the same?
JB: Competing as a natural athlete is a wonderful thing. If your plan is to continue competing well into the future, I suggest pacing yourself and keeping a healthy off-season diet and exercise schedule. Don’t trash your metabolism by putting on the pounds during the off-season, only to over-do the calorie restriction and cardio during contest prep. Keep your perspective in check by realizing that competing is a lifestyle that is it’s own reward. You are already a winner.
“Age is an asset, not a liability!”
BY: What is next for you?
JB: I plan to continue training clients and teaching group exercise classes. And as I mentioned above, I am committed to continue competing in order to inspire and encourage people to break free of what ever barriers are holding them back from being healthy and fit. I intend to live a fearless, ageless and fit life. One of my dreams is to write a book on the subject.
BY: Anything else you would like to add?
JB: Yes…Age is an asset, not a liability! NATURAL BIKINI
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