Forget the supermodel body. Heather Jones prefers the healthy look, and is winning ‘figure’ titles. She gets help training from her boyfriend, Jesus Salud
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When it comes to body image, a debate could easily be sparked about what is healthy and attractive.
Recently many young girls, and women for that matter, have been trying to mirror the “rail-thin"looks of the mainstream models that have been hitting the runways during fashion week and gracing the covers and pages of Vogue, Elle and other top fashion magazines.
Anorexia became a controversial issue in the fashion industry after 21-year-old Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston died in 2006 at 5 feet 8 inches and a mere 88 pounds due to anorexia-related complications. Times are seemingly changing however, as last year also marked the world’s first ban on overly thin models during Madrid’s fashion week.Organizers of the top-level fashion show said they would rather devote their energies to project an image of “beauty and health,“rather than “a waif-like, or heroin-chic look.”
So, rail-thin figures, step aside, a new breed of women is taking fitness and a “nice figure"to a whole new dimension.
At 34 (and a mother, no less), Heather Lyn Jones has a body that could put any Baywatch beauty to shame. And at 5 feet 6 inches and 140 pounds,she is pure muscle,definitely not your “skin and bones” type of gal. In 2005 Jones’ began entering figure competitions and has since then been living what she calls “a dream come true.”
“Figure competitions are sort of an alternative for women who don’t want to go into bodybuilding and get that big,“Jones says. Instead, she says, figure is the in-between for women who like to train and want to put a certain level of muscularity on their bodies.“Bodybuilding, getting that large and putting that much muscle on, was not something that I was interested in,” she says. “I love figure because it allows you to remain feminine.”
Feminine, and healthy. “There’s nothing healthy about a 6-foot,110-pound female.To me, healthy is more of an athletic body, having some muscle - and you have to have some body fat as a female - having shape to your body, not looking like a stick. To me, that’s not attractive. I think more and more women are realizing that that’s not a reasonable goal to have.”
Working out regularly for about 10 years, Jones had always been interested and intrigued by the bodybuilding and figure shows on TV, but didn’t think she could go through the strict diet regimen and training process involved. Then, in 2005, after much encouragement from family and friends,Jones committed herself to train for the Paradise Cup competition. She says it was the best thing she ever did.“I knew that it was something that I wanted to do,” she says.
Some might call it beginner’s luck, but Jones not only placed, she took home first in her class in the Paradise Cup. On a roll and hoping to keep the momentum going, she traveled to Culver City, Calif., two weeks later to compete in the Excalibur Bodybuilding and Figure Championships - her first competition on a national level - and placed fifth.
“Initially, I wanted to see how I could change my body and take training to a different level,” Jones recalls. “It’s one thing to go to the gym and keep in good shape and watch what you eat, but to be able to take your body to a different level where it’s such an intense process of diet and exercise and watching the weeks go by and watching your body slowly change.”
In figure competitions,classes are divided by height - short, medium and tall. And the judging process is nothing short of intense. Jones explains the criteria for figure judging is based on presenting a symmetrical body, the emphasis usually on exhibiting a nice “V shape,” round shoulders, a wide back and a slim waist. She says it all comes down to having a balanced physique, with one area of the body not taking over another. However, above all Jones makes it clear that presentation is a crucial element.
“Your tan/coloring has to be good, your suits (custom made) have to fit properly, your hair, your makeup - you can spend three or four months preparing for a contest, but if you step on stage and you’re not walking properly and you don’t have that confidence, then it’s going to show,” she says.
Obviously, presentation has not been a problem for Jones. In addition to her successful first year as a figure competitor in 2005,she also competed in the 2006 USA Bodybuilding and Figure Championships in Las Vegas and the 2007 Hawaiian Islands, in which she placed second. Jones is now in training for her next competition, the 2008 Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio.
“I can’t wait for this competition coming up because the Arnold Classic weekend is just as big if not bigger than the Olympia,“Jones says with excitement.“Normally it’s just a professional competition, but they’ve added an NPC amateur show, so there’s going to be a lot of people there - a lot of exposure - and the more exposure you have, the more opportunities that could present themselves. I’m really looking forward to this.”
But before training could get under way, Christmas came a little early for Jones this year as she was presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity she could not resist. Just recently Jones traveled to Toronto to do her initial photo shoots and video with Muscle Tech.
“Muscle Tech is a major national supplement company that has a whole line of proteins and fat burners, and you really can’t flip through any magazine without seeing multiple ads for it,“explains Jones. She admits it’s been a whirlwind experience thus far:“Right now I don’t know the exact details of my role, but I will be shooting ads for them. I just submitted my information and my photos to the company with the encouragement of my friends, and they (Muscle Tech) called me and said they were interested in me.
“It’s a dream come true for me. One of the biggest things that you could hope to happen is to get signed with a supplement company. This is what I’ve always wanted,and I’m really excited to see what happens!”
Not only is Jones a superwoman on stage and in competition, it is quite evident that she is still considered a superwoman in her personal life as well. As a single mother, Jones’ 5-year-old son, Jordan, is one of her biggest fans.
“When he’s at a show he loves seeing me up on stage, and I love having him there,“Jones says.“He does some push-ups and things which are very cute, and I take him to work sometimes and he likes to run around and jump rope.”
Jordan also seems to be following in his mom’s footsteps when it comes to striving for success, as he is getting ready for his green belt test in taekwondo.
While being a full-time mom and figure competitor, Jones also is a fitness counselor at Powerhouse Gym in downtown Honolulu, where she stresses the importance of diet and exercise, and taking care of yourself on any level.
“I think that body image is definitely an issue for a lot of women, and it’s important to keep a balance of things,” says Jones. “It’s important to stay healthy and just remember that if you’re training in the gym, you’re training to keep yourself healthy.”
Being a fitness counselor definitely has its perks when you are also a figure competitor. For Jones, this increased knowledge of diet and exercise as a fitness counselor has benefited toward her training. She admits that she doesn’t train with anyone in particular, but credits her friends for their motivation and advice.
“Many of my friends are into competing as well, so we help each other out and give each other advice on different ways of training.”
Jones trains six days a week, but when preparing for competition that changes to seven. She says it takes her 14 weeks to fully prepare for a competition.
“For a contest, I’ll usually do 45 minutes of cardio first thing in the morning and then I’ll go back later in the day to do my second cardio and also train a body part,” Jones says.“I usually train each body part once a week,except for my back and shoulders, which I try to train twice a week.”
And as Jones prepares for the
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