Interview with Figure Competitor Jackie Faine

Figure Competitor Jackie Faine. Photos by Dan Ray and shared courtesy of Jackie.

Figure Competitor Jackie Faine. Photos by Dan Ray and shared courtesy of Jackie.

Covering a big national show like Jr. Nationals over just a few days can be a wonderful challenge. There isn’t time to schedule every model you’d like for a photoshoot—hundreds of competitors must attend mandatory meetings, keep tanning appointments, prepare for the show, seek feedback after, and, of course, enjoy some personal time during an event in a major city. That’s when mapping out plans for next time comes into play.

Invoking this strategy, we’ve got our radar trained on beautiful Jackie Faine for a photoshoot later this year. Jackie is a stunning 27-year-old figure competitor from Chicago fresh from a sensational fourth-place finish in her national-level debut in the Windy City.

On Monday after the show, Jackie was getting ready to shoot with our friend Dan Ray (whose pictures are featured in this article) and we were fortunate to chat over lunch and make a connection. Consider this a preview of a talent soon to come to KrivsStudio. Barring any scheduling snafus, we hope to work this charming and delightful newcomer at NPC Nationals, her next stop, this fall.

This past week, I caught up with Jackie for a more extensive interview and even though busy—she graduated law school and is now a professional attorney—Jackie was more than happy to answer some questions about her athletic background, training and competitive pursuits.

When you meet her, you discover another of Jackie’s strengths is her wonderful sense of humor, which is clever, quirky and very funny. “I don’t think I can go a day without making my friends laugh,” she says, “life is just better when you can be silly and laugh at yourself.”

Tale of the Tape: Jackie’s stats—Hometown: Chicago, Illinois; Age: 27; Height: 5'10"; Weight: 139; Neck: 13"; Shoulders: 45"; Chest: 36"; Arms: 13"; Waist: 28"; Hips: 34"; Thighs: 23"; Calves: 15.5"

Jackie’s contest stats—Hometown: Chicago, Illinois; Age: 27; Height: 5’10”; Weight: 139; Neck: 13″; Shoulders: 45″; Chest: 36″; Arms: 13″; Waist: 28″; Hips: 34″; Thighs: 23″; Calves: 15.5″

Jackie embodies all of what is great about the sport, with regular-girl friendliness and approachability that shines among the best. She’s new to figure and still given to star struck moments, like running into Nicole Wilkins in the hotel elevator and, just like an ordinary fan, scrambling to compliment the two-time Olympia champ on what an inspiration she’s been.

Cool and poised yet warm and modest in person, Jackie has a quiet confidence behind an unassuming, girl next door exterior. In figure, she sometimes likes to think of herself as an underdog, the new girl gently fading in a bevy of beautiful bodies. But the tall class standout is a hard one to miss.

At a strapping 5-foot-10 and 139-pounds of chiseled muscle, she’s a commanding, confident presence on stage and only getting better. “My mind is already prepping for Nationals,” she shares, “currently bulking and lifting harder in order to improve…setting hard work in place so that I come in bigger and stronger for November.”

No longer an underdog less than a year after her debut, it’s quickly becoming safe to think of Jackie as a serious favorite.

* * *

Dean: You were a varsity athlete in multiple sports in high school. Which sports did you play and have you always been pretty athletic?

Jackie: I’ve always been drawn to playing sports from an early age. I started playing tennis when I was 7 years old, and it became a lifetime love. I played for traveling teams as a kid and kept honing my skills. I made my high school’s varsity tennis team as a freshman, and went on to earn 2 conference championship titles. At age 7 I also began learning how to snow ski as a way of bonding with my father. He has always been a talented skier, and I began competing in NASTAR (downhill amateur skiing) races throughout my life. I had dreams of becoming a pro skier, but they were cut short because my parents were not keen on the idea of their only child traveling so often for training.

Positive Feedback: The judges had plenty of good things to say about Jackie after Jr. Nats. “I displayed a lot of confidence and my presentation was strong,” she said. “I was complimented on my suit, styling, V-taper, and was told my conditioning was amongst the strongest.”

Positive Feedback: The judges had plenty of good things to say about Jackie after Jr. Nats. “I displayed a lot of confidence and my presentation was strong,” she said. “I was complimented on my suit, styling, V-taper, and was told my conditioning was amongst the strongest.”

In high school I also found a love for badminton, though I stumbled across it by accident. The head coach for the women’s tennis team was best friends with the badminton coach, and she would sometimes come to our tennis meets. She kept trying to convince me to play badminton, but I felt it was too much of a “country club sport” and would not be aggressive enough. Little did I know how much fun and how challenging it was! I began playing for the team in my sophomore year, and by my senior year was Team Captain. I also won the conference championship title, and found some of the best friendships and true camaraderie on that team.

Dean: In your debut figure show, you were in first call outs and eventually placed third. Which show was it and can you describe the feeling of being on stage that first time?

Jackie: My debut figure show was the 2012 NPC Natural Mid-States Muscle Classic XXV. It is a Kevin Noble show. The funny thing about competing is that despite the nerves and adrenaline rushing through my body, I still remember exactly how I feel before I get onstage. I remembered looking at the other females and thinking they all looked beautiful and were in great shape. I was not sure how the judges would compare all of us, but I knew that no matter what happened I was going to walk in front of them like I owned it. That sounds a little funny to say, but if you do not handle the stage with grace and confidence there’s no way you will stand out.

Dean: At Jr. Nats, you soared to an outstanding fourth-place finish in your first national-level show! How does it feel to already be among the top NPC competitors with a legitimate chance to earn a pro card next time out?

Jackie: I am beyond humbled to have my name used in comparison with many gifted women, but I never treat my training like I have an edge on anyone. I am so grateful and hold onto those memories so tight, but it gives me even more fuel to improve on my weaker points so that I may get a pro card in the near future. In some sense I always compete with an underdog mentality; the moment you get too comfortable or too cocky is the second it will get pulled out from underneath you. I rejoice in the awesome memories, but I’ll never slow up. I aim to have a physique that packs a punch in the line-up and stands out to the judges and audience.

Dean: It seems like your physique is just about right where it needs to be. What kind of feedback did you get from the judges on what you need to tweak before your next show? Are you still thinking Nationals in Florida?

Stage Motto: “Great competitors do not just highlight their strengths, but focus intently on bringing an overall perfected package… I aim to have a physique that packs a punch in the line-up and stands out to the judges and audience.”

“Great competitors do not just highlight their strengths, but focus intently on bringing an overall perfected package,” Jackie says. “I aim to have a physique that packs a punch in the line-up and stands out to the judges and audience.”

Jackie: I think truly great competitors do not just highlight their strengths, but focus intently on bringing an overall perfected package. Immediately after Jr. Nationals ended, I sent off my email to the judges asking what they specifically felt my strengths and weaknesses were. The feedback I received was that for my first national show, I displayed a lot of confidence and my presentation was strong. I was complimented on my suit, styling, V-taper, and was told my conditioning was amongst the strongest. But in order to improve for the next show, I need to bring up my delts and glutes, and condition my back a bit more.

My mind is already prepping for Nationals, and I am currently bulking and lifting harder in order to improve those areas before I begin to cut again. I do not believe in an “off-season” and am setting hard work in place right now so that I come in bigger and stronger for November.

Dean: During our first meeting at Jr. Nationals, you busted out an awesome traps pose and had fun talking about the results of your hard work. Are there any other times when you surprised someone with your physique or strength, perhaps armwrestling or outlifting someone at the gym? And by the way, don’t forget to do that traps pose again when Lou catches up with you for your first official photoshoot!

Jackie: Hahaha I don’t think I can go a day without making my friends laugh; life is just better when you can be silly and laugh at yourself. It is funny that you mentioned surprising people with my strength, because I used to train with powerlifters before I got into bodybuilding. In 2011 an old friend introduced me to his father and friends in our gym, and one night asked me if I wanted to try a Romanian deadlift. I was always able to lift more than my female friends, so I figured why not. I walked up to the bar with powergrip and deadlifted 250lbs raw. I’ve also squatted 270lbs PR, performed bent-over rows with 90lbs for 15 reps, overhead pressed 50lb dumbbells for 8 reps, worked 140lbs on lat pulldowns for 10 reps (with wraps), and performed T-bar rows with 245lbs for 12 reps.

Balancing Act: “I use exercise, competing, and living a fit lifestyle as a reward when I'm overwhelmed,” Jackie says. “As long as I keep pushing myself towards being my best, I have something wonderful to smile about.”

Balancing Act: “I use exercise, competing, and living a fit lifestyle as a reward when I’m overwhelmed,” Jackie says. “As long as I keep pushing myself towards being my best, I have something wonderful to smile about.”

Something about being “just a girl” but slamming weights that men were not lifting was appealing, and I became addicted. I eventually switched to bodybuilding, but I still enjoy lifting heavy and working up a sweat every chance I’ve given. Oh yeah, I’ve also squatted my guy friends as a joke a few times.

Dean: You’ve already achieved so much success studying for and becoming an attorney. How do you manage to balance the day-to-day grind of your career with the demands of training, nutrition and contest prep?

Jackie: I think dealing with the balance of being a professional, an athlete, and having a personal life all comes down to one thing: DESIRE. Do you desire to make it all happen? If so, you’ll figure out a way to squeeze everything you want to accomplish into your day. That quote “if it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse” applies to absolutely everything I do. Sometimes I’m really pressed for time or really stressed out, but I find that my mental attitude makes all the difference in how I handle it.

I use exercise, competing, and living a fit lifestyle as a reward when I’m overwhelmed. When I’m prepping for a show, I love knowing that there is something to always look forward to—it makes dealing with life’s frustrations much easier knowing there is something amazing that I get to work towards. As long as I keep pushing myself towards being my best, I have something wonderful to smile about.

Figure Power: Jackie’s strength in the gym has motivated her to keep improving. “Something about being just a girl [lifting] weights that men were not lifting was appealing, and I became addicted.”

Figure Power: Jackie’s strength in the gym has motivated her to keep improving. “Something about being just a girl [lifting] weights that men were not lifting was appealing, and I became addicted.”

Dean: Jackie, thanks so much for doing this interview; we can’t wait to have you on the site! Before we wrap up, feel free to give shout-outs to people who have helped you during your fitness journey or share news about any other projects you might have going on.

Jackie: Dean and Lou, thank you both so much for giving me the chance to sit down and have a fantastic interview with you! There are a lot of people for me to thank, but the short list comes down to my parents and my grandmother, Marilyn. She passed away in March, and I told myself that my next show would be dedicated to her because she always believed in my potential and my dreams. As long as I was happy and doing things for the right reasons, she stood behind me.

I have to thank my parents for seeing how this lifestyle has transformed me into the kind of woman I hope inspires others. I really want to thank my closest friends, one of whom is my new coach, for holding my hand during a few tough times this year. It is always those kinds of people who step in when you are low who deserve all of the praise once you make it back up. I hope I give you all a lot more to be proud of in the upcoming months!

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~ by Dean Sucich on July 30, 2013.

2 Responses to “Interview with Figure Competitor Jackie Faine”

  1. […] of good stuff to come including some armwrestling footage (more on that later). For more on Jackie, check out our interview from a few months […]

  2. […] future star, a former varsity tennis champion when she was just a freshman in high school. When I interviewed her last year, Jackie said she used to train with powerlifters and really got used to pushing […]

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