Army wife chases pro fitness credential
November 9, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla.-- Meet Jeannie Marshall, Army wife, mother of two and a dedicated bikini fitness competitor; Nov. 10 she hopes to win the World Body Building Fitness Federation competition in Midwest City, Okla.
In doing so, she would earn her professional card that could lead to endorsement deals and fitness modeling for the 30-something dynamo.
"It's like a stamp of approval that judges will say you've reached the pinnacle and can call yourself a pro," said Jeannie, who competes under, St. Amour, her maiden name.
To achieve this credential, she will compete against 20-25 other women of varying ages in bikini, evening gown and theme wear events not just posing their sculpted physiques, but also sharing a glimpse into their emotions and personalities. Jeannie said the federation holds competitions in part to discover new models to market fitness-related products.
She trains up to two hours a day, five or six days a week lifting weights to prepare for competition. Along with time for workouts, she purchased competition outfits and accessories, and tailored her diet to produce optimum results. Turning professional would allow her to recoup a portion of her financial investment by receiving prize money at events. It would also make her eligible to compete internationally at more prestigious competitions.
While prize money, recognition and competitions to romantic cities of the world would each be motivation enough to seek excellence in any activity, Jeannie's justification for applying hours of gym time and reason for getting started in bikini body building was much simpler.
"I've always been goal-oriented, and training for these competitions gave me a definite goal to work toward," she said. "Having that goal kept me focused to continue to train hard and watch what I ate."
She added goals she has attained along the way provided a sense of accomplishment to spur her to keep working and improving.
"I use fitness as my medium toward personal improvement, though I'll admit, this is good for my self-esteem, too," she said.
Seems only fitting then she would meet her husband, 1st Lt. Blake Marshall, A Battery, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Field Artillery, at a fitness activity. Teaching an Israeli self-defense course, Blake picked Jeannie from the class and demonstrated a choke hold.
She said her initial reaction to meeting the well-muscled lieutenant was something to the effect of, "Wow, he's kinda cute."
Jeannie said Blake has always been a great encourager for her when doubts held her back from reaching for her dreams. Leafing through fitness magazines, she would envision herself as one of the models of the pictured nutritional supplements and fitness products.
"I expressed my doubts of it happening, but he asked, 'Why can't you do that?' I realized there was nothing stopping me from pursuing that dream," she said. "Through it all he helps keep me focused and grounded; he's also my best coach."
But, competitions are only one aspect of this multi-talented woman's life. When the lights dim, she returns to being another great example of the strength-of-the-Soldier ideal the Army proclaims of its family members.
Jeannie said she's learned that balance is essential in all aspects of her life, whether preparing nutritional meals, working out at a post fitness center or attending to her duties as a wife and mother. As her interest in fitness progressed with age, she also applied it to helping others as a personal trainer and nutrition specialist.
Those ideas and recipes keep her family well fed, too.
"In fall and winter, my kids' favorite meal is vegetable, lentil soup," said Jeannie, who shares custody of her children with her former husband. "They eat everything I prepare, such as grilled fish or chicken, salad and steamed vegetables. I've instilled in them the desire to want to eat healthy."
Although Blake brought his own healthy lifestyle into their relationship, Jeannie cooks most of their meals, then leftovers become lunches he takes to work. Not only do they fuel his duties as an artillery officer, they also provide the energy for him to do cardio or weightlifting workouts five or six days a week.
"A healthy lifestyle better prepares me to lead and take on greater challenges because I'm physically fit and eating healthy," said Blake. "I don't eat fast food and consciously decide not to eat something that won't promote health."
Not being one to hide the nuggets of wisdom she has found, Jeannie regularly shares motivational thoughts, nutritional recipes and workout tips on her Facebook page. However, her lead-by-example approach also merits attention.
"Here I am having had two children and being older, I'm in the best shape of my life," she said, "and, this is sustainable, because women in their 40s and 50s compete in these events.
"I want to show people this is all about balance, it's not an extreme lifestyle," she said. "Overall, except for a brief time before an event, I live and eat pretty much the same way year round."
Jeannie will compete at 6 p.m. at Rose State College Performing Arts Theater in Midwest City. For more information or tickets, call 405-297-2264.