Photography by Paul Buceta

Meet Jaclyn Phillips, 32, our phenomenal cover athlete for STRONG's May/June 2022 issue. Jaclyn is successfully building her coaching career on teaching women how to take up space, in all facets of life, as she pushes back against the idea that women should be “small,” or feel the need to shrink themselves. We followed up with her post-issue to shed even more light on this fun-loving fitness coach who is on a mission to help women get strong AF. Here’s what she had to say. 

What are three words that describe you? 

Fun. Energetic. Loud.

Who inspires you and why?

My mom is my biggest inspiration. She left her small town in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia—something NOBODY from her town did—and became a police officer. She was one of the first full-duty female police officers in Canada, in fact. She faced unimaginable opposition (most people thought women should NOT be cops at the time). But she did it anyway, and she persevered. She had an incredible 30+ year career and showed me how to be strong.

Top three training songs you love to train to… Go!

OK, please don't judge me, but I actually listen to Disney music and watch cartoons when I lift. 

Really? Okay, which Disney character do you most identify with? 

Currently, Luisa from Encanto (she's the strong one). But old school, I LOVED Pocahontas because she was wild and adventurous, and friends with animals.

If you could be any color of crayon, which one would you be and why?

Red. Why: Fire. Energy. Loud. Big. That’s me. 

Favorite mantra or quote?

"Even the smallest person can change the course of history." - J.R.R. Tolkien. I love this quote so much because it reminds me that we are ALL the main characters in our lives, and we can ALL have a HUGE impact if we want to. No one person is more important than another for the future or the trajectory of humanity. We all have our roles to play. We're all important in our own right and have a reason to be here. Anyone, even the smallest person, can impact and change the future!

What’s your favorite healthy snack, and what’s your favorite "treat" meal or snack?

My favorite "healthy" snack would be anything packed with extra protein (like protein pancakes/waffles or protein cereal). The original is great, but if I can sneak in a little extra protein, I love it! 

My favorite "treat" meal/snack is beer (lol). I'm a huge beer nerd. I love a good IPA. Even my dog is named after a beer—Guinness—one of mine and my husband's favorite beers (we went to Dublin just to go to the Guinness Storehouse a couple of years ago).

What is your workout routine each week?

I do strength training splits, training different muscle groups 3-5 days per week (depending on the phase). I do 2-4 main exercises with a couple of accessory exercises (you'll find my training style efficient and quick). I utilize many of my own "Quickie" workouts that I've written for STRONG.

Favorite body part to train? 

GLOOTS (lol, glutes, aka, bum).

Top three tips for anyone considering competing?

1. Get a coach. Competing/bodybuilding is intense and not something to be taken lightly or approached without proper knowledge and coaching.

2. Have all your basics down pat. Understand food and strength training, and have a good relationship with your body. If you struggle with self-love or body image issues, competing is NOT for you. 

3. Remember, bodybuilding and fitness competitions are based purely on subjective aesthetics and nothing else. It can be exciting, thrilling, and insanely motivating to compete, but we have to remember that we are so much more than just our bodies.

Jaclyn's top five training tips for women who want to be strong AF.

1. Lift heavy. Heavier than you think (because you are stronger than you think). I encourage you to get a coach who knows what they're doing to mitigate risk of injury, too!

2. Learn about food. Like, actually understand your food—what it is, and how it affects your body. The more you understand food, nutrition, and how it impacts YOU, the better your relationship will be with it and the better you can utilize it. 

3. Do it for LIFE (no quick fixes). Don't start something you only plan on doing for a couple of weeks to achieve a goal. Because once you reach that goal and stop doing whatever got you to that goal, you won't be able to maintain it. 

4. Create an environment and a team that supports you. Sometimes, the closest people in our lives can be the worst at encouraging us to change (because they don't want us to change). Surround yourself with people on similar journeys, making similar changes, and facing similar challenges. Facing opposition or challenges from your environment and social circle every day will wear you down. And we're trying to build you UP! 

5. Stop weighing yourself. Track actual STRENGTH progress markers (personal records/PBs) rather than weighing yourself. 

LaRue V. Gillespie
LaRue's journalism career has taken her from being a features reporter with a newspaper group to the editor-in-chief and creative director of a fitness magazine. She's currently a freelance writer with a passion for penning investigative health reports.