Staying active has always been second nature for multi-time National Physique Competitor winner Jacklyn Bailey. Today, she shares how curiosity, rest, and progressively steady changes helped the bodybuilder thrive for over three decades in the industry, transform from the inside out, and inspire others along the way. 

Following pregnancy and a divorce that left Jacklyn’s health on the back burner in 1994, the IT specialist signed up for a gym membership, where she discovered the exhilaration and joy that comes with weight lifting. 

Jacklyn recalls noticing how the female body-builders at her gym radiated a special glow. 

“I thought: I could never do that. I was so shy. But I couldn’t quit thinking about it, so I thought I gotta take a risk and do this.” 

Under her first trainer’s tutelage, Jacklyn went from a size 12 to a 4 in less than three months through a fitness regimen that gradually began incorporating healthier foods and reducing sugary carbs. 

“Every time I went to the store to food shop, I would tell myself that the donut would still be there after my contest.” 

She explains how these transitions became easier over time as she saw her body begin to change. 

Going onstage for the first time in 1999 felt magical to her. “I found where I finally felt I was supposed to be.” 

Although Jacklyn carries an impressive collection of decorated accolades from her bodybuilding years in Bikini Masters, Women’s Physique, and Women’s Figure divisions that extended into her 50s, it was never about reaching the top levels, but rather the confidence it radiated into every area of her life. 

“I just did it for fun and didn’t take myself too seriously.” 

The bodybuilding industry is incredibly encouraging and supportive, and Jacklyn’s thrice annual event participation led to the fostering of many lifelong friendships. 

With nearly two decades of industry experience, Jacklyn made a career shift into wellness, earning her I.A.F.S Certified Personal Trainer license through the International Association of Fitness Sciences in 2011. 

Her women-geared services, based out of House of Payne, helped others create balance in life for improved sleep, confidence, immunity, energy, skin and nail health, and longevity. 

“I wanted to help everyday women, especially those my age, and teach them that it’s never too late to make changes.” 

Now retired, Jacklyn continues staying active by weekly clocking in four weight and cardio sessions at ATC Fitness. 

The Memphis native likes cooking healthy and delicious Mexican-inspired meals for her husband and mother at their Arlington, TN property, sneaking power foods like spinach into simple, slow-cooker dishes. 

A meal-prep maestro, the foodie makes sure to enjoy her regular elk burger and fries cheat meal, always ending with a few cannolis from Louie’s Deli. 

“No matter what you go for in life, start slow and rest often. Don’t rush into things. Instead, take your time with something new, and find balance with whatever your goal is.” 

By Shlomit Ovadia

Photo by Tindall Stephens