MARY JEAN TRAETTA: ESPN'S Bodyshaping Star

by Christine Lynn Harvey

Mary Jean Traetta is a familiar regular on ESPN’s BodyShaping program, the longest running fitness show on cable for 14 years. She looks familiar, but her real age may amaze you. She’s a 60 year-old fitness beauty who looks no older than her early forties, serving as an inspiration to millions of women who have come to believe they are past their “prime.”

Mary Jean currently resides in New Jersey, but is a New York City girl at heart raised and bred in the Bronx. When she’s not busy shooting segments of the BodyShaping television show in Grand Lido Jamaica where most of the shows are taped, or Wyoming or some other exotic location, she plays doting grandmother to her two children who live in Illinois.

A typical shooting day starts at 7 am and runs till 5 pm. Working on a set is demanding work, as Mary Jean and her cast shoots about four TV shows a day. She says she will work out at a gym at her hotel after a shoot wraps as a way of relieving stress. “Even though we are working out as we are taped, we have little breaks in between. I’ve been working out for forty years and its always been a good release for me,” she says. “We’re also very busy, so you don’t have a lot of time to dwell on things that cause stress. I try to maintain a positive attitude. I don’t let a lot of things bother me when I am working.” Mary Jean started working out at the 92nd Street Y in New York City when ever she got the chance. “The men were very helpful, showing me which weights to use. They were patient,” she says. This was long before studies came out reporting that weight lifting is so beneficial to women.

Before aerobics became a buzzword in the 1980s, Mary Jean was working out with ankle and wrist weights on a mat in front of the TV as a way to relieve stress caused by being a full-time homemaker. “I found out through exercise, that I could deal with a lot of other things that were going on in my life. I was a working mother, I ran a business, I had two children and we were traveling all the time.” In 1990, she became a certified personal trainer by the Aerobics & Fitness Association of America, proving it’s never too late to make your dreams come true.

Before she and her husband got involved in producing TV fitness programs, they coached gymnastics and operated a gymnastics center for 17 years. “We decided when we married, we were going to be a team.” Then, the couple started producing two gymnastics shows a year at Caesar’s Palace between the mid 70’s and 80’s, helping to launch the career of Mary Lou Retton. Mary Jean had heard “Pumping Iron,” the film about female bodybuilders was coming to Caesar’s Palace. A serendipitous meeting with Joe Weider gave Mary Jean the inspiration to get into fitness television production. Although she had just turned forty, Weider believed Mary Jean could compete as a professional female bodybuilder. “I felt I was moving in another direction, and being a competitive bodybuilder would have taken too much of a time commitment.”

Mary Jean keeps herself looking young, by of course working out and by mainly staying out of the sun and using sunscreen. She met her husband when he was a lifeguard and because she is fair-skinned, he was “so protective, he would slather zinc oxide” all over Mary jean. She also refrains from drinking although she does enjoy a glass of wine once and a while; she also has never smoked. Mary Jean takes vitamins and drinks lots of water. She eats balanced meals and says she has cut back on her carb intake over the years. All these things keep her younger than her real biological age.

Natrol’s ProLab division recently teamed up with Mary Jean and has made her their spokeswoman for a line of products called “BodyShaping by Prolab” which features a weight loss multivitamin, Triple Lean Action Diet Program with thermogenic ingredients, Meal Supplement for a Lean Body, Tonalin CLA and Omega-3 Glucosamine, which Mary Jean highly recommends. “I noticed after working out, my joints were a little stiff and this stopped after I started taking the Omega-3 Glucosamine.” Mary Jean also says she is very impressed with the strict guidelines that QVC, the nation’s leading electronic retailer, set forth for being able to sell the Prolab Bodyshaping products on their cable channel.

“I always tell women exercise has always helped me deal with life. We owe it to ourselves to take care of our bodies,” she says. “We need to treat ourselves good. We deserve it!” Well said coming from an elegant lady who has certainly inspired me.

For more info, visit BodyShaping.com and natrol.com. Photos courtesy of BodyShaping.