Fitness Queen of Queens: Jacqueline DePrima

Queens native Jacquelyn DePrima is proud of the National Bodybuilding Incorporated’s first place title she recently won. The competition is an all-natural one in which competitors are tested and also given polygraphs to determine whether they used artificial means to attain their fitness levels. Over the summer, she competed in the same competition, but only won second place. The second time around, DePrima listened to what people had to say. “The judges actually have me a lot of insight on what they were looking for. They told me exactly what they saw in what I needed to do. I had the body frame they were looking for, but I was softer. They told me to do more squats and cardio. I did exactly what they said.” And it paid off with a first place title the second time around. As for Jacquelyn’s workout schedule, she works out 6 days a week 1 1/2-2 hours a day even when she’s not competing; she follows programs designed by Tony Danvers, her trainer based at Valenica Health Club, the gym she belongs to in Elmont, NY and her father, who is a personal trainer.

“When I train three months before a show, I’ll work out harder and do much more cardio,” she says. Off season, she does 45 minutes of cardio and while she’s training, she does 1 1/2 hours of intensified cardio training in her heart rate zone. Two weeks before a show, she will meet her trainer and do cardio twice a day. A typical non-competition work out involves cardio first followed by weight training two muscle groups a day. Tony gears her in the direction of more upper body work since he feels she “loves legs too much” because they’re too overdeveloped.

Jacquelyn hasn’t always been a fitness buff; in fact, she was chunky. At 5’3,” she weighed in at 160. She got into fitness when she was 17, as a sort of experiment for her father who became a personal trainer and needed someone to work with. “At first, I was so scared going to the gym,” she says. “For three months, my father trained me and I lost 20 pounds. Tony saw the improvements and asked if I could represent Valencia. It was so exciting like I graduated med school or something,” she laughs.

Nutritionally, she eats well-balanced, small meals (high protein meals 6X a day) and her trainer gives her a diet when he sees she’s getting too “soft.” She will wake up and have 6 egg whites and turkey sausage at 7 am. At 9 am, she will eat chicken, tuna or cottage cheese. For lunch, at 11:30 am, she will have chicken caesar salad, or lean cold meats with no bread. At mid afternoon, she has a protein shake. Then she works out. At around 7 pm, she will have chicken or fish with veggies. She refrains from eating pasta. “I’m Italian, my family hates me. I don’t eat pasta at all. They want to disown me.” Her cheat day is Sunday and she will only eat pizza-no pasta!

For inspiration, Jacquelyn says she goes to church every Saturday. “It keeps me sane. It calms me. That’s what gives me strength every day. If you don’t have peace, you don’t have the strength to want to follow through on your goals,” she says. It also helps her have patience with people. “When I have something wrong, I look to God,” and also to her boyfriend who she says offers her encouragement and support when she needs it.

“I think you should follow what you feel and not worry what other people feel and think. Actually, the other day in the gym, I had two men come up to me and ask me what other people would think of them for having such little weight on their weights. ‘Look at this,’ they said to me ‘A girl can lift this’ and I told them, ‘It doesn’t matter. This is where you are starting. Everyone has to start somewhere and in a few months, you’ll be lifting much more weight, so don’t worry about it.’” Good advice coming from a winning bodybuilder “girl” who was once afraid to go to the gym!