Before I start, let me get this clear… you’re telling me its not normal for a slightly orange and baggy clothed person to be eating every meal out of tupperware and nearly crying at the sight of peanut butter? Hello to all my fellow competitors, friends, family and the people who are extremely confused by what I just said.
My name is Shayla Jacobs and I guess you could say I was “born into” bodybuilding. It all started during the year of 2000. At the time, both my parents were highly competitive athletes in the NPC with nearly 5+ years of experience under their belt. My dad, Marc Jacobs, was a lightweight bodybuilder but brought a killer symmetrical and cut up look to the stage where as my mother, April Jacobs, was an energetic and innovative fitness competitor.
Off the stage, both worked in the industry. My dad has been with Europa for more than 20 years and my mom was a gymnastics coach but was also was a major component in the supplement industry for the top brands you see to this day. The foundation they had from the earliest moments of my life was strong and never once do I think they really knew what they were getting themselves into with me.
I was in gymnastics before anything and my mom made sure to teach me how to point my toes and bend my back. Our family was very active but there was always another level to our life, which was competing. In 2003, my dad went on to receive his procard which inevitably lit a fire in my mom to do so as well come 2004. I vividly remember the fire in their eyes and the outstanding amounts of discipline when I would try to convince them to share a zebra cake with me. Amidst the triumphs and awards, they decided to enjoy the journey and incorporate me and my gymnastics background to the stage. I did about three guest posings where promoters would fly us out to see a little troll-looking five year old cruise on stage in her electric convertible (head bobbing and all), doing some summersaults, headstands and of course my famous “toe wiggle.”
After both parents reaching the pinnacle of their career and rightfully earning their IFBB Pro card, it was time to hang up the heels and focus on life, me and my two older sisters. The next 10 years that came our way was nothing less of an experience. Through divorce, leaving our childhood home and worst of all, seeing that once so bright light shine in my parents eyes dim. Sometimes the hardest times in your life can lead you down paths that could save you or kill you and Thank God life brought us down the right one.
At 11 years old training became my outlet. It was something that not only allowed me to lay it all out on the line but brought me closer to my dad who also needed that form of therapy. Years go by and some days were harder than others but it was that overall sense of relief and accomplishment every single day that compelled me to consider it less of a hobby and more of a passion. This was also the time I could see improvements in my family because of training and eventually witnessed that light begin to shine again in my dad’s eyes.
2016 was the year that changed my life. In July, I was turning 16 years old and like every year, the main question was what did I want for my birthday? I thought on it for so long but I had everything I could have ever want… so what better to ask for than to see my dad get back on stage after a ten year break? He personally thought it would’ve been easier to get me a car but boy was it just too perfect considering the Europa Games Charlotte was the weekend of my birthday! He began his prep and I made sure to stand by his side as much as possible whether it was for 45 minutes of cardio or simply writing little notes to get him through his day. Watching him at an older age allowed me to grasp a portion of what it is like to be a competitor and prep for a show. I was infatuated with the resilience and the “no excuses” type of person he formed back into. It inspired me every single day and began forming a small voice in the back of my head to do this one day as well, when the time comes.
After the longest 10 year holt, my dad stepped on stage in the 212 division and received a top five placing in a stacked class. He brought aesthetic and played his strengths by not sacrificing his physique based on the guys who showed up. I will forever hold that time near and dear to my heart and it will go down as the best birthday of my entire life. But wow, was that only the beginning. I remember vividly standing in the kitchen a week after my dads show, eating stromboli and pineapple sherbert out the carton telling him that next year, Im stepping on stage. I was inspired and I knew we just could not be done and this was only the beginning.
Fast Forward to January 1st 2017, 16 years old and just doing simply what I was told. With the excitment of their baby girl getting on stage for their first time, the team came back together! My dad trained me, did cardio with me and talked me through the tough days while my mom came out swinging with a banging fitness routine rightfully themed as “Oompa Loompa.” The North Carolina State Championships was something that both my parents won in their previous times of competing and come April, their little girl took the title as well. What do you know, a whole family of state champs! Its’ crazy sometimes where life can take you and the true meaning given behind doing what you do makes it all worthwhile.
Now, for the most recent chapter of my story…2018. With 2016 being my dads’ comeback year, 2017 being my debut year, what better than 2018 to be our year? We started prep January 1st to be able to step on stage together at the same show. Some days were tough in a house full of competitors on low carbs and high pressure but somehow putting on a little Delilah and jamming out to some old classics soothed our soul. The days counted down and before we knew it, my dad and I were up at 2:30 in the morning enjoying steak and oatmeal. There was an overwhelming sense of excitement even when we were both sitting silent. We both knew there was a job that had to be done and every single second of work that was done would be laid out on that stage within the next hours. From then on, it all happened in a blink. From both of us rushing backstage before we were ready to go on to nearly wanting to rush the stage itself when both of us won our divisions. That was a moment I will never forget for the rest of my life. There was so much more behind this show than just what was seen with the naked eye. It sparked a fire in both of us that now is growing even more. From goals that were only a mere thought to now looking at the highest levels in bodybuilding and knowing it can only be a few steps away with persistence, hardwork and dedication. Let’s just call this the beginning.
Written by Shayla Jacobs