COAL CITY – It wasn’t too long ago that Jeanine Pierard of Coal City was fairly inactive.
She had a desk job and spent quite a bit of time recovering from shoulder and two hamstring surgeries. She had put on a few pounds, too, and was up to a size 16 when she was 31.
She lost a lot of the weight by “common sense nutrition,” then, in October 2013, she began a stern nutrition program. Last March, at 36, she signed up with a well-known coach and motivational speaker, and began a hardcore workout regime.
The goal was a bodybuilding competition.
About eight months later, she was on a stage at the 2014 National Physique Committee Iron Man Bodybuilding Show in Chicago, wearing a size 2 bikini, weighing 128 pounds with 2 percent body fat, and taking home the fifth-place trophy in the Women’s Figure Class C Division.
“I wasn’t sure if I could do it,” Pierard said of the goal she set for herself last spring. “I was older, I had injuries, I had two kids ... ”
In their first meeting, she asked her coach Staci Boyer a lot of questions.
“ ‘Is this doable?’ ” she asked. “ ‘Don’t sugarcoat it for me.’ ... I followed her plan to a T. I wanted it that bad. I wanted to get on that stage at least one time.”
It wasn’t hard for her to get motivated. Pierard was athletic even as a kid, preferring running around outside to indoor activities.
“I was a tomboy,” she said. “I loved anything to do with sports and athletics.”
She skateboarded, rode bikes, swam and played volleyball, basketball and softball. She started going to the Coal City Fitness gym when she was 15. It became an everyday activity for her, and she loved it.
“I have a passion for pushing my body to the limit,” she said. “Being active and sweating. ... I love it.”
After attending Joliet Junior College, she began her family and had children. When she ran or rollerbladed, she took the kids with her in their stroller.
“My transportation for a long time was rollerblades,” she said.
As the kids grew, she remained active with them.
Then came her injuries, desk jobs and a slow decline in her fitness. Last October, she lost 15 pounds by eating Ideal Protein meals, which she described as a weight loss program with low carbohydrates and sugars.
She kept running into an acquaintance in town, Heather Hayes, who she noticed was getting in shape. Hayes recommended her coach, Staci Boyer, and Pierard hired Boyer as her coach last March.
Pierard joined Boyer’s Team Motiv8 Elite. She worked out at Get Fit in Morris and Coal City for two-and-a-half to three hours every day, sometimes even going in twice a day. Little by little, she saw her muscles transform, and her bodybuilding body emerge.
“She worked hard, and she believed in herself, and I believed in her,” Boyer said. “She never faltered. ... Jeanine is somebody who transformed her life, and she overcame so many things. She is the definition of a real inspiration. She knows how to balance fitness and life and really bring it all together.”
It wasn’t easy, Pierard said, especially since her biggest priority was her family. She would get up at 4:30 a.m. for her workouts, even when her hamstrings were hurting, which was most days.
The competition was Nov. 1 in Chicago, and she was ready. It was an all-day event and was trying, she said, but she was up for it. Her coach led her and her teammates through all the last-minute preparations of spray tanning, hair, make-up, jewelry and advice.
There were about 3,000 competitors at the show, with 15 women in her “C” class, which was for taller women. The judges looked at overall physique, she explained, including definition and muscle mass. They also looked at the way she posed, her hair, her shoes and even her tan.
“Your tan can make or break your muscle definition,” she said.
She took away the fifth place trophy – and the joy of meeting her goals and getting to know a great group of women.
Pierard described the experience as “amazing.” She continues to exercise, but not with quite the grueling schedule she had pre-competition. She wants to work more on her shoulders, legs and gluts, and build more strength. She’s considering doing some work as a fitness model.
“I don’t know what my future holds,” she said, “but you can bet it consists of living a healthy and fit lifestyle, and I hope to inspire others to do the same.”