NPC Figure Competitor, Personal Trainer, and Fitness Model Nancy Fuentes Defies the Laws of Aging
FIT AT 50
Personal trainer, fitness model, and former nationally qualified NPC Figure Competitor Nancy Fuentes has been teaching aerobics classes since age 15 and competed in her first fitness competition at age 28. After dozens of Fitness/Figure competitions and decades of personal training, Fuentes is doubling up on her efforts to build her brand. Between the clearly low body fat, to naturally curvy physique and smooth skin, no one would be able to guess that Fuentes is going strong at age 50.
If you can imagine the typical fit chick carrying around her Six Pack Bag and wearing Bombshell Sportswear with a large Instagram following and good looks, you’d imagine Fuentes’ body. The difference with Fuentes is that she’s a tried and true expert in the field, with the credentials to back up her appearance unlike most social media fitness stars. In fact, she’s used fitness to not only better her life, but her clients’ careers too.
“I’ve had clients change careers due to their personal training with me,” says Fuentes. “Candice Graciano went from being a financial analyst to running coach, life coach and personal trainer. I’ve helped her better her lifestyle so she transitioned her career. I have another client who was a pharmaceutical rep and now she works at a supplement company. She learned a lot of things from me as far as supplements and your body.”
A single mother of two children, Fuentes raised both kids while hustling as a personal trainer and of course worked out during her pregnancies. Fuentes started lifting weights at age 23, right after she had her son, but initially she experienced what many women do upon entering a weight room.
“I remember walking into the gym and I always felt intimated by the weights because I thought I would get big and bulky,” says Fuentes. “I had someone take me to the gym one day and say, ‘Come on, let’s do legs.’ When I started lifting, my body composition totally changed and I cleaned up my diet as well.”
A FIGURE WINNER
Fuentes attended her first fitness show in 1994 and competed in the NPC Fitness Division at the Women’s Extravaganza in 1995 (there was no Figure then). I’ve been to several bodybuilding/men’s physique shows yet I haven’t competed in any so I had to know what actually made her hit the switch and step on stage.
“I saw a fitness competition and I thought, ‘Oh I could do this’ so I trained really hard, practiced gymnastics, and I placed third at my first show without an official coach,” Fuentes says. “I thought the women looked beautiful and I admired the hard work and how they shaped their body. That’s what’s amazing about contest prep how you start to see your body changing and transitioning. I’m amazed by the changes in muscle definition and vascularity.”
When the Figure Division was launched in 2003, Fuentes started competing in the Figure Division. She made a comeback in 2007, winning the overall and her division at the 2007 NPC King Kamali Classic, which qualified her for Nationals. Fuentes would continue to compete through 2007-2009, placing third at the National level. Her last competition was the 2010 NPC Team Universe but she’s open to returning to competing.
“I got a special invitation to compete in a Pro Show while I was an NPC amateur back in 1995 and I did all the contest prep but my father wound up having a heart attack a week before the show,” says Fuentes. “I never wound up competing as a pro. I was nationally qualified and I competed in national shows. I haven’t competed in a few years so I will probably have to requalify to compete in a national show.”
Fuentes is also a fitness model who has appeared in Muscular Development and Performance Plus magazines and she’s currently training for a fitness modeling shoot. In Fuentes’ world, a better physique equals an increase in personal training clients, and both of those tangibles are improving each day.
“I want to do photo shoots and expose myself a bit more and not being in shape is a bad way to gain exposure,” Fuentes says. “If I’m lazy, I’m going to look like out of shape which won’t help me promote my business. I’ll be tired and have no energy. Shouldn’t you practice what you preach? I don’t advertise so my business is all word of mouth and literally people stopping me in the street. The better shape I’m in, the busier I get.”
BACK IN THE GAME
To prepare for her upcoming fitness photo shoot, Fuentes lifted weights five days a week and did cardio five days a week. Mondays are for chest/triceps, Tuesdays/Saturdays are leg days, Wednesdays are rest days, Thursday is back and Friday is shoulders/biceps. This type of vigorous schedule is nothing new to Fuentes who has embraced the gym grind no matter what.
“You have to make an effort and be committed,” Fuentes says. “There were days I was competing and I didn’t have time during the day to train legs so I would train at night at 11:00pm with tears coming down my eyes because I had to be up at 5:00am to start training clients."
In terms of the practical expertise Fuentes provides, clearly it’s how to build muscle, lose fat and ultimately avoid a “muffin top.” During her bodybuilding career, eventually Fuentes worked with a contest prep coach but even then the strategies changed show to show. This is because her genetics are so good that she virtually got too shredded.
“There was a year that I competed in one show where I got too muscular and lean, then six weeks later I had another show,” Fuentes says. “During that six weeks, I barely lifted any weights because my genetics adapt to weights so greatly. There were shows I was told I had to eat carbs because I was leaning out too quickly.”
On the diet front, Fuentes eyeballs her portions these days but during contest prep she would weigh her meals. Overall, she follows a nutrition motto of “If you can grow it, you can eat it.” Oatmeal is ½ cup servings and chicken is 4-5oz per serving but when she’s hungry, she’ll have double portions. Fuentes tries to steer clear of pizza and cake and her go to cheat meal during her competing days was a cheeseburger. This dedication to clean eating is more important now than ever, Fuentes adds.
“What happens when women get older is their testosterone levels decrease which attributes to lack of energy, stamina and even libido,” says Fuentes. “You have to be at your optimum health to counteract all of those things because your body does start to decline after a certain age. I have to train and diet and do different types of cardio to keep my metabolism going as fast.”
THE BODYBUILDER MOTIVATOR
You know that Cuban girl in the group who always speaks her mind, often saying what everyone is thinking but are often afraid to say? That’s Fuentes. Her outgoing personality benefits her business, where she trains clients ranging from teenagers to age 91.
“I trained a woman into her 90s helping her have a better quality of life,” says Fuentes. “I just recently started training more seniors and what happens in the 50+ age range is that people have been married, raising kids, and put themselves second to their families. One day, they wake up and their kids are not as interactive with them and they think ‘What happened to me? Also, a lot of 40-50 year olds are getting divorced and want to get in shape, build their confidence and enter the dating scene again.’”
Some of Fuentes’ more high-profile clients include NBA star Patrick Ewing’s daughter, his ex-wife (Rita) and Eddie Murphy’s ex-wife (Nicole Murphy). What I’ve found from personal training is that fitness is a universal language, and once you learn to speak it well, anyone can understand. With that said, here’s more of Fuentes’ motivational quotes.
“The first thing I tell my clients is build yourself up from the inside out and you’re naturally going to project this confidence because you know you’re doing something good for yourself,” Fuentes says. “Get your ass up off the couch. It’s possible. Stop making excuses and take pride in yourself. Take the time to make the right choices and be active everyday.”