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Fitness buff starts business to change lives

Local professional fitness competitor leaves abusive marriage, finds strength in exercise
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Laticia Jackson has been advised to try yoga. An acupuncturist who treats the 32-year-old’s injured shoulder thinks practicing the postures might calm her down. But good luck calming Jackson down at this point in her life — she’s too psyched about starting her own fitness consulting business in Roseville. “I really want to see lives changed,” she said. “I want someone to walk in here one way and leave another way.” Jackson’s excitable, in-your-face personality may surface every day, but she particularly shines when expressing herself on stage at national fitness competitions. The Antelope resident is an International Federation of Body Builders fitness professional, a title earned in July 2006. She’s competed in six shows, including Fitness Olympia, which she equates to the Super Bowl of fitness events. Last year, she placed in the top five in two international competitions. During performances, she does one-arm pushups and a pike hold, when she rests her legs on her arms and lifts up her whole body. She dances and demonstrates cheerleading moves, and prances around in a swimsuit. “I always had God-given athletic gifts,” Jackson said. “God gives us skills and talents. It’s up to (us) to perfect them.” She credits her Christian faith with building her physical — and emotional — strength. “God is everything,” Jackson said. “He’s created me to do what I do. I know my purpose in life. I know this is where he led me.” Jackson was born and raised in Pensacola, Fla., the youngest of three girls. She was an active child and played high school basketball. She earned a cheerleading scholarship for a community college. But, at the time, she decided school wasn’t for her. So she joined the U.S. Air Force in 1999. One day as she worked out in the gym, a guy asked if she ever considered participating in fitness competitions. She trained for eight months. Her first competition was in Arlington, Texas in May 2000. “I remember feeling extremely nervous backstage,” Jackson said. “But once I stepped out on that stage, I felt at home. My very first time, I won the entire thing.” She eventually returned to school and graduated with honors from University of West Florida. In 2006 she married and moved to Boston, looking forward to a lifetime of wedded bliss. That ended eight months later after her husband became mentally and physically abusive, she said. Jackson felt too ashamed to tell anyone. “I lost myself,” she said. “I couldn’t talk to people because he was very controlling, very insecure.” One night he tried to kill her. She packed her bags and left. He ended up going to jail and Jackson moved to Ohio to live with family for a while. “Being healthy allowed me to leave,” she said. “It gave me strength.” Jackson stopped competing for almost two years as she struggled to find herself again. Then she realized she could ponder and complain — or get angry and do something. “I got mad about it and took my life back,” she said. “Working out was my saving grace … It was a hard process learning to love myself again.” On July 4, 2008, she made her professional debut at the Houston Pro Show and placed 11th out of 28 women. “I had my mind set on the Olympia,” Jackson said. “People thought I was crazy and that I couldn’t do it that fast. I was determined.” On Sept. 25, 2008, she placed eighth in her first year at Fitness Olympia. A dislocated shoulder has benched her until next year. In the meantime, Jackson’s focused on building her new business, FNL Wellness and Fitness Training. She specializes in weight loss, personal training, nutrition and lifestyle advice. One of her clients, Lisa Kessler of Antelope, has worked with Jackson for the last eight months. "She's very encouraging," Kessler said. “It’s not a cookie-cutter workout. She listens to what I want to do and tailors my workout to meet my goals.” They train together three days a week. Kessler said Jackson’s positive energy has rubbed off on her, which makes the workouts even more beneficial. “I get to wake up and do what I love and smile while doing it,” Jackson said. “I couldn’t ask for anything else.” Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. ---------- To learn more about FNL Wellness and Fitness Training, stop by the office at 1100 Melody Lane, Suite 124 in Roseville or call (916) 677-1890. Contact Laticia Jackson at l_jack78@hotmail.com or visit www.laticiajackson.com.