Fitness Spotlight: Jackie Zapata Of Fit For Fashion

Fit For Fashion Season 2 Winner and fellow Jackie visited Manila a few weeks back. Lucky for me during Jackie Zapata’s short trip here, I was able to workout with her despite her very busy schedule. As some of you may know, I go to Fitness First at least twice a week to do cardio and functional training. During my last Fitness First session before my month long break (I had to rest my wrist), I joined a group class for some serious FGT (Freestyle Group Training).


Stretching, stretching muna before workout! I seriously wasn’t my best that afternoon. I came from lil’ Ms. JG’s moving up and had buffet lunch afterwards. You can say I was full and feeling a tad bit lethargic ‘coz of all the Japanese food I ate heehee. It also didn’t help that I took a nap when we got home. Possibly the worst combination to do before working out. I felt like I didn’t have enough energy but I knew I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to meet Jackie Zapata. So off I hauled my lazy butt out of bed to workout.

Here’s a video of what went down during our 30-minute workout.

Galing nya di ba? Hashtag strong, hashtag she is so my peg!

Jackie is such an inspiring woman. After working out with her and chatting with her, I found out her story is something that almost all of us women can relate to. So I asked her a few questions that can be very useful for all of us, especially for those who need a little push to start their fitness journey.

What was that moment which motivated you to get back in shape?

That critical moment was in March of 2015 after putting on winter weight. I was getting ready to go out to a group dinner with all my girl friends when I realized that I couldn’t fit into any of my pants. I had spent months in baggy sweat pants and stretchy leggings, that I hadn’t realized how much my waist line had expanded. I knew I had to get back into shape after I cancelled the dinner plans out of shame and fear of going out in public.


What advice can you give to women especially career women who have no time to workout?

Getting fit and staying in shape should never be a burden. Fitness is only sustainable if it becomes a part of your lifestyle. If you don’t have time to go to the gym, focus on your diet. Clean eating is MORE than half of the process to losing weight and feeling good. Eat clean and EAT in general. Don’t skip meals or deprive yourself of nourishment–it’ll only sabotage your metabolism. Do yourself a favor and stop counting calories. Use that effort to focus on eating good quality foods.

Do you have any preference when it comes to choosing the right/best workout clothes? Any tips?

My biggest advice to anyone about selecting workout clothes is to wear what’s comfortable and what makes you feel confident. More importantly, wear what doesn’t distract you from your workouts. I know many people who prefer wearing loose shorts, while others prefer working out in pants. Some only workout in sports bra tops, while others don’t want to show too much skin or midrifs. It all depends on your own comfort level and personality. Personally, I prefer performance dry-fit compression gear. I normally wear matching compression capris and a compression tank, staying away from sleeves for maximum movement and breathability. Under armour has always been my favorite, along with Nike Pro, Lorna Jane, Lululemon, and anything I find on Zalora. I love wearing bright, playful colors that boost my energy and mood. If you’re doing weight training or floor workouts, anything goes but stick with low drop stability shoes. As for yoga, wear movable fabrics. If you’re running outdoors, I suggest wearing run gear with reflective accents for safety. Bottom line, wear what feels comfortable, confident, and fashionable–make your workout experience your own.


First step: start your morning with a balanced high protein, low carbohydrate, low sugar breakfast. The protein will fuel you until lunch and the lower sugar intake with prevent energy crashes mid morning. Keep active throughout the day by walking or taking the stairs when you can. Make time for lunch and don’t reach for the first snack option in the vending machine. If you’re like me, you keep a drawer of snack food. Do yourself a favor and stash fruit, veggie sticks, and natural snack bars in there instead of potato chips and cookies. I have fun prepping tasty bento box lunches for the week so I have easy grab-and-go lunch options when running out of the house in the morning.


Second: If you have time to go to the gym a few times a week after work, do workouts that give you the best bang for your hour. Weight training and HIIT workouts will boost your metabolism and torch fat for a longer period of time after your actual workout. Don’t fear weights, as weight training will help change your composition and give you the shape you want.


Third: If you can’t make it to the gym, workout in the comfort of your own home by downloading the Customfit app or doing resistance band training or yoga in your living room. Keep positive visual reminders to keep you motivated when you find it hard to get active and get yourself into your local Fitness First. Last but not least, try and make time for yourself – be kind to yourself, be positive, and get ample sleep.


Can you share five or more no-equipment workouts–abs, arms, legs, & back–that busy women can do in 10-20 minutes? 

Calisthenics are a great way to keep in shape, especially by increasing the difficulty level with slight modifications. To elevate your workout, try doing the following exercises in a circuit of 40 seconds on with 10 seconds rest, or by adding plyometrics to the ones you can do at an advanced level.  A few of my favorites no-equipment workouts are: burpees, (plyo) lunges, (jump) squats, pushups, planks (speed plank to elbows), mountain climbers, crunches, tricep dips, breakdancers, and v-ups. Try doing all those in a circuit of 5 sets. I promise it’ll be a full workout without stepping foot near a machine.


If you can motivate someone to start an active/healthy lifestyle, how would you do it?

To motivate others to live a healthy lifestyle, I would start by being a positive example. I’m living proof that a busy person juggling a hectic work life can reinvent themselves by implement changes one at a time to make a long term impact. I am proof that fitness and health is attainable and not something we simply see in models and celebrities in magazines and on tv. The life changing lessons I’ve learned on Fit for Fashion should be shared with everyone who did not have the similar opportunity to be a contestant. I plan on starting an online journal to share these lessons and tips, along with my message that we all deserve to be happy and healthy.

What is your motto or mantra in life that keeps you motivated to stay fit and fab?

I have a few that I remind myself every now and then. The following are exceptionally important in keeping me motivated and positive:

– I spend the most time in life with myself. Therefore, I owe it to myself to be the best and most interesting person I can be.

– There are two rules in life. Rule #1 in life is never give up. Rule #2 is never forget rule #1. (My parents taught me this early in life)

– Keep pushing further and farther. I am limitless.

– Find my greatness. Try and do something new that challenges or scares. Make myself always feel alive.


Can you share what is your diet to keep yourself lean and strong?

I try and eat clean, sticking to foods that are unprocessed. My diet is low carbohydrate, low sugar, low salt and no dairy (I’m lactose intolerant so I’ve never eaten dairy anyway). All this sounds so restricting, but trust me, it can be very tasty. For breakfast I start with a glass of water with lemon and a dash of apple cider vinegar to jump start my metabolism. A have a hard boiled egg, a few slices of salmon, and a few scoops of beans. For lunch and dinner I have a healthy serving of protein (usually poached chicken, salmon, or tuna), steamed broccoli or a healthy portion of salad (mixed greens, shredded carrots, green and red peppers, cherry tomatoes) with a little balsamic vinaigrette dressing if necessary. I snack on tasty protein shakes, sliced fruits or a small handful of raw nuts (not roasted as the fats change once roasted). The foods I eat now are more nutritious and of higher quality than the junk food I snacked on before the show, allowing me to eat more than I used to and still maintain a fitter, healthier composition.

A few diet tips and takeaways: If you can’t pick it, grow it, or catch it, try not to eat it. Stay away from processed foods filled with chemicals, as your body won’t metabolize them as efficiently as natural foods. Eat clean and eat when you’re hungry. Don’t restrict calories or count calories. Counting calories makes eating torturous and unenjoyable. Allow yourself to eat sweets (or any “cheat foods”) when you crave them, but eat them in small portions and preferably after a workout. Drink lots of water – hydration plays such a big role in health, beauty, and metabolism.


After working out with Jackie Zapata, I’ve been more motivated than ever. Talking to her validated my feelings in committing being fit – it doesn’t get any easier, you just get better. For days when I feel like crap and would indulge way too much on junk food, for days when I choose to just extend an hour or two of sleep instead of starting my day early and working out, for days when I consciously opted to skip going to the gym and blame traffic just because I don’t feel like going. For days like these, I will remind myself the very reason why I do it– I owe myself to be better, to fall in love taking care of myself. Because if I don’t, who else will? 🙂

Thank you Jackie for being an inspiration! Follow Jackie Zapata on Instagram & Twitter for fitspiration updates!

Visit Fitness First to get a FREE TRIAL and start your fitness journey soon.





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