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Nasty Women of New York



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  • Photographs and Interview by Michelle Kinney

  • Hair and Makeup Artist Anna Scheumann 

  • *This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and concision.

NWNY : What is your full name?

Jacqueline : Jacqueline Nicole Rodriguez.

NWNY : Where is your hometown?

Jacqueline : Queens, New York.

NWNY : Are you registered to vote?

Jacqueline : Yes!

NWNY : What is your current occupation?

Jacqueline : Personal trainer.

NWNY : Do you consider yourself a feminist?

Jacqueline : Yes!

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NWNY : What do you think is one of the biggest challenges facing women in our country right now?

Jacqueline : I think that women are given some of the same opportunities as men, but I do feel like we struggle with the pressure of taking care of everything. I work with a lot of powerful women — CEOs, lawyers, businesswomen, and they're stressed out! But so many men in those situations just aren't as stressed out. We put so much pressure on ourselves. Now that we're given more opportunities, we feel like we’re constantly having to prove ourselves.

NWNY : Why did you decide to become a personal trainer?

Jacqueline : I have always loved nutrition and fitness. When I was in school, I originally was studying to become a pharmacist. I liked it, but I wanted a little bit more of a personal interaction with people and then considered becoming a physicians assistant instead. I was applying for a master's program, when one of my professors pulled me aside and asked if I’d like to become a personal trainer, and I just did it as a fluke. One of my training clients was about to become a doctor and I realized she didn’t have a sense of why personal training, nutrition, and exercise is so important. It's inspired me to keep doing this and to further my education in this field. I’m currently going to school to become a nutritionist!

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NWNY : What do you think is the biggest challenge facing young female fitness professionals in such a male dominated industry?

Jacqueline : For me personally, I want to be as strong as the guys are. When it comes to working out I often push myself a lot. I know a lot of my female co-workers feel the same, and we just have to battle to be as strong as we possibly can. As for work environments, I still feel like we have to work harder to be heard. When we go into big company meetings, it's about 90% men and 10% women.

NWNY : Do you work for a big company?

Jacqueline : It’s a huge company and it's dominated by men.

NWNY : Do you think the fitness industry can overcome gender inequality? Do you think it can change?

Jacqueline : I think so! The men that I work with help to empower us. My male colleagues want us to be just as strong as they are. I work in a really healthy environment because these men are now being more open minded and respectful toward us. It's going to take some time, but I do think it's going to change. My generation is going to change it.

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NWNY : What is your idea or definition of success?

Jacqueline : Success is to be happy with what I'm doing every single day. Making people feel good — that's my definition of success. If I can help someone feel good about themselves, or at least feel better than they did when they first walked into the gym then I feel like I'm successful. That makes me so happy.

NWNY : What inspires you?

Jacqueline : My mom inspires me. She's strong, she holds it together for her family, and she has taught me so much throughout my life. She just handles it. She handles her own. I’m also inspired by my clients. Most of my clients are women, and when I see them pushing themselves or meeting their goals, it pushes me to keep working harder!

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NWNY : If you could host a dinner party and invite anyone in the world living or deceased, who would you invite?

Jacqueline : My grandma. She passed away about six years ago. I would just like to know if she's proud of me. My grandmother was my best friend and she is the kind of the person who taught me not to care about what people think. She always said what was on her mind, and she didn't care where she was or who she was in front of. She just said it.

NWNY : What is your greatest strength?

Jacqueline : I work really hard at everything that I do.

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NWNY : Have you read any books lately? And if so, what is the last book that you read?

Jacqueline : The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay. It's a book about being in your Twenties. What work is like, friendships, how they change, your romantic life. I found it really, really interesting because at 25 years old, I’m right in the middle of it.

NWNY : What is your dream job and career aspirations?

Jacqueline : My dream job is to own my own nutrition practice and continue as a personal trainer for my clients. I want to focus on working with women, and I would love to work with sports teams to coach them in nutrition.

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NWNY : Speaking of women and sports, Title IX, passed in 1972, prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. Fast forward 47 years to today, we have generations of girls who have grown up playing sports, running marathons, and partaking in a myriad of athletic activities. Do you feel that Title IX has had a direct impact on your life?

Jacqueline : Absolutely. If it wasn't for Title IX, then I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing with my life and career. Growing up my sister played basketball and volleyball, and that inspires me to become athletic and try athletics. Specifically, gymnastics! Without Title IX, we wouldn't have been able of these opportunities. It has opened up so many doors.

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NWNY : How do you promote body positivity?

Jacqueline : I have clients whose ages range from sixteen into their sixties and women struggle with body image, no matter their age. I want my clients to love themselves and feel beautiful. When I'm in a training session I remind clients how great they’re doing and that it isn’t about the number on the scale. What matters is that you feel good. I want to know if you feel strong, and if you’re sleeping well. When was the last time you ate? Do you feel good? Those are the things that I think matter.

NWNY : What are your views on how the media portrays body ideals and body images?

Jacqueline : I don't like how social media portrays what women should look like at all.

NWNY : Do you think the rise of Instagram influencers has helped or hurt women?

Jacqueline : Hurt. I have so many clients that are women and someone will show me a picture of some girl on Instagram and start comparing themselves. The reality is that you're not going to look like that. That's her body. This is your body. We’re all different. And we don’t know how much of these photos are heavily filtered or photoshopped. It's all over social media, all the time, and it's just not right.

I see it with my younger girls and I really feel for them. Growing up, I didn't experience social media like that. My 16, 17, 18 year old clients compare themselves to these Instagram girls. They’ll be working out and think “well, this girl said no carbs, and she didn't do this or that. So that’s what I have to do!” It's in their face constantly, and it makes me really sad because it's only going to get worse.

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NWNY : What makes you feel empowered?

Jacqueline : I feel empowered when I'm able to lift heavier than I did before. I’m also empowered when people ask me advice about fitness and nutrition. I feel empowered because I know my shit!

NWNY : Any advice you would give a woman looking to improve her health or physical fitness?

Jacqueline : I think she should first ask herself why she’s doing it. The why is important. I would hate to hear that it’s just for the wedding, or it's just for a guy, or a Sweet 16, or something like that. I want her reason to be something like wanting to feel good about herself, and start there! After that, it’ll come naturally. Then find something fun! Find something that you really enjoy, like a bike ride or a spin Class. Whatever it is, just do it, just start. I think people tend fail when they go extremes. Just find something you like, and make those small changes every day.

NWNY : What do you think is one of the most discouraging factors is keeping women from exercising?

Jacqueline : I think the most discouraging factors is keeping women from exercising is being intimidated in the gym. Either they're intimidated or they don't want somebody to come up to them and talk to them. It can be a predatory environment for women.

NWNY : If you could give any advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Jacqueline : I want my younger self to know that everything is going to work out. Chill out, Jacqueline. Chill. Out.

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Follow Jacqueline on Instagram @ThriveByJacqueline

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