Trainer Spotlight - Jacki Ford

Dawn Hayner and Jacki Ford

Dawn Hayner and Jacki Ford

Another fixture of our Broomall gym is the fit and funny Jacki Ford. She's a top-level CrossFit coach and gifted athlete. Her enthusiasm for personal change and nutrition is INFECTIOUS. Read more about her and why #DontTellJacki is trending: 

Tell us about you. Where did you grow up, family, previous profession, etc?

I’ve lived on the same street my entire life. I moved 3 houses from my parents when I was 22 and have been there ever since. I went to a Catholic grade school and switched to a public school for high school. It proved to be a great decision for me because I completed many of my cosmetology hours during high school and it is now one of my jobs (although I’m sure most think I live at DelVal). 

How did you get started in CrossFit? 

I started CrossFit in November 2010. I had been cutting Rob Miller’s hair for a few years and one day he mentioned that he had just moved the gym he owned. He left some literature and it sparked my curiosity. I went in for a free trial (400m row, squats, box pushups, pull-ups in a band) and nearly died because of how out of shape I was. After the lightheadedness had subsided I sent Rob an email and told him to sign me up! 

What was empowering about CrossFit, for you? 

I came to DelVal knowing no one and totally out of my comfort zone! Something about Rob and the vibe of the gym drew me in. I was athletic while in school, but life threw me a curveball at 16 and I stopped something that I loved and never picked it back up. I could do movements assisted (largest band for pull-ups, 20in box for pushups) and I began to find out just how strong I was. Lifting a barbell was foreign and intimidating to me, but once I learned how to back squat, I figured out I was stronger than I thought. Rob once put 215 on the bar asking me to do one rep, and to his surprise (and mine) I ended up doing 3 (there is video on the FB page somewhere). My attitude started to change. I started to realized that I had been suppressing my true need to be a better version of what I had let myself become.

Many of us who've known you for a while know that you went through an intense physique transformation. Tell us about that. How did you do it? How did changing your body affect your performance?

Rob had asked me to help run the Spring challenge in 2015. I told him I also wanted to participate because I wanted to actually see the muscles I had developed. I was frustrated with myself. I had seen pictures and I didn’t look like I had changed in the 4.5 years I had been doing CrossFit. I was stronger and faster, but not where I wanted to be. I was eating clean, but it was the portions and frequency that were my problem. I wasn’t fueling my body for the energy I was putting out. I was over-fueling! I wanted more out of my fitness than just being strong. It was a switch in my brain, a mindset change, that made the journey possible. I never thought I would be doing bar/ring muscle ups, dips, high-volume sets of pull-ups and pushups, to name a few. This year I ranked 102nd in the Mid Atlantic region in my age group, compared to 892nd in 2016. Changing my body composition has definitely made a huge difference.

You counsel many DelVal members on nutrition and body composition change. What are some of the big 'mistakes' people make with their diets? 

The main “mistakes” I see are:

* Frustration with not seeing results fast enough (it’s not an overnight fix!)

* Rewarding a good performance with unnecessary treats (just because you worked out hard, doesn’t mean the gallon of ice cream is a good idea)

* Allowing themselves to fall into the black hole of having a ‘slip’ turn into a 'downward spiral’ (I ate the cookie, I might as well eat the whole sleeve)

Bad eating habits have been ingrained in us since childhood, and as we get older, we’re surrounded by fad diets and products that promise to help us lose weight. There are no quick fixes! Understanding your body and what it does and doesn’t need is key.

What are the three biggest pieces of nutrition advice that you recommend for a CrossFitter? 

Quality of food: avoid sugar and reduce starches

Quantity of food: consume for the energy you need and the energy you put out

Don’t be an asshole (can I say that?)

Tell us more about your Amplify! program..

Amplify! is a habit breaking, mindset changing program. It is designed to help you understand the unnecessary food you may be fueling your body with and getting you to understand how your body reacts to the fuel you are putting in. It’s understanding that our bodies are like a high end car…you want to fuel it with the highest octane for the best performance!

What's the best Matchbox 20 song and why?

I guess I’d have to say ‘Push’ since that is the song that lead me to liking the band. 'Overjoyed’ has special meaning to me as well. 

You're responsible for bringing Justin Marriott onboard at DelVal.. Not a question.. Just pointing that out. 

I’ve known Justin since he was little. He and my daughter have been friends for their lifetime. I love seeing how much Justin has taken interest in CrossFit and how much he has grown and developed over the last few years.

Team Jason or Team Jordan? 


Um, this can’t even be a question. These two are amazing in their own ways and I could never choose between them. I did however try to be clever and attempted to combine the two names and it can’t be done! DAMN IT!

(For those who are unaware, Scout is Jason and Jordan’s dog)