Jessica “Jess” Williams always knew she wanted to study psychology.
“Ever since I was in elementary school, I knew I wanted to major in psychology, which is kind of weird, but I was exposed to it by my dad a lot,” Williams said. “I never knew what it was called for the longest time though.”
Her father worked with boys who had trouble with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism. He would take her on outings with alongside the boys her father worked with.
But when high school rolled around, a 15-year-old Williams found another passion: bodybuilding.
Now, the 21-year-old senior psychology major said she feels like she has found what she really enjoys.
“I just feel like I have an idea of where I want to go and I think I’d be happy, so that definitely helps me sleep better at night,” she said. “I was just really fascinated by how I could change my body. It was just a very exciting thing for me.”
Approximately two and a half years later, Williams watched her first bodybuilding competition and knew she wanted to compete.
A year after attending her first bodybuilding competition, she met the man who would become her coach, Brian Komloske, while visiting his store, the Nutrition Company. She talked with him about his competitive bodybuilding career and said she was interested in starting to compete as well.
“I think he saw potential in me or something,” Williams said. “He said, ‘well when you’re ready for a show, let me know and I’ll help you out.’”
She did just that and competed in her first show in October 2008.
“That was real fun and a good learning experience,” she said. “I didn’t come in as lean as I wanted to, but I think it was good to get my feet wet. I was very hooked after that and ended up doing a couple more competitions.”
However, getting in shape for her first competition was no easy feat.
“The first one is always the most difficult I think,” Williams said. “It takes a lot of time and patience, but it’s worth it to me.”
Preparing for competition
The usual training routine Williams uses to prepare for a competition begins about 16 weeks before a show.
She starts by “cleaning up” her diet and writing down everything she eats. She also takes pictures of herself every couple of weeks to monitor her progress and has Komloske look at her every week or two, depending on how close the competition is, to see how she’s coming along and to adjust her diet or exercise.
“I usually do cardio six to seven days a week, starting with about 30 minutes a day and it gradually changes,” Williams said. “I was up to one and a half hours a day, plus all the training.”
By the time the last four weeks came, she said all she ate was chicken breast, tilapia, egg whites and “lots and lots of broccoli.”
On top of the cardio and diet schedule for pre-competition, the training is done five to six days a week with each session lasting about one hour.
Due to the demanding nature of her schedule, Williams decided to compete only once a year during the summer to avoid conflicts with school. She said it is still difficult, though.
“When I was carb-depleted, your brain chemistry changes so much and I get a little more irritable, especially at work,” Williams said. “It can be rough because your energy levels definitely go down quite a bit.”
Williams said that in the off-season she does three cardio sessions, with each lasting 30 minutes, every week just to keep up with cardiovascular health.
Williams said she had a hard time getting used to the strict pre-competition routine, but her coach thought she picked it up rather easily and has flourished since the beginning of her training.
“I think she’s put on about 30 pounds of muscle, which is pretty phenomenal, especially for a female to do,” Komloske said. “Overall physique-wise, she’s definitely a different person than she was when we first started working together. She keeps stepping it up at every show; she does a little better, a little harder, a little bigger.”
A different image
Williams has had the full support of her parents throughout her participation in this sport, which has meant much to her.
“It’s not the most socially accepted thing; it’s a different image,” Williams said. “A lot of people see muscular women as kind of like a deviation, which it is, but they [her parents] have really come to accept it. They have come to all of my competitions.”
She was concerned that other people, who are not her family or friends, might have issues with the way she looks, but said it hasn’t been too bad.
“I do get some looks quite a bit, but there’s been positive feedback overall.” Williams said.
Williams said having people in your life that motivate you is especially important when it comes to bodybuilding.
“The thing is just to have a motivator, or several motivators, because if you don’t have motivation, it’s really hard to do,” Williams said. “But the show in itself is definitely a huge motivator for me.”
She names Komloske as one of her motivators, and he mentions a unique quality he has to motivate his trainees.
“I give people quite a bit of confidence,” Komloske said. “It makes a big difference. I bring the hardness out of people so they can be a little bit more aggressive in life.”
Komloske said his impact, along with Williams’ experience in bodybuilding over the past three years, has helped her grow even more in her personal life as well as in the sport.
“I think her overall outlook on life and how she feels about herself, as far as self-esteem is concerned, has definitely improved,” he said. “When I first met Jess, she was a little timid and a little shy. She’s not exactly timid and shy anymore. Obviously, a big part of that has to do with the bodybuilding ‑‑ it helps.”
When it comes to her character, Komloske said Williams has a good heart and describes her as humble and caring. He also said she has many other things going for her that have contributed to making her a good person.
“She’s very intelligent and she’s a pretty well-rounded individual too,” he said. “Jess has other things going on in her life that she can focus on besides bodybuilding and I think that makes her a better overall person.”
Even with all of these qualities to help her in other areas of life, Williams still has a connection to bodybuilding that she’s not ready to give up.
She has decided to continue bodybuilding after college, but she wants to get in shape and get her life under control before doing so.
“I’m not going to compete for another couple of years because I want to go national, so I can compete outside of state, but it’s going to take another two years just training and dieting to get me to that point,” Williams said. “Plus, I’m graduating and I need to stabilize my life and get a good job. But then after that I’ll go back into competing.”
Komloske said Williams has the potential to turn professional, and he plans to help bring her as far as possible to succeed.
“We’ll bring her to her genetic limitations, and if we can surpass a little bit of them, then that’ll be the case,” Komloske said. “But I think she’ll do well.”
Brent Fuller, a 23-year-old master’s student in theoretical physics and co-worker of Williams, said she cares a lot about bodybuilding and has the passion to continue to compete.
“I believe Jess has the drive needed to achieve whatever she wants,” Fuller said. “I’m not a bodybuilding expert, and I don’t know if she has the natural talent, but I do know that even after her last show she wouldn’t even drink to celebrate because she was already excited about the next show.”
Komloske said it doesn’t matter what she decides to do in the future because he knows she will be successful.
“I think as far as overall life is concerned, Jess is going to be a successful human being,” Komloske said. “She’s got the knowledge for it and she’s a very motivated individual. She’s destined for it.”
Contact CU Independent Contributing Sports Writer Kayla Cornett at Kayla.email@example.com.