She did not even care.
After spending the past several years chasing her dream, it did not even matter anymore. Jessica Gaines was prepared to walk away from what motivated her to come so far.
Gaines, a Copperas Cove resident, accidently stumbled into the world of professional bodybuilding and quickly became hooked, with the hopes of competing for the prestigious title of Ms. Olympia serving as her driving force.
But the rigors of reaching the annual Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend, where the contest takes place, became overwhelming as Gaines competed numerous times across the nation, attempting to earn an overall win and qualify for the international show.
On the heels of her fifth competition in 2015, Gaines lost her desire.
“I didn’t even want to do another show,” she said. “I was so exhausted. It was like pulling teeth.”
At the request of her husband, Aubrey Gaines, who serves the roles of mentor, trainer, workout partner, nutritionist and motivator to his wife, she decided to travel to San Diego for the Ultimate Warriors competition in November.
The decision changed her life.
Finally, after fantasizing about qualifying for countless months, Gaines turned the dream into reality by taking first place at the show, guaranteeing she competes in the upcoming Ms. Olympia contest.
The accomplishment was almost impossible to believe.
“I still get goose bumps and choked-up every time I relive that moment,” Gaines said. “Words cannot describe how I felt. I was in such disbelief when they called my name as the winner, I could not move.
“It’s funny now, but people had to nudge me and ask if I was going to walk up and claim my prize. It was just unreal to me.”
It did not take long for the awe to wear off, though, and while Gaines took time to enjoy her success, she quickly turned her sights on September’s Ms. Olympia competition.
Gaines, who has gained extreme confidence from her recent accomplishment, is already training for the contest, which takes place in conjunction with the Mr. Olympia competition every year in Las Vegas. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the most famous contestant to emerge from the event, winning the title seven times between 1970 and 1980.
Now, Gaines has the opportunity to perform on the same platform, and she is not taking it lightly.
“I want to be competitive,” Gaines said. “My mentality has switched from just looking at things like ‘little ol’ me’ anymore to, ‘Hey, there is a possibility that I could do really well.’
“My dreams used to be that I just wanted to step foot, even if it is just a toe, on the Ms. Olympia stage, but now, I feel like if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right, and I’m coming to make a statement.”
Between now and September, Gaines understands she has a lot of work to do in order to etch her name in the annals of professional bodybuilding’s greatest competitors, but the longtime personal trainer already feels her efforts are paying off.
“I’m a mentor to some of my clients,” Gaines said. “Unfortunately, we live in a world where credentials talk, and if you don’t have a label, then people don’t put stock in you.
“So it is a great feeling for me to look at them and let them know I’ve been in their shoes or I’ve worked my way up, and they can do the same. That is just a phenomenal feeling.”