At age 54, Peggi Jones of Hot Springs has set a new goal for natural bodybuilding. Winner of numerous trophies and medallions for both bodybuilding and physique over the last 34 years, she wants her trophies to motivate others to strengthen their bodies. That is why she displays some of her awards at the Health 4 Life Fitness gym on the Highway 18 Bypass.
Peggi has won bodybuilding competitions in Nevada, Oregon, New York, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Germany, to name a few. “When I started lifting weights in 1983, I was the only female in the gym,” said Peggi. “I wanted to fix my injuries and lose weight.” The injuries were ones she sustained in a skiing accident in 1970 that had continued to plague her.
In 1982, at 19 years old, she was living in Germany. “I had no goals, and I weighed 220 pounds,” said Peggi, who is 5 feet 3 inches tall. She consulted with a dietitian on the Air Force Base, who showed her how to change to a healthier lifestyle of good eating habits and exercise. “In the first three months I lost 42 pounds,” she said. “I got into shape in a year.”
She contracted with the Department of Defense as an aerobics instructor and a physical trainer. The commander of the base in Wiesbaden, Germany, hired her as the trainer of the Wiesbaden Air Base Flyers football team. She said she encouraged the players to focus on weightlifting because the team wasn’t strong. “That started my interest in weightlifting,” she said.
In 1987, she moved to New York and worked out at a “home” gym, that was in a person’s garage. The owner of the gym asked her about competing in weightlifting shows. “He said I had the genetics and physique for it,” Peggi said. “I just needed to change my eating habits.”
The next year she entered the Wyoming State Championship and won second in the heavyweight category.
In 1990, while living in Ramstein, Germany, she won three trophies in the Armed Forces Invitational. Later that year in Augsburg, Germany, she entered a competition, designed her own choreography and won first place and overall in the lightweight class.
Next she entered a posing competition and hoped to be named in the Top 6. “When the announcer read the Top 3, I thought I won third place,” she said. “Then the crowd started making a lot of noise and booing because he had read the winners backwards.” The ones handing out awards tried to take her third place trophy away, but she hung on to it. “Then it was announced that I won first prize,” she said, “and they handed me the first prize trophy in the lightweight class.”
Also in 1990 she was the Women’s Overall Champion in the Armed Forces European Invitational.
She decided to retire after 1992. She and her husband, Stacey, moved to Oregon where she entered college. Friends who were in law enforcement in Phoenix encouraged her to go into police work. She tested for the reserves and was accepted. She kept up her weightlifting.
In Oregon for 12 years, she starting running and entering competitions with the International Natural Bodybuilding Association (INBA). “At first I just went to a show to see what ‘natural’ was,” she said. “The competitors were drug tested and polygraphed.” She decided competing in the INBA was the way to go.
She competed in Hollywood, Calif., and won in several categories. Then she qualified for the Universe competition, Team USA, World and Olympia. She has many trophies to show for her wins.
She took a break in 2002, then began competing again in 2005 in Reno, Nev. She considered going professional but decided against it.
In 2009 she resigned from the Oregon State Police. Stacey accepted a job with the VA in Reno, Nev. In 2012 Peggi read a book that changed her life, titled “Faith & Fat Loss” by Ron Williams. After reading the book, she regained her focus, learned how to eat right and set goals, she said.
In 2013 she and Stacey moved to the Sioux Falls area. She switched from bodybuilding to physique and won the Ms. Millennium competition at age 50. She also competed in Team Nevada and won first place in physique, and in Olympia, where she qualified to compete the following year or go professional. In Omaha, Neb, she entered the Classic Figure category in which she wore a red swimsuit that her husband embellished with “lots of bling,” she said.
The couple moved to Hot Springs earlier this year. Stacey works for the VA, and Peggi currently works for Earth Goods but will soon help manage the Juju Naturals store owned by Julie Stevens.
Peggi is a firm believer in eating the right kinds of food. She has food intolerances that prevent her from eating gluten, dairy, soy and others. She measures her food. She works out at the Health 4 Life Fitness gym and wants to encourage young girls to start taking care of their bodies when they are young.
Health 4 Life Fitness is owned and operated by Scott Shannon and his parents, Steve and Debbie Shannon. Scott is a personal trainer and nutritionist. For more information log on to www.hshealth4life.com.
“Don’t let food become you,” Peggi said. “You only live once, so take care of yourself.” She added, “Read the food labels and watch what you put in your body.”
“Listen to what your body tells you,” she said. “It takes discipline.”
Her faith plays a big part in her life and her goals. “Believe you can do it,” she said. “I did it with God’s help.”