This article was written by Zoe Dellaportas as a reflection piece of her experience competing as a fitness model and her journey post competition with Director Jacob Schepis. 

From Client to Coach: The Journey Post Competition

Well this story has been a long time coming…

Jacob and I have often spoken about telling our story of how we came to know and work with each other, and I believe it’s because it was unique to both of us at the time, yet probably more common now than ever, that we both thought it was a story worth telling.

I have been training and lifting weights since early 2011. Not since playing basketball as a kid had I found passion for a sport like this. I trained virtually every day, not because I had too, but because I wanted too. Combine commitment, good genetics and not eating much at all, and I had a body that people admired. It soon became my identity. And it fuelled an already driven person.

In 2013 I was lifting as heavy as ever, again, not eating much, so my body was about 3kgs off stage weight on the regular. I started to hear from people “You should compete”. I had no idea what that meant, so I started to research coaches, and soon enough I embarked on an 8-month comp prep and a journey that changed my life.

I won’t bore you with much more detail about my journey to the stage, because in all reality, there’s not much to say. I was so driven and committed that I never questioned anything about my coach, her training programs, her nutrition protocols. And I did what I needed to do and more to get on that stage in the best condition I could, with the best advice I thought I was getting.

But I will say this, and this is ultimately what led me to JPS. My diet for 8 months consisted of these food items:

  • Turkey breast
  • Broccolini
  • Brown rice
  • Avocado
  • Peanut butter
  • MCT oil and flaxseed oil
  • Fish oil capsules, BCAA’s, Protein powder and various other Body Science supps (guess who my coach was sponsored by?!)

Now if you’re a JPS client reading this, I am tipping that you are shocked by the above considering we preach flexibility in our diets, but back then, and still to this day, ill-informed coaches and social media perpetrates that you must “eat clean to get lean”. And I believed it. Why wouldn’t I? My coach that I paid $3000, and then some, told me that the only way I was going to get stage ready was to eat these foods specifically, and that I should avoid foods like yoghurt and fruit as this will lead to unnecessary fluid retention (insert forehead slap here).

So, fast forward to May 2014, I competed, and did very well.

Then my life as I knew it changed.

Suddenly, there was no restrictions, I could eat what I want, there was no goal to work towards, there was no mapped out meal plan like I had for 8 months prior. And just like a lot of coach stories I’ve heard since, there was no word from my coach. She had to focus on other clients going through their comp prep.

I was lost in a cycle of binge eating and training. I had no focus. I had put on 6kgs over stage weight and lost my mind. To put that into perspective, instead of weighing 67kg I weighed 73kg. How could I have worked so hard for something and let it go? Little did I know that the weight gain was a natural response by my body and in hindsight the best thing for me.

In July 2014, still lost, I found an advertisement for some “Insta fitness model” seminar. What better way to get lean then by paying to hear a fitness model tell me how to have abs year-round? I sent the link to my friend Marc who was a trainer at JPS at the time, asking if he had heard anything about this seminar coming up. Now when I reflect on that action, I have no idea why I reached out to him with such a random request of advice, but I suspect it had something to do with the fact that he had competed just before me. Or maybe it was just fate?!

Writing the above, and I felt compelled to check my messenger and found the conversation I had with Marc. I asked him to help me set some calories and macro targets, because all of a sudden, I had heard of tracking food. His response was that perhaps if I was unsure of spending the money on the seminar, that I could put that towards some sessions with Jacob. In his words “You’ll learn 10 x more off him then you will in the seminar and he will lead you in the right direction”. He asked if he could pass on my number to Jacob.

I remember the first time I spoke to Jacob, the private number that I almost ignored. I remember the room I was in. There was banter, I even questioned if he had worked with female clients before (insert another forehead slap here).

We met on July 18 2014, Jacobs birthday. We went to Mylk and Honey. All you Keilor Road clients will be smiling now. We spoke over coffee. And then spoke over coffee for the next 6 months. I would be seeing Jacob a minimum of once a week, and never did we ever lift weights together. He knew I was lifting, I knew I was lifting. But he was coaching me in what I needed most. He had experienced everything that I was going through. I won’t speak for Jacob, but I feel as though I was the first person he could truly try out the work that he had researched and applied to his life. Positive affirmations, focussing on yourself as a good person rather than a good competitor, establishing good relationships with family and friends, and better yet, establishing a good relationship with food.

We both worked hard, he is a coach, not a psychologist, and he didn’t need to take me on. I was a girl who liked to lift and eat, I didn’t need to think of positive things about myself and text him every day. But we did it.

Fast forward a couple of years and I am now a coach at JPS Health and Fitness. Jacob saw in me the potential before I even did, but if you know anything about JPS Coaches, yes, we coach through evidence based training and nutritional principles, but what trumps all, we coach through our own experience.

And quoting words that I used when asked why would I want to be a PT during my first ever mentorship class at JPS, “I did everything wrong, so I want to be the coach that makes you do it right”. Well what we believe to be right at the time.

I now coach clients to compete, and it’s not something that I take lightly. I take the time to explain all the shit stuff that comes with competing and then if they are still convinced it’s for them, then I will support them. Because at the end of the day, people have the right to make up their own minds, and whilst my experience wasn’t necessarily a positive one post competition, the feeling of committing and seeing through such a goal was a true test of character and something that no one can take from me.

I do reflect on where I would be if I never had competed, then I think that everything that I experienced brought me to today, a Coach at JPS Health and Fitness, establishing some amazing relationships with my fellow coaches and my clients, and hopefully providing my clients with the skills to look for the positives in everything, and love their training 😉

I often get asked if I would ever compete again, my response, “never say never”.


Zoe Dellaportas,

JPS Head Coach


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