An El Paso bodybuilder is vying for the cover of Ms. Health & Fitness and $20,000.
Clarissa Marquez, who teaches pole fitness at Fortitude Fitness gym and does roller derby, is currently in fourth place.
The Ms. Health & Fitness Competition is an online voting competition featuring thousands of active lifestyle models from all over the world.
Marquez said she entered the contest at the suggestion of a friend who encourages her to be more active on social media.
“I take a lot of pride, not necessarily being fit for the aesthetic value of things but really just having exercise as something that is fun and important for me. And the reason I went for the magazine is that I’d like to think that I showcase that if you try, (it shows) the capacity your body really has to perform,” she said.
The El Paso High English teacher said she got into bodybuilding about two years ago as a way to become more fit as a roller derby skater and pole instructor. She has been in roller derby for six years and is part of Las Diablas team and an all-star team, the El Paso Xicanas.
She has won more than 30 Most Valued Jammer awards in the Borderland Roller Derby Girls league.
“Bodybuilding helps me stay strong for any of my other fitness endeavors,” she said.
Marquez said she has competed locally and nationally in both bodybuilding and pole fitness, which is growing slowly in El Paso.
She got first place in physique points and seventh overall at the Oksana Grishina Pole Classic at the Sports Legion Fest in Long Beach, California, in 2018. She got first in the Sun City Bodybuilding show in El Paso in 2019.
“El Paso is a very conservative area with a lot of traditional kind of background for everybody, so it was hard initially when I taught at Fit Pole. People would say, ‘Oh, you’re training strippers,’ or that it was a stripper school. But now I can see the evolution of it as respect for it as a fitness routine,” she said.
Marquez, 28, said eating healthy is her lifestyle and she tries to promote it with her high school students.
“They will tell me they can’t stay away from Cheetos or Takis,” she said. “I tell everybody that food isn’t bad, it’s just how much we eat of it.”
Consistency is the other key to staying fit, she said.
“If you’re truly trying to lose weight, you have to have that respect for yourself for that discipline to maintain it, which is the hardest part,” she said.
Marquez said she has a sweet tooth and understands it’s hard to eat right when people are staying at home due to the coronavirus. Her recommendation is to have good snacks around and to keep moving.
Her go-to health snacks are freezing a peeled and chopped banana in a container, thawing it out a bit and eating it with a dab of sugar-free whipped cream.
“Basically, it’s my Menchie’s,” she said. She also likes rice cakes and frozen grapes.
The grand-prize winner will get the cover of Muscle & Fitness Hers Special Olympia Edition and will take home the big cash prize.
Voting will end at 9 p.m. Thursday, July 30.
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María Cortés González may be reached at 915-546-6150; [email protected]; @EPTMaria on Twitter.
Clarissa Marquez’s pole fitness class
Where: Fortitude Fitness, 1055 Sunland Park Drive
When: 6 and 7 p.m. Tuesdays