And Laying Down Roots
Story by LISA ANDERSON
Chiquita Nicole is no stranger to hard work and dedication. An air force veteran, certified health coach, group fitness instructor, motivational speaker, author, volunteer mentor, and a bodybuilding competitor in the National Physique Committee (NPC), her day looks a little different from the average business owner’s.
“My strength training is an hour to an hour and a half with cardio afterwards,” Chiquita says. Some mornings she spends over two hours in the gym, especially when she is training for a competition.
A planner in hand, Chiquita moves through her days with precision. She begins with her workouts before diving into her coaching business, but fitness isn’t the only thing she markets. She also sells supplements and makes and sells her own skin care products. To put it bluntly, she is Super Woman.
Positivity from Hardship
Talking with Chiquita instantly makes you smile. “I try to make everything fun. I’m a bubbly person, naturally,” she exclaims with a wide grin.
She shows her body language between sets with clients and at the gym. She whips up one finger and moves her head back and forth with every ounce of attitude. Giggles burst forth as she completes her demonstration, but Chiquita’s life hasn’t always been filled with laughter.
In her book, Restoring Her Temple; Reclaiming Her Name: How Brokenness Turned to Glory she writes in third person, “In the black community, skin complexion, the way you speak, and how you carry yourself easily and ignorantly interpret as not black enough. Chaquita was called ‘white girl’ and ‘blondie’ by people, including her honeycomb dynasty. She didn’t particularly like those names, but no one seemed to care about the things they were saying.”
Her “fair” skin and unique eye color caused her to be the object of both emotional and physical abuse beginning as early as kindergarten. Her self-confidence was a constant struggle and poor companion as a result. She never felt happy or good enough. In another quote from her book, she states she “felt this way on many occasions and still finds herself working on this issue because of being made to think that no matter what she did, it was never going to be good enough.”
A fighter since birth, she feels as though she has a purpose to fulfill. “I was told when I was born, my heart rate dropped, and I was fighting for my life. I almost didn’t make it, but look, I’m here!” She frames her face with her hands as her eyes light up with joy.
Fitness as a Lifeline
While Chiquita struggled with low self-esteem and depression, she found sanctuary in fitness. “No amount of medication made me feel better. The only thing that made me feel better was exercise and eating right.”
On April 3, 2021, she competed at the NPC Border Klash Championships where she placed 6th in the Bikini 35+ category and 7th in the Bikini Open Short category. She is now training to compete in another competition in mid-June where she will be a contender in new-to-her categories, True Novice Wellness, Novice Wellness, 35+ Wellness, and Wellness Open Short.
Chiquita’s drive comes from being told she’s too pretty to be smart, she’s too soft, no one is going to take her seriously, and she can’t do it, but she’s turning their words back on them. “I’m going to prove to you that I am smart, I’m going to prove to you that people will take me seriously, and people love me.”
In February, she celebrated her birthday by cutting off her long hair. Removing it felt symbolic, as though getting rid of old baggage. “I feel amazing,” she exclaims, and she looks it with her short, red locks and strong, prominent cheekbones.
Between writing her story and removing her hair, Chiquita finally feels free and ready to be her true self. She has found a passion for helping others who may still be struggling. “No matter what you go through, no matter what struggles, and no matter who tells you what you cannot be, you can do it. No matter how depressed you are, you can do it.”
Planning for the Future
Chiquita knows she won’t be able to continue as a fitness instructor forever, but she’s building her brand around it. She’s creating lasting relationships with her clients, growing her natural products business, and writing her second book. Her long-term goals are to be an inspiration as a health coach, author, and motivational speaker.
She and her fiancé Greg are new to the Ocala area, and Chiquita is looking forward to making new connections and helping others in the community. “I’m excited for change. I feel like change is growth. I’m excited to see who I can reach in the health world. I’m on a manhunt to educate the world on being healthy and fit for life.”