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PROFILE: She Beats Back Age by Going on Stage

University alumna Jacqueline Chapel-Hardy recently hit a high note in a reality/documentary program titled “Ten Years Younger.” The 50-year-old grandmother faced down her fears – including stage fright – and worked up a new attitude, and all of it was caught on film and is airing around the globe.

Date: 2/16/2004 8:00:00 AM
By: Mary Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
UC ingot Fifty-year-old grandmother Jacqueline Chapel-Hardy, a 1978 fashion design graduate living and

working in Miami, Florida, never imagined what one casually made phone call could lead to:  Jumping in with both feet to wade with Everglades’ alligators, climbing new heights of sheer rock and cruising through a stage performance, all part of a reality/documentary series called “Ten Years Younger” airing on the Discovery Health Channel.

The idea of the series is to help participants feel, look and think ten years younger in just ten weeks – all by reshaping their daily lives and posing both individual and group challenges.  Throughout, Jackie was the one who beat back the clock by remaining upbeat.

Jackie and her fellow age-busters were always blind folded for their travels to group challenges like swamp wading or rock climbing.

She recalls, “It was a surprise just how hard it was, for all five of us in the age-busters group.  But I knew it was the opportunity of a lifetime to have the help of the best people to reshape our lives in just two-and-a-half months.  So, I told the others, it’s like being on an airplane.  There’s no use in gripping the armrest once you’re in the air.”

Chosen to participate in the show – now airing in North America, South America and Europe – after she called the producers and passed a screen test, Jackie found her life upended.  Every week day started with a 6 a.m. workout with a trainer for two hours and ended with a 7 p.m. yoga session.  On Mondays and Fridays, she took up Latin dance.  She had two medical procedures – for the removal of moles and varicose veins.  Then, there were group challenges that meant rock climbing, roller coasters, and canoeing in the Everglades, with the paddles just out of reach of alligators’ snouts poking from the murky water.  “In one spot where the water was too low for the canoes, we had to wade shin deep in the muck,” says Jackie.  “That made me nervous considering the alligators, and we saw panther prints in the mud too.”  Along with all that, Jackie also had voice lessons, meetings with a nutritionist and with a psychiatrist.  It would be enough to drive anyone crazy, she laughs.

Jackie, center, sits with her granddaughter, Brea, 7, and her mother, Reba, 80

Still, I’d do it all again though it was exhausting,” Jackie states, “And this time, I’d work ten times harder because it worked!  I do feel ten years younger, and I’m keeping up with running and eating right.  I’m just where I want to be physically and mentally.  I’ve found that we can all be who we want to be.  We’re in control of our lives and destiny.”

Cutting back on sweets was very hard to control, according to Jackie.  There could be no cheating – without getting caught that is.  A cameraman would come in the evenings to Jackie’s home and follow her movements.  “Yes, I’m on TV squirting whipped cream into my mouth.  The nutritionist would allow me only one squirt for the carbohydrates I’d receive.”

She laughs again, “I was so bad about eating sweets that one time I fell asleep with candy in my mouth and woke up with it on my forehead…. The cameraman was always there, at home, in the grocery store.” 

A native of the West End and a graduate of Seton High School, Jackie faced one very public challenge that helped her master her biggest fear: Performing or speaking in front of a crowd.  To conquer that fear, she sang before a cruise-ship audience.


“I wanted to overcome my inhibitions about speaking and performing in public.  I’d always thought karaoke looked fun.  I was always on the edge of my seat to get up and try it, but I’d always stayed in my seat,” Jackie confesses.  Then, upon turning 50, she adds, “I suddenly stopped wearing a bikini bathing suit.  All at once, it seemed a ‘no-no.’  No one told me that I had to stop wearing one.  I was telling myself that.  So, I was determined to get up and sing and to do it in a red two-piece, and I did, singing “Red Top” by King Pleasure!”

To ready herself for her shipboard singing sensation, Jackie says she had to memorize the lyrics and then practice, practice, practice.  “The director would call me to make sure I was practicing and memorizing the lyrics…. I sang in the car, in the shower, at work and while walking the dogs.  The morning of the performance, I was awakened by someone on the show’s team wrapping my fingers around the microphone saying very gently, ‘Are you ready to go over the song now?’  I started singing without opening my eyes.  It was a blast!”

In all, the Discovery Health Channel first aired a five-part series on the “age-busters” in December 2003.  The hour-long programs are now re-airing.  For instance, two different episodes will air at 8 and 11 p.m. on Feb. 23, and then again at 10 and 11 a.m. on Feb. 28.  To check other listings for the show, visit http://health.discovery.com   

 


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