Too Fit to Quit

Nicole Duncan’s competitive drive and expertise has taken her all over the world, but she felt a need to return to her hometown to make a difference in the lives of others.

by Michelle Floyd

Nicole Duncan has always walked hand in hand with athleticism, and now she wants to help others get in gear, stay healthy and improve their quality of life. From her time at Newton High School and the University of Alabama to her days as an Atlanta Falcons cheerleader and competitive bodybuilder, the Oxford resident has grown accustomed to getting fit—even when she graduated from college and added some weight to her frame.

“In school, I could eat what I want,” Duncan said, “but then, I didn’t cut out any fried foods or fast foods that we love in the South. I could still flip and dance, but I didn’t have the body I had.”

She realized that bodybuilding, cheering, gymnastics and other sports contained not only a performance aspect of the competition but also the need to maintain a healthy diet. In addition to cheering for her hometown NFL team, Duncan was a Professional Fitness competitor. She has traveled to Australia, Germany, Brazil and Canada to compete in a sport that includes flexing, tumbling and dancing. Duncan hopes to throw her hat in the ring again at the 2020 Fitness Olympia—viewed as the Super Bowl of bodybuilding—an event in which she participated six times (2008–13) in Las Vegas. Since then, injuries and surgeries have prevented her from competing. 

Now Duncan sounds ready to see what comes next.

“It’s all been a progression of things,” said Duncan, who serves as an adjunct professor at Oxford College, where she teaches recreation, weight training and dance. “I wanted to a be a big producer in Hollywood working in TV and film, but me competing in fitness events was just an extension of graduating college.”

“She is passionate about health and fitness. She knows just how hard to push to get the results that you are looking for without hurting you.”

Jessicakes Bakery Owner Jessica Channell

For now, the 40-year-old plans to concentrate locally on her fitness business and working for the Newton County Recreation Commission, where she hosts Ultimate Boot Camp classes, organizes a variety of new fitness projects and implements nutrition programs. 

“I’m excited to see where it goes,” said Duncan, who previously worked with Walton County Parks and Recreation in Monroe. “This has combined stuff that I like to do. I didn’t expect to be back [in Covington], but there is a need for more fitness in our area. We’ve got great resources here.”

 Duncan works with clients of all ages, from 20 to 80 years of age, and realizes that while they do not have the same bodies, they all have to start somewhere.

“She is passionate about health and fitness,” said Jessica Channell, owner of Jessicakes Bakery in Covington, who has lost 50 pounds since she started training with Duncan two years ago. “She knows just how hard to push to get the results that you are looking for without hurting you. She worked with me to create a workout plan that would not make my knees hurt but still allow me to do a hard workout that would strengthen my muscles and get the weight off fast.” 

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A National Academy of Sports Medicine-certified personal trainer, an International Federation of Body Building and Fitness professional and a CrossFit Level 1 coach, Duncan hopes to eventually open her own facility for fitness, training and nutrition.

“I’m interested in people finding a fitness level that works for them,” she said. “They have to get out of their comfort zone, try something new and stick to it. We have to reach people where they are and find their way of growing in fitness.” 

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