Alicia Machado, as the entire world now knows, is the 1996 Miss Universe who was fat-shamed by Donald Trump near the end of her reign — and again this week, both onstage during the presidential debate and in subsequent interviews, thanks to Hillary Clinton’s resurrecting the body-image scandal and using Machado as the focus of a new campaign video.
But who is Edward Jackowski, the personal trainer who co-stars in the rather shocking 1997 press conference about Machado’s weight that was just released (and is being intensely scrutinized) by CNN?
“I don’t get involved in politics,” Jackowski, founder and CEO of Exude Fitness in New York City, tells Yahoo Beauty when reached by phone on Wednesday. “My business is getting people in shape.”
Jackowski is a one-man fitness enterprise who has trademarked several workout regimens, authored seven books, and become a youth coach and motivational speaker to groups around the world. He was the trainer charged with the task of slimming down Machado in 1998, as she prepared to pass on her crown at the upcoming Miss Universe broadcast, under an onslaught of criticism for gaining weight during her reign.
As Jackowski’s website bio notes: “Of course everyone remembers how Exude Fitness saved Miss Universe, Alicia Machado from Venezuela from being de-crowned by Donald Trump, helping her slim down which enabled her to keep her title.”
Jackowski is quick to point out to Yahoo Beauty, however, that he was not technically hired by Trump or anyone else at the time. “I was pro bono,” he says. “I did not want to take any money, because I felt it would be prejudiced.” (He declined to answer a follow-up question about how being hired would have prejudiced him at the time.)
Here’s what the trainer, who was reticent to speak too much on the current Trump vs. Machado controversy, did tell us…
Regarding the idea that the 1997 press conference on Machado’s weight gain and slim-down plan was a surreal time capsule, in publicly discussing a woman’s body: “I was the first one to stand up for women’s rights, before all these hashtags.”
About Trump’s behavior, and his treatment of Machado: “I have nothing but positive things to say about the entire experience,” and “I was not privy to any conversations between them.”
Jackowski tells Yahoo Beauty of his approach to Machado’s slim-down plan: “I said Machado needs to get to a healthier weight. … I’m all about getting people to a better place.” And, after directing Yahoo Beauty to a 1997 People magazine article, “Weight of the World,” which discusses Miss Universe’s 42-pound weight gain and the idea that, “great-looking or not, 149 pounds is not acceptable to the folks who run the pageant,” the trainer adds, “I stand by my comments [from that time].”
His comments, by the way, were an interesting blend of WTF and pretty cool. In the former category, the pro noted that jumping rope, which was the focus of his workout plan for Machado, is “the only exercise that can remove cellulite off a woman’s body.” (To that end, the story revealed, the beauty queen had “lost 7 pounds, and an inch and a half off her waist,” in just four days.)
And in the pretty cool category, Jackowski has given an admittedly modern response to this unbelievable statement from Trump: “When you win a beauty pageant, people don’t think you’re going to go from 118 to 160 in less than a year, and you really have an obligation to stay in a perfect physical state.”
The trainer told People he did not think it advisable for Machado to return to her weight of 118 pounds. “She had done that by taking dieting pills and powders,” Jackowski said. “That’s not a realistic weight for her. She’s an hourglass, not a small-frame woman. She’ll never be thin. If she were, she’d be unhealthy.”
Thank heavens for teeny-tiny miracles (if it’s possible to overlook the fact that Machado’s weight was the topic of public scandal to begin with).