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Wrestlers Charlie and Jackie Haas pin down what it takes to stay fit, find balance

10:28 AM CST on Monday, March 2, 2009

By LESLIE GARCIA / The Dallas Morning News

FRISCO – If you walk into Custom Muscle Nutrition and Smoothie Shop in Frisco expecting to see some dolled-up, bikini-clad babe and a face-painted heart-of-gold tough guy, you'll probably be disappointed.

Pro wrestler's family works out together
February 16th, 2009
Life/Travel Videos

Yes, store owners Charlie and Jackie Haas are wrestlers (he current, she former).

Yes, they are in amazing shape (she really did give birth four months ago).

But inside the store they own, dressed in jeans and sweats, friendly and approachable, they're – well, maybe not exactly like us.

Charlie, 36, travels close to 250 days a year, wrestling on TV every Monday night at nationwide venues. He has undergone two knee reconstructions, broken his nose and a couple of ribs, and had various teeth knocked out. When you talk to him, you have to remind yourself to look in his eyes so yours don't drift to his buff arms.

Jackie, 27, runs marathons and half-marathons. She models. She's a spokeswoman for HMB supplements. She's been featured in such publications as Fitness Rx for Women and Fitness Rx for Men . Even in a big gray sweatshirt, tights and no makeup, she looks better than most of us do for a night on the town.

Wait: So how are they like us? Oh yes. They raise kids and have careers. They work and stay fit and find balance. All within a stone's throw (albeit from someone with a good throwing arm) of Dallas.

"Everything brings you to a different point in your life," Jackie says.

Pro wrestler Charlie Haas kisses his daughter Kayla, 2, in his new store, Custom Muscle Nutrition and Smoothie Shop in Frisco.

For her it was growing up in Cleveland, running track at the University of Toledo, trying out – and winning – a reality TV show with a girlfriend. Then training for a year before wrestling on TV, meeting Charlie, becoming a personal trainer, and ... well ya know what they say about "the rest": History, baby.

Charlie wrestled in high school in Edmond, Okla., and attended Seton Hall on a wrestling scholarship. He graduated with a degree in economics and business, and went to work on Wall Street.

"Thirteen-plus-hour days," he recalls. "Sleeping under my desk, showering at the gym."

Then he decided to pursue his dream: Wrestling. He worked his way through the ranks and – to use the lingo – was "called up to TV" in 2002.

"People ask, 'Is it fake? Is it real?' " Charlie says. "You have to be a really good athlete to do this."

Adds Jackie, "You have to be really good actors, too. It's active theater ... a male soap opera."

You can't do it without looking good. Turn to the USA network Mondays at 8 p.m., and you'll know what we're talking about.

Charlie loves wrestling. But now, especially with a family, he's looking past the ring.

"It all comes to an end eventually," he says. "Your body wears out. I want to build our future so it will make the adjustment easier."

Hence, the store.

"When you're a bad guy in the ring, they want to hate you," Charlie says. "Now I'm fun-loving and friendly. This is me right here."

He gestures around the store, toward Jackie, toward 2-year-old Kayla and 4-month-old Taylor. "I'm a dad. I want to build our family and be an influence. So many people helped me get where I am. My goal is to teach people, to bring someone some good."

The store doesn't cater to body builders, though they're certainly welcome. Instead, Charlie and Jackie "want it to be for everyone."

Jackie's and Charlie's tips for staying fit

Maximize your time. Using a jogging stroller, and her daughters as part of her core training (the baby on her belly during crunches), Jackie combines family and fitness. When Charlie's in town, they run together, too.

Core train. One of her favorite moves is the plank. "There are always variations to hit your midsection differently every time."

(Lie facedown on an exercise mat. Place your elbows and forearms underneath your chest. Prop yourself up to form a bridge using your toes and forearms while engaging your abs. Maintain a flat back, and don't let your hips to sag.)

Vary the workouts. She logs 45 to 50 miles of running a week, including some on the elliptical trainer. "It gives my joints a break." Her training runs include interval and speed training, plus long-run days. During one week, Charlie might work a body part a day. The next week, he'll do a "push-pull" program; i.e., hitting several in one workout.

Use your body as resistance training. Jackie rarely goes to a gym, relying on lunge and core routines.

Supplements. Hers include a liquid multivitamin made by Now, virgin coconut oil and amino acids. His include nitric oxide products pre- and post-workout to help fuel his muscles and help them recover.

Be patient. Think of any step toward fitness as a positive one. Start small; you're more likely to stick with something taking it a little at a time.

Jackie's and Charlie's eating tips

Eat! "It all starts with diet," Jackie says. "You can exercise your butt off but not be fueling your body."

Think small and frequent.

Better to have six small meals a day than three biggies.

Don't skimp on protein.

For average exercisers, aim for about a gram of protein per pound of body weight, depending upon your fitness goals.

Set an example. Eat like you want your kids to eat. Result: Daughter Kayla prefers broccoli to french fries.

Drink water. Lots and lots and lots.

Typical day of Haas meals

Breakfast: Scrambled egg whites, plus a yolk or two. Whole-wheat toast or oatmeal. Coffee, low-sodium bacon.

Morning and afternoon snack: Protein source such as low-fat yogurt, shake or bar, mixed nuts.

Lunch: Salad with lean protein source such as chicken; vinegar-based dressing.

Dinner: "We love to have options," Jackie says. Whole-wheat pasta with light sauce, lean barbecue-beef with a dry sweet potato, and a green vegetable. Dessert? Occasionally, and in moderation.

There is a live Monday Night Raw broadcast and Extreme Championship Wrestling taping at American Airlines Center at 6:30 p.m. on March 30. Who you'll see: Charlie Haas, John Cena, JBL, Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho and Beth Phoenix. Tickets go on sale Saturday for $22 to $70.

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