with HERS cover star Shelly Mattes

 Photographer @leelhgfx_fitness

Makeup & Hair @Stephaniekilmermakeup

Stylist @elisbettarogiani

Fitness Wear @rogiani.com

Shoes @sketchers

Meet Shelly Mattes, a woman who wears many hats, and each role in her life has shaped her into the person she is today. For the past 30 years, she has been happily married to her husband John, and together they have raised two incredible daughters. Their eldest, a Princeton University graduate, is now embarking on a journey to Harvard Law School, while their younger daughter is currently a freshman at Princeton, where she’s not only hitting the books but also making her mark on the basketball court. Professionally, she is a proud owner of Outpatient Imaging Centers, specializing in MRIs, CT scans, and PET scans for cancer patients. Beyond the boardroom, she devotes her time as a CASA court-appointed special advocate, fighting for the rights of children in the foster care system. In her spare moments, she’s coached basketball, cross country, and track, drawn from her passion for sports. Life threw her a curveball when she battled and survived cancer, inspiring her to become an award-winning fitness competitor and a fitness cover model. At one point, she even owned a modeling agency, Models by Trade. Through these diverse experiences, she’s learned to embrace life’s challenges and celebrate its victories.

Let’s start by sharing a little about yourself. I am originally from the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, and I live in Boston, Massachusetts. I am 54 years old and have been married to my husband John for 31 years in December. We met in Chicago and got married after seven weeks. He graduated from Vanderbilt University and has been a medical entrepreneur for the past 26 years. I think we balance each other out and actually work well together. We have a lot of common goals and interest.

What are you passionate about? I am passionate about my family, friends, fitness, co-workers, our medical business and volunteering. I am working and advocating with children in the foster care system in the courts.

How did you end up with your own medical business? My husband and I were both working in pharmaceutical sales in Boston at the time. I actually started my own modeling agency when I was 25 years old while working a full-time career in pharmaceutical sales. Then one day, John and I decided to quit our jobs and open our own radiology imaging centers. We have owned and managed nine outpatient facilities including MRI’s, CT scans and PET scans for cancer patients. It’s a very rewarding career.

I understand you had your own fight with cancer. Yes. When I had cancer, my oldest daughter was only one. I had surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC the first week of September in 2001 with follow-up appointments the second week. In between was 9/11. It was like visiting two different cities only a week apart. It was a really difficult time.

What was it like for you? All I can say is that when you are diagnosed with cancer, your entire life changes. That’s what happened to me 23 years ago. It’s not something you can ever prepare for, but it’s something that I knew could be beaten if I had the will to fight.

Is this why fitness has become such an important part of your life? Fitness is no longer something I try to make time for; it’s a priority. My goal is to live a long, healthy life and to set a positive example for my two daughters. The Fitness America competitions make the process an exciting challenge and keep me inspired to do my best. I competed in my seventh show in October.

What are some of the things you aspire for moving forward? My aspirations in my second act of life is to have a close-knit family where we can live in the same city. I also want to be an advocate for children in the foster care system, to represent them in court and help them succeed in their lives. I also want to become a fitness pro and inspire other women that no matter what age you are you don’t have to settle and give up on your dreams.

Any advice for women reading your story? Just that you can get through anything if you put your mind to it. And always remember to take care of yourself. If you’re operating from an empty tank you’re not going to have enough fuel to be there for others.

What is something you believe in wholeheartedly? I believe in a strong-knit family that gives back to help others succeed. That also means staying healthy to not only feel good every day but to keep illness at bay.

How do you stay in such great shape? I work out six days a week, mainly lifting weights, boot camp classes, and cardio. Monday, Wednesday and Friday I go to a girl’s gym called GroupX RX in Brookline, Massachusetts. It is owned by John Passemato. He is the head trainer. The gym is like Cheers where everyone knows your name. It has such positive energy when you walk through the doors. I also train with Dave on Wednesday. It’s 30 minutes of lifting weights followed by 30 minutes of cardio. I prefer doing sprints for cardio. On Tuesday and Thursday, I work out on Zoom with my good friend Linda Mitchell. She owns Sisterhood of Sweat in Mason, Ohio. I have been a regular there for seven years. On Saturday I do an hour of steady state cardio. At the end of the day working out is a lifestyle for me. I love the way it makes me feel. Of course, that’s why most people love working out.

How do you stay motivated to hit the gym? I simply focus on the end result that going to the gym brings. For me, exercise is a confidence booster, and releases a natural high attributed to the release of endorphins. It’s the best feeling!”

15-How did you get into fitness competitions? A good friend of mine, Rebecca Heck showed me her picture at a fitness show. After I had toe surgery from a lot of running including the Columbus marathon, I needed something that didn’t involve long-distance running, but I never thought that I would enter a fitness show. I’m somewhat shy by nature. Rebecca offered to train me and convinced me that if I committed to entering a fitness competition, getting to the gym would be easy. She was right. The fear of standing in front of so many people is a great motivator. Ruby Carter-Pikes is my role model. She is 76 years old and still competing as a fitness pro.

What keeps you motivated to live a healthy lifestyle? None of the goals in my life are possible if I’m not in good health. That’s motivation enough for me!

“My goal is to live a long, healthy life and to set a positive example for my two daughters.”  

“You can get through anything if you put your mind to it.”