Jessica, thank you for agreeing to share your story. When we met and started working together on your fitness goals, you were coming out of a very serious and trying time with your health.
Yeah, I was always pretty fit in general but when I connected with you I was actually about six months post treatment for breast cancer. I was looking for something to feel strong again. I found you to be wonderfully motivating and understanding but at the same time no walk in the park. I knew you were the person that I needed in my life at that time. That was three and a half years ago.
Once you regained your physical strength, you could have continued working out on your own. What prompted you to continue working with me?
There is always something different when I work out with you. I loved that. To this day, you never have me do the same exercise routine from one week to the next. There’s always the mysterious challenge of “What’s going to happen today? What is she going to help me accomplish this time?”
When we first started, you would lay out an exercise and in my head I would say, “There’s no way. There’s just no way.” But now you have me thinking that I can do it. If you think I can do it, then I know I can do it. Now I will do the same workouts you’ve done with me a few days later. Every now and then I doubtfully ask myself, “Can I do this on my own?” But I know I can because I already did. Most of that came from the way you interact. You have helped me create belief that I can do things that I never used to.
Had you worked out with other trainers or taken fitness classes before becoming a Pure Joy Wellness client? What was your experience?
Yeah, I had been to other exercise classes; and I had seen other trainers at my gym but none of them motivated me to work with them. Let’s just start with basics: I have definitely seen or heard trainers who didn’t know what they were talking about or who wouldn’t correct someone who was exercising with incorrect form. That was something important to me that stood out about working with you at Pure Joy Wellness. You’re always like, “Watch that back, look out for your form.” Also, you always explain what an exercise is going to do. “We are going to do this because it works your back, and then we are going to take a break and do this because it works your legs. And then we are going to come back to your back.” I appreciate understanding what we are doing, and why, and why the torture must be the way it is. [laughs]
What sets you apart in my mind is your mixture of compassion, attention and tough motivation. I feel like you get me and you pick up on things too. You will say, “You seem a little tired today.” Or, “Why are you holding yourself like that? What’s going on?” You are very tuned in. For example, you know I struggle with balance. It’s not something that comes easy to me so of course we work on balance. A lot of your exercises are about balance because you try to have me use my whole body as opposed to ‘hey, let’s just work this one muscle.’ When I don’t do so well and start getting annoyed about it, you are always quick to say, “Don’t judge yourself. That’s a huge waste of time.” And I like that you call me out on that because it actually is a huge waste of time. So it’s really that mixture…your ability to see holistically what’s going on, and being very honest and forthright. But also being compassionate. So I feel very supported by you. I feel like you get my goals and you’re going to do what you need to do to get me there.
Have you grown stronger in other ways as your body has grown stronger?
Yes. Well, let me first say that I was never a shrinking violet. So I have not necessarily had a huge metamorphosis per se. But since working with you I do feel more confident in my strength. I feel more powerful in my body. You have taken my general optimism about myself and ratcheted it up if that makes any sense. You are inspiring and you have actually gotten me to see myself as a little more inspiring. That helps me in other areas of my life. You’ve gotten me to view working out not as a chore but as something that I can do and be proud of and enjoy because I can look at my body and see it as strong and powerful and manifest that power in other ways. I mean, when I had breast cancer I had a double mastectomy. I had radiation. I had scars that I never had before. When I started working out with you I was just so focused on my scarred body. Our work wasn’t about cancer or recovering from cancer. It was about getting strong again. Through that process, I moved from seeing my body as scarred to seeing it as strong and sacred. I say to myself, “If I can do this down in the gym, well then what else can I do?” It’s not only about the physical. My work with you has built up a sort of core strength inside as well.
I like that…”inner core strength.” How else do you use that?
I use it at work.
You’re an executive at a huge insurance company, where does the inner core strength factor in?
There is some level of real reward that comes when I am sitting down in a meeting and I am the only woman in the conference room and I know what I did when I worked out that morning and I know that most of the guys in the room probably haven’t done that that morning, or at all. It creates internal confidence. It’s that internal confidence of knowing that you can push yourself and accomplish. That comes out at work whether it’s just talking to a colleague or leading a team. It helps me lead because I know from my work at the gym what it is like to push myself to my limits, and then to surpass them.
What about at home?
Ah, yes, I take pride in the fact that my children know that five mornings a week I am going to be down at the gym working out and of course they know who you are too. You are such a part of my daily existence so sometimes they ask, “Are you going to work out with Renata today? Is that a Renata exercise? Can you show me how to do a Renata exercise?” It makes me feel good to know that I am a role model in teaching them how important it is to take care of yourself and to keep growing.
I remember that when we started out you had me do planks, which were hard enough. Then one day you had me do walking planks. I was like, “What? Are you kidding me?” I could barely do four. Now you tell me to do three sets of 10 and I just look at you and say, “Okay, fine, bring it.”