We've all seen the P90X workout infomercials, loaded with impossibly fit folks singing the praises of the program. The before-and-after shots are crazy inspiring -- but come on. It's an ad. And one more Ding Dong isn't going to kill you, right?
Jenn Mitchell might beg to differ. She discovered exercise as a way out of an unhappy, unhealthy time in her life -- and P90X and other programs helped pave the way. Now Coach Jenn -- who even has a cameo in a recent P90X video -- has left corporate America behind to become a certified personal trainer, and found her passion in helping others get healthy.
As an independent fitness coach for Beachbody, Jenn, a married mom of two children, works with clients around the country via Skype, Facebook, email or phone. With the purchase of a product such as P90X, clients get the benefit of her free fitness coaching. Jenn also provides one-on-one personal training to clients in her hometown of Boston, and blogs at PersonalFitCoach.com, where she features articles, reviews and giveaways.
A Passion for Fitness
"I’ve always been a relatively active person, but after having two children, and approaching my late 30’s, I really lost my motivation to work out," says Jenn. In addition to being overweight, Jenn struggled with post partum mood disorder and suffered from debilitating anxiety and depression.
With two children to care for under age 3, Jenn's plate was full. "When I felt like going to bed BEFORE my children, I knew something had to change," she says.
Jenn started with small goals, like riding her exercise bike for 10 or 20 minutes each day after her husband came home from work. Noting her improved mood, she increased the time spent on her bike, and started paying closer attention to eating healthy. She soon started a home workout program called Turbo Jam, and enjoyed the fact that she didn't have to drive to the gym or worry about what she was wearing.
Before long, the other moms in her baby group started to notice her transformation and asked what she'd been doing. She began informally coaching them by working out together and helping them select programs that worked for their needs.
In the process, Jenn realized that she enjoyed helping others. "More and more people started to tell me, 'You should do this for a living,'" she says.
What is the number one predictor of success for a person's fitness/diet goals?
"Hmm, that is a really good question. I don’t know that there is just one predictor for everyone. A strong desire to make a change exemplified by taking action is key. I have some clients who talk about change until they are blue in the face, but take minimal action. Some clients will workout hard, but then they don’t change their diet. People need to understand that changing their lifestyle is a true commitment. If someone is not ready to truly make a commitment and be consistent, they will not succeed."
Any advice you'd like to share with our fellow SocialMoms?
"It is easy to get caught up with comparing yourself to your neighbor, coworker, or worse, some celebrity or model. We need to focus on our own personal best and then set a goal to get even better. I’ve included my before and after photos so that you know that I did not start out as the fit person I am today. And, I am still trying to better myself each and every day."
What is the hardest thing you've ever done?
"Gosh, that’s a really tough question. I think overcoming post partum mood disorder was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I had never felt so powerless over my own emotions. It was a scary time in my life and I am so thankful that proper exercise and nutrition truly helped change my life. I was lucky to have wonderful support from my family, my doctor and my therapist as well. I take part in a message board to help other women get through similar struggles as well."
What are you passionate about?
"Other than motherhood, and fitness, I've found a passion for blogging and social networking. It is amazing how small the world has become with the ability to virtually meet people from all walks of life. It's been such a thrill to then have the opportunity to meet some of these people in person at blogging or fitness conferences."
What drives you crazy?
"I hate it when parents have blatant disregard for the behavior of their children in public. Kids who push others, go up slides instead of down, etc., when their parents are right there and say nothing about it. It is so frustrating as a mother who is trying to teach my children to behave nicely when others get away with such rude behavior."
What fun things do you like doing with your family?
"We love to explore nature though hiking, kayaking, even just walks through the neighborhood turning over rocks to see what we can find. We recently took a trip to The White Mountains of New Hampshire and had the most amazing time exploring the mountains, rivers, lakes, valleys, etc. The kids have already asked to go back next year."
Describe your perfect Saturday.
"A chance to sleep in while the kids have some pretend play in their rooms. Thank goodness for dolls and action figures. Breakfast as a family followed by something active like hiking, swimming, or even a walk to the local playground. We've been having fun exploring local nature walks as well. A picnic lunch and perhaps a babysitter so that my husband and I can have a date night. We don't have as many as we should so including a date night would be in my perfect Saturday for sure."
Lea Curtes-Swenson is a happy, Minneapolis-based writer and married mom of two girls. Find her at Lea Writes.