Monthly Archives: January 2016

Pursuing New Opportunities

New year, new opportunities.  That may be an understatement.  It’s official.  I will be following through with my Spartan venture on a much different scale.  Where do I begin?  It’s only fair that I start at the beginning.  My first gym in Charlotte? The Dowd YMCA.  At the time (2007), it was THE place to be.  It was the Dowd YMCA where I met some of my best friends and my future husband.  It was the Dowd YMCA where I waited outside the door to get in at 5AM.  I built relationships that will last my entire life.  If you aren’t from Charlotte, this might sound weird.  Trust me.  The Charlotte area YMCA system is unlike any other.  Since having my second child, my relationship with the facility has changed.


I now frequent the Harris YMCA – a branch further south, much larger, and a facility that offers just that much more.  What does this have to do with my post?  You guessed it.  I will be joining the team.  In an effort to match some of the activity going on at many of the boutique fitness studios in Charlotte, the YMCA is looking to add some valuable programs that differentiate themselves.  Case in point – Spartan SGX training.  You got it.  For only a small fee over regular membership, members AND non-members have the opportunity to get specific training to get them prepped for an obstacle course race (or not!).  They are investing in this program.  Not only is there an outdoor track, but a new turf runway and the set of outdoor exercise equipment above.  Due to high levels of demand, I will be coming on board to lead two evening classes a week.


What does all of this mean?  What is Spartan SGX?  This form of training is methodical.  Structured.  It isn’t just about physically working out, but it also involves building self efficacy, learning about nutrition, changing pieces of your lifestyle through small attainable goals, and truly making yourself a better human.  Trainers (instructors) aren’t just leading individuals through a class, but rather coaching them during the week as well.  I am in the final phase of my training – building a 12 week program.


I won’t be the first person to say this, but you don’t have to be training for a Spartan race to pursue this system.  Through three phases, the body is prepared to hit a peak performance before partaking in regeneration and recovery.  As part of each trainer’s program, exercise type and intensity are detailed with regressions and progressions of each exercise.  That makes each workout very focused on making it adaptable to any and every one.  Trust me, you won’t be jumping over a wall your first day there.  You also won’t be climbing a rope until you have built a foundation. Each workout also includes a proper dynamic warm up and stretching/cool down. Whether it is your first race or you an elite level athlete, the program is adaptable.


All of this said, something else had to change.  I have put my notice in at SmartCore Fitness.  While I loved everything about the people and training methodology, the opportunity to start a program at a facility that offers something completely different than anything out there is a risk I am willing to take.  More than 290,000 children and adults used the Charlotte YMCA system in 2014.  As I continue to try to build my client base, aligning myself at a place that I can be seen is crucial.  For limited hours during the week I will also be open to training individuals or small groups at the Harris YMCA.    In an effort to kick off my new endeavor, I will be leading a FREE workout at Athleta Southpark on February 14th from 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM.  Please reach out to me for more information!


On top of training others and working with this new program, I am full force back in Spartan training mode.  Shoulder is feeling extremely good, and I am building strength exponentially.  Burpees (as seen above) no longer create uncomfortable impact, and I am doing pull ups, toes to bar and overhead swings without pain.  My plan is to be running elite in the Charlotte Spring on Saturday, April 9th.


We have been spending some family time at Lowe’s buying supplies for Spartan training at home – 2×4’s for balance drills, PVC pipes for mobility drills and mounting devices for mock rigs and gymnastic rings.  We are all in.  I am going to give this a big go.  You better believe I will still be teaching at Flywheel.  I truly believe that the indoor cycling workout has been the key to me maintaining leg strength while building endurance – such a crucial piece of my training.  I also plan to bring the girls along for the ride.  Another perk of being at the Y is the childcare.  They get to come with me!  Who wouldn’t want to tote these two around everywhere?




I am anxious, but I am ready.  I want to make this something special.  I want the people who participate to feel a change in their life.  I want to see this through.  Are you up for the challenge? Please contact me directly for more information, and I will continue to keep you updated!

It has been several weeks (dare I say, months) since I posted what has been cooking in my house.  I have mostly been using my Instagram account (@flyjenduf) to share pictures and healthy eating advice.  However, I began to realize that the platform didn’t really give me enough room to go into detail on how I made each item.

Homemade Granola Covered Apple Crisps


Quite possibly one of the easiest (and quickest) pre-workout snacks that I make.  Don’t make a trip to the store if you don’t have to.  Use what you have in your pantry.  The things you really like.

REQUIRED INGREDIENT – Your favorite kind of apple – for me, Red Delicious

Slice apple in half.  Cut out the stem and core of apple.


  • Dash of Cinnamon
  • Dried cherries or raisins
  • Hint of butter
  • Dash of Sugar
  • Granola

Spread all optional ingredients on apple, except granola.  Place in microwave safe container.  Heat in microwave for four minutes, covered.  You can tell when the apples are tender when you start to get a whiff of the incredible smell of apple pie in your kitchen.  Juices will be flowing.  Upon pulling apple out of microwave, sprinkle with granola (or even a little bit of yogurt or peanut butter).

Total cook time – 5 minutes.  Total prep time – even less.

Egg Noodles with Spicy Chicken Sausage


I made this dish as a spin off to a recipe that I found in a Food Network magazine.  I oftentimes find great looking meals in these magazines that are LOADED in sodium, fat and calories.  If I think I can make healthy adjustments and not sacrifice taste, I am willing to give it a try.  Hence, I gave this a try one Friday night.


  • 1 bag of Egg Noodles
  • 5 links fresh spicy chicken sausage, casings removed
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 cup roasted red pepper, chopped (sold in a jar in the produce section)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/2 green cabbage, sliced
  • Dash of fresh dill


  1.  Cook Egg Noodles as described on package.  Reserve 1/2 cup of water upon draining.
  2. In separate pan (seen above), cook sausage in small amount of olive oil (not listed above).  As sausage is cooking, break it up with wooden spoon.
  3. Once sausage is cooked, add chopped onion to sausage pan.
  4. Once onion is tender, add garlic, red peppers and paprika.  Mix well.
  5. Add cabbage and chicken broth. Cook until cabbage is tender.
  6. Add noodles to mixture.  Mix well.  Use any reserve cooking water from Step 1 to loosen noodles.
  7. Once mixed, remove from heat.  Top with dill as needed.

Protein Pancake


Everyone swears by their own version of “protein pancake”.  Here is mine.  It’s good enough that my husband will eat it.  I say that because he absolutely HATES eggs and isn’t bothered by the fact that they make up the majority of the recipe.


  • 1 banana mashed
  • 1 scoop Vanilla Vega Protein and Greens Protein Powder
  • 3 Egg Whites


  1.  EASY!  Mix all ingredients in mixing bowl.  Pour into greased pan over medium/high heat until top of mixture starts to bubble.  Flip it.  Cook 3-4 minutes more.  Enjoy.
  2. Top with syrup, more bananas, pecans, get creative.

This recipe is less than 300 calories, under 1 gram of fat and includes close to 20 grams of protein.  Lean and mean.  Perfect for someone trying to lose weight or someone trying to build muscle.


Trying New Things & Being Deliberate

As a result of my shoulder injury, I spent a better part of the fourth quarter trying different Charlotte area workouts before ultimately determining that as I go forward with my athletic endeavors I need to be very deliberate with my exercises.  What exactly does that mean?  Well, I need to know what’s going to happen.  I need to know that at any workout “class” I attend there is an instructor willing to listen to my background prior to class starting (so necessary adjustments can be made in little to no time).  I need to stop doing too much because it’s “fun”.  I need to prioritize mobility and stretching.


SmartCore Fitness did a promotion with OrangeTheoryFitness during the month of December.  Some of the trainers and members from the Charlotte OrangeTheory locations tried a workout at SmartCore and vice versa.  I was not able to attend the SmartCore group session at OrangeTheory, so I picked a random morning to go when it fit my schedule.  Lucky for me, fellow Flywheel instructor, Meghan Lee, just happened to be there as well.


I attended a workout at the Quail Corners location.  Based on the way the studio is set up, I was able to see what the class before me was doing prior to my workout starting.  Rower.  Upper body.  Running.  I immediately felt a pit in my stomach due to anxiety that my shoulder would not hold up well on the rower.  That said, as soon as the earlier class let out, I made my way into the workout area to approach the instructor about my injury.  My biggest problem with the studio happened in that moment.  He offered me a few suggestions, but his ultimate answer was that we would figure it out should the need arise.  I guess that answer is okay.  However, for a person that wants to keep up with the rest of class, this was not the answer that I wanted to hear.  Heart rate is key, if my shoulder wasn’t going to perform, I was worried that I would have to spend several minutes (watching my heart rate drop), while I tried to figure out what to do.

Lucky for me, my shoulder outperformed my expectations.   After a rough start, the instructor for this class, made up for my concern.  Over the 60 minute class, he regularly asked me how my shoulder was holding up, checked my form, and ultimately played some of the best damn music I have heard outside of Flywheel.  I truly felt like dancing on the treadmill.  He was a great motivator and the atmosphere was positive.  Here’s the thing.  I attended a day when the focus was endurance.  We spent a better part of forty minutes rowing and running.  We did not do a lot of strength at all.  I get so much cardio through teaching at Flywheel and running on my own, that I was a little disappointed.  My takeaway?  Study the schedule and make sure you go on a day that you will maximize your benefit.

I expect you may see me here on a bi-weekly basis as I work to build speed and get pushed through the winter weather.  The staff at the studio was so welcoming.  The setup was clean.  The price isn’t cheap, but nothing good is.  If you are looking for something different.  A push – in a good way – you will get your money’s worth here.

STAX Women’s Only Total Body

I gained ALOT of confidence in the workload that my shoulder could sustain after my workout at OrangeTheory.  I was afraid to press strength at home.  It took a competitive atmosphere to realize that I could get back to where I had been.  That said, in an effort to take on a new form of strength workouts, I decided to try Emily Breeze Ross’s women’s only total body workout at STAX.


I have never jumped on the Crossfit bandwagon.  I don’t know that I ever will.  Overhead lifting was a big part of my training in college, and it really just makes me feel uncomfortable.  When I saw Breeze’s post about a new option that was self described as “This isn’t a crossfit class”, I was intrigued.  Upon reaching out to her directly, I found out that childcare would be offered for free.  Excuse me?  I was willing to give it a try.


The STAX facility itself is not your typical Crossfit “box”.  For one, it’s incredibly clean.  It also offers plenty of space for exercises other than those utilizing rigs.  In one hour a few things happen – I truly respect this.

  • Proper warm up – SO many of the workouts that we do these days are full throttle from the start.  Breeze is certified in Thai Yoga and mobility.  The first 10-15 minutes is geared towards warming up/stretching the primary muscle groups that will be exercised during the workout.  LOVE this piece.
  • Skill practice – Specific walkthrough on the basics and advanced pieces of a prescribed exercise.  Each individual is monitored for form and given a chance to try several modifications.
  • “MetCon” – metabolic conditioning.  The heart of the workout.  Intense, sometimes timed, workout that represents the meat of the workout.  SERIOUS calorie burn.  I wear a heart rate monitor.  In one of the most recent “MetCons”, I burned upwards of 400 calories in less than 30 minutes.  I also got solid strength work in.

I am more and more impressed with Breeze every day.  I grew up with her.  I lived with her in Charlotte.  I have seen what she has done with herself, and I am SO proud.  She knows how to train. She knows how to motivate.  She makes being pregnant look easy.  Aside from her, the women that I have met through the workouts are incredible – encouraging, sometimes moms, strong, confident, and just plain nice.  Staff is taking pictures as we train.  So many different fitness levels, yet all getting a workout done at the same time.


Where Do I Go From Here?

Let’s see.  I’m still regularly doing SmartCore exercises at my house.  I am still doing my physical therapy at home.  I am running two days a week, and I am now teaching five regularly scheduled classes at Flywheel per week.  I used to joke about how I probably needed to stretch and work on mobility, but I didn’t have time to.  The time is now.  I used to take exercises classes or go for runs with people for “fun”.  Really, fear of missing out.  My body can no longer sustain that lifestyle to be functional.  To be a fun mom.  I’m being picky, because I have to be.  Don’t take offense.  I still love to fit things like OrangeTheory, a run in the park with friends, FiA and a random barre class in when I know it won’t affect whatever else I am doing that day.

New Year, New Goals

When I take time to reflect on my fitness goals from fourth quarter 2015, I feel some satisfaction in what I was able to accomplish given my first serious exercise related injury. I have always been the type of person that does better when I physically write down my goals, tape them up somewhere and look at them on a regular basis.  I still have a piece of paper that hung in my college dorm/apartment for four years – GPA each semester greater than 3.5, followed by specific heights that I anticipated clearing in the pole vault as I spent more time training.  People who knew me then, saw it.  As crazy as it may have seemed, they also know that I ended up hitting my height requirements.  I also graduated Magna Cum Laude.


The reason why I bring up my personal story is because I want my readers to understand that the goals we set (and write down) don’t just have to be physical.  We might set personal goals at work, at home, in our community or physiologically.  What I want to reiterate is for a goal to be set, you don’t necessarily need to tell anyone, but hold yourself accountable in some way.  Don’t just say it.  Do it.  When we meet a goal, we indirectly build our self efficacy and mental stamina.  We sometimes even surprise ourselves (even better).

I hate people using the New Year as a reason to start get motivated, but it actually is a great time for me to reassess my training, reset my own goals, and think about how I want to move forward in 2016.  Here are my thoughts.  I expect you to hold me accountable as much as I will hold myself to these commitments.


Earn a “coin”.  Say what?  I know my shoulder injury shut me down for a better part of the fourth quarter, however, I am on the mend.  I am training in a different manner.  I am striving to compete in a Spartan Race early in 2016.  That said, I would like to earn my spot in the Spartan World Championships by earning a coin.  There are four ways to earn a coin, the most likely scenario for me is to finish top five in the women’s elite heat of any US race.  If all goes as planned, my first Spartan Race of 2016 will likely be the sprint in Charlotte in April.

Complete more running races.  I have never been as good of a long distance runner as I would like to be.  Practice makes perfect.  I am committing to running at least twice per week – one longer run, one speed or hill workout.  Improving my overall mile time will improve several aspects of my Spartan Race.  I will run my first race on April 2, when I compete in the Charleston Bridge Run 10K.  As crowded as this race can be, I am all set to race in a competitive heat with the goal under 45 minutes for 6 miles.


Be on the schedule more at Flywheel.  Flywheel was my “in” to the fitness industry.  While I loved working out and training prior to taking my first class, my love for improving people’s lives and inspiring those around me through exercise began at Flywheel.  I drink the kool-aid.  Riding a bike in this atmosphere is such an incredible way for many different types of people to get a cardio workout.  The studio has such a sense of “community”.  It has been hard for me to find availability on the regular schedule since I had my second child.  I am now set at five classes per week (see the “services/schedule” tab).  I will also try to sub where I can, as much as I can.

Give my kids the opportunity to be active.  My oldest is reaching the age where she is adapting habits based on the things taking place around her.  She loves to run, without being prompted.  She loves to mimic the exercises that she sees mommy and daddy do.  Her version of a squat is called “up, down”.  My focus is to let her try as much as she can, not push her in any direction, and let her decide if sports and exercise are something she wants to do.  If you have read my back story, you know I didn’t really play many sports (or go to the gym) when I was growing up.  Look where I am now.  Life is a roller coaster.  She is participating in her first season of Soccer Shots.  While they don’t play any games, she is learning the basics of the sport.


She is also participating in her second season of swim lessons.  I gauge her interest by talking to her about them both regularly.  Asking her if she likes it.  Asking her if she actually wants to go.  So far, so good.  The most difficult part is holding back my infant from wanting to participate as well!


Finally.  Start my Spartan Training Program.  We are in the works.  There are a lot of moving pieces.  If you are looking to train for a Spartan Race, please contact me directly.  I want you to be successful, as much as I would like to be.  Seeing people succeed in physical races, is just the start of seeing them carry over that mental strength in every aspect of their life.  I am being so serious.


Now that I have put my goals out there, share with me yours.  What will 2016 be like for you?