Category Archives: workout

Welcome Back Jen

I promised I would get more consistent on the blog, so here I am.  I am still working on updating the subsequent tabs of the site, but the main thing is – I AM POSTING.  I thought it would be good to reintroduce myself.  What I have been doing over the past two years and what people are reading a lot of on my blog.

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This is me Jen D.  Jenny D.  Jen Duf.  In my former life, I was a college pole vaulter at Virginia Tech.  I moved to Charlotte after getting a graduate degree in Accounting.  I passed my CPA exam and went to work for a large accounting firm before I realized for me to have babies, I physically had to be around my husband.  I traveled for work most weeks Monday through Thursday.  While on the road, maintaining my fitness was extremely difficult.

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As good as corporate America thinks they are at maintaining “wellness” programs for their employees, they are failing.  There is no such thing as work life balance.  I have learned it is all a counter balance.  You simply cannot balance it all.  I left public accounting the week before my wedding.  I started my new job in industry (a 40 hour a week in town job) the Monday after my honeymoon.  I also started my career in fitness a few months later when I joined the Flywheel team.

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My second pregnancy at 23 Weeks.

Long story short, I found out once I was physically in town, getting pregnant wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.  I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).  I began hormones to get a normal period before taking Clomid to conceive my first child.  I started my blog in private while I was pregnant with my first child.  I shared with close friends and family once a week.  Each week, someone else wanted to be added to the list. Eventually, I made it public.

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During my second pregnancy, you really got to see the full story.  My first trimester, I suffered a subchorionic hematoma and didn’t leave my couch much for 2 weeks.  We slowly watched the hematoma disappear as the burden of miscarriage passed.  My daughter Morgan is a blessing. To this day her infectious smile shows the joy that she has for life.

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I left full time work to be a mom.  I passed my personal trainer certification.  I started a new hustle. To get started in personal training, I did a few things to learn:

  • I worked at the YMCA for an hourly wage.
  • I taught bootcamps at SmartCore Fitness.
  • I visited everything.
  • I started training myself for various events. Played around with methodologies.
  • I formed Cross Conditioning.
  • I continued to seek out the people that are the best at what they do (and people did’t know them yet).
  • I ALWAYS ask for feedback.  Trust me, you can always get better.

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Through documenting it all, I learned a bunch of cool things, which I will share, but before I do, let me share where I am at now.

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  1. I have three little girls – My angels.  If I can teach these girls anything, it’s how to love themselves.  Be proud.  Work hard.  Treat everyone the same.  If you train with me, you have likely seen them, met them or been entertained by them.
  2. Cross Conditioning is still going strong – I guess I should start posting again on the Instagram site.  You see, what happened is, after I had my third daughter, I decided that my core group would stay my core group with less workouts per month.  No longer would this be an obstacle race training group, but rather a group centered around intentional planned workouts each week both in person and on your own.  I will now admit that running plays a big part in that.   We still meet regularly.  We still compete.  I simply haven’t had a need to market it.

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3.  My personal training business has significantly grown. Both in person and through programming.  Most people need guidance when it comes to exercise.  It isn’t natural to them.  The thought of getting to a gym, figuring out what to do and executing is overwhelming.  I literally spend hours a month doing that for people.  When will you be out of town? Where do you like to workout?  What are your goals?  There is a way to do it.  Most importantly, I hold you accountable through human interaction.

4.  I co-founded a pop up fitness company called EMERGE – Let’s face it, exercise is not in a great place to the mass.  Some trainers are fueled by the appearance of big numbers over the quality of instruction and execution.  Through EMERGE, five fitness gurus in Charlotte look to come together to bridge that gap.  How do you execute effectively, giving participants a safe workout, while also feeling the energy of a big group?  In a few pop up events a month, we give that to you.  Check it out.

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5. I’m still teaching Flywheel. If you know me, I would do any workout that I would give a client.  I am still a hardcore believer in the Flywheel ride in regards to cross training and low impact exercise.  If fulfills a gap that other brands cannot hit.  I also feel the value in being able to provide my clients with that service when I am in the studio. I’m pretty limited to early mornings, but you can catch me subbing in the evening windows once every other month or so.

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6. I am still running a lot.  I love competing.  I don’t chase people.  I know what I want to do and I try to execute it. I don’t make excuses.  I can only learn from each experience.   I want my people to do the same thing.  The next two races on my calendar are the Orthhcarolina 10K and Around the Crown 10K.  Join me for one or both.  I will also be competing in Beers and Burpees in September.

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Grand scheme of things, I’m present.  I love what I do.  Sometimes I’m too much of a people pleaser.  I want everyone to be happy.  I am learning though. I am getting tougher.  what are people reading on my blog these days:

  • A lot about pregnancy – specifically, pregnancy on a bachelorette, my hematoma, postpartum and my weekly logs.
  • ARUBA – my husband and I went on this amazing vacation to Aruba after the birth of my first daughter.  I posted a lot of good tips on Aruba.  Eats, drinks, activities. I also posted a workout on the beach!
  • Race Recaps – obstacle racing, run racing, you name it.  People want to hear about the course and how tos on hydration, obstacles and time.

What have I learned from all of this:

  • Small groups are the best groups.  I love a big crowd.  It looks cool right?  I build long term clients in intimate situations though.  Small groups.  I like talking to people.  I like helping people.  I want to see people feel good about themselves and feel acknowledged.
  • Everything is not what it appears.  Don’t read too much into someone’s social. I know a ton of fitness professionals that are killing the game and never get on Instagram.
  • The fitness hustle is real.  I talk about this a lot.  Most fitness professionals are not set up for retirement.  Hi millennials.  When you decide to pursue your passion understand this, do you want to be teaching cycle classes when you are 60 because you didn’t save money when you were younger?  While all of your friends are retired what will be cool then?  Take a good hard look at that when deciding to go into a profession that doesn’t have insurance, benefits, retirement.  This is my CPA side talking.  Did I tell you I like to help people?

I hope this was an easy to read version of what’s good for my new peeps.  Sorry to reiterate if you already know me.  Like something you read?  Contact me!

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Love, love, love.  Jen

 

 

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The Importance of Integrating “Body work” and Personal Training

Ever been injured?  Or in pain?  You proceed to make an appointment with your chiropractor or physical therapist, maybe get a massage, get some temporary relief before you head right back to your high intensity exercise class to repeat the same process?  Fitness is in a weird spot.  I train a lot of different types of clients (some performance driven, some for fitness longevity).  The growing trend?  When in pain, they are self prescribing, and not actually prioritizing the root cause.

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I have been lucky not to have experienced any significant injuries in my athletic career (no surgeries or broken bones). That said, I have dislocated a shoulder in a Spartan Race and twisted my ankle in a fluke fall when I stepped on a pile of leaves while running.  In both cases, my range of motion was tested through force, and my body failed.  Recovery time was minimal as was physical therapy.  Here’s the thing, in my own experience, I realized it wasn’t the fall that caused the injury, so much as it was the lack of specific training in those areas.  My ankle mobility is bad.  I often turn my foot out to compensate in my squat.  At the time of my shoulder injury, I had an anterior tilt going on from postpartum pelvic floor issues that had not been resolved. Long story short, I had strength issues in mobility I was neglecting. It was only a matter of time before they were tested.

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I’m a trainer.  When I realized my problems, I talked through my rehab with my physical therapist and I modified my training.  I adapted the way I train personally for specific events and overall quality of life.  It’s not always go hard or go home. You can’t always “modify” a group exercise class. Also, let’s face it, I have to use my body to do my number one job – mom.  Being laid up on the couch is not an option.

So what’s my point?  When you get hurt, ALWAYS figure out the underlying issue.  If you have constant low back issues, have a physical therapist check your alignment, test your range of motion through your hips, find out where you are weak.  Don’t just jump to dry needling, cupping or whatever the newest trend is. These are the areas you will compensate.  Your physical therapist is going to give you a plethora of knowledge and exercises that you might not understand.

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Here is the key that most people miss.  If available, have your trainer understand your weakness and communicate with the person making the assessment. Take that information to them. In the grand scheme of things, your trainer will see you more than your body work therapist, your physical therapist or your chiropractor.  Your trainer should be helping you strengthen your body to correct areas that might be causing pain and ultimately resolving that pain. If your trainer or the person working on your body are unwilling to connect, this should be a RED flag.  Direct communication from these two modalities will save you time, money and make you feel better.  That I can guarantee.

When “body work” and training are merged, big things happen. I have an amazing group of physical therapists, chiropractors and body work therapists that I refer people to and I can’t tell you much I appreciate directly knowing a client’s limitations. And let me preface all of this by saying this doesn’t mean you can’t do high intensity interval training and still work towards a performance goal.  My clients know my seemingly easy workouts sneak up on them. Being on offense is always better than being on defense. Taking care of things before they escalate is better than trying to fix them after they do.

Being Inclusive

I recently read a blog post on SweatNet by Tom Gallagher that really pulled at me. A post about the word “inclusive”. It seems to be a standard word thrown around in the Charlotte fitness industry these days. How can you appeal to the mass? Be inclusive. As a former college athlete and now personal trainer, I would say feeling included at a workout is easier for me than the average person. I am good at most things that someone will ask me to do even if I haven’t done it in awhile. When it isn’t easy, my natural competitive nature drives me to engage and figure out how to at least fake that I can keep up with people.

I train a wide variety of people that come to me individually or in small groups because feeling included isn’t easy for them. When I first started to hear that people didn’t feel included at these self described “inclusive” workouts, I didn’t pay much attention to it. Maybe they were overexaggerating? Maybe they were just having a bad day? Maybe if they went back again it would be better? I like to give things the benefit of the doubt.

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I decided to go with some of my athletes individually to workouts. Something we both agreed we wanted to try. We both would go in with an open mind and a friend. No solo anxiety going on here. I saw it first hand. I saw the feeling like “Charlotte fitness is SO inclusive, yet so exclusive.” My heart dropped. I’m a mom. I feel such empathy for everyone. Every adult was once a child. Every human should be treated with the same respect.

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So, what are some examples of what I saw?

  • “We welcome all pace levels” on a group run. In my mind that means the person organizing the event should be in the back. No one but the person that asked people to be there should be in last. How inclusive is it to say we welcome all pace levels? Yet, how exclusive is it for you to run off and leave the slowest person behind?

 

  • “All exercises can be modified”. But does anyone in the upper tier of fitness ever stop to do the easiest modification? I’m a victim of this when I participate in class. I tend to push pace to keep up only to watch my form deteriorate. When someone new comes to a workout, why don’t I ever consider slowing down to work out at their pace to make them feel included? Again, how exclusive is it for us all to be doing the hardest version of an exercise while the new person struggles with the easiest modification.

 

  • “Let’s stick around and socialize after a workout” or “Let’s meet this week to go to XYZ workout”. Sticking around to socialize is a great idea as long as you make a conscience effort to engage with said new person. Invite them to sit down with you. Ask questions about them. Follow through with your promise to meet up at another workout. How can you feel included when there is a private group text/WhatsApp message/email chain that you haven’t been added to?

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These examples are not things you have to do. Some gyms/trainers want to be exclusive. They have no problem saying that. I commend them for that. At least they are honest. However, as we evolve, we must consider our actions as it relates to our words. Thank you Tom and various clients of mine for opening my eyes to this. It has been way too easy for me to coast along with a blind eye, not even paying attention to this. I know I’m not perfect, but I am aware. The first step to change is awareness.

Age Is Just A Number and Programming Works

Here I am.  Approaching eight months postpartum from baby number three.  I’m turning thirty four this year.  I talked to one of my best friends from college on the phone last week and we reminisced on how much our lives have changed since graduating.  Did people ever expect us to grow up?  Anyways, she is expecting her first child in July.  As I walked off the stage upon receiving my graduate degree in accounting, if you would have asked me what my life would be like ten years later, I would not say this.

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Lo and behold, I am no longer an accountant (unless I am reconciling my own bank account or working on my business expenses).  In college, my max run distance was about eighty feet down a flat runway.  When my coach asked us to run easy for ten minutes, I pondered if I could go slow enough that I would only have to run two laps in that period (I called it “the bounce”).

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I always thought I would have a stay at home husband.  Seriously.  I left college with a great job and every intention of climbing my way to the top of the business world.  When my first daughter was born that changed.  I stuck around corporate America until my second daughter was born, but something about me changed when I became a mom.  I found a new empathy for every human being.  I guess I figured out through my pre and postpartum fitness journey that I was capable of a lot more than I gave myself credit for (and so are others).

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Here goes nothing.  I hear all the time from people in my peer group that I am so fit.  I must workout all the time.  They will never be an athlete like me.  They could never do Flywheel, a Spartan Race, a Flybarre class.  You name it.  It’s not that you can’t do it.  It’s that you don’t give yourself credit.  Everyone has to start somewhere.  So, here I am to show you some of my stats (because ultimately this is the easiest way to prove that you can get better if you commit).

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I went back to my Athlinks account and found my pre-marriage race results!  Who knew you could even do that.  Why didn’t I think of it before.  I graduated from Virginia Tech in 2007.  I did a handful of races from 2008-2012 (most of them actually longer distances).  The Charlotte RaceFest half marathon was my “pre-wedding” race.

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I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter in 2013 and my second daughter in 2014, so I didn’t do much racing.  As you can see, I participated in two Thanksgiving Day races (one while I was pregnant) in a matter of two years.

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My time commitment shifted in 2015 when my second daughter was born.  I was now 31 years old, and I realized the importance of strength training.  I went all in.  Instead of just doing workouts when I could, I decided to actually program my training towards specific goals.  I wanted to be faster.  I wanted to be stronger.  Instead of jumping in workouts because they seemed “fun”, I decided to be deliberate about what days I would run.  What days I would lift.  What days I wold ride.  I saw a SIGNIFICANT drop in my mile times at road races.  Somehow, I went from running mid 8:30 miles to less than 7:30 miles.  Okay!

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We always knew we wanted to have three kids, so I knew at some point all of this would scale back and I would have to go through the whole postpartum fitness journey again.  That I did, and here I sit.  Almost ten years from my first post collegiate road race.

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Last weekend, my husband and I had the privilege of starting the Cooper River Bridge Run together (he ran much faster than me).  I say privilege because I am thankful every day that I have the ability to go for a run.  Much less see improvement as I age.  I crossed the finish line four seconds faster than my previous Bridge Run time in 2016.  Would you believe I was disappointed?  I have been spoiled with seeing results.  Quick results at that.  When I took a trip down memory lane, I almost laughed at myself.

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Through the process of seeing what I am capable of in an entirely different way, I have made myself believe that all of that hard work actually worked.  Programming works.  Whether it is Crossfit, running, riding, bootcamp.  Having a trainer/mentor who knows what they are doing makes a difference. As I close on this post, I want to remind you that setting benchmarks can be such a positive tool.   Not doing something because you feel to old, you wouldn’t  fit in or it’s too hard is so relative.   The day I decided to try new things is the day I started to see a change in my performance as well as my self image.