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June 3, 2020

Podcast No. 76: Jennifer Jacobs, J Method Fitness Founder

My guest this week is Jennifer Jacobs, one of the world’s most recognizable personal trainers.

By Will Ahmed

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A former senior instructor at Peloton, Jennifer is the Founder of J Method Fitness. We discuss how at-home fitness has evolved over the years, why she thinks homes are the optimal place to work out, and how you can create a pop-up gym with just a few pieces of small equipment. She also shares her tips and tricks for recovery, nutrition, and encouraging kids to get moving and stay active.

Jennifer Jacobs Podcast Show Notes:

2:09 – The New Age of Workouts. “I’ve actually been on digital devices for over a decade. That’s how I’ve been training most of my clients for years now. Before FaceTime, before it was cool, before Zoom, I was doing it over Skype. … I had established a client base when I was attending college, that’s when I started my own personal training company, and from there my life took me to France, I married a Frenchman and I spent 10 years living in France. A lot of my clients wanted to stay in touch and keep training with me. …That’s how it started.”

3:39 – The Future of Fitness. “I had somebody tell me about Peloton. I looked into it, I looked into other companies, and I know that was the one that was going to lead the way. I simply presented myself to the company and said ‘This is what I can do for you. I can not only teach this group instruction on the bike, but I can also take you off the bike and to strength training.’ So that’s what I did.”

5:06 – Keys to Teaching a Successful Class. “I think it’s really important to go in with a plan. Think about it, if you and I were to go riding in Central Park in New York, and I said ‘Follow me,’ and you just followed me, you wouldn’t know where we were going or how to prepare. But if I said, ‘We’re going to go around the park, there’s going to be two hills, there’s going to be an intense set of efforts in about the 5-minute mark, and then we’re going to turn around and be done with this ride,’ you’d actually know how to prepare yourself and you’d still have fun along the way. I think going into it it’s extremely important to have a plan with anything you do. Train with a purpose, have a purpose, and make it fun.”

6:37 – Training Philosophy. “I have a big belief in training less and gaining more, so dedicating less time to the training aspect while at the same time getting the results. … Eat well, rest often, it’s a big key that most people miss when they’re trying to achieve a goal.”

10:25 – Growing as a Trainer. “I think one of the things I didn’t realize [when I first started out] is that everyone is different. Not just physically different, but their needs, their stresses in life are different. Not everyone is the same and you can’t train everyone the same, but when I first started out, that’s what everyone around me did. You trained each client the same way. ‘This is the killer circuit, I’m going to put every client through it, they’ll do great.’ I learned that’s not optimal for each individual. You have to understand their lifestyle. Some people don’t have a lot of time, so if you’re going to program something for someone who doesn’t have the time to achieve it, they’re not going to be able to work towards the goal.”

11:22 – Working Out at Home. “I think the optimal place to get your training done is at your home. … At-home training has always been there, pre-COVID-19, it just changes, the trends change. I think if you can create a little bit of space and dedicate a little bit of time, you can have an effective workout at home. … There are so many resources that can help you keep you encouraged and engaged.”

13:02 – Jennifer’s Top-3 Pieces of Equipment for Home Workouts.
1. Resistance bands. “It’s a great entry level for everyone, it’s safer to use than dumbbells, you don’t need to rack them.”
2. A recovery tool. “[A recovery ball] is one of the things I use on a daily basis.”
3. Cardio equipment. “I lend myself towards a jump rope. It’s easy to put into a closet or a corner, it doesn’t take up a lot of space.”

14:26 – Jumping Rope like a Boxer. “I think everyone thinks they know how to jump rope, but to actually jump rope the way boxers jump rope, there’s actually a little bit of technique. And boxing is an unbelievable workout,” Will says. “I encourage anyone listening to this to learn how to box.”

16:54 – Jennifer’s Approach to Healthy Eating. “My point of view is to eat well. I don’t subscribe to any diet or any weight loss plan and I never have. I think that’s a problem in the industry, there’s too much noise, there’s too many options, programs, diets, magic pills, that confuse something that is so basic. It really is. The industry has decided to make it as complex as it possibly can be.”

17:22 – Working With Clients on Nutrition. “One of the most effective ways I’ve found to [track what clients are eating] is through a photo food log. Rather than them writing it down, I want to visually see what they are eating and what they are putting into their body. It makes the person far more accountable for the decisions they’re making. … It helps with portion control. It helps with mindfulness of what you’re eating and what you’re consuming.”

19:51 – Counting Macronutrients. “I try to skew my clients away from counting macros because it can drive you absolutely nuts. It’s only another thing that you’re going to add that’s going to stress you out. Stress is not a good thing, chronic stress is not a good thing, it’s not going to help your performance and it’s definitely not going to help your recovery.”

21:50 – A Betterment Buy-In. “The person [I’m training] has to prioritize how badly they want their goal. How badly do you want something that you’re going to make time for it? That you’re going to prioritize not only your fitness but your health? It’s all about your desire. If you have a strong enough desire, you will make the changes. If you don’t and you don’t really care, then you won’t. … Those are typically not the clients that I take on. When I do take clients on, it’s usually once every quarter, I’ll take a new client on, and it’s because they have a strong desire to reach their goal and I’m going to help them do it. … I’m not the coach for somebody who just wants to check it off ‘I trained today.’ I’m definitely not that coach.”

26:02 – Starting the Day Off Right. “I’ve been trying not to go on the phone, check the email, or instagram or any other social media until I’ve [completed my morning routine].”

27:33 – Motherhood During COVID-19. “Currently I have my kids with me. They go to school in France. Now that they’re with me, I’ve actually become a French teacher as I’m homeschooling them. Imagine an American teaching French children how to speak French!”

28:01 – Homeschool Gym. “The one subject I excel at is PE. Before lunch, I’ll make sure I run [my kids] through a workout and I try and make it as fun as possible. With my son, he’s 7 years old, I’ll tie a resistance band around his hips, I’ll hold him from behind, and I’ll challenge him to grab certain things around the living room. He’s running to go get the television control or he’s running to touch the lamp. That makes it fun, that makes it engaging.”

29:26 – Mental Health. “Your mental state, your well-being, dictates your health. It’s not just your physical being, it’s not just what you physically can do in terms in fitness. It’s how you are emotionally and how you are with others.”

31:50 – Recovery. “There needs to be a little more education for the public to understand this: You can’t go hard every single day. It simply being a rest day doesn’t mean you need to do absolutely nothing. So implementing recovery methods on a daily basis will put you ahead on ever being in pain and will help you move optimally and feel at your best. That is the key when it comes to recovery. You have to find what works for you.”

37:21 – Goals. “I’m training to always be ready, taking on new challenges as they come in terms of fitness. I want to educate people on a grand scheme, I really want to reach people, as many as I possibly can … just to make fitness simple. For some people it’s way too complex to even get started.”

Check out Jennifer at:
TheJMethod.com
Facebook: Jennifer Jacobs
Instagram: @JMethod

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Will Ahmed

Will Ahmed is the Founder and CEO of WHOOP, which has developed next generation wearable technology for optimizing human performance. WHOOP today works with everyone from professional athletes to fitness enthusiasts to executives. Ahmed has raised nearly $100 million from top investors and has an active advisory board that consists of some of the world’s most notable cardiologists, technologists, and designers. He wrote “The Feedback Tool: Measuring Fitness, Intensity, and Recovery,” which sparked the underlying physiology and engineering for his work today. Ahmed was named a 2011 Harvard College Scholar for finishing in the top 10% of his class and a CSA Scholar Athlete; he captained the Harvard Men’s Varsity Squash Team. He was also recently named to Forbes 30 Under 30 and Boston Business Journal 40 Under 40.

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