Our HN Inspiration segment features individuals who have their feet on the ground and are committed to making a positive difference in some aspect of minority health.
This month, I sat down with Jennifer Jones of Absolute Fitness, PT. This Alabama native currently resides in Miami, FL and is a certified personal trainer who is making strides in the fitness world.
Kilan Bishop (KB): What inspired you to pursue a career in personal training?
Jennifer Jones (JJ): I always knew I wanted to help people. I was a high school & collegiate athlete, then bodybuilder post-graduation. I was just always active. I could tell it was my calling because it came naturally. When people started reaching out asking for my help getting in shape, I realized it as my chance to help people make better choices and ultimately, change lives. I’m even going back to school to study nutrition. I teach my clients to second guess the food they intake, how to love and take care of themselves, and then enjoy the benefits.
KB: Was there ever a time you fell off? We all have that time where we just don’t feel like working out.
JJ: I’ve never had significant weight problems, so I can’t relate to someone who is overweight in that sense, but I can relate to day-to-day challenges that seem to take priority over fitness. Even still, when I’m not in the gym all the time, I watch what I eat and practice yoga.
KB: What is the biggest challenge you faced when you made that decision? Do you face any of the same challenges today?
JJ: When I first started school, I wanted to be athletic trainer. I took anatomy (and shortly said… nah) and then changed my major to business. It’s funny how the how the Lord works, but sometimes you just have to get over the hump by any means possible. If it’s meant to be it will be.
KB: What is your favorite way to stay fit?
JJ: I’m a girly girl until its time to workout. I like grit: boot camps, being outside, lifting heavy weights, & getting down & dirty.
KB: Do your clients ever set unrealistic goals based on the bodies of celebrities or Instagram (IG) fitness models? How do you approach those situations?
JJ: I put it this way. That’s not your body. You can only get results for your body type by setting realistic goals for your frame/build. You should never go through life wishing you looked like somebody else, just get the body that’s right for you. I look at those pictures too, and it’s ok to be inspired, but you don’t have to look exactly like that.
KB: Many of those same celebrities and IG models advertise products that they supposedly use; protein powder, detox teas, waist trainers. What do you think of that?
JJ: I’m not big on fads or gimmicks & that’s what they are. If you buy every teatox or waist trainer that is marketed to you, you could have invested in a personal trainer who can work with you for real results. The bottom line of weight loss is that you need to burn more calories than you consume. You have to know what to eat, how to prepare it, and when to eat it, not just cut carbs or fat. You have to be willing to put in the work.
On that note: Jennifer did say that waist trainers may be an option for women who recently had children. Neither of us have ever tried one, so I’m just gonna leave that there.
KB: On that same topic, you are a black woman, and a lot of us want to hold on for dear life to our curves, even at the expense of our health. Given that you are fit, but still curvy, what is your take on that mentality?
JJ: When I started bodybuilding I would always hear “Jen, don’t lose your curves, don’t lose your butt”. You can keep your curves while still losing weight and making healthy changes. First off, you have to know that you can reduce body fat, but you can’t spot train. When I have female clients I let them know that we are going to lift weights. Lifting weights helps you to sculpt and shape what you already have. You can do all the cardio you want and melt away, but lift weights more than 5 pounds, heavier than your purse, and challenge your body if you really want to stay curvy.
KB: What is some advice you would give to someone who has fallen off track and is transitioning back to a healthy lifestyle?
JJ: You have to know why you are doing it. If you are only working out or eating well for aesthetic reasons then that’s the issue. Beauty fades, abs fade, but health and being in tune with your body are entirely different. If you remember why you are doing it then you don’t’ fall off, you constantly remind yourself and stay inspired.
KB: Minority populations suffer disproportionately from many forms of chronic disease, both physical and mental. In your opinion, what are the steps that our communities need to take to increase our overall health and fitness? What can fitness professionals do? What would you like to see from efforts that are geared toward eliminating those disparities?
JJ: We need to educate ourselves. We need to value ourselves enough to want to know more and do something about it. People that have influence and money need to start putting real effort into improving the health of our communities. You and I can only do so much, but in general things come down to the dollar bill. We still have that oppressed mentality. We think we are less than, but we aren’t. We have to get back to our roots and value ourselves enough to care about what we put into our bodies. We have to say we have had enough garbage and poison pumped into us. Like any other social justice movement, if you know the agenda, you can resist.
KB: Last thing. What’s your mantra?
JJ: Give thanks. Be great. Give thanks for everything that you have: health, waking up, whatever blessings you are grateful for. On top of that, be great. Use those blessings that you are thankful for, and do great things.