Fitness Fridays: Celebrity Trainer Jeanette Jenkins On Loving Pizza, Burpees And A Good Challenge
Celebrity fitness trainer and health and fitness expert Jeanette Jenkins is goals.
From being one of Nike’s Elite Athletes to getting to train your favorites, including Kelly Rowland, P!nk, Tia Mowry, Alicia Keys, Serena Williams and more, Jenkins has been changing fitness and having fun while doing so for years now. I got to feel the positive energy she exudes and see her high-wattage smile for myself while taking part in a STRONG by Zumba class she led in the Chelsea neighborhood recently. And while the rest of us struggled, breathing hard while hopping in out of bear crawls, squats and planks to the beat of the music playing, there she was, in the front, moving along with us but with that smile. Sure, the workout was tough, as has every STRONG class I’ve taken been, but as Jenkins would later tell me, she can’t help but smile because she finds joy in a challenge.
I picked her brain about how the rest of us can get on her level when it comes to confronting challenges. We also talked about why STRONG is one of her favorite workouts, burpees being the hardest move she can’t do without, and how even a master trainer like her can’t get enough of pizza.
MadameNoire: STRONG by Zumba is hard. A lot of working out is pushing yourself through the tough stuff you don’t want to do because you know it will make you better. Of all the moves you do and that you teach other people, what is the hardest move that you can’t do without?
Jeanette Jenkins: That I can’t do without? I can do without any of it honestly [laughs]. I mean, I’m human like the rest of us. Of course, I want to do the things that are easiest for me to do. I think that’s how most people are. But we have to realize the things that challenge us are what’s going to give us results and the ones that are going to make you stronger both mentally and physically. So forcing myself to do things that I wouldn’t do — All the floor work that is in STRONG by Zumba, the intensity of it, and the amount of it, I wouldn’t do in one set. But pushing myself to do it, I definitely get stronger. I would just say, to that, when anything comes at you and you’re afraid of it, you have to tackle it on. You’re going to come out the other end a stronger person, not just physically but mentally, too. The great thing with fitness is, when you realize that you can get to the end, anything that challenges you in life, you’re like, “I can get to the end of this!” It strengthens your mental strength overall for any other challenges that come at you in life. You’re like, “Please. You didn’t see my workout today! You are nothing compared to what I just went through.”
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Do you have a go-to move that you always do that really works your body? Maybe burpees?
Oh yeah, I definitely love burpees and I love that element of STRONG by Zumba, that things are constantly going up and down. Even in the cardio sections, they’re not afraid to be like, “Ok, we’re going to bear crawl” and then get back up and go back and do high knees and stuff and then get back down to bear crawls. That up and down totally keeps your heart rate up. I love any combinations of making someone go from a high to a low.
STRONG by Zumba is all about the music, even if it’s just instrumentals. So speaking of music, what is the last song you worked out to that is your go-to workout jam?
My go-to jam, of course, is “Lemon.” N.E.R.D., Pharrell and Rihanna? They came with it. That song is on and poppin’. It totally gets me in the mood and I love Pink’s entire album, of course. Just the depth and the intensity. I love her lyrical content. I love her melodies as well, so “Beautiful Trauma” I absolutely love. I have a wide range of music that I love.
What advice would you give to people who started the year with goals and are already getting ready to give up on them? As you said, once you know you can get to the end of anything, you’re set.
I would tell people to join communities. One thing I absolutely love about STRONG by Zumba, even from an instructor perspective, is that I get to connect with all of the other instructors. Fitness enthusiasts and the people who come and take the classes, they get that same vibe. You get to get the support of everybody else in the class that you’re sweating through it with. So on the those days where you just don’t feel like working out, jump into a class and let the people, and the instructor, and the music and the class push you to go harder.
When you do get to enjoy your favorite pleasures and not just healthy bites, what is the treat that you reach for?
The treat that I always reach for, honestly, is a slice of pizza. I always tell people that I should have been born Italian [laughs]. I probably was born Italian in another life, but I love all things Italian, from the gelato to the pizza, to the pasta to the sauce. You name it. They know what time it is [laughs].
And what’s the key to having fun with this? Because you stay with a smile on your face.
Even with the hardest moves you have a smile on your face like, ‘C’mon guys!’ What’s the key to having as much fun with fitness as you do?
I think a few things. When something you find is challenging, just keep practicing it. If you keep practicing it, each time you do it, you’re going to get better and better so you can feel joyous. You’ll feel joyous because it’s never ever going to be the first time ever again. The first time is going to be the most challenging time. In anything that you try. Just know that if you show up day after day, no matter what it is your goal is, you’re going to get better and better and better. And then it’s easier to find the joy and just find the joy in the process. Even find the joy in falling on your face! Like, “Ok! That was an epic fail but that’s ok because you know what? I’m human.” Find the joy in having something challenge you. Know that if everything in life is easy, you wouldn’t learn anything. Accept the challenge with grace and a positive attitude, knowing that when you come out on the other side, you’re going to be a stronger person in mind, body and spirit.
Be sure to follow Jeanette on Instagram if you weren’t already, and check out the rest of our Fitness Friday profiles! Also, if you want to try STRONG by Zumba for yourself, check out this 20-minute demo for you to workout to at home: