Who is J&J Movement Factory?
Jen is an ACE-certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist, leading small group circuit training classes for people with varying abilities since 2015. Jeremy is a 20-year business executive in the health and wellness industry, and former Board Vice President for a Hilliard non-profit youth sports organization. Together, they are owners of J&J Movement Factory, with a vision to encourage movement for everyone, regardless of age or ability. Be Strong. Be Fit. Be Healthy.
Jen Markewicz – “I thought I would start out by sharing a little about me, what got me to this point, and what my goals are as a personal trainer. I don’t have some crazy, inspirational story. In fact, my story is quite ordinary, but it did lead me to where I am today. So, here is my story…
I have never been an exerciser. I was an active child, teenager, and young adult, but I never set out to exercise. I didn’t really play sports, but was a gymnast, ballet dancer, and cheerleader. I also had a very short stint as a track runner in middle school. I was not an overweight child, but weight was always something I could easily put on. I guess you could say that I bordered a bit pudgy. Still, I never officially worked out. I would occasionally go for a run. In college, I’d go over to the rec center sometimes when I was bored, and take a stroll around the track or walk on the treadmill. After college, I’d go in spurts where I’d try out some new exercise video, do that for a solid week, then quit it. I’d bring those videos out here and there, but never consistently stuck with any of them.
A few years before I got married, I really started to gain weight and found it just did not miraculously go away like it used to. So, right before I got married, I set out to exercise and eat better so I could look great in my wedding dress. I thought I had done everything right and felt great on my wedding day, but my dress size was still a size 12. I just told myself that they make wedding dresses small, so everyone has to go up in size. Please understand, that I don’t think a size 12 is large by any means, but I am just barely 5′ 2″, so that is not an ordinary size for a person of my height. Anyways, I got married, went on my honeymoon and came home to discontinue my better eating (I say better because it was not even close to healthy) and gave up on that exercise stuff. I didn’t need it anymore. I was done with the wedding and on to my life, a busy life with a full-time job and no time for exercise. Several months later I got pregnant with our first son at the age of 29. I basically ate Dairy Queen blizzards every other day for the entire nine months and the pounds really started to come on.
So, let’s cut to a few years later around our first son’s 3rd birthday. I was the heaviest I have ever been. I don’t know the exact number, but it was around 180 lbs. Again, that may not seem too heavy, but remember I am not even 5’2″. Not a healthy weight for me at all. About that same time, I found out I was pregnant with our second son. Somewhere around the middle of this pregnancy, I attended a class about “clean eating” with a local mom’s support group. I went home very distraught. The hormones probably didn’t help, but I was truly sad about how our family was eating and the poor eating habits we had already imposed on our first son. Almost everything we ate was a processed food or foods with extremely high sugar contents. I mean, everyone of us would sit down in the morning with a mixing bowl-sized serving of sugar cereal. Call it luck or fate, but around the same time as I attended this class, my husband, Jeremy, started a new position with his company consulting with Fortune 500 companies and their wellness goals for employees. He was feeling a bit hypocritical in his role and feared he would not be taken seriously as he was 40 lbs. overweight. Together, we decided we had to change.
We started small by experimenting with healthier recipes. I started reading everything on the subject of exercise and healthy eating I could find on the internet and at the library. We also added nightly walks after dinner as well as other small efforts to get moving more. I was pregnant though, so losing weight was not an option for me at this time. So when I delivered our 2nd son, I was around 200 lbs., meaning I had only gained around 20 lbs. during the pregnancy. I remember thinking yikes, I have a lot of work to do. Only now, I have a 3-year old and a newborn baby. How was I ever going to have any time to exercise now??? I know this is not unlike the thinking of most parents, so I again remind you that my story is pretty ordinary. So we cleaned up our eating a bit, and I started the exercise videos again when I had spare time. As a couple, we each lost a little weight, but we were still not where we wanted to be. Those exercise videos did a little bit of strength training, but not much as I didn’t think it was something I needed to do. Sure, I wanted to be toned, but I really thought that I needed to burn the fat off by doing as much cardio as possible. I never lifted anything heavier than a 3lb. dumbbell up to this point. I actually bought a set of 3, 5 and 8lb. dumbbells and remember thinking, wow, there I no way I will ever use the 8 lb. dumbbells, but maybe my husband would. That would be way too heavy and unnecessary for me.
Around the time our second son turned 1, I finally decided to join a gym with my friends. If I’m honest with my intentions though, I joined more because the gym offered child care and this was an opportunity to spend some social time with friends. I figured that if I spent a couple hours a day, three times a week at the gym, I may as well try new things. I tried spin class first because it looked interesting. I didn’t love it, but it seemed to made me sweat, and I liked the instructor, so I kept going. At this point, I was still considered overweight, but not by much, just in time for finding out I was pregnant with our third son. I vowed to eat well during this pregnancy and stay as active as possible. I stuck with spin classes as long as I could during this pregnancy, but it just got too hard for me. However, I knew how exercising made me feel, and decided that as soon as I was allowed to after the birth of our third son, I would return to exercising. I had a great support group and several other friends who also had made commitments to being fit. We would all meet at the gym and pushed each other to try new things and encouraged each other to just show up. We tried all of the classes the gym had to offer and even tried the personal trainers there. We found some classes we enjoyed and some that just weren’t for us. I personally was not coordinated enough to master step aerobics, and definitely not confident enough to benefit from Zumba (my hips just don’t move like that). I did realize that I really liked the type of workouts the trainer was doing for us, and I started attending the boot camp class as well. I realized that these workouts made me feel great and boosted my confidence level.
I tried running again with my husband who trained for 5k races, and found that I was pretty good at it. I even finished first in a race for my age group. I also quickly realized that I was not built to be a runner, or at least I was not meant to start running at the age of 37. My hips ached so badly after running so I decided that I needed to get back to focusing on the circuit training style workouts that I was getting from my boot camp training classes. Then, one of my friends introduced me to a new personal trainer, Mike Rees. I took a class with my group of friends at his gym and loved it!!! I was immediately hooked and no other workout seemed to match up. I started going to 1 session a week with him and then would spend the rest of the week at the gym. I felt the benefits of 1 small group session with Mike greatly outweighed my other days at the gym, so I ended up quitting the gym, and added a 2nd session with him. I realized that I would need to figure out how to get in workouts at home for the days that I did not have my training sessions, as 2 days was not going to be enough activity at my age.
I was learning so much in my 2 training sessions each week and started feeling confident building my own workouts at home. Fitness had really became a passion of mine somewhere in this 4-year timeframe of my life. I loved every minute of it. I wanted to learn more about it. I wanted to help others learn more about it. I am so grateful to Mike for having seen this passion in me, having the confidence in me, and encouraging me to become a personal trainer, the dream job I never knew I had until I was late in my 30’s. Since 2015, I have been training small group classes, using my certification, my experience, and my journey to help others get moving more. My hope is that people enjoy coming to my classes and be long-term clients as I continue to learn and teach, but ultimately, I hope I can teach people that exercise needs to be a priority in our lives. I want to teach people that you don’t have to spend a ton of time exercising to reap the benefits, and that everyone can find a way to fit it into what I know are incredibly busy schedules. I want to teach people that they can take exercise into their own hands, and give them the tools they need so they can independently get in good workouts, even at home with minimal or no equipment. I want to teach that there is a workout for you that will make you happy, and ultimately give you the ability to make it a part of your life, as I did.
I am now in my 40’s, and feel like I am in the best shape of my life. Remember the 8 lb. dumbbells I said I would never use because they were too heavy for me? Well, those are now my light weights. In fact, I’m not sure I have used those for quite some time now. The 10 lbs. are usually the lightest I use now. It really is amazing how our bodies can be challenged to adjust and change. It took me a long time to get to this point, but I wouldn’t change any of that. It was my story, my journey. I now get to do something I love everyday. I know I still have a lot of work to do and everyday I have to make a decision to eat well and exercise. That will always be the case.
Remember that it is never too late to make a change, to try something new, to undo bad habits and create good ones. I wish you all the best in your journey, and hope you find your happiness in whatever you do. Make it the strongest, fittest, and healthiest life you can!”
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Be Strong. Be Fit. Be Healthy.
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