Get a group of Lululemon-clad Eastside women together, and the conversation inevitably will revolve around kids, fashion, and the latest trend for getting in shape.
Fitness is practically a pillar of womanhood in these fair suburbs of Seattle. But despite cleverly constructed compression leggings, many women are caught in the defeating cycle of an “all or nothing” mentality keeping them from meeting fitness goals — something personal trainer Jennifer Raymond knows all too well.
Empathy is what drives her guilt-free training methods at fitgirlsnw.com.
Raymond grew up in Bothell and was a serious gymnast during high school. When an injury sidelined her gymnastic career, she decided to switch gears and ended up with a successful but “soul-sucking” career in the mortgage finance industry.
Regretting her career choice and the missed opportunity to study sports medicine in college, Raymond boldly quit her job to pursue certification in personal training from the National Personal Training Institute in Seattle in 2008.
After the birth of her daughter in 2009, Raymond simply could not make headway on her post-baby body. Then, in 2011, cervical cancer meant a hysterectomy. Raymond’s weight went up while her spirit sank into a deep, dark hole of shame and frustration.
“Here I was, a personal trainer, and I couldn’t even get back in shape. How could I help others when I couldn’t help myself?” said Raymond.
Her life circumstances were obviously difficult, but the real culprit was her attitude. The perfectionist mantra “all or nothing” often leads to failure — one slip and you’re out. Sadly, this thinking is all too common among women because of the endless struggle to look magazine-cover perfect.
Raymond likens the attitude to blowing out a tire on the freeway, pulling over, and slashing the remaining three. Totally crazy, right? But this is how some women operate when it comes to their bodies. Raymond gave up crazy in favor of grace.
“I had to put my own oxygen mask on first before I could help anyone else,” said Raymond, using the oft-repeated airline safety instruction. This message is the backbone of her training philosophy. She firmly believes exercise empowers women to tackle other issues in their lives.
Raymond finally turned herself around, shedding 30 pounds from her 5’2” frame, calling it a tough road. She also shed an unsupportive relationship.
Today Raymond is encouraging clients all over the Eastside through in-home training consultations. She prefers training people outside of a gym environment, saying many women feel intimidated working out in a public arena. Though some Eastsiders have home gyms, most of her clients do not.
“Many of them have a stability ball, a yoga mat … maybe some weights or a band,” said Raymond, who teaches clients to use what they have wherever they are — park benches can be used for resistance training; push-ups can be done anywhere; stairs are great for leg training. When clients choose to buy equipment, Raymond often suggests heavier weights than they expect. “I tell them to weigh their purses or their babies and say, ‘See! You’re already lifting heavy weights all the time!’”
During warm weather, Raymond gathers in a local park three times per week for “boot camps.” Clients can bring their kids, who play while the mommies work out together.
Raymond even has clients spread throughout the country, utilizing Skype, video, and texting for training. All clients must send her a quick photo text of their workout log so she can keep track of their progress. Raymond finds a way to fit in anyone who needs her help. And, because she is not tied to a gym, she can accommodate a diverse client base.
Unlike traditional trainer relationships at the gym, Raymond aims to train clients so well that they meet with her only occasionally for maintenance or when they change fitness goals (e.g. training for a triathlon).
An empathetic no-guilt trainer who works herself out of a job? Can I get an amen, ladies?