Interview of Jenny Jackson by Andy Reyes
Hi Jenny, tell us all about you and what you do
I run a day spa as my full-time job! I just became a co-owner of a fitness studio, which I also teach workout classes at! I just love the wellness community!
When did you decide this was what you wanted to do?
I have always been into taking charge of my mental health and making sure that I feel good on the inside, as well as feeling confident on the outside. I also LOVE talking to people and getting to know people. There is something so vulnerable about working out and getting out of your comfort zone to make a change in your life, and I absolutely love that aspect of the job. Just being a listening ear and the extra push someone may need in order to accomplish that goal.
What do you like the most about your job?
I love seeing a good transformation. I’m not even talking physical here, I’m talking mental. Fitness is ALL mental. Getting to the point where you’re like, “Alright, let me get off my couch and do this. I am completely responsible for how I feel.” And once we figure this out, we get SO MUCH power, its liberating. Plus, it feels good. Nothing is better than the endorphin high directly after a workout.
Do you start your days with positive affirmations? Do you have a morning ritual?
I really try to, yes. I know life is sometimes unpredictable, but what I CAN control, I try to. I wake up and immediately pray. I breathe deep and I say, “today will be an amazing day,” or some variation of that. Self-awareness is something so relevant to me. I am well aware that I am totally in control of my actions and how I take on the day, so I really try to have an open mind and heart with all things.
Do you think that for women in particular confidence in the body is still a difficult issue?
OH YES! This is extremely difficult for most. We are constantly told what we are lacking every day. Seeing images of the “perfect body” and the “perfect life.” It’s almost impossible not to compare or feel less than. Their lives are completely glamourized, and real people have cellulite and breakouts and bad days, and that’s okay. And you can be all those things and still love yourself and love your life. Having a social media cleanse is what I do when I’m feeling judgmental about others or myself.
Over the last ten years, the topic of mental health has started becoming more open. How do you think that is changing us?
I think having mental health become an open topic of discussion is WONDERFUL. It’s a subject that wasn’t talked about for years and so women would sit in silence, dealing with issues alone because it was weak or not the norm to discuss feelings of fear, anxiety, inadequacy, insecurities, trauma, depression, body image, etc. We are taking our power back once again by getting in front of all these issues and being HONEST. When you discover that other people feel exactly how you feel, you don’t feel so alone, and you have a sense of community and people that you can relate to.
What advice would you give to a woman starting her journey of self-discovery?
Good question. I think I would say, be open. Change is extremely uncomfortable and really awkward. Sometimes self-love feels a little silly, at first. Talking to yourself in the mirror, telling yourself you’re beautiful beyond measure definitely feels weird. Once you get over that hump, there are endless possibilities. Getting out of your own way is the hardest thing. Also, be kind to yourself. It takes time. There’s no easy fix to undoing years of negative self-talk! It takes time and love and lots and lots of kindness. YOU GOT THIS!
You could tell us about how #TACKINGBACKAPRIL and #SLAYMAY started. Did you expect such a positive response?
Being stuck inside because of COVID was completely disheartening, I was unhappy and upset and I felt like it could go two ways. I could either be sitting on my butt, wasting away, or I could get up and totally take charge of it. So that’s what I did with #TAKINGBACKAPRIL. I wanted to take my life back and not allow the pandemic to determine how I felt and how I chose to live my life, completely. Sure, there are/were restrictions, rightfully so, but I was going to do what I could to feel good.
I didn’t expect such a positive response. It was totally organic how it all started, and I feel like it was a total “feel good” movement. Working out and sweating and being like, “this sucks, but I don’t have feel stuck, too.” When we workout, we naturally FEEL GOOD, so I knew that’s what I needed to get through being stuck at home and clearly, others felt the same.
Where you find your inspiration?
To be honest, from within. I spent years and years looking for validation from outside sources. From my family, from men, from certain friends and I was always let down. My family dynamic growing up was very chaotic. I always was looking for love to fill those voids and I wound up getting hurt and felt even more lost and insecure. The minute that I started looking within, knowing that my validation was all that I needed, everything else fell into place. I started demanding excellence from myself, and so I didn’t tolerate anything less from anyone else.
Professional and personal goals? What are you most excited about right now?
We were just really getting the gym together before COVID started. So, I am excited to get the gym open again and get to rebranding and changing the way the world sees fitness. When you love what you do, work isn’t work, it’s totally a passion, and that’s how I feel. I love to help people to feel good and that’s what I aspire to do.
What advice would you give your teenage self?
My parents had such a toxic relationship and my mother would take out her frustrations on my dad, and me. I internalized that for so long and was so confused why someone who claimed to love me, treated me like that. I didn’t talk about it, so it came out in other ways. My weight fluctuated, I was very angry for a long time and I was not choosy with the men that I dated. The advice I would give my teenage self… I would tell myself that you don’t have to be “strong” all the time. In fact, the STRONG thing is to FEEL and to talk about it and to get to the root of why you’re feeling these certain ways. Also, love is not chaotic. Love isn’t fighting and crying. Love is safe, love is security and trust. And also, when you feel like you need love most, look within.
Is there anything extra you’d like to talk about?
I’ll just end with my favorite quote, “They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds.” Grow from the darkness. Let it make you stronger, let it make you wiser and let yourself discover what NOT to do and how NOT to feel, if anything. Tell yourself, these feelings I’m feeling, I NEVER want to feel these again, and let that drive you.