Jenny Kuhn is an Iowa native, and a woman who wears many hats: Mother, Wife, Entrepreneur, Gym Owner, Personal Trainer, Christ Follower, 2016 WPA-APA World Powerlifting record holder in the squat and the deadlift for the 45-49 age group in the 132# weight class. She also broke the previously held combined world record (squat+bench+deadlift) that same year…casually.
All photos courtesy of Marxy Lindsey Photography #marxylindseyphotography
But, she doesn’t brag about those wins and you’d never know it either unless you spied the championship medals that hang inconspicuously on the wall of her aptly named “Jenny’s Gym” in Camden, AR. “Humble” is another hat she wears.
I had known Jenny for a few years through a mutual friend before I ever thought about working out and bettering my health. I must admit, my opinion of her way back then was colored by my own lack of confidence and body shame. What with her finely chiseled physique, infectious smile, and easy confidence, she seemed to me as those “gym folks” did: way out of my league as friends go and quite “unreachable”.
How wrong I was!
She lives a life of service to God and to people. Had I known then what I know about myself now, I would have grasped a hold of her sincere willingness to help and ran with it. I might could have even won the Arnold Classic by now. LOL As such, I wasn’t ready because: well, you’ve read my blog...at any rate, in May 2018, I formally accepted her help and thankfully accepted her friendship… and I‘m so much richer for it now, as all of us who know her are.
I’ve mentioned Jenny, and her a husband, Chris, as “my trainers” or “the trainers” in my blog before but it’s time you got to know Jenny a little better.
After my workout this past Tuesday at Jenny’s I sat down with her to ask a few easy questions for the blog and she graciously agreed.
Here’s a bit of our conversation:
Jenny, can you describe the moment it all “clicked” for you. What drew you to fitness as a way of life?
When I was 30 and I put on weight I knew if I didn’t do something right then that it would be something that continued to progress. So, I started with a small fitness program…just running. I didn’t like that so I had to find something that I liked which was lifting weights…it progressed from there. It “clicked” because I knew if I didn’t take charge of it (my weight) myself right then that it was going to take charge of me. Also, I watched my Mom suffer with arthritis for years and I assumed that because she did, I would have to suffer it too… but then I started researching and I began to understand that exercising would help prevent that. That’s when it started making a difference for me. I can’t say I had an “ ah-ha moment.” It was a just progression of figuring out this is what I had to do to make my life be healthy… to make it more than just “getting by.”
If there was one thing you wished everyone knew about fitness what would it be?
That fitness will improve your future. What happens is that we live our lives in the moment forgetting that our 20’s become our 30’s and 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, and next thing we know we’re 65 or 70 years old and can’t move… and we still have 20 years left of our life. If we don’t do something now in our 30’s, 40’s 50’s then we’re’ not going to have a happy existence in our 60’s,70’s, 80’s, and 90’s so everything I do now greatly impacts what I do in my future. This is one of the reasons I quit training so heavy with deadlifting and squatting because it was causing injury and those are injuries I’m going to take into my future years. I had to back off and figure out that it wasn’t about what my numbers looked like but rather, “is this going to benefit me when I’m 50?”
How would you describe your philosophy on health and fitness?
I’m a Believer and I understand that there’s a whole world out there of people who are hurting and who have heartache and have things they can’t find an answer for. Now, I know that the answer is Jesus but if I have all the wisdom that I’ll gain as I get older but I can’t do anything with it because of poor health …then I’m limited and I can’t perform the Calling that God has for me. That’s the ultimate thing – that’s what I say all the time, especially to fellow Believers. There’s a bigger purpose for me here than just “looking good.”
Yeah, it is and it’s my opinion that every Christian should have that kind of passion [for fitness] if they want to go out and do the job that they’re appointed to do. People might call that a bit graceless and a little harsh but this (the body) is the temple of God – that’s scripture.
How do “I” motivate myself to be motivated to go to the gym?
You’re motivated for a couple of weeks or a couple of months and after the motivation wears off it has to be strictly discipline. That’s something [each of us] have to answer internally. It has to be a discipline because: do you think I want to be in here every day? Do you want to go to your job every day? Do you want to make your bed every day? There are some things I‘d like to do: I’d like to take a nap. I’d like to sit down, eat some popcorn and read a book. Those are things that I want to do…those are things that feed my flesh. Then there are things I have to do: I have to make sure I shower, brush my teeth, do my laundry – that’s discipline. There’s a big difference between motivation, which is shallow, and discipline. Discipline gets down into the depths of who you are and that’s what makes a person successful. “How are they going to be disciplined in their lives?”
What are the biggest considerations everyone should make for functional fitness?
In our society?…anything that pulls the shoulders back: Face Pulls & Reverse Fly’s. That’s because we’re a “forward” nation – look at how you’re sitting (I immediately corrected my posture 😆), and when we drive AND when were on our computers…So, that would be number one. As I get older, I think the other thing we need to be doing is stretching our hips all the time. That’s not an exercise so to speak but I think it’s critical. I see it all the time – people who can’t bend down, who can’t get underneath a counter and that’s because we can’t get down. Step ups too. See, we get locked into “I’m 30 & 40 years old.” And I’m dealing with people who are 60 and 70. At 30 and 40 you can squat and deadlift and bench press and do all those cool things. But as we age what are we going to do mostly? We’re going to have to reach up into, reach under, and get up and get down, so functional movements like step ups & shoulder presses – mobility movements are so important.
To Cardio or not to Cardio?
It depends on what your goals are? If I need to cut up for a competition and I still have some weight to loose, then yes. If you think its fun, yes. What I think is fun is when we do High Intensity Workouts. So, we need to do enough cardio to sustain, for example, if I want to go hike a mountain. I’m ok with whatever cardio you want.
Will you be competing again?
I’m not. I’ve thought about doing body building and getting on the stage for that again but I don’t want to expose my body. And you know, I can tell you what’s “wrong” with my body…I don’t need a panel of judges for that. Who am I doing it for? I wouldn’t be doing it for anyone besides the whole world and I don’t need my flesh fed like that. I did my world competition and I don’t need to do that anymore because I don’t need to injure any body parts.
The world! Yeah, I took the whole competition in my category. LOL
What’s the one thing you wish you could tell people considering getting in the gym?
I didn’t get where I am in a few months-not even a year. I’ve been at this since 2011. For years I was on again, off again. When I was 30 I was just trying to figure it out….I was running and doing weights here and there. Then I got off for a few months then got back on…got off for a few months and then back on. I did that for a while. Then, when I took it on as a full time job, that’s where I went, “this is what I’m doing with the rest of my life. That’s when I was no longer just doing cardio classes for myself – I took it on as a position. Maybe that’s when the “click” came… because it was now what I did for a living and I had to live out who I was. Since I started doing that, any breaks I take I take on purpose. I purposely took a recovery week last week. So, I’m no longer “in one week, out one week. “ I’m in 3-5 days a week, every week, every year, and, for the most part, I eat right. I’m not 100%. If I was, I would look like I could step on stage. LoL Some people think, “Oh, I’ll just go with it for a few months and I’ll look like she looks.” No, it takes years. It is a lifestyle and it doesn’t have to be as intense mine. You don’t have to work as hard as I work in the gym. You don’t have to do 5 days a week. You just have to be consistent. If that means you only get in 2 days a week don’t say, “oh well, I can only do 2 days this week so I just won’t go.” You’ve got to stay with it and you have to eat the right way and drink plenty of water.
No! I mean, fine. You can have a treat every once in a while. New Year’s Day, Superbowl, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick‘s Day, Easter, Mother’s & Father’s Day, July 4th. Every month of the year I can come up with one reason to celebrate and now I’m going to throw in my friends & coworkers birthdays, or an anniversary or my kid‘s birthday. We all use those as a reason to get off plan – to cheat and all we’re really doing is cheating ourselves. It’s not even about making sure I look the right way. I had great blood work when I went to the Doctor because I eat right. I’m not filling my body with processed foods and junk and so my blood work was great and that transfers over from a healthy lifestyle. The only reason I go to the doctor is because I want to get my blood work done. Fitness is my insurance.
What is my greatest inspiration?
I am my only competition and so I’m always measuring myself up against me. Now, I could talk about my husband who works around every problem he has. Anytime he has a shoulder issue, he works around it, hip issue, works around it. That’s the kind of person others in the gym should look to: “I can’t do such and such because of such and such.” No, he’s in here 3 days a week finding a way to do it anyhow. But my inspiration comes from: “Am I going to be better than I was yesterday?”
And that’s our Jenny, a self-made woman who made her way down south to the land of “Thank you, Ma’am and Collard Greens” to change lives and change hearts. I must tell you that she’s perhaps, over conscious of the way her direct nature can come off as brusque to the southern ear but you know what? Sometimes, folks just need to be told. And with a smile like that, you often end up thankin’ her for the tellin’.
You can find Jenny online at http://www.jennysgym.com
Om, Baby! Om.