WEDNESDAY WINS! JESSICA M.!
If you’ve met her, you likely love her. If you’ve seen her move, you’re likely in awe. Jessica M. is just one of the best on every level and we couldn’t be more lucky to have her at the Cove. Most of us just see her kicking butt regularly, but what you may not see is the persistence, consistency and commitment to what she does. And it’s not just because she loves it, it’s because she NEEDS it. Yes, NEEDS it.
“I always tell people, “exercise keeps me sane,” and I’m in no way exaggerating. I’ve been bipolar II since adolescence, and a combination of daily exercise and 7-8 hours of sleep is the medication that keeps me sane. I’ve been active most of my life, but the few times that I fell off the exercise/sleep wagon, I became seriously ill—suicide attempts, hospitalizations, and unhealthy behaviors. Of course, there were other stressful things going on in my life that contributed to those events, but without exercise and sleep, my brain chemistry is unbalanced, and I am less able to deal with the normal ups and downs of life. I encourage anyone with any kind of affective disorder to get regular exercise and sleep; meditation also helps a lot, but I don’t do that as regularly.”
This physical outlet has been one that she’s used to manage her illness for a long time. “I have always been active; I grew up playing a lot of soccer. I also ran some track and took dance classes. In college, I started working out at the gym and doing a lot of running and cardio kickboxing. After college, I continued to use the gym, but I focused mostly on cardio. Throughout my pregnancy, I ran. After having my daughter, I took her running in the jogging stroller on weekends. During the week, getting to the gym just seemed too difficult, so I began using Beachbody DVDs at home. I spent about two years alternating between various Beachbody workouts like Insanity and P90X. I began getting bored with my workouts, and my relationship with Shaun T and Tony Horton felt one-sided—they talked and I listened; I missed the social interaction of team sports and group fitness classes. That’s when I began adding hot yoga classes and SkyZone fitness classes to my routine. I tried CrossFit once at a local box and had a horrible experience; I vowed to never do CrossFit again.
In 2016, I got my 200-hour yoga teacher certification, but afterwards I was totally burnt out on yoga—the training had been very intense. I was ready to add something new to my routine, so I began seeing a really great personal trainer one to two times a week; however, it was expensive, and I felt like I needed the energy of others working out with me. A coworker and neighbor of mine did CrossFit and kept telling me about their workouts, and I began getting jealous; their workouts sounded so fun. So, I tried out the foundations class at Cove, and it was love at first class. The barbell scared the hell out of me, but all of the new movements challenged my body and my brain—I was hooked.
Currently, I do CrossFit five to six times a week, hot yoga once a week, and run about four miles with a 10lb weight vest once a week. I also roll out sore spots for 20 minutes prior to every workout.
For most of us, that seems like a LOT. And it is. But no one listens to her body more than Jessica. And she’s the first to mix things up when she needs to– and back off when she needs to. “With my other workouts, I always felt that I plateaued. I don’t feel like I’ll ever plateau with CrossFit—there is always room for improvement—become faster, develop better form, acquire new skills, lift heavier weight, etc. And, the workouts are always different, so I never get bored and my body is constantly having to adapt. In addition, we get coached by awesome coaches—they give each of us personal attention, they cheer us on, they look out for our safety, and they’re just really cool individuals.
Plus, CrossFit (specifically at Cove) provides the thrill and camaraderie of competitive team sports. At 37 years old (almost 38) with a job and family, I really didn’t expect to develop new and genuine friendships, but I’ve found exactly that at Cove.”
We asked what other itch the Cove scratches for her. “There are so many exciting things about this journey—new friends, getting stronger, acquiring new skills, going to awesome parties with hours of dancing. The Cove is now my social life—something about sharing in the exhaustion and sweat of a workout really brings people together. Also, I don’t know what is about Cove, but the people are just awesome. I feel fortunate to have found Cove; it has enriched my life in so many ways.
In the beginning, I wasn’t sure how much stronger I would get or how many new skills I would acquire. I mean, I’ve been working out my whole life, I wasn’t sure if I was capable of improving much; I kind of thought I had hit my peak. CrossFit has proven to me that I don’t know what my peak is, and that is so freaking cool!”
If you’ve ever seen Jessica on social media or at the gym during yoga, family classes or during off hours, you’ll see a mini-me right by her side. Her daughter Rayna has taken a liking to all aspects of fitness and it is just so special to see. “I want Rayna to know that she can do anything she puts her mind to; I don’t want her feeling limited because she is a female. I want her to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit. I know how important exercise is to me and how much it has helped me emotionally and physically, and I want her to have that same tool to use in her life. Plus, she has so much energy—she needs an outlet.
Exercising with Rayna teaches me so much about her (and about myself). It’s a careful balancing act to figure out how much instruction to give her, which carries over into how to parent her. I love watching her focus and figure out new skills (she just figured out how to jump rope and do cartwheels). I think it brings us closer together too.”
And as Jessica noted before, she no longer sees that ‘peak’ in her fitness’. There’s a ton on her ‘to do’ list! “I want to get more proficient at handstand walks and be able to do a strict HSPU. I would also like to get better at two of my worst movements—the strict press and squat snatch.
We would argue she is one of the most well rounded athletes at the Cove these days. She lifts heavy, her gymnastics have come such a long way and her engine is rock solid. She’s one of our favorite athletes to train because she’s never focused on being ‘first’ – rather, she’s focused on doing it ‘right’. “I honestly don’t look at the Wodify whiteboard all that often, but I definitely ask Irina and Ashley how much weight they’re using because I would like to get as strong as them. Sometimes I do the same weight as them, but most of time I choose a lighter weight. During the 6:30 a.m. class, I chase Dan P., but I’m not sure that counts since he’s lifting significantly heavier than me. Coach Maria is strong and fast—I’d love to get to where she is one day. We have so many strong and fierce women at Cove—Mattie, Alea, Allie, Brittany, Marina—too many to mention.”
She also took the prize in our last nutrition challenge. Most of us would look at her before and think “there’s nothing to do better”. But even Jessica has room to improve. “The nutrition challenge taught me a lot. I didn’t eat unhealthy before, but I didn’t count my macros at all. I honestly didn’t think changing my diet would do much for me, but I’d heard other people say it improved their performance, so I thought I’d try it. I discovered that I had been living in a calorie deficit during the week and then making up for it (and more) on the weekends. The nutrition challenge forced me to learn how to cook, not necessarily well, but much better than before the challenge. I spend a lot of time food prepping, but it’s so worth it.
With the nutrition challenge came a new movement—muscle-ups! I ended up losing about 6 pounds—and it was all fat because my lean muscle mass stayed the same. I think losing that weight allowed me to get my first muscle-up. And now, I can string eight of them together. In fact, losing that weight while maintaining muscle mass definitely played a factor in my Murph time too. Next year my goal is to do it with a weight vest.
I didn’t intend to transform my body through the nutrition challenge—but it turns out I did. I’ve never been this muscular and strong in my life. I’m still counting my macros and food journaling, and I intend to keep it up because the results have been incredible. Thank you, Brittany!”
If I can offer any advice it would be to be consistent; show up to the gym and do the workout. Consistency pays off.
We could not have said it better ourselves.