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Stories 2017

You know those people you sweat next to you, and  who we share time with in classes? They are in these stories. We are all in these stories in one way or another. When we read them, we find out that we are more alike than we are different. And yet, the thought, “Be Kind. For everyone is fighting a hard battle” is one that we can all learn from.

Every year I invite our Energy Lab community to share their story.

Many people tell me they have started to write their story.

Some finish their story. And never share it.

And then there are a few who open themselves up  – here is a peek inside the lives of some pretty special people.

The best part is that they are people just like you and me. Their struggles are real. Their triumphs are real. They speak from the heart and they like who they are becoming. We are all, after all, always in the process of becoming.

Enjoy!


My Energy Lab Journey ~ Germaine

Let’s start with a little history. I had pretty much been a lifelong smoker. I did quit for 10 years but had started up again and been smoking for about 10 years. When my first granddaughter was born in September of 2013, I quit one more time. And of course, quickly came the added pounds; 30 to be exact. UG. I have never liked gyms as I believe they are places where girls with perfect bodies went to socialize and more. I had heard of Planet Fitness and their focus on being a ‘no judgment zone’. I went in to my local one in San Bernardino and I liked it. I met with a trainer who showed me how to use some of the equipment and recommended a 30 minute workout plan. I joined. I was there religiously every day of the week doing a minimum of 45 minutes on the treadmill walking. I didn’t run because running is my least favorite activity and I was sure I would end up on a YouTube video if I did try to run on the treadmill. I pushed myself every day to increase the incline on my walks and was doing well. I also did some of the weight machines, bikes and when time was short I did their 30 minute workout zone. I felt like I was really doing something good which I guess I was since I wasn’t sitting on the couch right? Unfortunately, that 30 pounds was still hanging on tight. After 18 months doing this at Planet Fitness, I was walking around enjoying the Redlands Bicycle Classic as I did every year. I happened to notice a booth for a place called The Energy Lab. I wandered by a few times slowing to see what I could without someone noticing me. I did this for quite some time that day. Finally, I said to my daughter I am going to go check this out. Beer in hand, I walked up to the table. I was greeted with a smile and asked if I had any questions. I did not start with questions, instead I shared my story….former smoker, quit for grandbaby, gained weight, have high blood pressure, joined Planet Fitness but here I am. She asked me what I was looking for and I said I wanted to feel good, I wanted to be healthy, I was ready to make a change. I didn’t like gyms and all the pressure that brought. I needed someone to help me, to guide me, to support me. Accountability she said. Yes. She could do that, this was the place. She introduced herself, Jill the owner of Energy Lab. Beer still in hand, I filled out the info form and gave her my email and phone number.

I didn’t wait for a call; I walked in one morning on my way to work. I met a nice guy at the desk and shared some of the same info I had at the booth. He talked about what they offer, shared the calendar and class info sheets. I told him I needed some personal assistance, classes were a bit intimidating to me as I still have this notion of what all ‘gyms’ are about. I observed a class going on in the next room with a male trainer and what looked like a few ladies who looked to be 5 or more years older than me and they were doing things on some straps. I thought that to be intriguing. In a nut shell, I didn’t know what I needed. The guy at the desk suggested a free meeting with Jill who I had met at the Bicycle Classic. She was his wife. He made some funny remarks and I loved his sense of humor. Yes, funny man Sean. We booked the meeting.

I met with Jill and again shared what I was needing and wanting. I will always remember what she said to me after we talked for a while……’you seem like a touchy-feely kind of person. While XXXXX is a good trainer, I think you would be best with Paul.’ OK. And there I was, booked for personal training.

On May 26, 2015 I had my first training session with Paul. I was soooooo nervous and excited. I told him some of my history and that ‘I wasn’t in completely bad shape’ because I had been “working out” at Planet Fitness. HA! Paul had me working on the TRX which I then knew was what I had observed him teaching when I met Sean. In my mind, I did pretty well that day. Two days later and yes, I did pretty well, every muscle in my body hurt and especially my left side. My next session with Paul and I told him how sore I was and that clearly I was weaker on my left side as that hurt more. I remember him saying ‘it was only 30 minutes.’ This still makes me smile.

Paul and I quickly discovered we were kindred spirits in many ways but especially when it came to music. Thus started the tradition of Metallica workouts. One of my favorite stories is the morning Erin Dally walked in during our workout where we were blasting Metallica. With a completely shocked look on her face she said ‘PAUL! I can’t believe you have this music on!!’ and she began to change it. Paul responded by pointing to me saying ‘She requested it!!’ I was laughing when I saw Erin’s face as she looked at me very doubtingly and said ‘she did not’. Much to her surprise, I said ‘yes I did.’ I don’t think she believed it at the time, but I assured her it was what I wanted.

I worked out twice a week for 30 minutes each with Paul. He told me I really needed to work in more cardio. A class???? I worked out with Paul on Tuesday mornings and I witnessed that class. I also worked out on Friday mornings and I saw the class he taught before my sessions. Nope. I was definitely not physically ready for classes. How about cycling, that sounded good, I did the bikes at Planet Fitness. I was introduced to the instructor, she was such a tiny gal; couldn’t be that bad could it? Let’s just say I was pretty clueless. So we go up and down, standing. I can do that right? I did that as a kid on my bike. Not the same. Just a couple of spins and that was it. Try again. Nope, just a couple of spins and down I go. This is harder than I thought but I can do this class. Check the clock I am sure we are just about finished. Ten minutes??? That’s all?? I have fifty minutes to go? Oh good grief. After an hour I was congratulated by everyone and praised for having not thrown up. My first indication of the Energy Lab family.

I emailed Paul that I had done this class but I was not able to stand on the bike. Jill answered me back very quickly and assured me this was normal and it might take a few weeks but I would get there. Paul continued to work with me and helped me on the bike. I attended a few more classes. But I was miserable; this was an hour of complete torture. The instructors, the little gal, Mighty Mouse Natalie was great and David was very supportive of me in his classes. It wasn’t just the workout part (although that was rough) but doing virtually the same thing for an hour was a complete turn-off for me. I stopped going. Paul was disappointed again telling me I needed to add more cardio. I told Paul that I need to do things that motivate me, if I keep doing something that makes me miserable, I will quit everything. He understood completely and suggested Tabata. Ta-What? That class I saw on Friday mornings. OK I will try. Loved it and started doing it two days a week.

During my training sessions I told Paul about my family. I really wanted my girls who live with me, to come in for training. He would train us together; I just need to get them in there. I talked to them over and over about this place and how great it was. I think after a while they just heard ‘blah, blah, blah.’

I had started more and more to feel and understand this “Energy Lab Family” I would hear about and see referenced on Facebook. Everyone genuinely cared about each other. Everyone encouraged and supported each other. I joined the team for the Believe Walk in October 2015. I still really didn’t know anyone. Even though I was the only one to do the 10K walk, I started with the team and was encouraged on my journey. As I was coming down Olive for the last couple of miles, I was greeted by Erin Dally who was on her way home. Hugs and more encouragement. This really is a family.

I continued to work on getting Cassie to a training session with me. It finally happened. We were doing a 30 minute session with Paul. Half way through, I am on the Bosu when Cassie goes out the front door and Paul follows. Wait, what? Your 60 year old Mom is still working out while you are outside throwing up in the gutter? Oh that felt good! When she came back with me again, Sean greeted her saying ‘it was just a little bit of vomit right?’ And thus started the brother-sister teasing- torturing relationship between Cassie and Sean.

Thanksgiving 2015, Energy Lab Turkey Trot. I convinced the girls, Cassie and La Donna, to join me. You could feel the energy in the group which included family and friends. This was going to be fun. Part way through the warm-up I notice La Donna appears to not be feeling well. Cassie says she isn’t so she is going to hang out while Cassie and I do the workout. A fun day for sure despite La Donna not making it through the warm-up. What I learned some time later was that La Donna was very honest with Sean when he asked if she was OK. She provided him a bit too much information; you know, girl stuff. He still teases her about this.

My workouts continued to progress. It seemed that every couple of weeks I found something I hadn’t been able to do before, I could now do. I was incredibly excited and proud each time that happened. I had now done TRX classes on Sundays with Jill. Paul had trained me well on TRX in our training sessions. I was also doing the new Strength Training program with Paul. I was up to 2 training sessions per week, one Tabata class per week and one TRX class per week. I was still not ready for that Tuesday or Thursday class known as Breakthrough.

For our personal training, one day Paul decided to have me do some boxing. Now that was FUN! Paul would joke he could see I had faces passing in front of me as I hit the bag. It was incredibly cathartic to box. Boxing with kettlebell swings in between became our Thursday workout. I started with the silver kettlebell, 16 pounds. I continued to move up in weight and was up to 100 swings per week. Boxing plus 100 swings each session. My personal record is 150 swings with the blue Kettlebell. We took pictures when I moved up to the yellow kettlebell. I now do the orange kettlebell for 100 swings too.

When Paul was in England for a month in December 2015, I had a new trainer. This was scary. I didn’t know her. Did she like my music? What was she like? Let’s just say she has become a great friend. I had told Christy about my breakthrough phobia. You know, that scary looking class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. No way was I ready to go to that class. I can hear her now; WHAAAT??? You are SO ready and capable. With Christy by my side, in January 2016 I faced my fear and did Tuesday morning breakthrough. And I survived!! I did it!! And now I am addicted; must have my breakthrough fix at least once per week.

May 7, 2016 my 61st birthday. It was the Energy Lab’s 5th Anniversary party. Cassie now fully understood the Energy Lab family as she wanted to go to the party with me. I was surprised, humbled and honored to be recognized as an Everyday Hero. This means the world to me.

Throughout 2016 I continued to add times and days to my weekly workouts. When Ruben joined the coach team, we found our way to get La Donna to Energy Lab. She was the last holdout. We knew they would click, which they did. La Donna was now doing some classes. She has ventured into doing more classes and loves when she can do cardio-kickboxing and TRX flow with Paul.

I was feeling very strong and had found an added family; my Energy Lab family. I participated in both PMA’s in 2016 and had both Cassie and La Donna with me in the fall PMA. Our family was now part of the Energy Lab family. So much so that when Cassie injured her back and was unable to work-out for almost two months, if I so much as said Energy Lab in her presence, she responded ‘Don’t talk about it! I miss my Energy Lab family so much!’

My nearly two year journey has been amazing. I lost a total of 32 pounds but much more than that, I have become strong. I feel fabulous and I am in better shape than I was 30+ years ago. I work out with Cassie (and she can keep up with me), La Donna and one of the most incredible groups of people I have ever been around.

Thank you Jill for your vision. Thank you Jill and Sean for creating such a wonderful place where we all call it our family.


Trina Brown’s Story

My story is one of transformation. I am driven by connection. I chose a career that is geared toward helping people connect to their world through communication. I have a family that I love and few close friends, and a great dog. What is my story? I have sacrificed who I am to help others. I have stood at the forefront of conflict trying to save the world while the people I tried to save hid in the bushes. I have been extremely disappointed and I have been extremely blessed. I like to take pictures, I have since I was a teenager with real film and real lighting, no photo shop. I like to write. I love to write. I see myself more clearly when I can get my thoughts down and can see them in front of me. I love deeply and I expect the same from those I am close to. I have learned to let people be who they are instead of whom I expect them to be. I have learned to forgive. I have learned to trust. I have learned to love. But all of this I am still learning. Life is about transformation…becoming who you were meant to be without barriers, without fear, without doubt.  Life is about becoming. That’s where I’m at. I’m becoming. What? Who I was meant to be… It’s a journey. I’m on it. I’m enjoying the ride. Sometimes it gets bumpy, sometimes it gets scary, sometimes it gets downright annoying, but I’m on it, and it’s where I’m meant to be. I am happiest when I am in the company of those that get me. There aren’t many of those people, but one is enough for me. I’m still trying to figure out what it is I was put here to do. I think it all comes down to learning how to love. I’m learning how to do that. I’d like to learn how to do it well.

I admire courage, I admire strength, I admire honesty and kindness. I admire people who aren’t afraid to be exactly who they are and act on that. I think we were all put here on earth to share our uniqueness and our gifts and it is a wonderful thing to discover what those are and spend your life using and sharing them. How does The Energy Lab fit into my life? Well, someone with enough courage to create something she saw in her mind’s eye, with encouragement from a good friend, has created a space that pays attention to the whole person, fitness of the mind, fitness of the body and fitness of the spirit. It jives with where I’m at in my life and I like it. I like the logo and the color orange. And I like the people who show up. Though I still can’t feel my belly button and don’t really get the string that connects the back to the front of your body, nor do I get the swirling energy patterns, I show up and I participate. Someday it may make sense to me. Someday it might click. Someday I may not dread sticking my feet in those TRX stirrups and doing all kinds of exercises relating to planking and strengthening the lower abs. Someday I may see a breakthrough of my own. For now, I show up. I’m present when I’m there. I enjoy the people. I enjoy the space. I enjoy the training. I feel encouraged and I always feel motivated to return. So thank you for creating this space to grow and learn, to become stronger, and to explore fitness as something that includes your mind, your body, and your spirit. Thank you having the courage to share your gifts with us and create an orange space with cool people and great training.

What is my story? It’s one of transformation and it’s still being written. We shall see where it leads…


If someone would’ve asked me where was I eight years ago, I would’ve told him/her  I was in a dark place or in a tank full of dirty water, sinking and almost touching the bottom; I felt weak and vulnerable as I never imagined I could have felt.  What was I thinking to let life and people bring me so low?

As a kid, I was always all about smiles; ready to go, the fastest runner in my entire school.  I joined the school’s running club and participated in several competitions; I felt pretty cool, energetic and full of life, a social butterfly, a good student as well.

I had a boyfriend who was involved in sports and was the star of his team.  It was a perfect life.

My mother, during a conversation we had recently, told me that back in the days, more than once, the running coach contacted her to ask permission to have me sign up with the professional running team and take this to the next level; but she turned him down, maybe she didn’t know better, she was afraid of the commitment that represented for both of us, maybe she didn’t think I was good enough or she didn’t want to see me fail.

Youngest of two kids, last chance for my mom to have a second child; I was “placenta previa” and almost died when I was born, my mom always worried for me and wanted to keep me in a crystal box.  Overall, I had a happy and healthy childhood.

Dental school came along with my parent’s high expectations, so I decided to follow my sister’s footsteps and pursue a carrier with certain level of independence and lots of service to people….helping people was my call.

I really enjoy dentistry and in many ways I have the chance to connect with people while taking care of their dental needs.

When I got married and moved to California, it was a huge change in various ways; a new start indeed.  In a different country, different language, new status, new name, new friends, miles and miles away from home….what a harsh feeling.  But it was my decision and I fell in love and knew that starting a new life was not going to be easy….so, I sucked it up and kept going .

My goals were met; a good, working, lovable husband, got licensed as a dentist in the state in record time, bought a beautiful house in Loma Linda and five years later we had our first son.  Everything was going nice and smooth, just as planned,  so I thought.

Almost three years later our second son came along with more responsibilities and the levels of stress increased.  Looking back in time, I believe I was trying to juggle a lot at the same time, keeping a life style and everybody happy…but I was not thinking about my own happiness and/or peace of mind.

I kept working in a very unhealthy and toxic environment just for the convenience of the schedule and also because I knew how the system at that office worked; regardless of the consequences on my health.

My marriage started shaking because I would be in a crabby mood all the time and I would bring all this negativity from work.  My boys started becoming bitter and reflected that in our daily lives.  I let circumstances and people break me. I was responsible for my own failures for letting it go that far.

My kids were attending a private school that didn’t match our moral and spiritual values, but once again I kept hanging onto all these nonsense to keep up with “the life style” I thought it was the right one!

My immune system went south and God sent me a straightforward message…..STOP! Reset your life or I’ll reset it for you….That’s when I was diagnosed with one of the most aggressive types of cancer, stage III Melanoma.  And so, my journey to recovery began.

After two quite important scalp surgeries, Pet Scan, lymph node biopsy  and biotherapy with Interferon, my life  made a sharp turn.

Priorities changed, I started seeing things from a different perspective, life in front of my eyes was running in slow motion….What is happening to me? Why in the world would I get sick?  Why me?  This is not supposed to happen to a mother of two young kids… this is just a bad dream.  So I thought!  But ultimately, I realized I had no time to spare, no time for drama or negativity or nonsense anymore.

Six months after finishing my treatment, I found Jill Rooks; a sweet lady with a logo I’ll never forget “Stepping Stones”, offering personal training out at her garage, so I joined her on Friday mornings 5am.  Little by little, step by step, I started transforming my mind, my soul and my body.

It took some time to make the big changes; but we did made them.   The kids started attending a different school, where their minds, creativity and uniqueness wouldn’t be restricted or smashed. I also quit my job and found a small dental practice, where I started building my own pull of patients.  My husband and my kids got their mama back….. I got a second chance in life.

Every day is a new fresh start, every day I give thanks to God for opening my eyes and showing me the right path. Even though I am not very good making big changes, because I tend to adapt to mostly every circumstance I am surrounded by, make it work or suck it up……I knew I couldn’t continue denying the imperative need for many transformations…..my family is now my number one priority,  and I know I need to take care of myself so I can take care of my family.

Jill opened The Energy Lab in 2011 and since then I have been attending her classes and learning to balance my life.  I am grateful for Jill and her amazing energetic way of teaching and challenging her clients.  She finds new ways to motivate our community and somehow keep everybody engage; she is like a superwomen who sleeps little, works a lot, is a mom, mentor, wife, daughter, friend, health coach and advisor, instructor, writer and many more hats that she wears over and over, handles to make us all collapse in the middle of a Pilates class when right after doing 50 push up planks or crunches with the sand ball,  she dearly tells us to do more…..always smiling, always with a positive attitude, non stop,  no breaks, no big deal.

I will continue transforming my life and building my dreams and maybe run my first marathon late September.

~Mechas


“Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Ian MacLaren

Heart pounding, head throbbing, feeling lightheaded and a bit dizzy. Those were the things I was experiencing on a regular basis, and I worried constantly that something life threatening was wrong with me. About five and half years ago, I developed postpartum depression (PPD) and pretty severe anxiety. Never in a million years did I imagine that I would suffer from PPD. I was the girl that couldn’t wait to have children and the mom that had already had two babies and loved being with them. It was by far the darkest time of my life and I felt completely broken. Dark thoughts and lies consumed me. Over time the PPD lifted, but the anxiety stuck around. The longer it stuck around, the more defeated I began to feel. I felt weak, insecure and my confidence in myself as a mom, wife and woman was gone. I was living in survival mode and in a constant state of fear. When I first joined The Energy Lab, I was still struggling with significant anxiety. I remember how difficult it was some days to get in my car and drive the 15 minutes to get there. I’d get there with a pretty bad headache and filled with fear. Because I feared that something was physically wrong with me, I was scared that something would happen to me during the classes. However, I found that after each class I completed, I always felt better. I continued to push myself to go and to try and not listen to the voices that wanted to keep me home. If you’ve struggled with anxiety, you know how difficult it is to push through it and how imprisoning it can be.

“We are all broken, that’s how the light gets in.” Ernest Hemingway

Acceptance. Accepting that I was struggling with mental health issues was probably one of the biggest keys in my journey to healing. It was a difficult process to get there, but through time spent in prayer, in quiet and in reading truth filled books, feelings of shame and weakness were slowly replaced with acceptance. I started to open up and talk about my struggles with close loved ones. By voicing my struggles and fears, I realized how many lies were filling my head. Rather than being consumed by shame and feelings of defeat, I started to realize it’s okay to be broken. We’re all broken and it’s our struggles that make us stronger. “Take care of the soul that takes care of others.” Mary Davis Learning to take care of myself has been the other key to healing. I had lost myself in the long and difficult days of mothering my three babes. As a homeschooling mama of three kiddos, it is very easy to pour into everyone else and not fill my own cup. I knew that living a fear filled life and in survival mode was not the way to live and that I wasn’t created to live in such a way. I wanted to live the life that God intended me to live. I wanted to be the best me so that I could give others my best. I am so grateful that God put Jill and The Energy Lab in my path. Jill’s positive words and messages have been very inspiring. Her constant motivation to be the best version of ourselves has had an impact on me. Being around positive and like minded people who are trying to be their best is inspiring, and I’m so thankful for The Energy Lab community. I have learned and am still learning how to take better care of myself in mind, body and spirit. In learning to take care of myself and filling my cup I can be a better mother, wife, friend and serve others. “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” Over the past year or so I have been very intentional about making the time and space to fill my soul with the things that set it on fire and further healing has taken place. It isn’t easy, it isn’t perfect and sometimes life gets overwhelming and I backslide a bit, but I’ve learned to get up and keep moving forward.

“You have been assigned this mountain to show others it can be moved.”

I think about the legacy I want to leave behind. I want to live bravely and to share God’s love with my family and others. I want to teach my children how to love well, how to serve well. I want to bring hope, encouragement and inspiration to others. This journey of PPD and anxiety has made me a more compassionate person. I am more aware that even when it doesn’t seem like it, others may be fighting a hard battle. I recently started to open up about my journey. There are many who never knew of my struggles, because although there was much weeping and sobbing in my house, I’d always put on a smile when I left my home. I see life differently now. When you’ve experienced such darkness you appreciate your God given light so much more. I want to share that light with others. I’ve learned that in sharing our stories we make each other stronger. I hope that my story can bring hope and encouragement to someone else. I’ve come a long way from those dark days and I’m so thankful for God’s faithfulness and for the people and experiences that He’s put in my path that have led to healing. I’m thankful for a husband that has always been supportive and encouraging. I still struggle with a bit of anxiety, but I now know how to manage it when it tries to rear its ugly head at me. It no longer consumes me and it occurs less and less frequently. I’m starting to find the girl that was brave, confident and strong. I like her, and I plan on taking care of her. The beauty of being completely broken and undone is that you get to rebuild yourself, and you get to decide which pieces you’ll be using to put yourself back together. ~ Naomi


Music has always been a part of my life.

I remember when I started taking piano lessons at four years of age, my piano teacher at the time, telling me to always take care of my “piano hands”. Which meant I could go play, have fun, but BE careful not to break any fingers, wrists, or arms. Then in elementary school, I started playing flute. I remember enjoying this instrument so much and practicing every day. I also sang in the children’s choir and small ensembles at church and in the school choirs, Honor choirs and community choirs. It was during my High School years, that I started to realize the importance of taking good care of my body, strength and cardio, in order to keep singing and playing the instruments that I loved.

But it wasn’t until I was working on my degree in music, at UCLA, that I had an “Aha! Moment”. My voice instructor, told me “Consider yourself to be a Vocal Athlete!” Ahhhhhhh, Yes!!! She told me to not only work on technique, repertoire, etc. but also to take care of myself – Body, Mind, and Spirit! I already had an established workout routine, so I decided to sing up for a meditation class and started practicing yoga. That was in 1991, and to this day, I continue to meditate and practice yoga every day.

In 1997, when we moved back to Redlands, I continued my routine at home. But I wanted and needed something more. So I looked into and started a gym membership at Bally’s and that’s when I met Jill Rooks. I took Jill’s cycling class and absolutely loved it! I loved her teaching, her music, and her amazing energy! And she taught this class with her sweet baby in a carriage, right next to her cycle bike! It was then that I became a BIG fan of Jill Rooks! I continued to workout with her at Bally’s, as often as my musician life allowed. And throughput the years, I worked out with Jill during the “Garage Days” and now, I’m so happy to workout with her, her staff, and my Energy Lab family at The Energy Lab in Redlands!

Due to my musician schedule – teaching music lessons in the afternoons, occasional late night rehearsals, recording sessions and performing for church services and special events – the 5:30a classes, at The Energy Lab, work well for me. It can be a challenge at times, but it is a wonderful way to start the day and “tune” my body “instrument”.

I’m so grateful to have Jill in my life and to be with like-minded people who strive every day to build “well tuned” bodies.

Much love and gratitude to you, Jill!! Thank You!

So……

Just like this beautiful instrument needs to be well tuned for its longevity and beauty and tone to produce beautiful music, my body “instrument” needs the same. I will continue my daily workouts, meditation, and yoga practice, because I know all these things will help me continue to be “well tuned” for the rest of my life.

~ Jennifer Sparks

5 Things Dads Teach Us

Do you pay attention to the things your dad says?

What rolls off your tongue when a “my dad always says” memory is prompted?

What do you quietly laugh to yourself about when you think of your Dad’s habits or sayings?

During this week of Father’s Day,  I have wanted to sit down and write to several of the fathers I know and get to spend time with.  The little things I hear and see them doing makes my heart swell.   As a coach and personal trainer, the hour I spend with my clients is all about them. This means, I listen a lot and I learn a lot. To celebrate dads we see and dads we don’t see, dads who are with us and dads who are not, all of our like-a-dads and all of the first-time dads, here are a few of the things I have learned from dads!

5 things I’ve learned from Dads just doing their Dad thing:

  1. Bob reminds me that the real joy is in giving!  I can’t tell you how much joy I see on his face when I hear him talk about his grandkids and being able to contribute to their lives.  His pride, love and commitment to do anything it takes and give all he can to support his family and kids and grandkids makes me smile!  He reminds me of my dad and the pride my dad always took in our activities and accomplishments.
  2. Eric is confident in everything he does. And yet, he is so humble.  He shows that the secret of life is not determined by what others think or are doing, but by doing what is right for him and his family. He is one of the most genuine and compassionate people I know.
  3. I love seeing the humility and trust in Hugh’s voice when he defers to his adult daughter’s opinion.  It reminds me of numerous times my dad would ask me about exercises or nutrition and really try to take my advice to heart. Hugh also honors his past and maintains strong connections with his roots – I always learn something when I listen to him, just like my dad’s stories and memories.  
  4. Chris lights up when he talks about his kids and their accomplishments. It is so cool to see the capacity of love shown in subtle ways!  He reminds me a dad is never too busy to talk about his kids!
  5. It never ceases to amaze me how comfortably Sean can carry on conversations whether it be about gardening or college rivals or hockey. He’s just like my dad with his numbers and awareness of everything going on in sports.  He reminds me how important it is to go with the flow and enjoy the little things in life.

Plus 3  “And then somes” when it comes to dads and reminders of my dad:

  1.  Lucianna who clips newspaper articles to share with me. It’s such a comfortable and reassuring feeling.  It gives me hope that we will not lose touch of books and papers and learning, along with the power of community.
  2. My two kids…Brendan and his skin that tans just like my Dad’s did and his awareness of other people’s needs. He really surprises me with this one, but is so like my dad, it’s weird!  Natalie and her sense of humor and super sharp mind. She and my dad were buddies, but she only got to know him for 5 years….they would have been kindred spirits. They remind me how lucky we are to see our loved ones carried on in each other!
  3. This could not be complete without acknowledging the bond that exists with all of my cousins and friends who also have said “until we meet again” to our dads in heaven and the stars. We remember the times of year, months and sometimes even exact days that are the anniversaries of the deaths. The way we reach out to each other and mutually support has taught me so much about the power of the human heart and soul and our connectivity to each other.

“Hi, I’m Cliff. Drop over sometime” was one of the funny things that always made me laugh when my dad said it (except for when I was 13 and then I probably wanted to run!) Anytime I meet someone named Cliff, it almost rolls off my tongue, I have to stop myself!

Happy Father’s Day to the dads I watch, learn from and love who are doing their dad thing!  We appreciate you!

#7 When Health is a Family Affair

From my original drafts for “10 Stories of Strong Living”;                Wake up! Your Life is Now

 

For all the women who were on my mind when I thought about what Strong Living meant to me; they found ways to make time for themselves to stay healthy. They inspired others along the way. They model healthy living to their families, and even when it is hard, they stay positive and do their best; knowing that they are both enough, and that they are a piece of a much bigger picture!

When Health is a Family Affair. It is so cool to see families looking out for each other. To see generations perpetuating and instilling values of self-care and hard work into future generations. I think of my Grandma, who is 90. For her 90th birthday I sent her a gift card to purchase some workout clothes. Because that is what she does; yoga stretching and her weights. I loved getting the picture back from her, wearing what she purchased. I think of my Mom who turned 70 this year and sits in my Pilates classes with me after she has been for her 5am swim session. Every once in a while, she disappears and we hear that she completed her thirtieth-something triathlon, and oh, by the way, placed in her age group. My daughter, who I am not allowed to instruct on moving more or eating better, (because of who I am and what I do) squeezed my heart the most when she proudly told me about her commitment, inspired by her High School Anatomy teacher to start a new habit, and she took the dogs for a run, as she plans on doing three days a week.

It truly melts my heart when those we love so deeply take care of themselves. It is love in action. Taking care of one’s body is one of the most selfless acts there is.

I remember my client, BJ, deciding that for her 50th birthday, she was going to begin training sessions with me. Eight years later and we are still going strong. She does it because she cares about being around for her family, about being able to keep up with them. And when it is hard, she is reminded by her daughter who has followed her lead to keep going. Her daughter is her biggest cheerleader, and their love is unmistakable.

There are several families that I have had the honor to train through generations and together with generations, side-by-side. The joy and pride in each other, cherishing successes, cheering through challenges, and lifting each other up after defeats is one of the most beautiful acts of human love and kindness.

We don’t know at the time the value of the memories we are creating. And then one day, we talk about those memories and it all comes flooding back.  Remember when: the little ones hula hooped with us because we couldn’t find a babysitter? When they asked to join our session to work on strength for their high school sport? When they came home from college and wanted to spend time with us and they joined our workout? When they were frustrated with their health and energy as they began their own families?  To see mothers and daughters, generations, sisters, sisters-in-law and friends-who-become-family support each other and  plan their workouts as time to spend together is a very special view into a life well lived.

 

Lesson #7 on Family Affair. We will never be in this same place, time or moment again. When it is over, it is gone forever. Unless we keep it in our hearts, we hand it down, we create traditions and we recognize its value. Time. High-fives. Smiles. Laughter. Hugs. And a reason deeper than any other to be strong. I see health and fitness as two of the most selfless acts. In taking care of ourselves, we are able to take care of our families. We are creating a world where we are strong enough to lift others up. We reduce the burden on society and we contribute positive energy to the world.  It becomes a family affair because we model it, not as a burden, but as an outlet for being alive and feeling a heightened sense of energy, joy, euphoria. Life courses through us, and in turn, it courses through our families.

 

“The greatest wealth is health” ~ Virgil. Pass it on, let it be part of your legacy to your family.

#8 The Garage Days

We All Start as Strangers

When I first started training, I worked out of my garage. Many of my early clients from my “garage days,” have stayed with me or have stayed connected across the miles. Why? How did I get so lucky? What is it that makes them come back? Together, we discovered exercise as an outlet to reduce stress and claim an hour of time for ourselves.

What keeps us close now is empathy and understanding. We have looked each other in the eye again and again. We have aged together and been through a period in our lives where we are okay in our own skin. The idea of looking a certain way has been replaced with health being our goal. The things we thought we were looking for are not as important as they once seemed. They never were. Bina, one of my “garage days” clients, narrowed it down like this, “All things we are seeking are nothing compared to what we already possess. We are thankful for the skin we are in.” Yes, we are.  Why? Because it holds our gift to the world. And more than that, it signifies that we are each right where we are meant to be.  The quote attributed to Plato, “Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” is my guide when I am with my clients. 

Isn’t it the most wonderful compensation in life that we all start as strangers and leave as friends? That is a life well lived. To leave those whose lives we touched, better, is one of the greatest gifts of life. During my “garage days,” when I did not know my future, and was unaware of my potential, I was surrounded by these beautiful people. It reminds me, “Keep the ones who heard you when you never said a word.”~unknown. Their trust in me is humbling, and I am beyond grateful to have them by my side, then, now and, if we are so lucky, tomorrow. I am also thankful for their authenticity. They are my tribe, my heartbeat, my people who exemplify, “real.” Our relationship has withstood the test of time, and we know that “the skin we are in” is just right.

Thank you for letting me be a part of your story. As you read this chapter, we connect and are no longer strangers. Your story has become mine, and mine, yours.  I hope the effect we have had on each other is mutual. I challenge you to continue to connect, to serve, and to love. Love hard. Care deeply. Share your stories. Use your love to reach out and help others. Weave these threads of life together and you will live a purposeful, meaningful, and incredibly strong life.

Pre-release, early access glimpse into Wake Up! Your Life is Now! from 10 Stories of Strong Living (June 7, 2017 release date, Scriptor Publishing Group)

Are you thankful for the “skin you are in”? Has gratitude replaced comparison in your life?  Do you see how perfectly you are made?  Who has stood by your side, and how have your journeys ebbed and flowed? What tests of time have you stood up to and what does that mean in your life?

“Be Courageous” artwork by Samantha Stewart

Where is the Love?

Have you heard it? The song that you find yourself leaning in to to catch every word.

“Where is the love?”

The Black Eyed Peas nailed it.

“Madness is what you demonstrate
And that’s exactly how anger works and operates
Man, you gotta have love just to set it straight
Take control of your mind and meditate
Let your soul gravitate to the love, y’all, y’all

People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach?
Or would you turn the other cheek?

Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love (Love)”

I had to think hard before I put this song on a cycling playlist for a Race Day experience we had at my fitness studio this morning. Typically you want something to ride to that is fast and non-stop upbeat. But I can’t help but get people focused and thinking and digging for that deeper meaning that exists in their WHY.

I put “Where is the Love?” on our playlist for today’s class to evoke emotion.

And where there is emotion, there is power. And where there is power, we can change the world.

And then, what happened today? The world changed for many people; like it has too many times before. Life flashes before us and in an instant it is different forever.  I spent my high school years in Highland, CA, having moved from the wonderfully small, sleepy town of Lafayette, New Jersey where I grew up. Highland, CA is next door to San Bernardino, CA. My mom was a second grade teacher at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, CA for all of our California living until she retired.

Today, that school, North Park Elementary in San Bernardino, CA, was broken as shots rung, lives were lost and life changed. I don’t know the details of what happened, but I know that as I shouted the words to “Where’s the Love?” to my class this morning, telling my friend Don who was working so hard to picture his entire kindergarten class on the top of that hill looking on at him with pride and love and cheering their hearts out for their teacher who was cycling his heart out for them, someone a few towns away from us was taking their emotions in a different direction.

It hurts and I want so badly for everyone to know that they are, that we are, a part of the solution. If we choose to learn how to be strong.  When I teach, I want so much for every person who hears me to hear that they are the love. It starts with self-love. Self-love is self-respect, esteem, strength, confidence. Not everyone wants to know that. Sometimes it is easier to be numb to the world around us. But the truth is, we cannot hide. If we have the courage to develop the strength to spread the feelings that self-love evokes – joy, optimism, respect for fellow human beings, then we have to share that.

We have to infect the world around us with the love. We have to be carriers of contagious hope, we have to CARE MORE.

It starts with us. When I asked my class this morning, “Where is the Love?” by adding it to our ride, at a point where emotions have the opportunity to hit home and to move us in a powerful direction, I was reminding them that they are the love. By their actions of showing up and bravely doing what some consider to be “hard work”, when what we are really doing is just a workout done conscientiously and towards a goal much bigger than ourselves and much bigger than most people want to dream, we are the love. And the world needs more of that. More of us. More of you.

My heart pours for those families whose lives have been changed forever today. When a piece of the world around us changes, our world changes too. It is the simple ripple effect. We can do something about that ripple, we can move it in a positive direction. But it will take everyone. It will take showing up, even when it is hard. It will take courage, even when we don’t feel we have any. It will take channeling our emotions into love.

What will Pilates with Jill Teach You?

Pilates

Pilates at The Energy Lab is not your typical Pilates. Our body becomes the machine, the vehicle to explore, to listen to, and to discover its lines, connections and anatomical reference points.  It is a form of meditation, education, and always includes an element of play, release, laughter, relaxation, and permission to “simply be”. Sometimes that means to do nothing. Sometimes that means to rest. Sometimes that means to trust. Always that means to leave our mats feeling better than when we arrived.

  1. It will teach you to listen to your body. One of the greatest gifts of simply being with you on your mat is the opportunity to be still and to listen.starts-on-the-mat
  2. It will teach you the basics of the MELT Method. We begin each practice with either a MELT hand- or foot-treatment. This is against the grain in that there is no additional fee; just learning, education and knowledge. With the MELT Method, you discover your body’s areas of “stuck stress”; that is congestion in the body, connective tissue that has adhesions and may not have the tensegrity and elasticity to allow you to move freely (PRE-PAIN SYMPTOMS and SIGNALS- kind of a big deal if you like to be injury-free and yet active!) Knowing this before you begin any practice will greatly change the way you approach your movement. You would not jump into an activity with tense, dried up “play-doh” as it were; you would first have to understand its form and then give it an opportunity to become hydrated and allow seamless energy vs. segmented energy. One energy type (seamless) will allow you to move freely, the other (segmented) restrains your movement, which often leads to compensation, which will leameltd to a compromised pattern, and most likely, result in chronic pain. All of which will be blamed on a joint or joint complex that had nothing to do with the original cause – the noise, chaos, tension of stuck stress, left unattended in the body. The MELT experience will leave you feeling the vibrations under your skin and alert to your starting point of practice.
  3. It will teach you what you look like under your skin. You will be asked to drop your gaze inward and to scan your body from the inside out. You will learn from Jill’s experiences with three different donors at the Laboratories for Anatomical Enlightenment, where she received the gift of understanding what is truly underneath the skin, in a “see for yourself (autopsy) experience” laboratory. The donor bodies that Jill  had the opportunity to dissect were “as is”, nothing had been removed or added or changed, the donors were frozen, and all fluids intact so that an accurate-as-possible-understanding of movement and fascia and lines and connections could be obtained. The question you will be asked is this: “Are you living a life that you would invite someone a glance into what is under your skin, much like you would invite someone over for dinner, and you tidy up your house, maybe even deep clean before you are satisfied with the presentability of your home?” Can you say the same of your body?blog jackie chopra quote
  4. It will teach you breath. To inspire, which literally means “breathe life into”.  Breath practice of both the para-sympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, understanding of the diaphragm and its location, attachments and function in breathing, and how vagal tone, gut health and the vagus nerve all serve our most basic of human functioning. Jill reminds us that in the U.S. only pregnant women are given courses on breathing. Stirred by the words and writings of Max Strom, author of “A Life Worth Breathing”, we are reminded that accessing our breath is accessing a life where our capabilities are beyond anything we could ever imagine. How much better would our world be at coping with stress if more people knew how to breathe?breathe
  5. It will teach you alignment, balance, and coordination.
  6. It will teach  you humility and acceptance.
  7. It will teach you how to stretch appropriately; by shifting one of your “big rocks” (either the feet or the hips or the shoulders) ever so slightly to affect the stretch in the fascia and muscle desired.
  8. It will teach you the layers and the directions and the values of the muscles you are affecting.
  9. It will teach you the interdependence of your system and that everything is truly connected.
  10. It will teach you YOU. Your state of mind. Your defenses and excuses. Your celebrations and accomplishments. Your calm and your clarity OR your noise and your blinders. You can choose to diligently practice or you can choose to show up once in awhile. What you learn, how you benefit, and what you get out of your practice is what you put into it. You are a direct result of what you do day-in and day-out. pilates-said

5 ways a HEALTH COACH Can Keep You Healthy Through The Holidays!

The clocks are about to turn back.

The nights are cool and HOLIDAY is in the air!

Now and NOVEMBER, more than ever, is a crucial time to BUILD UP!

What do I mean by that? We all know how to “break ourselves down”, to workout hard, to put a lot on our plates and to rush through life sometimes. When we look back, we often do not even remember where we have been or what we accomplished because we are already on to the next thing.

What I am suggesting NOW is to take the opportunity to work with a Health Coach and LEARN HOW TO BUILD UP!  Building up will:

  • Increase your energy
  • Support your immune system
  • Help you to stay healthy through the weeks ahead and the holidays
  • It will let you move through life with more ease and less “dis-ease”
  • Provide a sense of gratitude and calm in your life
  • Promote clarity and good decision making
  • And, you will thank yourself for emerging into a New Year, not as the run-down-version of you, but as the READY TO CHANGE THE WORLD VERSION OF YOU!

Consider these 5 ways a HEALTH COACH can help you to thrive through the holidays and BUILD yourself UP now:

  1. Let’s talk about SLEEP. The #1 place the body repairs itself. A good health coach will ask the right questions, discuss quality of sleep and quantity, falling-asleep habits and what and how to handle those waking-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night moments.  We will guide you towards what might work best for YOU!
  2. NUTRITION. It has not changed. The truth still exists that we are a direct reflection of what we put into our bodies. To keep it simple, ideally we are eating foods from the earth that are not and have not been processed, packaged or prepared. There is no one-size-fits-all answer and a good health coach will guide you towards what is not only attainable and realistic for you, but also what will support your activities and lifestyle. Nutrition should be a key piece of your lifestyle. We can help you to discover ways to look at food differently and to enjoy nourishing your body well!
  3. Life is not easy, is it? We all have STRESS. Stress is good when applied to the right places and in the right amounts. It keeps us motivated and moving and growing and changing. But stress that we do not know how to handle is what gets to us. Stress is the cause of 99% of all illness. And I would break that statement down even more to say that how we deal with stress (or don’t) is the cause of 99% of all illness and disease.  A good health coach will be ready to suggest meditation and relaxation techniques; to provide you with mindfulness practices and stretching routines, and to even give you things to punch (a boxing bag) or throw (sandbags) when all else fails. Exercise is one of the #1 ways to combat stress. In the moments we are exercising intentionally and connected to ourselves, time stands still and we can temporarily be free of the aging and debilating effects of stress.
  4. Just like all living things, once something ceases to move, it deteriorates RAPIDLY. As health coaches, we will be there to ensure that your MOVEMENT is SMART. To help you move with ease, to move without pain, to move efficiently and then take that new movement pattern and be able to apply it better to your everyday life. We can help you realize that climbing up a flight of stairs has more to do with your core than it does your legs. And in doing so, help to make everyday activities easy!
  5. Surround yourself with those on the same mission as you. BUILDING yourself up is only accelerated by surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals. COMMUNITY is so important when it comes to reaching your goals in a time of year when we tend to stray from taking care of ourselves.  “Find your tribe and love them hard!” The benefits will be enormous!

I believe in you and in your potential!  Visit me at The Energy Lab in Redlands, CA, where we specialize in health coaching, or send me an email to discuss how I can help you!

Yours in Health, and your Health Coach if you choose!

Jill

jill@energylabfitness.com