Jenna Willis on being a Personal Trainer to the Stars

From actor to personal trainer, Jenna keeps fit and her clients fitter in sunny California.

Jenna Willis is a Jersey girl, born and raised, who grew up with three older brothers. With familial competition running deep in her veins, Jenna notes that athleticism was not a choice for her. While attending college, Jenna was the shortest Division 1 collegiate volleyball player in the nation, a credit to her natural knack for sports. However, Jenna involved herself in competitive sports as much as in theater and dreamt of becoming an actor one day. Jenna’s pursuit of professional acting led her to ultimately move to California to chase her dreams. 

Working as an actress in Los Angeles, Jenna never abandoned exercise and used it as a coping mechanism to deal with stress and anxiety. She mentions that exercise was especially crucial for her when she was dealing with a difficult break up a few years ago. Jenna began exploring strength training and lifting more during this time, which helped to strengthen her body and clear her mind. As Jenna’s career took off and she was able to book more jobs in TV and modeling, she noticed that she was also attracting greater attention in the gym. On three separate occasions, Jenna had fellow gym-goers ask her for help with fitness techniques, using machines, and targeting parts of their body. Jenna took this as a sign that all of her dedication to fitness had led to a greater purpose: helping others achieve personal success in their health and wellness journeys. 

Jenna BandsImmediately, Jenna signed up for a course to become a certified personal trainer. Soon after, along with auditioning and booking acting jobs, Jenna started to train clients on the side in 2017, getting paid for what she loves to do. A win-win I would say! Jenna credits hard work and preparation in enabling her to be successful in her personal training business as well as the support she received from her friends. Since she started personal training, Jenna’s business has been growing tremendously, capturing the attention of celebrities like Tara Reid, Lala Kent, and Liza Koshy, all of whom she has trained.  

What differentiates Jenna from other personal trainers? Not many incorporate the mind, body, and spirit as she does, Jenna says. Jenna is adamant about the fact that what you see on the outside is only a fraction of what is important. The true magic is when the mind, body, and spirit are aligned in terms of healthy and holistic living. Jenna also wasn’t shy to mention that she is a natural goofball that isn’t afraid to show people who she truly is in front of her audience. Like all of us, she pokes fun at herself and embraces the awkwardness that can come along with working out. “We are all growing together. Fitness is not perfection” she states during our conversation, an important reminder for all of us to take to heart. 

IMG_5995 (1)Even before the COVID-19 pandemic started, Jenna was doing virtual training sessions to people all over the world, which has made her exclusive transition to digital so smooth. Yet, Jenna notes that her biggest motivation in starting her newest program “Don’t Sweat It Alone” was her lack of motivation in the beginning of the pandemic. Jenna was having a hard time getting excited about doing her training and couldn’t imagine that if she couldn’t get up and do some squats, what others must be feeling like. As a result, Jenna made a promise to show up, not only for herself, but for her followers by going live on Instagram with her workouts. Jenna received such positive feedback from doing those sessions, which motivated her viewers to get out of bed in the morning, that she turned the Instagram Live sessions into a regular occurrence. Jenna has since formalized “Don’t Sweat It Alone” into a virtual fitness and healthy living membership and community that is all online. Jenna goes live three times a week within the community, with workouts that are tailored to working out home with minimal equipment. Jenna also ends every workout with a meditation and brings in nutritionists and experts from across the fitness spectrum to talk on the platform. If you sign up for the program get ready for sweaty selfies, free giveaways, and a lot of plank rows and squat presses- two of Jenna’s favorite at-home moves! 

What has been the most challenging part of starting this venture of personal training? Jenna mentions that there is always going to be road bumps, but it’s figuring out how to pave them. Every time you take two steps forward, be prepared to take five steps back, but be motivated enough to make the leap forward again. “Trust the process” is what Jenna says, a mantra that we can all use to benefit from.


Want to get in on all that “Don’t Sweat It Alone” has to offer?

Head to the website and follow her on Instagram

Don't Sweat It Alone MONTHLY corp FLYER (1)

Advice on a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul during Quarantine with Christine Porr (Part III)

Self-care is important, which is why Christine and I have brought you our favorite ways to navigate the challenges of quarantine.

Time sure flies when you are having fun! We have finally come to the last post of Christine and my series on wholistic health during quarantine. It has been such a joy to share some of the things that we are doing to make this time more manageable and constructive. Christine is a wealth of knowledge and I am so happy to have collaborated with her on these posts- trust me I have learned more in these few posts than I have all of quarantine. This week, we talk about one of the most important aspects of our being: our spirit. Whether you are a religious person, spiritual person, or you are just going along for the ride, there is something nestled in this post just for you. 🙏

Spirit

Christine

  1. Find a quiet uninterrupted place, and set aside time each morning, noon, or evening to read the Bible and pray. I know I’ve had times when I’ve struggled with loneliness during this period, but it helps me to remember that I can find fellowship with God, anytime, anywhere.
  2. Identify an accountability partner to do a Bible Study with you. I recently did Breaking Free by Beth Moore with one of my friends. We each completed the daily studies on our own and then texted each other screenshots of the parts that challenged us most or just our general reflections on the content.
  3. Stay consistent with attending church, even if it’s virtual. Pour your morning cup of coffee, sit down, and prioritize this period of worship, as you would in person. If your church offers virtual connect hours and/or small groups, I would highly recommend attending these as well. Each Sunday morning, I tune into my church’s virtual service and then join the Zoom “coffee hour.” It’s been such an encouraging time of meeting new friends, reconnecting with old ones, and praying over our respective requests and praises.

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A few final thoughts. It’s okay not to be okay some days and to just cut yourself some slack. The world and our personal worlds are all in flux. Everyone is going through something. Don’t feel like you have to minimize your own experience because someone else “has it so much worse.” Take time for yourself and turn for support to family, friends, and most importantly God. He has the world in His hands and will always supply your daily bread, whether you anticipate it or not.

Ursula 

During this challenging time we are facing, getting in touch with our spirituality is super important, thanks for reminding us Christine! It is crucial for us to be able to clear our minds and find stillness, which can come through prayer, meditation, yoga, or some deep belly breathes. When we hold tight to things, it can only bring on more frustration and anxiousness. Sometimes it is best to just let go and see what happens. I have also found that talking it out with someone can really help bring light to the stresses I am facing. In doing so, I have felt that some of the things that I was so stressed about, were all made up in my head! I am no stranger to the fact that I often stand in my own way. It is important to find someone you can speak to and confide in to help with your mental well being. Trusted therapists, family members, and close friends are important people to have on standby that can help you to gain a new perspective, offer some helpful advice, and lend an ear. 

Calm and Headspace are two popular meditation apps that might be useful to you. Headspace’s Chief Music Officer is John Legend, so if that doesn’t spell success I don’t know what does!


My parting words? 

 
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The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on in this post are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this post.  If you are feeling suicidal, thinking about hurting yourself, or are concerned that someone you know may be in danger of hurting himself or herself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or the Suicide Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433), both of which are staffed by certified crisis response professionals, or call 911.

Carlos Brandt on Running his Podcast Dear Queer People and being Part of the LGBTQ+ Community

An advocate and trailblazer, Carlos is taking the world by storm, opening up the conversation around LGBTQ+ narratives.

When I first met Carlos, it was clear that there was something so special about him. Carlos is an incredible human, LGBTQ+ advocate, and entrepreneur that has a calm and gentle way about him. Carlos has taken the world by storm, working for RuPaul’s Drag RaceWerq The World Tour,” creating his own social media and branding company, and starting his podcast Dear Queer People, we wonder when he finds time to sleep! I am happy to call Carlos a close friend of mine and I couldn’t be more happy to share him with you all right here. I hope this post inspires you to change our world for the better and advocate for what you are passionate about, just as Carlos has.


Carlos, my long lost brother, tell us about yourself!

My lost sister, so happy to be connected with you and be part of your wonderful family.

I was born in Venezuela and raised in Spain. I grew up in a very Catholic family and always knew that I was different from others. When I was a teenager I accepted the fact that I was gay and came out to the world. I moved to New York City 3 years ago, fell in love, made mistakes, grew as a gay man, and have never turned back. I use my past experiences to motivate me to continue to learn and grow throughout my life. Here, I built a support system that I never had in my life and I met the greatest love that I could ever feel and see- the person which I experienced many ups and downs with that has allowed me to grow and learn the true meaning of love. Here, I built a company out of my passion for journalism and audio-visuals, in a place that is not my home country and proved to myself that I could. Here, I’m learning and shaping who I am. 

What the inspiration behind starting your podcast Dear Queer People and what is the podcast all about?

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Dear Queer People is a call to action, it’s a call to be better as a community and understand the whole spectrum of LGBTQ+. I started this podcast because I wanted to ask questions and know how queer folks navigate different aspects of life. Also, the podcast served as a way for me to save myself and put my thoughts out, to claim a voice and break from the stereotype of how I look. It was to show the world that I also have a brain, passion, and things to say.

The main purpose here is to inspire people to show up better and do more, for themselves and for our community- no matter who you are, where you are, or what gender you identify with.

I bring guests from all different background, from transgender to those who are disabled, to tell their stories. The purpose is to break the bubble you live in and realized that there is more to see and learn. 

What was some of the feedback that you received from the podcast? Was any feedback surprising to you?

So far it’s been both amazing and overwhelming. Folks from Japan, Russia, Africa, and Mexico have all shared their thoughts with me, explaining how listening to the show’s has inspired them to come out to their families or get involved with local organizations. It’s a great feeling knowing that what you produce is having an impact on someone somewhere in the world. 

Are there any stories that you have featured on your podcast that changed your perspective and outlook on life?

Every story is special, every voice that you hear in this podcast means everything to me.

Carson Tueller speaking about advocating for better disability laws in his local area and how he faces love and sex as a disabled gay man. Jake DuPree, a fantastic entertainer and actor, on how he learned to overcome his battle with depression and suicide to conquer his life. Every story is a hard conversation to have, but that is where the beauty happens, because that’s where you learn. Shequida Hall, Evan Katz Ross, and Jiggly Caliente, every story is unique, starting with my own.

You were recently featured in Out Magazine– congratulations! What was that experience like and what did the feature mean to you?

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It was very overwhelming. I wasn’t expecting anything and when I saw a two-page spread in the most important LGBTQ+ print and digital magazine it was a moment that was so honoring. Being a gay immigrant and having this type of validation that what I’m doing someway, somehow is right- it’s a very cool feeling. 

What is one thing that you wish more people knew about the LGBTQ+ community and the journeys of people within this community?

Be one community. We need to learn so much from one another and accept everyone within our community. From our trans brothers and sisters to non-binaries to value entertainers, it is important not to discriminate and create separations because of labels and stereotypes. It is my hope that some day this utopia will see the light. The fight continues!

What is a dream project that you would like to work on or collaborator that you would like to work with?

 A documentary and a coffee table book. Both are in my mind already, let’s see when I am ready to sit down and work them out, but, as for now, I’m calm, working on myself and taking one day at a time!


Where to find Carlos

Out Magazine Article: How Carlos Brandt Is Helping Queer Immigrants Tell Their Stories

Instagram

Dear Queer People Podcast

Advice on a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul during Quarantine with Christine Porr (Part II)

Self-care is important, which is why Christine and I have brought you our favorite ways to navigate the challenges of quarantine.

Yes, we are back with Part II and, yes, I got out of my pajamas. I hope everyone was inspired by last week’s post to go purchase a puzzle or read a new book! In this week’s post, Christine and I explore fun and interesting ways to stay active during this time when we are working from home, overwhelmed by the job search, or binging on Netflix. Mental, physical, and emotional health are so important, which is why we have shared some helpful tips to shake the off those quarantine blues using an infusion of endorphins. Before it gets too cold outside, make sure to prioritize that difficult venture from your comfy bed to your front door and get outside! Your body will thank you. Trust me, you’ll sleep better I promise. (Stay tuned for next week’s post on maintaining a healthy soul, our last of this three part series)

Body

Christine

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Take free virtual fitness classes to keep your body moving. I kept a pretty boring workout routine prior to quarantine but it’s been fun to switch it up and have someone else motivating me to stay fit.

    • Chrissy Stanley – LOVE the Barre and Abs classes! You will work up a sweat in 5 min (free on YouTube)
    • Bar Method Online – So many classes to try, ranging from 15 to 60 minutes in length. (14-day free trial)
    • Pure Barre GO – Kaitlyn is my favorite instructor! (7-day free trial)
    • Peloton Online Classes – I am obsessed with Kristin McGee’s yoga classes, but you can’t go wrong with any of them. (30-day free trial)

Get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Take a 10-minute break in between work calls to stretch your legs on a short walk, or go on a longer walk with family/friends after dinner- preferably with ice cream as your end destination ;). Make running fun by setting distance goals- 5K, 5 miles, half marathon, etc. You can even sign up for a virtual race with friends as accountability partners for training. Pull that bike out of the garage and find a nice neighborhood or scenic path to explore. Go on a social distancing hike with a picnic lunch. 

Ursula

BC29D0ED-4995-49D3-B38B-F96B61096346Like Christine, I have taken advantage of this newfound time to take a break during the day to go on long walks, bike rides, and runs. I find that going outside for an hour a day can really refresh my mind and provide a boost in my day. Although, I have found online workouts a bit intimidating, I have fell in love with 30 Day Ab. With this app, consistency is definitely key, but it only requires about 10-15 minutes per day- sometimes even less if you are feeling extra motivated- and I have seen pretty incredible results. I have also found that incorporating fun outdoor activities like badminton, which my family was obsessed with at one point, volleyball, and swimming can alleviate stress, promote some family bonding, and provide an equal amount of exercise to an online class or strict workout. 

Christine

Since many of us are eating out less than we normally would, this is a great opportunity to try out some new recipes (both healthy and indulgent because everyone needs a treat now and then).

Ursula

I have always loved cooking, however, over the course of quarantine I have felt less inspired to create in the kitchen. That being said, instead of trying new recipes out, I have stuck to making some of my tried and true favorites, which has helped me focus on being creative and productive.  

Christine’s Favorite Food Blogs

Ursula’s Favorite Quarantine Recipes

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Christine has shared a recipe of her own!


Christine’s Smoked Salmon Poached Egg Ciabatta Toast with Everything Bagel Spice Recipe

Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 ciabatta rolls
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tsp dried dill (or to taste) + for topping
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • Tomato
  • Red onion
  • Everything bagel spice
  • 4 oz. smoked salmon
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 T. white vinegar

Instructions

  1. Stir together mascarpone cheese, dill, lemon zest, and lemon juice
  2. Cut 4 slices of tomato
  3. Cut 2 slices of red onion
  4. Put each egg in a small bowl of water horizontally
  5. Cut ciabatta rolls in half
  6. Toast rolls under broiler for 3 minutes
  7. Bring two pots of water to soft boil
  8. Add 1 T. white vinegar to each pot
  9. Slowly pour two eggs into the center of each pot and cook for 3 minutes
  10. While the eggs are cooking, spread mascarpone cheese on rolls
  11. Add 1 slice of tomato to each roll half
  12. Add 1 oz smoked salmon to each roll half
  13. Add red onion to taste
  14. Lift eggs out of pots using slotted spoon and put on top of rolls
  15. Add everything bagel spice and dill to taste
  16. Enjoy!

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on in this post are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this post.  If you are feeling suicidal, thinking about hurting yourself, or are concerned that someone you know may be in danger of hurting himself or herself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or the Suicide Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433), both of which are staffed by certified crisis response professionals, or call 911.

Advice on a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul during Quarantine with Christine Porr (Part I)

Self-care is important, which is why Christine and I have brought you our favorite ways to navigate the challenges of quarantine.

If anyone knows how challenging quarantine can be, it’s me. In college, I was used to being super productive, social, and on the move at all times. It wasn’t unusual for my Google Calendar to be filled with classes, Professor office hours, work, lunch meetings, dinner plans, and roommate bonding (I am looking at you season 5 of Love Island). However, my life at home in quarantine has come to a complete stand still. Therefore, it can be tempting to let my self-care take a backseat; who would know if I stayed in my pajamas all day or spent hours staring at a wall, overthinking the past few months where life was chaotic and busy? That being said, mental, physical, and emotional health should be top priorities to help us navigate this challenging and unprecedented time. I have enlisted my good friend Christine Porr, who is always someone I trust for life advice, to provide some insights as to how she has been staying in tip-top shape over the quarantine period. You’re a lifesaver Christine! (Stay tuned for next week’s post on maintaining a healthy body!)


Screen Shot 2020-08-29 at 6.16.39 PMI was born and raised in suburban New Jersey and apparently I liked it so much I decided to stay put for college. I graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Economics in 2018 and have been working in Human Resources at Barclays Investment Bank in New York City. When I’m not working, I’m usually cooking or baking in the kitchen, running along the Hudson, watching West Wing reruns, or exploring the City- namely ice cream shops- with friends.

Since COVID-19 hit, I’ve been spending most of my time in Midcoast Maine with my parents, discovering beautiful hiking trails and beaches and finding new healthy ways to occupy myself outside the hustle and bustle of the City. I’m not going to lie, it was a tough transition from the fast-paced city to the slow, laid-back rural environment, not to mention going from having a jam-packed schedule during the week and weekends to spending nearly 24/7 inside with few, if any, open establishments to visit. After a few weeks, I became intentional about prioritizing maintaining my mental, physical, and spiritual health. At this point, I would even go so far as to say that in some ways I think I’m actually healthier now than I was before quarantine. I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned in hopes that a few people find one or two of these ideas helpful in their own quarantine experience and beyond.

Mind

Christine

The number one thing I would say is stay connected with friends. The nice thing about quarantine is you don’t have to stick to scheduled meetings. Pick up the phone and give someone a call. Chances are they wanted to talk to someone too, and it’ll make their day. Also, keep your mind going by reading books or listening to podcasts. Check if your local library offers e-Books. I downloaded the Kindle app and Cloud Library app on my phone, and then read books from my library on them. I literally now walk from one room to the next in my house while reading, or even read while going on walks (probably wouldn’t recommend if you’re prone to walking into things…which ironically I am).

Favorite Books Christine Read During Quarantine

  1. Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People by Bob Goff
  2. Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl
  3. Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls by Lauren Graham
  4. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Tim Keller
  5. Love & Gelato by Jenna Welch

Favorite Books Ursula Read During Quarantine

  1. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
  2. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  3. The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay
  4. Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
  5. Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp

Ursula 

I could not agree more with Christine on the point of keeping in contact with friends during this time. Although it can be tricky- especially for me with friends located across the globe- make sure to schedule Zoom calls and FaceTimes with the ones you love! Texting, emails, and calls go a long way, but there is something different about seeing faces during this isolating time. Also, get creative with your methods of contact! I have sent hand written letters, açaí bowls, and gifts to friends and have gotten so much enjoyment in Face-timing my friends when they get my goodies in the mail. Like Christine, I have also had the time to sit down and read all of the books that I have been meaning to dive into. Thanks to my college’s virtual book club, I was also able to have a group of people hold me accountable for finishing each novel! 

Christine’s Go-To Podcasts

  1. How I Built This with Guy Raz
  2. Live to Eat by Candace Nelson
  3. North Point Community Church with Andy Stanley
  4. CCEF Podcast: Where Life & Scripture Meet

Ursula’s Go-To Email Newsletters

  1. Morning Brew
  2. Vogue Business
  3. Wall Street Journal
  4. Business of Fashion Professional

More on the mind…

Christine

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Learn a new skill (needlepoint, cooking, etc), language (try Duolingo!), or concept (browse classes offered by Coursera or any number of universities). Maybe even play a mentally stimulating game or do a puzzle! I love playing Scrabble, Big Boggle, and Codenames with my family, and they all definitely test my brain power. I also think I’ve now done close to 20 1000+ piece puzzles during quarantine. Does that make me obsessed?

Ursula 

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During this time, although I haven’t been as motivated to try new recipes, I taken some time to make my old favorites, including this banana bread, these muffins, this healthy snack, and this amazing grilled caesar salad. I have also taken the time to curate some playlists to listen to while on long walks, bike rides, or doing some work. Having some go-to things to do when I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed has helped me to manage the stress of quarantine. When you know what you like to do, you can easily turn a sluggish morning into a purposeful and fun one. 


The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on in this post are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this post.  If you are feeling suicidal, thinking about hurting yourself, or are concerned that someone you know may be in danger of hurting himself or herself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or the Suicide Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433), both of which are staffed by certified crisis response professionals, or call 911.