Name: Jennifer Blake
Nickname: JVB, JVBeezy, JBreezy. I have so many but I welcome more.
Movement Minneapolis team member since: January 2013
Role at the Movement: Lead Coach for Wx and Movement Minneapolis Barbell
What’s your athletic/fitness background?
I am what one might consider a late bloomer when it comes to exercise. I found fitness at the ripe age of 27, after my second child was born and I joined a local gym for the simple reason that I wanted to take a shower in peace. From there I ventured onto the cardio machines where I promptly died after spending ten minutes on the elliptical machine.
Even so, a switch was flipped. I knew I could do better, simply based on the number of people of various shapes, sizes, and ages around me that appeared completely breezy spending 30 minutes on the elliptical and treadmill. If they could do it, I could do it. So, I did the one thing that’s absolutely necessary for making progress in anything: I kept showing up.
Bodies are wonderfully adaptive and exposing mine to different training modalities and seeing and feeling the results has become, over the years, what has kept me so passionate about fitness.
From the elliptical I found my way into the weight room and the courage to play around with the free weights. I studied to become a certified personal trainer and earned two nationally recognized certifications, while also expanding my knowledge of strength training through training clients of all ages and my own personal experimentation.
I’m now an RKC kettlebell coach, a USAPL Club-Level powerlifting coach, and a competitive powerlifter in the 84 kilo class.
I love strength training and helping others discover what I have: that becoming more physically capable is a heady, extremely fun endeavor. And I never would have realized that passion had I never stepped on the elliptical.
What brought you to The Movement? Do you remember your first workout here and what you thought of it?
I came to The Movement through following Dave and Jen on social media. This was back when the gym didn’t have classes, one could just show up and work out anytime. I made an appointment with David for a week’s worth of free gym time and when he came into the lobby to greet me he introduced himself and asked me what I wanted to do that day. I said, “I want to be the strongest weightlifter I can be.”
He laughed and said, “Well, THAT wasn’t what I expected to hear,” and promptly took me into the gym and taught me how to Jefferson deadlift.
That was four years ago but I distinctly remember feeling like I was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. I felt completely at home.
What’s been the biggest change for you since joining The Movement?
My level of confidence. I’m much more willing to put myself out there and try to new things, to say “yes!” to a new adventure, and to say “no” and have faith that my world won’t fall apart when I do.
What’s been your favorite Movement moment so far?
There are so many! But one of my favorites was the first time I ran hill sprints with Jen Sinkler. She’s a retired national rugby player, and remains very strong, athletic, and speedy. For our first sprint we took off up the hill and I kept up with her until the last 5 yards or so when she took a considerable lead.
When I caught up to her at the top I breathlessly said, “Damn, you beat me!” (Like I even had a chance?) And she laughed and said, “Don’t worry about it! I’m really fast!”
It was the first time a woman hadn’t apologized to me to make me feel better about not winning. Her tone was kind, but confident and firm, and her words stuck with me ever since.
That was the day that I stopped apologizing for being me, too.
Tell us about your most memorable PR.
My 286 pound back squat at the Twin Cities Powerlifting Open in August of 2015. It was a 21-pound PR from my best squat attempt the previous February and earned me a state record and the number one squat ranking in the USAPL federation and my weight class.
Do you have a favorite exercise/workout/training style? If so, what is it?
I love playing with all the gym toys, but I’ll never turn down a heavy lifting day. I’m passionate about improving my back squat, bench press, and deadlift. Powerlifting is my jam and I’m in it for the long haul.
How about your least favorite exercise/workout?
Long distance, steady-state cardio. No thank you.
Do you prefer training solo or with a partner/team?
Always with a partner! Especially if there are vagina and ovulation jokes involved.
When did you know you were hooked?
The day David taught me to Jefferson I was a goner, hook, line, and sinker.
If you could tell people one thing about the Movement, what would it be?
That it’s a place where you’ll uncover your best self, in ways that you probably never expected.
How do you spend your days when you’re not at the gym?
At home, with family. I love to read and cook. My favorite moments are when I’m cooking in the kitchen and there’s a bunch of pots going and I have a glass of wine to sip on. My husband talks to me from the doorway (we have a very small kitchen), telling me funny stories or making up random songs and singing the lyrics on the spot. The kids run through the kitchen at random intervals and so do the dogs, being happily disruptive. And then we all sit down to eat and I get to finish my wine while everyone else cleans up the kitchen and does the dishes.
What do you think people would be surprised to know about you?
I like to think I have secrets but I don’t think that’s actually true. I can’t help but be transparent so what you see is pretty much what you get.
Any secret/hidden talents or hobbies?
I can wrap my feet around my head and scoot across the floor on my butt.
What’s your favorite post-workout meal?
Tacos. Always tacos.
What are you training for/what’s your next training goal?
I’m currently on a powerlifting-based hypertrophy program that I’m writing myself. I’m not currently signed up to compete and want to spend at least three months working different squat, bench, and deadlift variations and building more muscle to shore up my weaknesses.
What does being ‘strong’ mean for you? How do you see strength manifest in yourself and others?
Being strong is the badge of honor that comes through dedication to hard work. It manifests through the muscles on my body and my resilience in times of struggle. Strength is sticky, and those that have even a small measure of it can feel its impact through increased confidence and self-efficacy.
How can people find/connect with you?
FB: Strong is Fun (https://www.facebook.com/strong.is.fun/?fref=ts)
Twitter: @jvbfit (https://twitter.com/jvbfit)
Instagram: @jvbfit (https://www.instagram.com/jvbfit/)