Jennifer Jacobs of The J METHOD: “Strength and Confidence”

Strength and Confidence. Willingness to evolve. Resiliency. Positivity. Vulnerability. These are all things that will be needed at one time or another as an entrepreneur. You need to be able to have the strength and confidence to believe in your vision and ideas, not listen to the naysayers. This also requires the ability to be […]

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Strength and Confidence. Willingness to evolve. Resiliency. Positivity. Vulnerability. These are all things that will be needed at one time or another as an entrepreneur. You need to be able to have the strength and confidence to believe in your vision and ideas, not listen to the naysayers. This also requires the ability to be vulnerable and accept failures and learn from them. When things are not working as you may have planned, stay positive, take a step back and look at the bigger picture, learn from it and be willing to evolve your plans.

Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Jacobs, Founder of The J METHOD.

Jennifer officially started her fitness journey in 2015 when she joined the Peloton team and became one of the top instructors on the international platform. Jacobs was with Peloton for four years before moving on to start her own business, The J METHOD. The J METHOD is more than a method, it is a mindset to resist your limits, unleash your best self, and was created for all ages and all fitness levels by focusing on the individual. It begins by identifying your goals and your reasons why you want to achieve them to help you move towards them.

The J METHOD teaches you to train with a purpose towards your goals by improving movement, developing balance, redefining strength, and optimizing nutrition through a functional training approach. From personal training, strength & conditioning, cycling, running, HIIT, shadowboxing, movement and mobility, nutritional guidance, etc. Jennifer is certified, educated, excited and specializes in a variety of modalities to help you unleash your best self.

Jennifer is also the mother of two children, is a CPT, and is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine and is a graduate of UC Irvine and the Yale School of Management’s Executive Education Business Management Program. She holds over a dozen certifications recognized internationally spanning from Strength & Conditioning Coach to Performance Enhancement Specialist.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I have always had an interest in health and wellness, but I started in the fitness industry when I was attending college as a pre-med student. The fitness manager at 24hr Fitness saw the potential in me to be a personal trainer and encouraged me to seek my personal training certifications. Before you knew it, I was so successful that I decided to start my own personal training business as a way to help pay for college. During that time, I competed in my first NPC figure competition and placed third overall but decided competition life was not for me. After I graduated from college, I traveled to France that summer with one of my best friends and while I was there, I was swept off my feet by a Frenchman, moved to a picturesque seaside town in France, got married and started a family. During my time in France however, I was still able to maintain my personal training business. I was ahead of the curve of “online virtual training”, as I not only trained clients in person in France, but I also trained clients in NY and CA online via Skype. Every now and again I was able to work with them in person when visiting the US, but for the majority of the time, Skype was the platform that I used to train them. But, I wanted to do more. I had dreams of helping and reaching more people and unfortunately, the person I was with was not supportive of my career as much as I was supportive of his.

So, in 2015 I made a difficult decision and went to New York. I knew that if I wanted to make my dreams happen, that is where I needed to be. I wanted to reach so many more people beyond my clients and help change their lives for the better, and I knew I would not be able to do that from France. Soon after arriving in New York, I was handpicked to join a little-known company called Peloton and quickly became one of the top instructors on their international platform and helped them create their first strength classes, which of course became extremely successful. I was at Peloton for four years before moving on to start my own business and pursue a bigger dream of further growing my own brand, and thus The J METHOD was born.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

I loved being a part of Peloton, being a part of a team and such a great company. But I also always wanted to build my own brand which was called the J METHOD. At some point in your life, you reach a pivotal time when you need to decide whether to just be content with the way things are or to push yourself even more and take what you always wanted to do to the next level. Peloton gave me the confidence, recognition, and platform to make that leap to break out on my own, develop my own brand and reach people in a different way to help them in their fitness journey. I created the J METHOD out of a personal need to improve my own fitness and health after having my two children and in response to a growing demand of personal training clients. As a mom of two small children, I didn’t always have time to go to the gym, and I didn’t always have a lot of time in general. I needed to figure out an effective and efficient way to train myself. One of the hardest parts of staying fit is to be consistent and part of that challenge is overcoming the belief that you don’t have enough time, or you don’t have access to a gym. Thus, the J METHOD was born — an efficient and effective way to train less, gain more and to train anytime, anywhere. Over the years it has evolved into what it is today, which is a way to improve movement, develop balance and redefine your strength.

In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?

I think I have always been a natural-born entrepreneur. I grew up on a dairy farm so have always known the value of hard work and what it meant to have a good work ethic.

I come from a hardworking modest family, but we were also a family where we were always talking about great ideas and what we think would be a great business, especially around the dinner table. It was kind of our fun thing to do — share our crazy and not-so-crazy ideas with each other. I grew up around that creative type of thinking all my life. However, as I got older, I realized that the difference between those who were successful and those who were not was the ability to execute and follow-through. In college, I had the first opportunity to be an entrepreneur and go out on my own. I could have easily stayed at 24hr Fitness, but I realized that if I could go out on my own, I could be even more successful. I found a boutique fitness gym (there were not too many at that time) where the owners agreed to partner with me and allow me to use their space. This is where execution and follow-through made all the difference. I was now my own boss and running my own business.

Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?

Yes. It was a former client of mine who is now a great business advisor to me. I trained her back when I was in California. We became fast friends and kept in touch throughout the years. I trained her periodically, especially after she had two kids, but most importantly when the demands of her job changed. She had to travel all over the globe and didn’t have much time nor did she always have access to gym equipment. It was at that time training through Skype and eventually, FaceTime was a lifesaver for her. But because she didn’t always have access to a gym or even time to make her way to the hotel gym given her tight travel schedule, she tried packing her own TRX but not all hotels were conducive to using a TRX (not enough room, no proper door to anchor to), plus it was heavy. As a result, I had started to advise her on various tools she could pack in her luggage which were smaller and lighter — similar to what I was using myself when I traveled. When I was at the point in my career when I wanted to start to build my own brand and reach people in a way I had not before, she encouraged me to find a solution for people just like her. People who were so busy that they felt they never had time to exercise or never had easy access to a gym and heavy equipment. We got to talking and brainstorming and that’s where the concept of the J METHOD training program and the J METHOD Travel Size Gym was born. It was based upon the method I developed to not only train myself but that I used to train her as well — to train efficiently and effectively, anytime, anywhere. The J METHOD allows you to train in a short amount of time from the comfort of your home or in the comfort of your hotel room. No gym required. No excuses.

Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?

When I was in college, it didn’t take me long to recognize that I would be more successful if I broke out on my own, but I was discouraged by a few people around me and told not to do so. The fitness business was male-dominated and I was told that as a woman I would have a difficult time running my own business and having others take me seriously. As a result, I stayed where I was until several months later when I decided not to listen to that advice and do it anyway. The rest is history. The lesson learned — don’t listen to the naysayers. Trust yourself and trust your instincts.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?

I have always been a huge proponent for being proactive in taking time for yourself and it is also something that you should make part of your work culture and your employees. I believe that the concept of being “healthy” includes not only your physical but also your mental well-being. Recovery is a big part of the J METHOD philosophy and I often speak about it. For some of us we are busier now more than ever as our hours of working are becoming longer as the lines between work and home also become blurred. Layer on top of that those that have also had to juggle taking care of family and loved ones in addition to work. Our ability to adapt to situations, especially during times of change, is an important factor to maintaining our health. We can all take steps to improve our own mental health and build our resilience — our ability to cope with adversity. Self-care is a skill that needs to be practiced daily and something that I actively try to do each day as well as encourage those around me and even more so during the past year.

What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry? Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?

Always be honest and always be authentic. Surround yourself with others that help make you better. This is essential because in today’s world we are inundated with so much information through all sorts of media platforms. When there is saturation and over-saturation in an industry people don’t know where to go and who to listen to. It becomes harder to figure out who is an authority and who is not. The best approach is to always be honest, always be authentic and never pretend to know about something you don’t. Take the time to educate yourself about the topic you are unfamiliar with or could learn more about. Then teach those around you. This is how you build trust and credibility. This is how you become an AUTHORITY.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Expecting perfection and the unwillingness to pivot or think creatively to solve an issue when needed, and losing sight of the original goal are all common problems founders make. Oftentimes, I have seen situations when you start out with a certain goal in mind and over time you “lose the forest for the trees”. You become so focused on certain small details that you lose sight of the goal you originally set out to meet. When that happens, it is important to pause and take a step back. When something is not working, be willing to re-look at your approach and what is being done. Ask yourself, are we still achieving the purpose we set out to meet? Is that purpose still what we want to continue to pursue? If the answer is no, you need to be willing to recognize that some changes may need to be made.

The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?

Being an entrepreneur is very different from someone who is not working for themselves. When you are an entrepreneur, you are typically taking your own ideas and visions and turning them into a reality by running your own business. You are creating something that in most cases is a part of who you are and what you believe in. There is nothing more exciting than having your vision and ideas validated and embraced through the success of your own business. But with that comes the moments of doubts and moments that not every idea works. As a result, it can create setbacks as we can sometimes take it personally. The way I think about it, however, is that it is not a setback but a reason to go back to the drawing board and make it even better.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

The official launch of the J METHOD Travel Size Gym. This was a concept in the making for years and has finally become a reality. Having the courage to go out on my own to do more, reach more people and expand my brand was not an easy one. I was the top instructor at a company that was about to become an even bigger name in the fitness/tech industry. I was the best at what I did, but I knew if I stayed, I’d be there for several more years and the ability to break out on my own would become more difficult. When the time came for the launch of the J METHOD Travel Size Gym and it was successful, it was a validation for what I had chosen to do. I could not have been more excited and thrilled.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

The official launch of the J METHOD Travel Size Gym definitely applies here. Just as much as it was exciting and high, at the same time I also felt very vulnerable. Here I was releasing my own product where just 6 months earlier I was at a company that soon would be at the top of the fitness/tech industry. Right before the release of anything new, you always have those doubts that cross your mind. What if they don’t like it? What if they don’t care? Thank goodness that feeling was fleeting because 3 months later we were sold out.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”?

Strength and Confidence. Willingness to evolve. Resiliency. Positivity. Vulnerability. These are all things that will be needed at one time or another as an entrepreneur. You need to be able to have the strength and confidence to believe in your vision and ideas, not listen to the naysayers. This also requires the ability to be vulnerable and accept failures and learn from them. When things are not working as you may have planned, stay positive, take a step back and look at the bigger picture, learn from it and be willing to evolve your plans.

Last year was an unexpected time of change where many of us had to pivot on our approaches to our businesses. As I mentioned, I was training most of my clients virtually online via streaming for many years prior to 2020. But with the changes in 2020 when many people were forced to figure things out and go virtual, I was already there. However, I did plan to have several in-person events in various cities across the country in 2020, but that obviously had to be put on hold. A large part of what I do, and a large part of my “why” is helping people to live a healthy lifestyle. Motivating, inspiring and connecting with my community is an integral part. This typically included being able to meet some of your community and make in-person connections.

During the pandemic and social distancing restrictions, I had to think of other ways to connect with my community through social media and other electronic platforms such as Zoom. This had to be done quickly as the landscape of the industry was changing fast. In addition, the fitness industry started to become saturated with all sorts of options to access fitness in a remote environment. I had been looking for a platform to partner with for a while to help me make the J METHOD more accessible but none of them seemed right. Then along came the Ladder Teams App. The Ladder Teams platform not only helps me make the J METHOD accessible to so many more people, but it creates community and accountability in unique and creative ways. It looks at the experience within the app from a holistic 360 approach and is constantly improving the experience for the user. Creating meaningful connections and thus building a stronger community.

We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

To me, resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficult situations and the ability to pivot quickly when situations may change. The common characteristics that I think you can find in resilient people are strength (of the mind), creativity, positivity, and the ability to never give up.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?

Throughout my life growing up I have had experiences that have helped build my resiliency, some of them quite personal. But each of these moments when they occurred taught me to be strong and to figure out a way to bounce back.

In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?

For the most part, I do, but it is not always easy. I am thankful for those certain people around me who during these times always find a way to encourage me and help me see the silver linings. As I always say, surround yourself with people who help make you better.

Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.

As a leader it is important to help inspire and motivate those around you and positivity is a big part of that. Positivity helps breed confidence and a belief not only in yourself but a belief in what you can do and what you can accomplish.

What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” — Vincent

Van Gogh

This quote resonates with me in so many different ways. But there are two times in my life when this quote was pivotal. On the eve of my first audition at Peloton I was in NYC and just walking the streets as a way to clear my head and just absorb the energy of the city. A city where I decided to go and pursue my dreams. As many of us know, NYC can be intimidating, overwhelming and at the same time very motivating. I was walking along when I came to a corner waiting to cross the street. I looked down and at my feet was a small card with a hand-drawn design on one side and this quote from Van Gogh on the other. Finding that card with that quote came at exactly the right moment. It gave me the courage and confidence to be at my best for my audition the next day. I started at Peloton shortly after that memorable day. Being at Peloton gave me the confidence to break out on my own, develop my own brand and reach people in a different way to help them in their fitness journey. But let’s be honest, breaking out on your own is not always easy. Shortly after I made that decision, I was looking for something in my desk and tucked away in the back, I found that card that I had not seen for years. Finding that card again came at the perfect time. It was a sign and reaffirmation that my courage to break out on my own was the right decision.

How can our readers further follow you online?

I can be found via my website, as well as on various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram @jmethod.

My J METHOD training program is available on the Ladder Teams iOS App @joinladder

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health

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