Try to do one nice thing a day. It can be as simple as holding a door open for someone to sending an uplifting card to someone who could use some cheering up. Giving happiness GETS you happiness! I love sending cards to people.
I had the pleasure of interviewing interviewing Jennifer Conroyd, the founder of Fluid Running, a deep water running fitness company. She is an Ironman and has and completed 16 marathons, qualifying for the Boston Marathon 15 times. Jennifer is an A.C.E. certified personal trainer, a USATF trained coach, has an Exercise Is Medicine credential and is a graduate of Miami University in Ohio.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
Sure, I’d love to. I am the founder of a Chicago based company called Fluid Running. It’s a deep water running program that I created after I tore my calf muscle six weeks before the Chicago marathon in 2010. My doctor told me I could not run. I was desperate to run this particular marathon. All 4 of my siblings from across the country were coming in to run the marathon as part of a Juvenile Diabetes charity team in support of my nephew who was diagnosed with JD. I searched the internet looking for ways to stay in running shape. I found a particular article about deep water running and contacted the author. He ended up coaching me for the six weeks leading up to the race. I ran solely in the deep water. I was so nervous on marathon day having not run on land for six weeks, but I not only finished the marathon, I qualified for The Boston Marathon! That’s when I decided to dedicate my life to spreading the word about deep water running, because I realized this could help so many people, not just runners but anyone who has pain or injury and still wants/needs to exercise.
I created a group class called Fluid Running that grew organically and received recognition from Men’s Journal as “One of the 20 Best Workouts in America”. We received so many emails from across the country (and even the globe) from people wanting to do Fluid Running that we couldn’t keep up with the demand for classes. That led us to create Fluid Running H2Go — an app-based system that includes instructional videos, coach-led audio workouts and all the necessary gear (Bluetooth, waterproof headphones, etc.) so anyone could do this workout anywhere.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
That’s an easy one. When I first started the business, I was doing a lot of one-on-one coaching sessions. I was approached by a woman who asked if I could work with her son who had some “issues”. I said yes. I probably should have asked some more questions. When I arrived at their private pool, her son who it turns out was autistic, blind and in a wheelchair was waiting for me. She told me that he had not been able to get out of his wheelchair for over a year and that he hadn’t really moved his legs because they were too weak. I almost said, “I can’t help him”, but I didn’t and the next thing you know, he’s wearing a flotation belt and pumping his legs up and down. His mom couldn’t believe her eyes, and as I continued to work with him, his doctors were astonished at his improvement. The main takeaway is that water is truly magic.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I I tried to do it all by myself for too long. To be honest, running a business is not my strength. I wish I would have hired a business manager or even a business coach early on. I think it would have saved me from lots of mistakes. I learned quickly what I’m good at, and what I’m not good at!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are a lot of people I wish I could mention, but for sure the person who is most responsible for helping me and Fluid Running become successful is my partner Mike Lambert. While I was the one who founded Fluid Running and started the program, it was Mike who had the idea and the expertise to create the app-based version Fluid Running H2Go system which has resulted in people doing Fluid Running throughout the U.S. and the world!
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
So many people are afflicted with some kind of pain, whether it’s from an injury, overuse, arthritis or just plain aging. This pain often limits them or even keeps them from being able to exercise. This can lead to weight gain, health problems and even depression. People with back, neck, or joint pain can find it painful to even walk because of the pressure applied to the body when the foot meets the ground (accompanied by gravity pushing downward). Running or even jogging in the deep water eliminates gravity, ground force, and all pressure on joints and muscles. I had to have disc in my neck removed several years ago. Surgery was a last resort, of course. I was in so much pain prior to that surgery. Honestly, the only hour of the day that I was not in pain was when I was running vertically in the deep water because I was essentially “floating” and all the pressure was off my spine. The crazy thing is, I was not in pain, yet my heart rate was at 150 and I was getting a great workout! This is all I did for about six months before surgery, and I was in peak physical shape.
Can you share your top five“lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
- Follow the 80/20 rule. If you are healthy 80% of the time, you can “cheat” 20% of the time. I believe you should eat at least one thing a week that “makes your eyes roll”, whether it’s your favorite pizza, a baked good or even a candy bar! As long as it’s within your 20%, you’ll be fine and that “treating yourself/feel good” moment goes a long way. Mine is definitely chocolate!
- Make Monday “clean day”, meaning try not to eat anything bad on this one day. If possible, try to stick to fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. It’s a great way to start the week and helps to drop some of the weekend weight gain! I always have a green smoothie to start my Mondays, and try to have a salad for lunch and salmon and vegetable for dinner.
- Take 15 minutes of “quiet/reflection time” each day. I do this every morning while my coffee brews. During this time, I meditate, pray and practice gratitude. It’s a great way to start the day!
- Try to do one nice thing a day. It can be as simple as holding a door open for someone to sending an uplifting card to someone who could use some cheering up. Giving happiness GETS you happiness! I love sending cards to people.
- Realize that happiness really is a choice. I went to a seminar where they covered this topic and the mantra was “Chocolate/Vanilla — Choose”. It really is that simple. I find myself saying “Choose Jen” a lot. It catches me.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Honestly, I wish I could start a “deep water running is where it’s at” movement because I know it could help so many people. Right now, I think there is hesitation and even a stigma that unless you’re a swimmer, water workouts are for old grandmas. And no offense to grandmas — they’re the best! With regard to water running/aqua jogging, I want to make it cool. My analogy is the success of compression socks. The first time I saw those tall black socks with running shoes, I said “no way, never!” Then all the athletes started wearing them, and now they’re cool and helping lots of people. Of course, I wear them now for all my long runs.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come. I knew I had created a great program and people loved it. I just assumed the word would spread and Fluid Running would become a nationally known company. I wish I would have known earlier that it takes a lot more than that. It takes PR, marketing, etc.
- It will likely take 10 years before things really get off the ground. I think it would have helped with some of the frustrations associated with slow growth. Being an entrepreneur takes incredible patience.
- You’re the expert on deep water running. Own it. Leverage it. It took me a while to understand this and to take advantage of my knowledge.
- Capture your customers. We didn’t establish a customer list until a few years ago. I now know how valuable a customer list is. We must learn from our customers in order to grow.
- Focus! It’s so easy to go 100 different directions with a new business. I wish I would have hired a business coach earlier to help us focus on the top priorities to grow the business.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Mental health for sure. I hear way too many stories about suicide, drug overdoses, etc. It’s so sad, so many of these stories are about teenagers. I think life is tough for young people these days. They are under so much pressure, and the whole social media, cell phone, always being connected way of life is so unhealthy. I feel sorry for them. I wish they could “unplug”. Of course, this affects more than just teenagers. I feel the pressure!
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
You can reach me through our website: FluidRunning.com or email, [email protected]