Jessica Fleming, fitness expert and founder of Fleming Wellness, has trained college athletes, high school athletes, marathoners, pregnant and postpartum moms, the injured, the young, the young-at-heart, and who is left? Basically, Jessica has experience training men and women from all walks of life and in various physical stages of health and fitness for 8 years. To those who know her, she seems born for the job. But for Jessica, becoming a trainer and educator wasn’t exactly what she wanted to be ‘when she grew up.’ She came to her vocation of being a catalyst for positive, transformative change in people’s lives through sustaining injuries of her own that once left her barely able to walk. Here is her story.
What did you want to be “when you grew up?”
“When I went to college, I thought I wanted to be a physical therapist because when I was in high school, I played competitive volleyball and sprained both ankles pretty badly – I could barely walk. First I sprained one ankle, and not waiting for it to completely heal, I sprained the other. I became fascinated with how my body could become injured and then heal itself all on its own. I wanted to learn how healing works. So I went to Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas and earned a B.S. in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Health and Fitness.
As I interned in the hospital, I decided I didn’t want to be in a clinic all day long. I just couldn’t fit into that box. I moved to Seattle to take an internship at the University of Washington as a strength conditioning coach in the athletic department. I assisted the volleyball, softball, football and women’s soccer teams. At the same time, I developed the workouts for the women’s crew team. In the meantime, I also took a job at a local gym. I realized that I could do the same things with regular people that I was doing with the athletes in a freer environment. It was more fulfilling for me and it was fun!”
Jessica is a certified personal trainer through the NSCA and is also CrossFit Level 1 and Gymnastics Certified.
Why is this line of work fulfilling for you?
“I love that I can help people gain the tools to be more confident in their own bodies, in their own being, in their everyday lives. That strength, that vibrancy, that energy, that flexibility, it’s already in each person’s body. It’s already there.
The other day, I was on an airplane and I saw a woman struggling to get her bag up into the carriage bin and I thought, I know my clients can do that. My clients know what their bodies can do, how to move more efficiently and with greater strength whether it’s to spike a volleyball in a match, move furniture, carry their three-year-old, finish with a strong kick in their first half-marathon or make a healthy lunch that will fuel them all afternoon.
I have seen some of my clients come in to the gym pretty stressed out over their jobs or worries about their families. I say, “This is for you, this is your time. Let’s have some fun and get you sweaty.” They leave the session completely transformed. Their faces are brighter, their walk is more energized, their posture is straighter and they are ultimately better equipped to deal with life’s challenges. I love that. I get to see healthy change. I get to see people do good things for their body and their brain with a little help from me.”
How has your injury helped you to work with clients who have suffered an injury themselves?
The fact that I understand the way that my body works helps me to understand how other people’s bodies work. I have undergone my own rehabilitation and training and my initial impatience with the process and so I understand what people are going through when they come to see me.
What is your regimen now?
I have my own mentor. Why? I think it’s always good to have a mentor or teacher who can teach you new theories and push you beyond what you think you are capable of. I think challenging myself to do something more makes me a better coach for my clients because I know what it’s like to be in their shoes. Constantly learning is important to me.
I lift weights three to four times per week, along with some type of conditioning. My main goal for 2012 is to be prepared to compete at the highest possible level in indoor and outdoor volleyball. I’m hoping to practice more yoga this year because it’s mentally calming and it enhances my weight lifting enormously.
And, I’m working on my recovery methods right now, because I hate taking breaks! I need to work on my weaknesses, too. I want to become a more well-rounded athlete and they only way to do that is to take care of myself!
I have clients who love to hear when I’m really sore from a workout because it makes them feel like I have something to learn, too. Look, we all need somebody to motivate us because there are days when you don’t want to do anything. Having a commitment to someone or a training regimen makes you get it done!
What is your basic approach to food?
I think it’s all about eating whole foods, fruits, veggies, and good quality meats, but I am always looking for something new. I think everybody is an individual and there isn’t one certain way to eat but making suggestions to help people find that out for themselves is also gratifying.