On a recent trip out to Los Angeles I had the pleasure of meeting and spending most of a day working with personal trainer and WBFF Pro fitness talent Jen Jewell. Apart from doing a fantastic job on camera, she has a great drive to succeed in the goals she sets for herself.
In the following interview we chat a bit about her working as a trainer and as a talent and balancing the two, how she became a sponsored talent as well as her social media marketing strategies. I hope you enjoy!
James Patrick: Which came first, the Jen Jewell The Fitness Model or Jen Jewell The Personal Trainer?
Jen Jewell: Oh that’s easy! Most definitely Jen Jewell The Personal Trainer! While it may sound a bit odd, the very first job I ever had was actually working in health club. That’s right; at the age of 16 and still in high school I started teaching a variety of group fitness classes at the health club where I worked out. Soon after launching my 5 AM Cardio Kick class, many of the class participants were asking if I was also available for personal training sessions. Health and fitness had always been a priority to me, so what better way than to be able to help others make it a priority and live healthier, more fit lives themselves? During college I continued personal training clients, but upon graduating college I decided to pursue a career where my Marketing and Public Relations degrees could be directly put to use. Turns out I didn’t enjoy the Corporate America route near as much as I’d anticipated! Thankfully, with the events of this past year and venturing out to compete in fitness competitions I’ve since been able to embrace fitness as my full-time career and am back to doing what I love- helping others achieve their fitness goals!
JP: How did the training play into the modeling?
JJ: Well, when I first joined the health club back in high school, I had absolutely no clue what to do on the weight machines, let alone how to properly lift free weights! I was also misinformed about proper nutrition for my ultimate fitness goals. I was eating everything that was “Fat Free” and wondered why I wasn’t losing any weight. What happened next that changed everything for me? Enter in Oxygen magazine, of course! As luck would have it, another gym member had left behind her copy of Oxygen magazine on the magazine rack at the gym. The cover caught my eye as the model gracing the front displayed my ideal physique, tight and lean yet still proportioned with feminine muscle. My interest piqued, I knew right then and there that was the fitness physique that I was after! After reading the issue (which featured one of my all-time favorites, Monica Brant), I started to copy the workouts and meal programs that the models listed as their own. Protein powder, egg whites, yams, oh my! You can bet I was the only girl at prom carrying a protein bar in her purse! I fell in love with lifting and the balanced meal programs listed in Oxygen, and soon after was when I started instructing classes at the gym and eventually taking on clients of my own.
One would think that my first competition would have been soon after this newfound love and appreciation for fitness, fitness competitions and the models featured in Oxygen, however over the next decade my own personal fitness had its ups and downs. While I’ve always stayed active and worked out on a regular basis, there were years that I was far from being in my own ideal shape, and actually weighed in at over 50 pounds heavier than I am today, with an excess of 30+ % bodyfat. It was not until last year that I decided that I finally just had to compete in a fitness competition. I took a “Now or Never!” approach to my training and prepared myself for what I’d dreamt of doing for a decade; to take to the stage in a fitness competition! It was me finally being able to cast aside any fear or self-doubt and just go for it. I’d never know unless I tried, right? Competing for the first time last June is what provided the launching pad I needed in order to get back into fitness as a full-time career, as well as providing me with fitness modeling opportunities that never in my wildest dreams (especially back when I was wearing size 11 jeans with a body fat level of 33%) did I think would be possible.
JP: What got you interested in competing in the WBFF?
JJ: Oddly enough, a combination of Monica Brant and Facebook introduced me to The WBFF. In 2010 when Monica Brant announced that she was now going to compete in The WBFF, I immediately started to investigate. I soon realized that The WBFF was the very federation whose competitor’s pictures I had admired so much- the gorgeous bikinis, themewear, gowns, the lights and production of the shows, all filled with beautifully fit women (and men, of course) and a few of them had the coveted title of “WBFF Pro” next to their names on their Facebook profiles. I did some more research on the federation and at first was a bit bummed; at that time they were only having their events in Canada, and I was far too intimidated and inexperienced to prepare myself for a fitness competition and fly to Canada on my own. Still admiring all of the pictures and promotion and support of all of The WBFF athletes; it seemed many of them were featured in Oxygen and other fitness magazines as well as the face of a supplement company or brand, I remember thinking to myself “Wow, I’m impressed! All of these amazing fitness athletes in this federation?!” I checked the website a few months later and they had added U.S. shows to their line-up for 2011! Woohoo, I was set!
Both Paul and Allison Dillett and the entire WBFF organization (my “fitness family” as I refer to them) do so much for their athletes! Our shows are full-on productions- not only do the competitors display sportsmanship unlike any other I’ve come across in the industry, but each and every WBFF event truly brings such talented, fierce competition and every athlete that steps on stage is highlighted in their own unique way, that all of the competitors are truly appreciated. The WBFF has grown tremendously just in this past year; and it’s not by accident! The athletes that compete recognize the value and effort put forth in every show and know that the owner of our federation is truly behind them with support as we all help grow the WBFF fitness family together.
JP: When it came to developing your portfolio; how did you go about finding the photographers which matched your brand?
JJ: In this sense I’ve been extremely fortunate to have worked with photographers that have all been so incredibly talented as well as professional. My first fitness shoot was last year, and I worked with someone whose work I had seen on Facebook, in publications and who also works with one of my friends on a regular basis. I’ve always made sure that I research any and every photographer before deciding to set up a shoot. Checking out their website, Facebook page, even Twitter accounts, asking friends what their experience has been working with them, has helped me learn more about them, their styles, the types of shots that they are “known for,” etc. This has been helpful because over the past year I have learned that the definition of a “fitness shoot” is often very different from one photographer (or model) to the next.
When establishing guidelines and boundaries for a shoot or a photographer, the example that I often use is something I’ve dubbed as the “Grandma Rule.” It’s pretty basic: I make it clear that I will not wear something or pose in a certain manner for a picture if it is not something that I could show my Grandma and say “Hey Grams, check out this new shot from a shoot I just did!” without her eyes getting wide or gasping aloud in shock. (Yes, I do realize that some Grandmothers would likely gasp when they see the size of the competition bikinis we have to wear on stage, but luckily that passes my Grandma Rule, as she understands those types of bikinis are necessary- it’s a physique competition, after all! Now as for Grandpa…don’t get him started on any pictures where I’m wearing less than a turtleneck and sweatpants!).
JP: You are currently a sponsored model with Cellucor. Tell us a bit about the process of how that came to be.
JJ: With Cellucor, I was already a fan of a number of the products in their line, having used some of them while preparing for my first fitness competition. I immediately jumped at the chance to contact them. Late last year I had heard that Cellucor was looking for a female spokes model, so I reached out to the marketing contact at Cellucor. I did not know the details of what they were looking for or what all the opportunity even entailed, but I knew I could not just limit myself to a brief email expressing interest in the opportunity, but I had to set myself apart. I needed to give Cellucor a brief introduction to me, not just a well-crafted paragraph.
What did I do? I went to one of my favorite workout spots here in Los Angeles- the Santa Monica stairs- and filmed a short video introduction. For those of you that know me, I’m generally pretty bubbly, outgoing, energetic and enthusiastic- these traits simply do not translate the same via email as they do live in person or on video, and I needed Cellucor to know who I was! Upon completing the 30 second video intro, I emailed that as well as a few pictures and other background information about myself (including the fact that I also have years of both sales and marketing experience to go along with my fitness background) and within a day or so received a response and had set up a phone introduction! Turns out, Cellucor was looking for someone that had a background and capabilities similar to mine- including being able to write content for their site- and after a few months of communication, constant follow-up and eventually an in-person meeting when I worked the booth at the LA Fit Expo, I officially signed with them- on my birthday! Best birthday present ever, perhaps? Yes, I’d like to think so!
JP: Your social media channel has almost 8,000 LIKES at the time this runs. What strategies did you use to develop a strong following on social media?
JJ: I initially started my athlete page on Facebook so I could provide others with a bit more background information about myself (such as the example I gave earlier, having been overweight and at an unhealthy body fat percentage) and make a Facebook page that was different than my profile page, with the page being all about fitness. When I first started posting, it was just simple fitness tips or new fitness pictures, competition photos, etc. This was OK but I realized it was a tad boring to simply add fitness pictures all of the time. I also realized that in order for the page to be effective and engaging, you need to add something new on a daily basis (I was only going on my athlete page a couple of times a week the first few months after creating it).
While adding new content or images on a daily basis may sound a bit daunting, I simply looked at my audience/reach of the page (at that time well under 1,000 LIKES) and realized the majority of the audience was female, ages 20-30. Perfect, my age bracket! Now how could I help? I asked myself what would I find most useful? Well, I love desserts but cannot always indulge in brownies and cookies, so I started to research clean eating recipes and would post my favorites. Adding these recipes and other fitness tips on a regular basis has been helpful, as well as including links to various articles that I find relevant to achieving your ultimate fitness or healthy lifestyle. It’s pretty simple- I take a few minutes out of my day to research some articles and content that I think would help people most, and I post it! Adding various motivational quotes, humorous fitness or workout information is also something that I do. Engaging with those that “LIKE” my page has also been key, as the more active I am on my page, the more others are as well.
Also, I think it is very important to note that yes, we are all busy, however if someone is going to take the time to send you a (polite) message, post, ask a question, etc., on your page, that you make it a point to respond to them. Even if you only have time for a few sentences or short paragraph, remaining active with those in your social media channel is key. This is not just limited to Facebook; I have approximately 3,500 followers on Twitter and make sure that I respond to every tweet that I see, just as I do the comments, posts, etc., on Facebook. I have actually received responses from people saying “Wow, thank you! I didn’t think you’d really take the time to respond!” which baffles me because if it was important enough to them to message or post, then it definitely warrants a response of some sort. Again, I love being able to help others with their fitness goals, so anything that I can do to help, I try to do!
Lastly, for anyone that gives any interviews for online fitness sites, it is imperative to make sure that the sites will feature your social media information. Make sure that there are backlinks to your personal website, Facebook, Twitter, even YouTube channels, on every interview you do. After having a featured interview on CUTANDJACKED.COM, I received a number of new subscribers to my YouTube channel as well as additions to my Facebook page. Every little bit helps!
JP: What do you find to be some of the best things you do that market yourself as a talent as well as yourself as a trainer?
JJ: I’ve been told by many clients that I’m very personable; many clients can relate to me as I can to them; we all have various starting points but the fact that I was fit, then overweight and unhealthy and now fit again, has allowed others to see that not all fitness competitors or models have always been in tip top shape, and that if I can do it, so can they. I’ve actually had a number of clients tell me this was one of the things that initially had them interested in hiring me as their trainer- because I could relate.
As far as marketing myself as a talent; well I’m definitely still learning. I try to keep my brand as consistent and stream-lined as possible. For example, if I post something that’s all about fitness and staying healthy and then later post up a picture of me doing a keg stand (which I’ve never done, by the way, haha, just providing you with an example) I think that would most definitely be sending mixed signals! Same goes for the Grandma Rule; the attire that I wear in shoots or even candid shots that I post out from my daily life; is all consistent so I would hope that others and photographers would be able to recognize that. Oh, and I’m also always full of energy and maintain a positive, upbeat and optimistic attitude- no high maintenance diva over here! I’m just having fun with my fitness and think everyone else should, too!
JP: What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned in developing your business in both personal training and modeling?
JJ: I’m most definitely still learning- always a work in progress! In terms of developing my business, response time is crucial! To stay in contact with my clients, and to make sure I deliver the results and maintain awesome customer service- even if that means clients texting me pictures of food from the grocery store so they make sure they’re buying exactly what their meal plans list. For modeling, always remaining professional, timely and responsive has been helpful (upon learning about the opportunity with Cellucor, had I waited too long to contact them, who knows what could have happened! You see an opportunity- go after it!). I think that doing my research- whether it be on the photographer, the company, a publication, etc., is key. When scheduling a shoot with someone I now ask myself “What do I want to achieve with these photos? What can they be used for and how can they be packaged up with an article, exercises, etc., for submission somewhere?” and not just end up taking pictures for me to update my status with on Facebook. Always have a purpose behind each action.
JP: To date, what are some accomplishments which have made you proud?
JJ: I am definitely proud of myself for setting foot on stage in my first competition last June. For years I had so much self-doubt about competing and had been so scared to put myself out there and actually compete, that when I finally did, I was proud of the fact that I had finally done it (and ended up earning my Pro Card at that same competition, no less!). Entering my first competition is what has truly provided me with the avenues to other fitness opportunities- such as being a part of such an amazing, high quality brand and company as Cellucor (which of course is an accomplishment I am also extremely proud of and excited about)!
Having the guts to quit my steady, corporate America “day” job and dive head first back into fitness as a full-time career and creating my own training business (with the majority of my clientele being online via my fitnessjewelltraining.com online services- I have clients worldwide as a result of online training being an option!), especially when many around me thought that I was being a bit too risky with this jump.
Helping others achieve their fitness goals. I seriously cannot express how thrilled I am when I receive emails and updates from clients with “!!!!!!” left and right because they are so excited about having achieved a new weight loss or fitness goal. It seriously makes me ecstatic to learn that I’ve been able to help others achieve something they once thought was a far-fetched goal.
JP: What is next on your horizon; future goals?
JJ: Next up is The WBFF World Championships, August 24-25, where I will be competing for a world championship title! I have eight weeks remaining to put forth my best effort in training, diet, consistency and overall preparation to take to the stage in August- I cannot wait and am very much looking forward to the event and the shot at the title.
I also have another project I’m working on that I will launch later this year. While the details are still in the works, I’ll say this; my goal is to be able to help as many people as possible achieve their fitness goals, but in a fun, balanced, realistic and simple manner. I think so many people get caught up and worry about the little details, overthinking their workouts, meals, etc., that they end up throwing in the towel before their goals have been achieved. I want to change that, break it down, keep it simple and make results a reality!
Thank you for asking me to do this interview James, I appreciate it! Looking forward to working with you again soon!
For those that are interested, here is how you can connect with Jen Jewell:
Jen Jewell Website: www.fitnessjewelltraining.com
Twitter Profile: @fitnessjewell
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/fitnessjewelltraining
YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/fitnessjewell