Mentor Lessons From the Queen of Fitness
I LOVE learning from inspiring, interesting people. My former “boss,” Jennifer Westendorf (AKA Jen), is one of the kindest, coolest, and most supportive people I know. She is a fitness queen with over 9 years in the industry, a yoga/chakra/spirit junkie, and the Assistant Director of Fitness and Wellness at Loyola Marymount University (LMU). Before I graduated from LMU, I had the pleasure of taking one of her awesome Equinox Barre Fit Cardio classes and then got to pick her brain over brunch. I am grateful to have worked with her for almost four years. In honor of International Women’s Day, I wanted to share a few mentor lessons life that I learned from Jen.
1. The scariest, most difficult risks you take lead to the most rewarding experiences.
Many years ago, Jen left her job and moved from a small town in Michigan to L.A. with no idea how it was going to go, but many years later, she realized it was one of the best decisions she ever made.
2. Know what motivates your team.
As a manager, Jen is an expert at getting the LMU FitWell team excited about “work.” She listens and adapts work practices based on employees’ needs, does not micromanage, and leads by example. This is the perfect recipe for happy employees.
3. Honoring your friendships is incredibly important for a fulfilling life.
Creating memorable moments with your friends and family is incredibly rewarding.
4. Find a purposeful career that you love.
Jen is passionate about her job because she gets to watch so many young Personal Trainers and Fitness Instructors grow and improve. I am not the only college student that Jen has inspired. Many of my peers have also been positively impacted by her support and knowledge about the fitness industry.
5. Acknowledge and focus on your team’s strengths.
As a manager, Jen is an expert at making everyone feel capable. She always acknowledges team members when they are excelling at a particular task. Feeling appreciated is great motivation for wanting to be the very best you can be at your job.
6. Cut soul-sucking people out of your life.
Even though it’s hard to end relationships, you can’t live a healthy life if someone is constantly being disrespectful and draining you of your energy.
7. Don’t wait for the perfect, “right” time to do something. It will never come.
Jen gave me many incredible opportunities to grow and learn. If I would have waited to start teaching and training people until I was 100% confident about every detail, I would have never started.
8. Take time to get re-centered.
Sometimes we need to get out of our normal routine and do something exhilarating to feel excited about life again. When Jen was feeling unfulfilled with her fitness routine, she decided to spend the summer in Spain to pursue her 200 hour yoga teacher certification as well as travel. She had nothing to lose and loved the experience. After her training, she felt re-centered and re-inspired.
9. Build restorative, injury-preventing exercise into your routine.
As we get older, it becomes increasingly important to do rehabilitating activities like foam rolling, stretching, and yoga. To all young trainers, fitness instructors, and gym rats… Jen advises that we prioritize restorative exercise to prevent injury and burnout. It’s a lot harder to fix something that is broken than it is to take preventative measures.
10. Like sleep, meditation can re-energize you.
Jen is a big fan of mindfulness and taking some time in the day to clear her mind. Meditation can be a great tool to feel refreshed, especially if you are lacking sleep.
11. Know your niche as a trainer.
Trainers, we can’t be everything to everyone. It’s critical to know what you do best and who you best serve. Having a 6-pack and thousands of Instagram followers does not necessarily make you a good trainer. A good trainer knows their strengths, is constantly developing their skills, and serves their clients’ specific needs.
12. Think of 3 things you’re grateful for every night.
Jen is a very grateful, appreciative person. When I asked how she stays so positive, she said that she has a nighttime ritual… She thinks of 3 good things that happened during the day that she’s grateful for. A simple practice that we all could be doing!
13. Health comes in all shapes and sizes.
Jen and the LMU FitWell team dedicate the month of February to “Body Image Awareness.” I got to go to some very cool workshops and events that made me realize that health does not come from looking a certain way. There’s more to health than fitness and nutrition. We need to take care of our minds and engage in positive self-talk if we truly want to feel good.
14. We should all read “The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself.“
This is one of Jen’s favorite books. It focuses on freeing yourself from limitations and discovering inner serenity.
15. Keep in touch with good people.
It’s so easy to lose touch with past co-workers, roommates, and friends when we are not with them every day. Don’t get sucked into the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. Jen is the perfect example of someone who stays in touch with friends. Through regular visits, connecting on social media, or writing a quick email periodically, Jen is a perfect example of someone who keeps in touch with past LMU students, childhood friends, etc.
Thank you for reading the 15 mentor lessons! Please share in the comments section… What is one awesome piece of advice you’ve received from your mentor(s)?