Author Archives: Jenna Brooks

About Jenna Brooks

Jenna started her career by accident when she was approached in the gym to be a personal trainer. While studying Visual Arts at York University she frequented the gym as she always had. Growing up as an athlete taught her the principles of dedication and team work. Her career progressed in the fitness industry from a Personal Trainer to running and developing Health Centres all over the Greater Toronto Area. As an educator and facilitator, her passion ignites when influencing the masses to lead positive and progressive lives. Jenna received her designation to train and certify fitness professionals in 2012 where she then went on to develop continue education program for colleges and procedures for clinics and health centres. Now Jenna owns and founded "Viridescent Ltd" A company providing health products and services. She is a mentor for the not-for-profit foundation “She Has a Voice” and continues to work with her network, Eleven Lifestyle.

Five Steps to Self Care

running1Self Care. What does it mean to you? Considering it pertains to the self, we’re a subjective subject, no? So here’s my take on the care that is the self.

This day in age, our society is full of extremes. It’s almost as if 30% of the population is either vegan, a yogi or a personal trainer of sorts, living what seems to be an unattainable lifestyle for most. The other 70% will follow an Instagram workout for a week, try those shakes for 2 days, and stretch on a Wednesday. It’s so easy to get caught up in trends only to resort back to what we know; what we’ve taught ourselves is normal and natural.

As a citizen, personal trainer and lifestyle coach, influenced by the extremes, I can tell you with confidence that extremes don’t work! Self care, to me, is about finding ways to FEEL GOOD. Feeling good, although sometimes temporary, should not have a “come down” or crash. So please don’t take my suggestion to feel good as a ticket to binge anything. Rather, ask yourself these questions: What makes you feel good? What motivates you? Who are the people in your life that make you better? That make you want to be better? It’s not easy pulling yourself out of a funk, but start by getting yourself off the couch, and I promise you will feel a lot better!

Balance is the key. Finding balance in our lives, I feel, is THE GOAL. Considering work utilizes the majority of our resources (time and energy – sometimes money), let’s start here. We hear and talk about work/life balance. I believe this to be a great start BUT that leaves us susceptible to disappointment due to high expectations and extreme goal setting. So let’s turn the table a bit… What about balance AT WORK? How many of you wake up and go through the motions? Some days are better than others right? Then you come home and are exhausted, but you told yourself you were going to hit the gym and eat salad. I say, throw that notion out the window. What can you do in the morning for 5 – 10 minutes that will make you feel good? What can you do at 10:00 am, 12:00 pm, 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm? Something simple without your phone, that you can associate and pair with something else like a break at work. Maybe it’s closing your eyes and listening to your favorite song while focusing on your breathing. Maybe it’s writing in a journal and only focusing on positive things in your life or aspirations?

Self care has to be one of the hardest goals to achieve because we so often let other things prioritize themselves over our own well-being. So here are my 5 steps to self care:

1. People – latch on those who make you smile and uplift you to greater heights.

2. Find 5 little things that make you smile and rotate them throughout each weekday.

3. Drink half your body weight in water. I know! Tough right? Every two hours try setting a little alarm to remind yourself to chug!

4. Eat protein before bed. The majority of us are protein deficient because we are bombarded with fast, cheap carbohydrates. Eating protein before bed will help you balance your blood sugar and provide you with more energy when you awake!

5. Get Moving! Especially when you don’t want to. We are designed to move so when we are stagnant we naturally feel lazy, tired and our moods follow suit. Ever notice how annoyingly happy the #fitfam is? Go be like them!

Have fun with it!

In Health,

Jenna Brooks

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Using Stress As Fuel

1508603_562271617241727_784370639884440769_nOver the last 15 years, I have suffered from anxiety, depression and restlessness. 150 mg of Effexor
was part of my daily regime and for 12 of those 15 years I didn’t question the medication. I’d seen five therapists and accepted that I would always be “this” way.

So why change? In all honesty, I went away for a week to an all inclusive and knew I’d be drinking. It says on the bottle do not mix with alcohol, so I decided to listen (for the first time). I didn’t take my meds for the entire week and thought the anxiety was offset by the sun and booze. Acuna-Ma-ta-ta right? When I returned, I forgot to re-start taking the Effexor. I couldn’t even tell you how long I had gone without it before having a little anxiety “episode”. Only then did I realize my symptoms had not changed and I was med free! I had been pumping my body full of synthetics altering my hormones for this long and now what? My anxiety was still there and I chalked it up to a pity party of there’s something wrong with me.

Over the last 3 years I’ve been on this journey of discovery, and will be for the rest of my life. So far I’ve learned association is everything! What we associate certain emotions to, shapes how we react. We are typically taught that when we are “stressed”, feelings of anxiety and/or depression increase. We typically associate anxiety with negative, destructive thoughts. Sound familiar? Let me ask you this: How do you know you are stressed or anxious when you are? What are the emotions you experience? How does stress manifest itself with you? Some of us get chest pain, the shakes, excess sweat, the desire to isolate ourselves and the list goes on. These are emotions that we can all experience at any time and there is nothing wrong with them or us! How we handle those emotions is what truly defines who we are.

I think we have all heard of the body’s response known as “Flight or Fight”. When we are in a stressful situation our adrenal glands kick in, signaling the body to prepare itself. Usually, the go-to reaction is flight and we succumb to the notion of anxiety/stress being bad. But what if when we start to feel the chest compression and clammy hands we change our association to oh this my body telling me to prepare itself, to gear up and use this as fuel to push on? It’s our choice how to perceive that reaction. What happens when you’re on a roller coaster or meeting a crush for the second time? Similar emotions? I bet your perception of that experience is different though. How you associate the time of the emotions to the action changes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not always in the fight mode. Sometimes I simply sit in front of my essential
oil diffuser and breathe deep. My bed can also be very persuasive. BUT, every time I choose to
use the anxiety and stress as fuel, I am one step ahead. I choose to think I’m fortunate to experience
anxiety. It prevents me from being a procrastinator. It enables my drive and fuels my desire to constantly be better!

I hope the next time you start to feel your throat close, you lose your breath or your hands start to shake you remind yourself these feelings are good! My body is preparing itself to fight and I will use this as fuel!

In Health,

Jenna Brooks

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Why You Need to Change Your Perception of Fitness

122903919What makes a good workout? Is it the amount you sweat? How about “the burn”? Over the years I have coached so many people with a jaded perception of what makes a good workout.  I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve heard even Professional Trainers boast about making their clients vomit or how they couldn’t walk the next day.  No wonder fitness is so intimidating!

Just like anything, we formulate associations to the experiences we have.  If you have ever tried to exercise without proper guidance (or the wrong guidance for that matter) you could experience pain or an injury.  What type of emotions do you think you then associate with fitness?  Chances are, when you experience “pain” with fitness you’re less likely to return to it.  This sets in motion the “yo-yo” effect, propelling us further from the ever so desired healthy lifestyle.

So how do we overcome the social conditioning of what “fitness” feels like? Let’s break it down to 3 Easy Steps:

  • Manage your expectations. You have a goal.  But do you know how to reach it? First things first, if you don’t know how, don’t beat yourself up for it!  Do you know accounting or how to build a house? If you haven’t been taught properly how to do something, you won’t know.  No biggie! You simply need to have the right resources.
  • Awareness.  Become aware and appreciate what your body already does know. Ask yourself, what positions are you exposing yourself to on a daily basis?  How many hours (reps) and days (sets) are you teaching (training) those muscles to hold you in those positions?  These exposures formulate habits and your brain now has favourite muscles to call on, that it’s used to.  Now take those favourite muscles in the gym… Which muscles do you think you end up using the most? Our body only knows what we teach it.
  • Adjust.  Now that you can appreciate certain things in your body, like my shoulders roll forward because I sit in front of the computer all day. You adjust your exercises to correct those imbalances.  If your chest and front of your neck muscles are pulling your shoulders forward, I recommend NOT doing a chest exercise to start – it will make that posture worse!  Adjust your program to loosen and lengthen tight areas and strengthen and tighten the weaker.  These are called Corrective Exercises and happen to be my forte. Muscles only pull after all, they do not push!  Try this on for size: Bend your arm… which muscle pulls to do that? Now straighten it.  Which muscles do that? – knowing the name doesn’t matter… appreciate that each muscles has a responsibility.

Now that I have you here, imagine what you and your body could accomplish?! Visualize yourself going to do an exercise, say a squat for example, and realizing, wow my hamstrings are really tight from sitting all day.  So instead of plowing through the exercise to feel pain or vomit, you adjust your program!  You learn corrective exercises to loosen the hamstrings allowing your glutes to fire more so your legs are now functioning properly!  BOOM!  Instantly you feel less pain and recover easier so that you see results faster!

Changing your perception of what fitness should look or feel like is relative to what matters to you.  These 3 steps can you help you lead a positive and healthy lifestyle!  Remember, you are in control!

By: Jenna Brooks

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How Healthy is Your Selfie?


-font-b-Folding-b-font-Foam-font-b-Exercise-b-font-Fitness-font-b-MatIn some capacity we have to concede to our vanity, but to what extent is it healthy?

The 21st century has fashioned the “selfie”, now deemed a psychological condition.  A self confidence boost that seemingly can only be produced by taking 300 pictures of one’s self and posting only one.  The constant reviewing of notifications on Facebook and how many likes did I get on Instagram (IG).  You’ve done it, at least once right?

We’re all guilty of it that burning desire to feel noticed and liked.  When it comes to fitness and exercise we’re flooded with the “perfect” #body, hashtags of #fitfam #fitspo and #booty.  No wonder we have the selfie complex and our image of fitness, yoga and the gym are jaded.  Have you ever taken a picture of yourself flexing an arm or your stomach? I know I have…

Here’s my reality behind the selfie and fitness:  My Instagram is flooded with fitness videos and pictures. Hashtags coming out my comments end.  Do I like doing this? Does it provide me validation? To some extent of course it does.  The sad reality is, in the fitness world if you don’t do this you have no brand awareness. If you have no followers, you have no purpose.  So how do we get around the constant need to reassure ourselves, for business and for personal growth? Back to Basics is how! And… Be mindful of what you post!

Our basic morals and fundamentals need to ground us, no matter what “hat” we’re wearing.  We must be true to what we permit, as that is exactly what we promote.  The thoughts, feelings and emotions we tie to people, places and things guide us.  The best part is, we have the ability to control them!  So how do we control these associations? We must first understand why we have the responses we do, then change them through focused associations.

When you think of the gym or exercise, what do you associate with it?  Was there a time that sticks out in your head? Perhaps a person made you feel a certain way.  Or you compare yourself to the selfies on IG. Do you feel confident in knowing what to do at the gym? Perhaps you’re experienced, but in a rut. What all these experiences have in common is their ability to implant an emotional association to that experience now called “the gym” or “exercise”. Even a rut for more avid exercisers can cause anxiety and even depression, as we’re no longer progressing.  When we fail to see change, we must change our approach.

After 20 years of training physically and mentally I continue to manage my expectations and associations.  I recommend a mindful approach.  Become fully aware of the emotions that you are experiencing the next time you want to take that selfie.  How are you feeling when you see that gym advertisement?  Acknowledge the emotion, appreciate the feeling and remind yourself why you feel the way you do.  If you want to change that feeling, find something positive to associate it with.  Maybe try a few of these: gym = your escape from the daily grind. Put in your headphones and just feel the music.  If you don’t know how to do the things, the best thing to do is learn from someone you trust. The selfie of the perfect body = know they are not perfect. They’ve probably also taken 300 pictures and applied 20 filters. Everyone has to start somewhere… and starting is all that matters!

By: Jenna Brooks

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Fitness Professional,

Clinic Manager

@LivingCityTO @jnalynn

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