Let’s Move Quad Cities celebrates the spirit and determination Quad City area residents take to promote movement and fitness. We welcome guest blogger, Jessie Adams Haug, mother of 3, Davenport firefighter, American Gladiator and all around extreme athlete. Jessie will be competing in the America’s Ninja Warrior’s TV competition in April. Jessie also shares her love for fitness and motivation as a personal trainer.
Extreme Challenges are Why I Move
By Jessie Adams Haug, mother, Davenport firefighter, personal trainer and extreme athlete
My personal journey to fitness began at a very young age. I have my parents to thank for my love and commitment to health and fitness.
My dad became a power lifter and bodybuilder at the age of 22 right after he got out of Vietnam where he served 2 tours in the Marine Corps. He was Chief of police in Buffalo, Iowa, for 36 years. I was the oldest of three growing up, and in our house my dad made everything a competition between my siblings. We would have pull up contests, push up contests, sprint races, who could wash the dishes the fastest, who could rub my dad’s feet the best (gross) lol! But it sparked a competitive nature in me, and a drive to succeed, especially in my athleticism.
My mom was a former gymnast and always led an active healthy lifestyle with a holistic approach. She was a college graduate from Palmer and a chiropractor. My passion for running first started when my mom entered me in the St. Patty’s Day kid’s fun run in Davenport, when I was 9. She had no idea how fast I was until she saw me leading the way to the finish line, and began jumping and screaming that was her daughter! After that my parents entered me in every race they could find. I became an avid runner training myself at a young age and went on to Nationals, Junior Olympics, and continued into High school at PV winning with our team of girls at State and Drake Relays.
Why did you want to become a Davenport firefighter?
I am a Quad City native and have always loved finding a way to be involved in the community and serve my city. It wasn’t until 2011 that I had decided to pursue a career in firefighting. I had several friends who were professional firefighters who loved their job, and inspired me to take the challenge. Before I could decide if I wanted to be a fire fighter, I had to ask myself if I was capable of becoming one. I knew I was physically fit given my background and lifestyle, but knew there were other demands required to meet the job.
Firefighting is incredibly physically demanding, you need to have excellent cardiovascular fitness, lung capacity, upper body strength, and muscular endurance capabilities.
Not only does our PPE (equipment we wear) weigh an average of 50lbs., but then you have to carry extra equipment depending on the job. A pair of irons (halligan bar and axe) tic camera, 3 gallon, or hose bundle, can easily put you over another 75lbs of equipment while trying to climb 3 flights of stairs!
Tell us about your experiences on American Gladiator.
I was a contender on NBC’s American Gladiators in 2009. I was chosen out of 20,000 applicants who auditioned for the show nationwide. During the Power Ball event, I took a hit below my hips to the left side of my body when I was tackled by one of the Gladiators. I didn’t even realize I was hurt. I felt a warm sensation run down my leg and heard a loud pop but didn’t feel any pain. I got back up and went to run when my left leg literally flopped out from under me. I had torn my ACL.
It was a hard loss to swallow, and my recovery took a full year to regain full mobility in my left knee. I took that time to reflect and refocus my energy. I was not going to let that stop me. Since then, I have completed four Tough Mudder’s, a triathlon, two ½ marathons, WABDL Worlds Powerlifting (Iowa Woman’s State Record for Deadlift), as well as preparing now for American Ninja Warrior on NBC.
As a career personal trainer, what do you tell your clients to keep them strong and motivated?
I tell them you have to look at it like being a kid in the playground, and that’s how I see fitness training. It’s not work to me, it’s fun! (Adult recess is what I tell my clients who hate to work out and look at it as a chore.) If you look at working out or physical activity as work, I know people will be reluctant to do it. Getting started is the hardest part, but once they do, it becomes part of their lifestyle. We break down any glass ceilings they’ve created for themselves and show them the only limitations that are placed are the ones you put on yourself. And if you want to feel healthy, be more fit and enjoy life; you have to take the first step. You can either go forwards or backwards. Which way would you like to step?
As a working mother, how do you reconcile your family, work and workout schedules?
My typical workouts consist of an average hour a day 5-6 days a week. Since I got the call for American Ninja Warriors, I’ve been doing 2 a-days 6 days a week in between clients, running my kids to their events or as early as 4am, just to fit it into my extremely busy and hectic days!
The most time that I put into my workouts however, isn’t physical. I have to train my mind, even more so than my body. Everything begins with our thinking and our faith. You have to win the game in your mind before you even step on the field.
I’ve definitely faced some challenges pursuing my career and balancing my family and work, but it’s also taught me a lot about time management. My kids are extremely helpful and we work well as a team with calendars and school and work schedules. I have a strong support system with family and friends and very grateful for the people in my life who are always there when you need them. It’s not about having time, (because most women can agree that is something we never have) but it’s about “making time.”
A lot of times my kids work out with me. They love to stay active eat healthy, and even created a neighborhood after school running group with their friends. I want them to learn there is nothing they cannot be do or have in life if they truly want it and are willing to work for it.
What is your message to women about who are trying to reach their fitness goals?
- Be specific: Most women will come to me and say, “I want to lose weight” or “I want to get in shape.” These are not specific goals. If you say, “I want to lose 10lbs and be able to run a 5k by June 4th” then we’ve got a specific goal, that’s attainable, and has a time limit to reach.
- Know your end but enjoy the drive: Have specific long-term goals but also create steps to get there. Focus on Short Term goals. If you want to lose 25lbs. Focus on 5lbs increments, and commend yourself every time you reach one of your short-term goals.
- Train insane or remain the same: Switch it up. Always continue to challenge and surprise your body. Doing the same routine over and over can easily become discouraging and creates boredom. The same goes with food. You can get creative with food and still reach your nutritional goals.
- Friends: Don’t go it alone. I train several groups of woman together and have seen so many bonds created and a strong foundation and support system. It’s so much more fun to workout with someone else or a group of friends who share the same interests and will motivate and encourage one another. They won’t let you down and you will stay together when the going gets tough. We all need support and encouragement and what not a better way than to sweat it out together!
If you want something bad enough, you make it happen. I was never told that I couldn’t do something when I was young because I was a girl, and that followed me throughout my life. I would love to see more women pursue something that challenges and excites them, instead of following the norm or staying in their comfort zone. We all need to be challenged and inspired in order to grow and follow our dreams. We have one life, and it’s meant to be lived.
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