My name is Jen Nestor, and I am a 42-year-old mother of three. For most of my life, I was a yo-yo dieter, and fitness was something about which I was very inconsistent. I would do well for a while and then just stop exercising, eat unhealthy things and see the weight creep back up on me slowly.
A few things happened in the past couple of years that served as catalysts for me to make some major changes regarding my health. First, I watched several members of my family get diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes has a very strong genetic link, but is also strongly linked to excess body fat. Second, I watched my mother battle, and win, against lung cancer. And third, I just started feeling bad about myself in a very global way. It all served as a wake up call to me.
My solution was to start back at the gym, try to eat healthier, and just try to be a happier, more active person. In March of 2011, my gym started a program called Body Combat, a Les Mills program that has been compared to kickboxing. I decided to give it a try.
The first time I did the class, I couldn’t make it all the way through. I had to stop twice to get water and catch my breath, but something about it sparked something in me that I had never felt with exercise before. I fell in love with it. Before long, I was going five days a week and seeing changes in my body that I never thought possible. For the first time ever, I couldn’t wait to get to the gym every day.
This, of course, had a ripple effect in my mental outlook. I started feeling like a stronger person in every aspect of my life. I was known as a “combat junkie” at my gym, so much so that the director of group exercise half-jokingly said to me one day, “You should teach this class!”
A few months passed, my passion for Body Combat continued, and I seriously started to consider becoming an instructor. I felt a strong desire to share my passion and positive outcomes with other people. The combat instructors at my gym were incredibly supportive of me joining their team. Other members also started encouraging me, explaining that they would often follow me in class.
Despite never having experience with fitness instruction, I became certified to teach Body Combat in the winter of 2012 and have been teaching ever since.
Body Combat is a 50-60 minute class that consists of 10 tracks of music and choreography (preselected by Les Mills). It’s inspired by martial arts and boxing and includes moves from karate, boxing, taekwondo, tai chi and muay thai. It’s a very empowering high intensity cardio workout where you can burn 600-800 calories! It is a non-contact class. All you need is a good, supportive pair of sneakers, water and a towel.
We tell beginners to go at their own pace and we show modifications for the most complex moves, but this class is for all fitness levels. It improves balance, coordination, core strength, endurance, and can help make major changes to your body. I have lost 40 pounds from mainly doing Body Combat and making moderate dietary changes.
I think the key to staying fit and healthy is finding something you enjoy doing. It shouldn’t always feel like a chore, and it can be different for each person. Put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to try something new, you never know what path it could take you down.
I never imagined I would become a fitness instructor, but here I am. When I see that I am helping people, motivating them, inspiring them to go a little bit further than they thought they could, it’s golden. I love instructing so much that I am considering certifications to become an instructor for other fitness classes. This journey has been one of the most rewarding and empowering experiences of my life!
Jen’s Tips for Success
- Find a fitness activity you enjoy doing
- Don’t be afraid to try something new
- Make moderate dietary changes