Interview with Jess Hess
PocketSuite CEO, Chinwe Onyeagoro, and Managing Editor, Sean Litteljohn host Jess Hess, a San Francisco-based fitness trainer. She shares her unique approach and methods to successfully keep her clients healthy, engaged, and spreading the word about her business throughout the Covid-19 period.
What is a typical “day-in-the-life” like?
“Your days are very long usually. People think, Oh, I can work whenever I want and set my own schedule and you can do that, but you usually have to put in a lot of time first and earn your schedule. Understand you’re in an industry where people are going to work out when they’re free. Not always when you are free. Usually that’s like before and after work or around kids’ schedules and on weekends. So being more flexible with your schedule and working a little bit more with clients helps a lot.”
“My typical day starts at 6:00 AM and then I usually end at like eight or 9:00 PM and then I work six days a week.”
“I started in New York when I became a trainer and so you just work long hours and I worked a lot. I usually have like a handful of sessions in the morning. I’ll have like one or two sessions in the afternoon. I fill that in with jujitsu and my own workout. And then I have a handful of sessions in the evening. Some of them I do out of a studio and I do a lot of in-home. I commute in between. I’m not just in one place. So that’s kind of what my day is like. I work a lot.”
I keep in touch with people because you’re almost a little bit of a therapist. People will share things with you and they tell you so much. It’s a lot of mental work as well.
Do you work out with your clients?
“I know some trainers work out with their clients, but they’re spending a lot of money to be there with you. You need to pay attention. So for me, I don’t like to do that, working out with clients. I want to pay attention and keep them engaged and pay attention to their form. A big part of especially with new trainers is if you’re getting into the industry, like really spending time getting to know your clients and building relationships. I’ve had clients that I still check in with 15 years later. I keep in touch with people because you’re almost a little bit of a therapist. People will share things with you and they tell you so much. It’s a lot of mental work as well.”
“I’m engaging with my clients in different ways. I’m not just standing there and we’re moving around a lot and talking and I’m paying attention to a lot. I don’t need to workout with someone that’s their time and it’s an honor for me to get to train them and spend that time with them. So it’s not like, when’s my workout? That’s more satisfying for me building that relationship and helping people through things.”
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What is your focus?
“It’s different for every trainer, you know, as you get older in this industry and you start to study certain things or you find a certain type of style of training really engaging that can make things more specific. So it kind of depends on how you approach training in general. And that changes over time. Mine is, I love the diverse clientele. I’ve usually worked one-on-one with people cause I’ve never done much like classwork. I’ve done a little bit of classes, but the classes were always pretty small. My clientele has always kind of been all over the board. I really like working with people with injuries because I’ve had a lot of injuries myself and I just understand what that feels like and trying to build back strength and get back movement patterns that you have lost or that cause pain.”
“I feel like in this game, if you’re too specific, you have to really hustle building your clients and you have to understand that it can take longer. It might not be as financially stable. So it really just depends on how you want to approach it, but I’ve always liked to be a little bit more diverse with who I worked with.”
What are some things that make you unique?
“I dressed up on my Instagram the whole month of October, cause I love costumes and you know, this industry is extremely competitive. Like how can you be different? And it’s like I’m just not the type to do like the more traditional things. I’m dressing up in costume and working out. So I did the whole month of October cause that is my favorite time of year. That was a different costume each day and I did a workout in costume, I was Elf to start with. Jack Skellington from Nightmare before Christmas and a character from Deadpool. I did everything. It was so much fun and it was all for charity.”
What are your feelings about online training?
“I feel like that is definitely a bigger option in the future just because I have a ton of clients who travel and now that they’ve seen that I am able to train them online, and we can make it effective. They really don’t need any equipment. You only get paid when you work. So if you have clients who travel, there’s just a lot more options. Like Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp. Virtual training will become a lot bigger. And just easier to do. And if I’m traveling, I’m able to do that as well. At the end of the day, people love community, that’s a huge thing about the fitness industry regardless of how, or what style training you’re into, whether it’s like yoga, boot camp or outdoor stuff.”
“So even as more goes online, it’s still going to be about that community. I definitely think a lot more stuff that’s going to go online and it’s going to be easier accessible and be just as effective. People understand I can get really effective at home if I don’t have the finances to go to a gym or I don’t have the time to go to a gym. There’s just going to be a lot more options with that. And like the streaming services are going to be even more effective because now is when everyone is focusing on building that stuff. So a year from now there’s going to be a lot of stuff online.”
One quote that you love?
“One of my favorite quotes I used recently and part of it is from someone, and I filled in the blank for the rest, but it’s “Life is hard. Do it anyway.”
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Bonus Video Tip
Training Tips for Fitness Pros from Jess Hess
Build a solid foundation
Whether you are new to training or a seasoned gym-goer or athlete, practicing foundational movements is paramount in attempting and progressing advanced movements and will help decrease the risk of injuries.
Foundational movements include Push (i.e push up), Pull (i.e row), Lunge (i.e split squat), Hinge (i.e deadlift), Squat (i.e squat), Rotation (i.e woodchop)
In order to progress you need to load movements
Once you have practiced the foundational movements and it’s appropriate to progress, add load to increase strength!
If you do not have “weight” change the tempo of the movement. SLOW IT DOWN.
Do not RUSH through movements!
Take your time, especially in the beginning, and own the movement you are performing.
Do NOT push through pain
Your body is talking to you for a reason.
Take into account you are responding to the movement. assess what the issue is and adjust as necessary.
Not all movement patterns are appropriate for each individual and may need a different approach before attempting a specific movement pattern again.