Former Team Canada rugby captain trying to inspire others through personal training
'I thought I went to the gym, I thought I worked out. Now I know what it’s like to actually work out'
'Tis the season for giving! That's why we're bringing back some of our favourite stories. This story was originally published Dec. 31, 2018. Enjoy!
There are no shortcuts or secrets to getting fit with personal trainer Jen Kish.
From kettlebells and free weights to battle ropes and machines that make you sweat and breathe hard, the former national rugby player has all the latest gear tucked away in her basement just northeast of Beaumont.
But before anyone walks through her front door, Kish asks perspective clients to fill out a questionnaire on her website, getting clients to describe what their motivation is for wanting to get healthy.
'I want to help them change their life'
"There's more to fitness than just looking good," says Kish, who used to work as a personal trainer at a commercial gym before her international rugby career took off in 2010.
It's a journey that has taken the former Canadian women's captain around the world and helped her win a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
But a broken hip and a torn labrum in 2017 forced her to hang up her rugby cleats for good in 2018.
That's when Kish returned to her former career as a personal trainer.
This time, instead of going back and training people in a traditional commercial gym environment, Kish opened up her home and started training people in her basement just northeast of Beaumont.
With more than 18,000 followers on Instagram, she asked if anyone would be interested in training with her.
'She's helping me reclaim my health'
One of her clients is Deb Troppmann.
Like many others, Troppmann used to own a gym membership and she tried to get fit by herself. But after years of working out she never saw any improvement to her health. Instead it started to decline.
Luckily a donor was found, and Troppmann was given a new healthy liver.
"I really want to make sure I honour the gift that I've gotten and live as healthy as possible and I had to ask myself if I was doing that and I wasn't, so I sought out some help in Jen and she's helping me reclaim my health and making sure that I'm the healthiest I can be."
'First workout that I left here I actually cried on the way home'
"Since starting with me, Deb is almost down 30 pounds, which is amazing to me because of all her health conditions," added Kish who starting training Troppmann in September.
"This is a first for me," added Troppmann. "I thought I went to the gym, I thought I worked out. Now I know what it's like to actually work out, this is the first time I've gone this hardcore rather than just sort of exercising at the gym, lifting some weights, hopping on the elliptical that sort of thing."
Troppmann looks right at home doing lunges while wearing a weighted vest, several months ago that exercise would have been impossible for her.
"I was scared at first, it's a big first step to take," she said. "First workout that I left here I actually cried on the way home, partly through pride and the fact that I made it through one day and knew that I'd be coming back and it was the start of a healthier life."
'I feel very mentally clear'
Troppmann feels the workouts are paying off, not only is she losing weight and seeing a change physically, mentally she's never felt better
After her transplant Troppmann says she had to take a lot of prescription medicine, which left her head feeling 'fuzzy.'
"Driving away after a workout, I feel very mentally clear," she added.
Kish has customized a workout for Troppmann like she does for all 15 of her clients. She also gives them guidance on what to eat, and when to eat it.
While the motivation has to come from within, a quick glance at the walls provides an added boost for Kish's clients too.
The rugby player's jerseys are framed and autographed from the different competitions over the years. Other images show her during her playing days, examples of what it took to bring an Olympic bronze home. But more often than not, her clients have all the motivation they need.
"I almost died, and I knew that I needed to do something, and I knew that I couldn't do it on my own," said Troppmann, who credits Kish for helping turn her life around.
"I think Deb is a great client," said Kish with a big smile on her face. "She's getting healthier, she's getting fitter. I think she does have a bright future for herself because she's changed her lifestyle and she was willing to do the work, and I hope other people don't wait till January to get fit."