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Interview with Jenn Burke, Director of Education, Crunch Gym

Jenn Burke Aussie Pullup at PCC

Dragon Door: You have an extensive athletic background, how did it all start?

Jenn Burke: I have been very active since I was a kid. My parents had me playing t-ball and soccer when I was 4 or 5 years old. All through high school I ran track, cross-country, played basketball, and earned a track scholarship. At first, I wanted to go to med school to become an orthopedic surgeon for sports-related injuries. So I got my undergraduate degree in health and exercise science. But then because I red-shirted a year because of stress fractures, I ended up getting my masters degree in nutrition and exercise science. Right after I finished my masters, my grandmother had a stroke.

So, I moved back to St. Louis and worked with her while I started as a personal trainer at a 24hr Fitness in St. Louis. During that year, I fell in love with what I was doing—and realized that by really connecting and building a relationship with people I could really support them. I could help them keep their bodies happy and healthy and really saw how personal trainers can be transformative. After a year I decided that this was my calling and had a vision about how to impact as many people as possible through fitness. I believe that keeping our bodies happy and healthy gives us the ability to live the lives of dreams so we can experience much more of the world.

Dragon Door: Before our interview, you shared a long list of job descriptions, personal trainer, track coach, fitness manager, district manager, and now you're the Director of Education for Crunch Gym and the Personal Trainer Education Center... That’s an exciting progression!

Jenn Burke: A couple of years ago, Crunch created the Director of Education position. At the time, I had been with Crunch for five years working in New York, Los Angeles, and then finally in San Francisco in fitness manager and district manager roles. As Director of Education, I was tasked with creating a personal training school for one of Crunch’s separate companies—that’s how the Personal Training Education Center was born.

We teach a curriculum based on the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) CPT that’s 144 hours over a 6-week time frame. It’s very much a immersion program. Half the time is spent learning the human body, but the other half is hands-on. I think that's what really separates us from a lot of self study programs. Our program includes six full weeks of learning movement with the eye of a trainer—not just reading a book or watching a video. Its like how you guys teach the PCC—learning to adapt the drills, regressions, and progressions from where the client is starting. We want to teach how to help as many people as possible ways to teach movement that can help people feel better. We also teach the service and sales aspects so they can learn how to build a business as well.

Dragon Door: What brought you to the PCC?

Jenn Burke: Mike Spiegel, the regional director of personal training in New York had gone through the certification. He was working with John, Danny, and Al to bring the workshop to a Crunch host site. He knows that I am really into movement and challenging myself as much as possible, so Mike said that I needed to come and try it out. He knew I’d love it, and that’s how I ended up at the PCC in New York.

Dragon Door: Were you already using calisthenics in your own training?

Jenn Burke: I've gone through a lot of phases in my training, and I’ve probably trained with almost every implement imaginable in all my years of training. But, I definitely lean towards bodyweight training, and I particularly enjoy using kettlebells and the Bulgarian bag. Those are my three go-tos.
 
Jenn Burke and Friends with Bulgarian Bags

Dragon Door: What was your favorite move from PCC?

Jenn Burke: I really loved the elbow lever and the bridge.

Dragon Door: Do you have any new bodyweight training goals now, after the PCC?

Jenn Burke: I came back so excited about everything! I really want to be able to do a pistol squat on each leg and a handstand away from the wall. Eventually I would really love to be able to do a one-arm push up—preferably by the end of this year. So those are my big goals from the workshop.

Dragon Door: That should keep you busy for a while!

Jenn Burke: Just yesterday I was mapping out some training, because I want to get all that accomplished this year.

Dragon Door: Do you have any races coming up?

Jenn Burke RunningJenn Burke: Yes, I am running in the Nashville Marathon on April 29th.

Dragon Door: Have you changed your approach to marathon training since attending the PCC?

Jenn Burke: Ever since running track in college, I realized that my body actually does better with just four days of running, so I already train differently for marathons. I don't crush running every single day, but am really big on training in the gym because that's what keeps me being able to do everything I do. I think the PCC will help me continue to add value to my training. This year I am thinking of cutting back a little bit on kettlebells and adding in more of the PCC training.

Dragon Door: How will you be using your PCC certification within your various roles at work?

Jenn Burke: I will be using the information in a couple of ways. I love the whole progressive concept we learned at workshop. Being able to share those ideas with the students in the six-week program for people ready to start their fitness careers is huge. I already started using the pull-up progressions in a class that I am teaching. I also teach short workshops for current Crunch trainers to give them little tastes of any workshop or certification that I have recently tried, to encourage them to go get the certifications. I can also imagine creating workshops that would focus on one move to teach them how to progress it for their clients.

Dragon Door: With all of your work responsibilities and marathon training, how do you organize your time?

Jenn Burke: I make sure to schedule my own workouts first thing in the morning Now that I am mostly teaching, I get up at 4:30AM for my workout. When I take care of myself first, I am really much more focused and grounded for all the tasks that need to be completed. I also really value being on time, when I schedule a workshop or class that lasts from 2PM to 4PM then that’s it. We start right at 2PM and then we have got to be productive in that time frame. It's being your word.

Dragon Door: What's next for you in your career and your education?

Jenn Burke: I want to keep growing the Personal Trainer Education Center and open more locations. I want to let more people know how the school can really impact trainers out there. We need more trainers out there who actually know how to work with people and how to really enhance their movement. Also, I want to make sure that we are impacting as many people as possible.

Dragon Door: What are some of the areas that most personal trainers really need help with the most?

Jenn Burke: I think a couple of things, one is communication. I am really big on teaching that how you say something can influence your client—it can be the difference between if they buy into changing their habits or not. Also, it is really important for the trainer to become a student of movement and look at the details. I really make sure that people pay attention to the little things with movement, because the little things make such huge differences in the results clients can see.

JennBurkeAussiePullup600px thumbnailJenn Burke, PCC Instructor can be contacted on her website at www.ptecfitness.com or by email jenn.burke@ptecfitness.com.
 

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