Jenna Stern is a woman who wears many hats! When she’s not inspiring and motivating her audience of over 4,000 on Instagram, you can find her teaching spin classes in her hometown of Philadelphia and carving out her own lane in the fitness world! Her brand and byname, “The Philasophy” is all about doing away with outdated and unsustainable dietary practices and beliefs to instead usher in those that are more feasible and holistic.
Jenna stopped by PRETTY GIRLS SWEAT to offer us the 411 on body neutrality, building her brand, and her ongoing fitness journey. Keep reading down below to learn more!
From following your Instagram, you’ve taken a non-traditional approach to health and fitness! How did you get started on your health and fitness journey, and how did you decide what path was best for you?
I will keep it 100% real with y’all, my health and fitness journey has been anything but linear! For years I struggled with my weight, dieting, and exercising. I did not grow up participating in sports and I literally was the girl that would hide out in the bathroom during gym class. I tried every diet and a million different workouts until one day I landed in an indoor cycling class. Cycling showed me firsthand that I could actually enjoy a form of exercise for NO OTHER reason other than it made me feel good. I got certified to teach cycling when I was a senior in college and that is truly when my love for health and fitness grew into a career path. After I graduated I threw myself into the fitness industry, working in several gyms and boutique fitness studios, and obtained both my nutritional guidance and personal training certifications all while also holding the position as the community coordinator for the Athleta store. It took me a solid 6 years of building, but eventually, my love of training, food, and helping women to be their strongest and healthiest selves lead to me leaving my jobs (except cycling, I still teach for City Fitness!) and starting my own business, which is what I am doing today!
On your Instagram, you frequently use terms like “body neutral” and “non-diet nutrition.” Can you explain to our readers what these terms mean to you?
Body neutrality and non-diet nutrition are things that I was completely unaware of when I was growing up. It wasn’t until I recognized my own disordered relationship with food, fitness, and my body that I began to seek out other ways to take care of myself. I discovered intuitive eating, which is what helped me heal my relationship with food and movement and exposed me to those terms along with so many others.
I identify with body neutral/body neutrality because it’s more of a middle-ground approach between body positivity and body negativity. Being body neutral allows you the space to explore how you feel towards your body on any day. It also takes the pressure off of feeling like you have to “love” or “hate” your body but you are still able to have respect and acceptance for it. Non-diet nutrition is exactly how it sounds! You are still fueling your body with healthy foods, but you aren’t tied to one specific diet. In my eyes, non-diet nutrition is just a fancier way to describe a balanced diet and allows you the ability to enjoy ALL foods in moderation without guilt or shame.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned thus far on your fitness journey?
To find what works for YOU and your body! There will always be someone claiming that their diet or workout is the BEST and that it will solve all your problems, but the truth is, the best diet and workout is the one you LIKE and can maintain consistently for basically the rest of your life. Also, it’s important to set other goals besides weight loss ones.
When training other women, how do you keep them motivated?
Through positive reinforcement and simply meeting them where they’re at. I’m not the trainer that is going to yell or get aggressive to get a client to do something and I’m definitely not the trainer that is going to push my clients to the point of exhaustion. Yes, I challenge my clients but I also pride myself on modifying movements and offering variations or regressions when necessary. My clients stay motivated to return because I lead with love and understanding and my clients feel safe and supported because of it. Which is exactly what keeps them coming back week after week, even if they might not always “want” to!
What other changes would you like to see in the greater fitness community?
More diversity, inclusion, and acceptance. ALL BODIES DESERVE RESPECT, regardless of size, color or gender but sadly the fitness community is still heavily influenced by only one specific body type and it’s a white, thin and muscular one. Even though I’m considered “mid-sized” I’m still not someone who you would look at and immediately think “oh she’s a personal trainer” due to the fact that I am a size 12/14 and still have a solid amount of body fat. I’ve seen some small changes over the last few years in the community but we still have a long way to go where someone my size, someone smaller, or someone larger can be in the gym without any questions.
What do the words PRETTY GIRLS SWEAT mean to you?
POWER! Women are truly amazing and can go from deadlifting 100+ pounds to heels, changing diapers, or running their businesses in under an hour. You don’t want to mess with the pretty girls who sweat but you also want them in your corner at all times.