I first met Jenny almost two years ago when I signed up for one of my first ever NTC classes in Toronto. From the very beginning, I was drawn to her infectious smile and personality and great coaching. Jenny’s knowledge and passion for fitness really stood out and made working out fun and a great learning experience. Not too long ago, she launched her own website, brand and fitness classes called Small But Mighty Fitness. It comes as no surprise that she has already been incredibly successful with her new endeavour. I’m excited to have her chat about this new project and the Toronto fitness community on today’s 5 Questions With.
1) What inspired you to start Small But Mighty Fitness?
When I dove into the Toronto fitness scene a number of years ago, I noticed I didn’t really ‘fit’ any of the pre-existing moulds that existed for trainers: I didn’t believe in yelling at or berating my clients (military bootcamp style) for motivation during workouts, I didn’t believe in ‘acting out’ all of the exercises in front of my classes from start to finish as if I was a participant, and I didn’t believe in small muscle group exercises with light weights for a ‘toning’ effect as the best way for women to train. Basically, it seemed to me that many gyms, studios and training professionals were offering Torontonians workouts, rather than training sessions. Whats the difference? A workout is non-specific; it might make you sweat and ‘feel the burn’ but it doesn’t take your unique goals and needs into consideration.There of course is nothing inherently wrong with a general workout, but one could engage in one of these so called general workouts every single day, and never reach their fitness goal due to a lack of specificity of programming. Training on the other hand, by its very name implies working for a purpose; engaging in specific exercises and drills in order to meet your goals and fulfill your needs. There is clarity of purpose and a mindset of striving to achieve something…. whether that is a change in body composition, a double bodyweight back squat, a first pull up, or rehabilitation of an injury depends on the person.
Another trend I noticed when I started working in the health and fitness industry was that many of the women I first encountered weren’t aware of the many many ways to achieve and define ‘fit-ness’. Many women asked me how often I trained; very few asked me how. There was an assumption among many of those first ladies that I worked with that cardio machines and light dumbbells were the avenues they had to peruse if they wanted to be fit (which was often correlated with being skinny).
Small but Mighty Fitness was born out of a desire to offer women more. A broader definition of fitness and a wider array of methods (which by the way were also safe, efficient and evidence-based) to achieve it. Most importantly, I was inspired to start Small but Mighty Fitness because I wanted to EMPOWER women to take their health and fitness into their own hands, armed with up-to-date and accurate information, an arsenal of training methods to choose from, and mechanics that would help them to optimize their training and avoid injury.
2) What kinds of classes and services do you offer to the fitness community in Toronto?
In-Home or Gym-Based Personal Training Services
- Personal training sessions come in a variety of packages, all of which include an initial consultation leading to the development of a personalized goal-directed training program.
- Body composition analysis (skinfolds and circumference measurements)
- Online programming.
For Communities and Groups:
Yoga classes: Sunday mornings from 10-11 am out of Hook Up Muay Thai
- Open men and women of all levels.
Build and Burn: M/W/F 6-7 am at The Underground Dance Centre
- The Build and Burn Program is focused on empowering women to forge a health and fitness focused Habitus through bodyweight training, community support, and healthy eating habits! It is the perfect program for all those ladies working in the corporate jungle downtown, and is designed so participants can Get Up. Get Moving. Get Nourished and Get to Work!
- New in August Build and Burners will be able to opt into a breakfast meal plan to be delivered to the studio at the end of class each morning, with each meal designed specifically to aid in recovery from the workout of the day!
- The August cycle begins on Wed Aug. 3rd and we still have a few open spots! Grab yours here!
Build Your Own Group: Clients can put together a small group of friends to be trained at a park, in their backyard or at a local gym.
3) What separates your classes from others in the city?
Programming: I often say that anyone can draft a workout that will destroy all the participants in the class, but few can create session that strategically offers just the right amount of demand to help clients soar toward their goals. Coming from a very strong academic background, my class programming is always evidence-based and relies heavily on functional compound movements that will give participants a lot of ‘bang for their buck’ in addition to being transferable into daily life and sports!
Knowledge Bombs: As I mentioned earlier, one of my main goals is to empower my clients and participants to take their health and fitness into their own hands. Also as a consequence of my academic background, I tend to drop little (sometimes medium sized) packets of knowledge during my classes: whether its the name and function of a muscle, explaining training principles or defining something like ‘fascia’, I always leave my people with something they can take away and incorporate in their health and fitness repertoire!
Atmosphere: Outside of special circumstances like S.E.A.L camp, I’ve never really understood creating a punitive or negative atmosphere during a training session or fitness class. By taking time out of your schedule to train, you’re doing something good for your body and mind, and that is something clients should feel GREAT about! My cueing is positive and focused, I strive to create an atmosphere that is inclusive, encouraging and that empowers my clients to leave it all out of the floor (or field). I tell jokes, sometimes I sing songs, there are often dance parties, and there are always high fives, slaps on the back, smiles and call outs on a job well done!
4) How important is the community aspect in fitness, especially amongst women?
When it comes to fitness and training, community is unbelievably important; everything from the layout of the physical training space to the energy in the room can impact every single participant in a class. I’ve noticed over the last several years that many women attend their ‘first class’ with a friend, and I think that is because starting a new training program or taking a new class can be daunting. What I was absolutely astounded by over the last few years was how quickly movement turns a group of individuals into a community, which then takes on a life all of its own. Girls who started out attending N+TC once a week now have iMessage and Facebook groups with all of their workout besties and are training together 4 or 5 times a week: helping each other through the tough parts of training sessions, encouraging each other to take on new goals, and of course re-fuelling together post-workout. In the context of fitness and training, community has the power to make every athlete feel included, supported, capable, and accountable, and being a part of a strong fitness community cranks up enjoyment of the session beyond measure.
5) What is your ultimate goal with Small but Mighty Fitness?
My ultimate career goal is three-fold: (1) To continue working with Nike to offer phenomenal experiences to our athletes, (2) to open my own Sports Medicine Clinic and (3) To be the strength and conditioning coach and Chiropractor for a professional or national-level women’s gymnastics or hockey team. Small but Mighty Fitness is an integral part of this plan, and my goal is to grow it to represent the Training and Rehabilitation ‘department’ of my sports medicine clinic. I’m particularly interested in working with young female athletes to help build sound movement and training practices in order to avoid injury and optimize their sport performance in a way that won’t jeopardize their future health.
Check Train with Small But Mighty Page to get all the most up-to-date information on each of the services Jenny offers.