Friday, February 17, 2017

Fit-Therapy, No excuses because you need exercise in your life

Often times I hear people say that they don't have time to work-out, or they aren't feeling 'up to it'.

In my opinion- fitness can be the savior of your mental health, and you need to make time to exercise.  Exercise as I mentioned doesn't have to be in a gym, on a treadmill or on weight-machines. Exercise can be any activity that you enjoy, preferably for longer than 25 minutes to get a lot of the benefits. (Although there has been some work done that has shown a 10 min workout with 1 minute of high intensity exercise a day can give you a lot of the same benefits as well)

I wanted to post a bit on my experience with how fitness has been amazingly therapeutic for me, especially in the past 6 months.

Although I have not missed a day of exercise in the past 6 months-I haven't been posting too frequently because my dad was terminally ill with cancer and passed away on January 21st 2017. I was with my mom at my parents house for over a month providing at home hospice care to my dad (before that we were at the hospital a lot while my dad was undergoing treatment). It was an extremely difficult experience.. and I don't think I would have been as good of a care-taker, or mentally stable if I hadn't taken off the 30 minutes a day to exercise. My mom and I were also very busy during this time, both of us trying to work remotely in our jobs, and providing 24/7 care to my dad, with the occasional help from the nurse, nurse aids, friends and other family members.

There were days where I didn't feel 'up' to exercising, especially not working on my kicks and flips for capoeira- or days where I thought I should spend those 30 minutes working on writing scientific manuscripts (I'm an Ecologist/Environmental Scientist as well as a Personal Trainer).. .but when I just forced myself to get on the elliptical machine or go for a run- I felt so much better afterwards.

I went from feeling depressed, anxious and frustrated to wanting to help my parents, particularly my dad, and being there for him to hold his hand, massage his feet and just help take care of him overall.

Please, if you are in a similar situation, or are just busy, stressed out and overwhelmed: Please take the time for yourself and EXERCISE. You will be more productive and a better person to those around you by doing this.

Fitness therapy works wonders.. try it out to believe it.

Today's ProTip: 
If you are feeling unmotivated for any reason- just put on your workout clothes, and lace-up your gym shoes. Then see how you  feel after you are all dressed and ready. 

Then take it one step further and tell yourself: I am going to just workout for 10 minutes. Then at the 10 minute mark- tell yourself- ok just 10 more minutes. After the 20 min mark.. all you have to do is a 5 min cool down and you are done for the day and should be proud of yourself!

You got this... Do it for You.. and by Doing it for You, You will be Doing it For Others!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Why its Fun to be Fit...Athletic Wedding Dance

Although people often strive to be fit for aesthetic and health reasons -its also super fun to be fit! Life is Better when you are Fit! By using the word 'Fit'.. I don't mean you have to be super skinny and have zero body fat. My definition of Fit is being happy with the way you look and FEEL... Being Fit is being able to use your body for everyday tasks in life, as well as exploring life through movement. If you can use your body to climb things, jump over things, bend over backwards.. you discover life in a whole new way!

 Since my husband and I both strive to be fit and explore life through movement: parkour, dancing, capoeira, running, hiking, swimming, etc- it only made sense for us to incorporate some of our favorite movements in our husband-wife first dance at our wedding this past June 2016. 

Here is a video clip of our first dance that my brother-in-law made: 

Enjoy, and remember- that being fit- is just another way to enjoy and explore all that life has to offer!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Capoeira as a full body and mind workout!

Oi (Hello in Brazilian Portuguese)!
I am greeting you in Brazilian Portuguese as I want to talk about one of my favorite workouts: Capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial arts! I recently switched capoeira groups (there are many) from Capoeira sul da bahia to Cordão de Ouro, and below is a video of me in the batizado (baptism in capoeira) in Los Angeles this past October where I got my 3rd cord! I currently train with Contra Mestre Xango and Contra Mestre Beringela in the Bay Area, California, but our sister group is in Los Angeles (hence the event being held there this year).

Capoeira is amazing for the body, mind and soul
So.. Why is Capoeira so amazing you ask? Well- let me tell you: 

BODY:  For the body- capoeira is a full-body workout, with the basic step (the ginga) utilizing the full body and constantly being in motion. The ginga along with the kicks (chutas), flips/fancy moves (floreios), and ground movements provide constant cardio, and flexibility and strength training. Its like a burpee on steroids!

Aside from the full body workout, I love using capoeira in my personal training sessions since it also helps with overall body awareness and coordination! The moves are not always simple, and it takes the interaction between the mind and body (more than what occurs when you go for a run or get on a bike) to follow a move through to completion.

MIND: As capoeira is a two-person game, you need to constantly think and move with the other person in mind. In  addition to the mind getting the body to form complex moves requiring intense coordination and balance- in order to outsmart the other person and trap them into falling for one of your tricks-your mind needs to function as if you were playing chess during a fire or flood.. .you have to think fast and smart!

SOUL: Capoeira is amazing for the soul, as this Afro-Brazilian martial arts integrates the Afro-Brazilian culture, music and social life all into one. The culture and the music of capoeira both flow into this martial arts. The music provides the energy (Axé) for the roda (where the capoeira games occur), and the culture can be found through the songs (sung in portuguese), and other activities often associated with capoeira (such as samba!). Once you start doing capoeira, you will soon find yourself over at other people's houses watching capoeira videos, eating out after class, and just being there for each-other. 

I completely recommend capoeira for anyone that wants that wants any of the following: to get in shape, sharpen their mind, have a fun social life, learn another culture and language, and play music. 

On this note, I am super excited for one of my good friend's capoeira event this weekend in Oakland, California! Instructors Menina is an inspiration, and is putting on her first women's event this Nov. 4 (College of the Arts, Oakland) and Nov. 5th (Bandaloop studio in Oakland). 

For more information -please see: 

Also if you can't attend but you love the idea of empowering women and being fit- please help sponsor our event and donate at:

We need donations to pay all of the instructors that are giving workshops (and to reimburse them for their flights to California!)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

New: My Intense 10 min Ab workout


I just put together my first workout video on youtube.
Please try this intense 10 min ab workout video!

This ab workout focuses on those lower abs - you know.. those troublesome ones that are often in hiding!

However- believe me.. they are there.. in all their glory.. just takes a little work to make them come out for the big reveal!

This 10 min ab workout has 2 rounds, each repeating the same sequence of ab exercises.

If you can only do the first round initially- no worries. .just keep at it until you get stronger!!

Let me know what you think and enjoy! J-Hops

Thursday, September 15, 2016

J-Fit in Action: Aerial Silks and Capoeira

Photo by Joe Chavarria, J.Alex Photography

Photo by Jen K Ryan
Photo by Jen K Ryan
Photo by Jennifer Wright

Photo by Gerid Ollison

Photo by Gerid Ollison
Photo by Jen K Ryan

Photo by Jen K Ryan
Photo by Jennifer Wright

Friday, May 27, 2016

About Jhops

Hi! I currently reside in the Bay Area, California and want to help you fit 'fitness' into your life!

I am a personal trainer certified by NASM, the National Academy of Sports Medicine. My background includes 12 years of gymnastics, 10 years of capoeira, 3 years of aerial silks, and some dabbling in parkour, including my two years of competing on American Ninja Warrior!

See here some of my videos that might give you a bit more insight into how I stay in shape:

American Ninja Warrior audition video (warning: cheesy beginning!)

American Ninja Warrior tryout at Venice Beach, LA

Aerial Silks performance with one of my best friends

Capoeira video from way back in the day in Santa Barbara

And my favorite shoes to wear when I go for a run around the neighborhood: Kangoo Jumps!

A little about my workout mentality:

I believe that everyone can fit exercise into their lives, and that exercise should be fun.. and an opportunity to learn new skills! As I was a graduate student for 7.5 years at UC Berkeley, sometimes I worked 16 hour days! When I got home from work at 2am- I still exercised!! Exercising does not have to require going to a gym. Exercising can mean putting on your favorite tv show while you throw down some jumping jacks, mountain climbers, tae-bo kicks (shout out to Billy Blanks!!), crunches, pushups and incorporation of capoeira/dance/gymanstics moves!!

Exercising can be a run with friends, learning martial arts, aerial silks, rock-climbing, or even taking long-walks while talking on the phone.

In addition to all of this- I believe that exercise should not just result in looking great (which is a bonus benefit), but should make you feel great and help you gain coordination, balance and confidence!

Aside from being a personal trainer- I am leading a bit of a double life as I am also a postdoctoral scientist, currently researching the biological control of the invasive water hyacinth, an aquatic weed in the Delta, California.

Please stay tuned for future blogs, videos, and even recipes for healthy meals. Contact me if you would like some coaching to help you get and stay fit!  Jhops