At Visual Therapy, we’re all about Mind, Body, and Soul. As we work with clients to line up their optimal wardrobes and help them to be the best version of themselves, we’re huge believers that it’s not the dress, but what’s in the dress that matters. And even though clothes can help you feel like a movie star, there’s something that needs to be taken care of first on a deeper level. Welcome to “Wellness Wednesday”: our weekly feature to bring you tips for a healthy, whole and fulfilled life.
Director of pilates at one of NYC’s hottest studios, Flex, lululemon ambassador and the secret weapon of one of Victoria’s Secret models’ hot bods, Jenn Seracuse grew up singing and dancing, but had to pause her life as a performer due to a serious surgery. The experience left Jenn bedridden for a month, asking herself, “am I doing what I’m doing because I’m used to it, or because it makes me happy?” That’s when she realized that pilates was about to become a part of her life in a much bigger way she’d ever imagined.
After waking up way earlier than I’m used to to catch Jenn’s early morning pilates class at Flex (that energized feeling and readiness to conquer the day were worth it!), I caught up with her over a delicious breakfast at Hu Kitchen to speak about her journey to pilates, following your dreams, and building a wellness brand using social media.
How did you get into pilates?
Pilates started at a gym in Astoria for me. The instructors were incredible. I was a performer at the time, bartending to make ends meet. One thing that led me to pilates is that it’s more of a workout. As a dancer, I have this mind-body connection, but pilates is more about the workout than the spirituality — and I liked that. I was looking for a day job, and teaching pilates seemed to come naturally for me. It started as a way to make money, and organically spiraled into a total path and career change. I trained with Linda Farrell, one of the original pilates instructors. The more passion I showed in my training, the more I got back in return. I got set up with an apprenticeship. I put up ads on Facebook for private classes, and the doors kept opening. I started teaching more. How did you find the courage to give up what you had been studying for years to follow a path less traveled?
I still can’t believe that I gave up what I studied for years to jump into pilates. But it’s not something that happened overnight. I set the roadmap for it first. When you put yourself on the path, things will open up. While musical theater and singing make me happy, the life of a performer in New York city didn’t.
When I was forced not to do performing arts, I realized that I wasn’t missing it. It didn’t feel like there was a void in my life. My husband said, “If you have a dream, go for it, live it. I will help you in any way I can. Except I will be the person to tell you that in the last six months, I’ve seen less tears, and a happier person.” It was a big eye opener for me. I want to be the best version of myself possible, and he helped me be that.
In 2009, you had a major surgery. How did that affect your life and your career?
I have Crohn’s decease (a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the GI tract, especially the colon). I had a major flare up, and had to have a big part of my colon removed. I recovered very quickly — 6-8 weeks out of surgery I was teaching again, and feeling stronger every day. I was able to handle it because of the work I’d put into my body before the surgery.
[quote type=”center”] Even though my core is where my weakness lies, it’s also what gave me strength and changed my life through pilates. [/quote]
There were a lot of “why me” moments, and it would have been very easy to allow my disease to control my life and defeat me. Then one day instead of “Why me?” I asked myself, “What do I want my life to be?” and the answer was, “not Crohn’s Disease,” so I got out of bed. Did I feel like a million bucks right when I made that decision? Not even close, but I had a life to live, and that wasn’t going to happen lying in bed feeling sorry for myself.
Doing what I’m so passionate about motivated me to get back into working condition. It’s not all about having a six-pack, it’s about keeping your body healthy, because you never know. I know I have Crohn’s disease, I know I have to stay healthy and strong, but you don’t really know what’s coming, so the stronger you are, the more you’ll be able to deal with whatever comes your way.
What exercise do you do besides pilates?
I love yoga. Spinning twice a week is non-negotiable. Cardio has never been my first choice of exercise, but I noticed I was lacking in that department, so I tricked myself into it by taking classes. It’s much easier to follow someone else’s instructions. I like music, I like the energy, and it’s done in 45 minutes.
If I can’t get to a class and I want a quickie workout, I’ll do Tabata training – jumping plyometrics cardio. 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off. It’s great to feel like you got a good sweat.
[quote type=”center”] Obstacles, after all, help shape us into who we are. Take the time you need to cope and then get up and get moving. I promise it will be worth it, and who knows, maybe you will find your calling. [/quote]
What’s your workout philosophy?
Working out is not about pushing past the point of control or comfort zone, but right to the edge to show yourself you can do more than you’ve thought. Also, my clients know that my classes are very form-focused.
What’s your food philosophy?
I don’t have any strict rules when it comes to food, I eat almost everything. I believe in moderation and being mindful. I wouldn’t have chips or donuts every day. I also love finding healthier ways to make familiar dishes.
How does your work week look like?
I work 8 hours 5 days a week, and usually I’m done at 2pm. When I’m not teaching classes, I help make FLEX what it is. I make sure our instructors are doing the best job they can and manage scheduling. It’s a great perk of my job to be able to take classes to make sure everyone’s on point with the brand.