Our February Member Spotlight is on Jenelle Sander Cooper. Jenelle has been a member of Forward Fitness since the beginning and anyone that has had the chance to work out with her knows that she puts 100% effort into her training. Jenelle recently got married and her husband Dan is one of our newer members.
Jenelle grew up playing sports, mainly softball and swim team. Both were in her blood. Cardinals baseball also runs through her veins, and that was instilled in her at a very young age. Besides watching the Cardinals, she also loved playing softball. She also grew up around pools. She grew up with a pool at home and her mom worked at a YMCA and put her in swim lessons after school. Jenelle was teaching swim lessons by 14, lifeguarding by 16 and practicing with the swim team during the softball off season. Jenelle was active growing up, but never paid much attention to her health until after college. She knew the occasional rec softball league game the few 30 -minute sessions on the elliptical weren’t going to cut it for the rest of her life. That’s when she knew she needed something more.
Jenelle knew Mike and Suzanne for a few years prior to them opening Forward Fitness. She loved working with them and knew they had a passion for health. She says, “Forward Fitness just seemed like the perfect small community that I was looking for. There’s such a strong focus on overall health and movement that you know you’ll get the attention you need, even in group settings.
Health and fitness are important to Jenelle because she wants to live a very long life. As she says, “Who doesn’t? In all seriousness, I want to be able to live life without physical limitations the best that I can. I want to move and do things and not be short of breath or tired because I’m physically out of shape. I love being strong!” She also has also found that working on her physical health has benefitted her mental health more than she ever anticipated. “More times than I can count, I have walked into FF completely stressed out from either work, wedding planning, or something else and I have walked out of FF after a killer workout in a completely different head space and feeling great. It’s why my husband halfway jokes that if we ever move, we can never be too far from our gym.”
When talking about challenges, Jenelle comments that dealing with stress is always a challenge and feels like a bigger part of her life than she wants it to be. Staying consistent with her workouts greatly helps manage the stress and she’s not sure where she would be without them. She has also had a few injuries. The biggest one being when she hurt her knee skiing in 2019. She was especially grateful for Forward Fitness then, knowing that they’d help design workouts to strengthen her knee and get her back to normal. If not for the coaches at Forward Fitness she thinks the injury would’ve lingered far longer than it should have. She also knows that we have all faced and are still facing a huge challenge with the pandemic. “I don’t know of any other gym offering the types of home workouts and coaching that FF has done. It’s truly been over and above, and I think all of us members are extremely grateful for them!”
Fitness is a big part of her life because she knows how it affects her overall well-being, not just her physical health but also her mental health. It keeps her sane. Knowing that there is always room for growth and improvement keeps her going. “It’s exciting hitting goals like deadlifting a certain weight or running a mile in a certain amount of time. But what keeps me going is knowing there’s always another level to hit. There’s always room for another plate on that trap bar!”
She is really excited for the Spartan stadium race at Notre Dame in July. She has run in several 5K’s and she is ready for a new challenge. “I’m definitely nervous as these Spartan races requires a lot of strength and endurance that I’m still building. But I’m confident that with the training at Forward Fitness, I’ll get there.”
When asked what she would tell someone considering adding a fitness routine to their life she has this to say, “You will never regret adding a fitness routine to your life. Never. There are so many other benefits to fitness than just getting in shape. Keep trying and pushing yourself until you find that gym or that workout that you love.”
A fun fact about Jenelle is that she is a rocket scientist. She has a bachelors and masters degree in aerospace engineering. She’s has loved airplanes since she was a kid.