A Champion of Non-Scale Victories: Meet Openfit Trainer Jesse BartonDec 27, 2021
With a master’s degree in psychology, Jesse has a few tricks up her sleeve to keep followers of her programs engaged and coming back. She spent some time sharing with us her unconventional path to becoming a trainer, her favorite healthy activities to do with a toddler, and why she thinks you should throw away your scale.
Let’s get to know Jesse.
Openfit: What got you into fitness?
Jesse: I was 10 when I started acting and 12 when I started modeling. Then I moved to New York City when I was 18, went to college for theater, and did some soap operas and stage acting. I moved to LA when I was 25 and quickly moved back because I just felt lost. I quit acting. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I started drinking way too much, and I hit bottom around age 29.
I decided to go to grad school for psychology. While in grad school, I was simultaneously getting sober and going through a divorce. Throughout that entire experience, my one constant was that I loved running. It was the one time of day where I felt free, like I could just put on my shoes and run wherever I wanted around the city and work things out in my head.
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What made you decide to become a trainer?
After I finished my Master’s in psychology, I started working at an addiction clinic. I just realized that I enjoyed helping people feel better through movement versus just talking. So I got my personal training certification, yoga certification, and I just knew right away when I left the therapy world and entered the fitness world that I had made the right decision. Now, I get to do what I love and help other people realize the joys of physical activity, as well.
What do you feel people focus on too much regarding fitness?
Undoubtedly, people focus too much on the number on the scale. I’m trying to break people out of that mindset. I want people to throw their scales away. They’re pointless. It’s just a number, and people get so fixated on it.
I wish they’d focus more on how they feel and gauge progress in the form of energy. How do you feel each day? How much energy do you have? How strong do you feel? How well-rested are you? Focusing on that is better than some arbitrary number, which has nothing to do with fitness.
You post a lot on social media about focusing on how fitness makes you feel. How did you come up with that philosophy?
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Working with the recovery population, that’s where we placed a lot of focus. I wrote my entire final research paper for grad school on the impact of fitness in helping people get and stay sober. When I was working at the recovery clinic, I started to lead people through running groups and boot camps. It was apparent how much better they felt after 20 to 30 minutes of working out. They got the feel-good chemicals going — the endorphins and the dopamine and the serotonin — and it made life a little bit more manageable.
It sounds like your style might appeal to beginners.
Yes, but also people who have been at it for a while. People who find intrinsic value in working out tend to stick with it a lot longer than those focused just on aesthetic gain. The people focused on the aesthetic stuff tend to burn out, or they get bored, or once they achieve a particular mark, they stop. Fitness should be part of your life, and I don’t care what you do. I don’t care if you like to ride a bike, walk, or box. Whatever it is, find something that gets you moving that you enjoy because that is the key to creating any fitness routine.
How do you convert a beginner into someone who is committed to fitness?
I think it’s a combination of finding stuff that they enjoy and creating a habit. I have clients who proclaim that they hate working out every time I see them, but the more scheduled it becomes, the more habitual it becomes and the less you rely on motivation.
What exercise do you enjoy the least?
This is always surprising when I tell people, but I hate rows. I program them all the time, I do them all the time, but I hate them. I think they’re monotonous. I don’t like the way they feel. I don’t particularly enjoy working my lats, but I do them.
What do you enjoy the most?
I am a professional push upper. I love push-ups. My goal with all of my female clients, in particular, is to get them to do push-ups. I think they’re a real measure of fitness, and you need absolutely no equipment. You can do them anywhere. It’s awesome.
Tell us about your eating habits.
I like to try and take a very neutral approach. I have a 3-year-old, and we want him to experience everything. He’ll eat sushi and spinach, but he’ll also eat cookies and ice cream. We try to do everything but in moderation.
I focus on protein, fruits, and vegetables, but I’m also going to have cake and ice cream because life is too short. I put food on the back burner, meaning that I structure my life around the workout piece. I know that if I’m getting my workouts in, I will trust my body.
At the end of a week of challenging workouts, what’s on the menu?
What types of healthy activities do you enjoy with friends and family?
We live in rural New Jersey in a lake community, so we are outside as much as possible.
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I picked our son up from preschool today at noon, and we immediately went to a playground. Sometimes we walk to a farm. We make being active as fun as possible.
We’ll go outside and make up games. We still have our inner tubes inflated from the summer days at the lake. One of our favorite games this fall is we’ve been bundling up, putting the inner tubes around ourselves and playing bumper inner tubes in the backyard. It’s great fun and gets the heart rate up.
If I’m in the app, why should I choose a Jesse workout?
You’re going to get an excellent workout. I try to make sure that we hit as many body parts as possible in each session. I try to make them as thorough as possible. I also try to make them as fun as possible. You’re going to get some ridiculous mom jokes, a few stories, and hopefully by the end you’re just going to get a sense of feeling really good and confident with where you are with your body and in your life.