Jessica Engle

Thank you Kerry and the entire team at 212 for selecting me as this month’s Member Spotlight.  To say I was both shocked and scared when I received Kerry’s email was an understatement.  I accepted the challenge to write about my 212 journey with trepidation but ultimately decided that if I want to teach my children to take risks and face new challenges then I should do so myself. 

 Growing up in Maine, athletics and fitness was a huge part of my childhood.  I played field hockey, basketball, and ran track throughout high school but also loved mountain biking, skiing, kayaking and hiking.  My parents never made exercise  look like a chore but rather a lifelong journey of well-being and fun for the whole family. 

 Athletics continued to be a part of my life when I went to UConn and majored in Sports Marketing.  I was able to take aerobics, tennis and weight lifting to meet degree requirements!  A few years later when I went to graduate school  for my Master Degree in Elementary Education, I rediscovered my love of running.  After a stressful day in the classroom a long run allowed me the space to process the day, it’s challenges and successes, and gave me a renewed energy for the evening of grading and planning ahead. 

 In 2009 when my husband Jason and I had our first daughter I decided to leave teaching in a school setting and stay home with her (still using my degree albeit in a slightly different way).  In 2012 our second daughter was born and in March of 2015 our son was born.  With three little ones at home, Seven Stars in Rumford soon became our favorite place for a snack and a strong coffee.  At the time, there was a statue of a  bulldog in the window near the entrance of 212 that my daughters loved to wave hello to.  (Sorry for all the fingerprints they left on the window.)  I also knew many women that were members of the gym and they encouraged me to join, so with a 6 week old baby in a car seat I decided to give it a try.  All of the coaches embraced the fact that I was a mom to young children and allowed me to  bring my son in his car seat while I worked out in a small group.  There have been a number of times since that I’ve had to bring one or more kids to the gym to ensure that I got my workout in, having a child home with me wasn’t going to be my excuse for skipping a workout.  In fact, all of my kids now love coming to the gym to watch me workout.   I hope they are learning at a young age that going to the gym and working out is a gift, a challenge and can be a lot of fun too!

 I’m grateful to my husband for his encouragement and understanding that my gym time and long runs are the time that I destress, process life, and come back feeling refreshed, energized, and committed to being the best version of me.  As my children grow, I want them to know that being strong is beautiful and that taking time for yourself is the greatest gift you can give yourself and your family.  

Enough about everyone else! I also love going to the gym for ME!  Being a stay at home mom means sometimes my only interaction with adults during the day is when I’m at the gym.  It’s also frequently the only time that I do something truly for myself all day.  I’ve walked through the doors in a variety of moods: happiness and celebratory after a great race, sadness and tears, frustration and anger and always know that I’m just one workout away from a clear mind, a positive mindset and a more focused perspective on whatever is challenging me that day.  Thank you to all the coaches  and athletes at 212 for welcoming me into the best gym community around!