Wellness IRL: Interview With Jamie

Wellness IRL: Interview with Jamie | Jennifer Diaz

I have to say, this has been a really fun post for me to put together! For those of you who don't know, I received my Exercise Science degree from Belmont University, and while I was there, I had the wonderful opportunity to work in the Beaman Fitness and Recreation Center. In fact, that is where my personal training career began! My time at the Beaman FitRec Center (a.k.a. my second home) helped mold me into who I am as a trainer, and how I work with my clients. It is truly an honor for me to introduce you to someone who played a large part in my professional development! Jamie is the Director of Belmont University's Fitness and Recreation Center. He helps students develop professional skills and teaches them how to run a variety of programs on campus, such as group fitness classes, personal training services, intramural sports, and rock climbing! The Beaman's next big event is the Sleep Revolution College Tour beginning on April 22nd, which will encourage students (one of the most sleep deprived demographics) to rest more by focusing on the importance and benefits of sleep. They will create spaces for students to relax, meditate, and test out the latest sleep gadgets! I may have to dig up my old college ID for this one...

I have had the privilege of watching Jamie develop a passion for his own personal wellbeing, and it has truly been an inspiring process! Being surrounded by new trainers full of passion and excitement in such an educational environment has really pushed him to focus on the science and effectiveness of his methods. Jamie believes you have to walk the talk, and in order to maintain the energy it takes to work with college students and keep up with his family, keeping his health a top priority is a must!


What aspect of your personal wellness is going really well for you right now? 

I think my workouts are really good right now, which include at least 3 intense workouts a week. I am able to take a class here at Belmont called Iron Body Blast (bootcamp/HIIT style class) two days a week, and then I try to get in a class at Orange Theory Fitness. If I do not have time for those, I try to do a workout on my own.

Finding balance in everyday life can be challenging. What helps you stay focused?

It would be gaining a deeper understanding of the benefits of exercise and finding different exercises to do to keep my workouts fresh. It was difficult initially, but making workouts part of my weekly schedule has really helped and it has reached the point where I am miserable if I do not work out. 

If you were to name an aspect of your wellness experience that has had the largest impact on your life, what would that be?

I work out to relieve stress and to stay sharp, both mentally and emotionally. The physical benefits are also nice, but I consider those icing on the cake. I have also learned how to design my own workouts and keep a long list (in an app called Seconds Pro) to choose from, which keeps the workouts from being boring. By doing that, I look forward to my workouts and what I’m doing that day, because I know it is different than my last workout. I am at the point now that if I go 3 days without a workout, then I begin to feel sluggish and lazy. So I try to begin and end the week with intense workouts, knowing that I will not do anything like that over the weekend.

Being a full-time father, husband, and Director of Belmont University’s Fitness and Recreation department, how do you best find the time for yourself to stay active and to also decompress?

I try to get my workouts in at my lunch break or at the end of the day before going home. It is difficult sometimes with ball practices and games, but it is something I have to do in order to keep up with my kids and wife. It also helps clear my mind before I get home and decompress from a busy day at the office. I also try to take some time for myself each morning, where I get up before everybody else in the house, make some coffee, eat a good breakfast and enjoy some “me time.”

When you’re feeling burned out or demotivated, what/who do you look to for inspiration?

I look at my friends and family as motivation for sure. I’m motivated by my kids and trying to be a good example for them, hopefully setting them up for a healthy and active life. Working in Fitness and Recreation at Belmont, being surrounded by so many talented trainers and instructors, also motivates me. I love bouncing workout ideas off of them to keep my workouts fresh. Taking classes on a regular basis, and seeing the same people in them week in and week out creates a community and motivates me to stay a part of that community and to improve each week.

What is your favorite form of exercise?

I have come to love HIIT or bootcamp classes. Because of my schedule, I need workouts that are fast and efficient. Working out for an hour is a lot of time for me, so I want to make sure that it is a very good workout that will continue to burn calories long after the workout is finished! I have begun to put together my own Tabata style workouts, and those are really kicking my butt right now, but I really enjoy them.

What is the best piece of health/wellness advice you’ve received?

I think for me it has been to do something active each day and find workouts you enjoy. So many people believe that workouts are miserable, but that does not have to be the case. Try as much as possible until you find what you enjoy and what will keep you coming back. What I tell students, faculty, or staff here at Belmont when they are dreading their workout or even struggling to begin a healthy lifestyle is to be better today than they were yesterday. It is difficult to change overnight, but try and find something new each day to be better.  It could be taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Cutting out dessert, or ordering a salad instead of fries. Keep telling yourself: One step at a time. One workout at a time. One day at a time!

What are your favorite healthy foods?

I love most fruits. I've  gotten into smoothies recently, avocados, coconut water, the kale salad from Burger Up, and I will add chia seeds to anything I can. I absolutely love fish or any seafood (not fried), but I cannot eat it very often because my wife has a shellfish allergy.

What is your go-to splurge?

Anything sweet.  I’m a sucker for donuts, ice cream, candy, cake, or whatever.  I’ve learned that I cannot have it in the house, or I just eat it.  I have no willpower, and I can admit that, so I try not to even make it an option.

Describe your typical day-to-day routine.

I get up around 5:15 AM, eat breakfast, drink coffee and have my quiet time. Get to the office between 7:30-8:00 AM and take on what the day brings. I really do not have a normal day in the office, as it is different each day, but I usually like checking in with my staff and chip away at projects or tasks that we have to work on. I try to pack my lunch each day and eat at my desk as I am returning emails or catching up on other tasks.  If I’m not working out at lunch, my group fitness classes begin at 4 PM. Once that is finished, I’m usually off to the ball fields for a game or practice. If we do not have anything sports related, the kids will usually be outside riding bikes or playing in the backyard while the adults catch up on our exciting lives!

Describe what your “perfect” day would look like?

Perfect day involves sleeping in (until 7, parents know what I mean), big breakfast with the family, workout, 18 holes of golf, and grilling to end the day, while the kids are playing in the backyard.

Any encouraging words for someone looking to improve their overall wellness?

Focus on the process and not the results. Set realistic goals, work your way up, and know that everybody has been where you are, so keep working!

What are you most looking forward to in the near future?

Not paying for pre-school comes to mind, because that is a lot of money! Really, it is seeing my kids and their personalities develop even more. They are around the Pre-K/Kindergarten age, so they are learning so much so quickly. We really try to keep them active, so playing seasonal sports is a lot of fun but keeps us moving. 

Any additional thoughts or advice: 

I have small kids, so we take them to the gym with us. We will put them in the childcare room while we work out, and once we are finished, we will shoot basketball or do something active with them. By doing this, they understand the importance of staying active and it becomes an expectation. They look forward to riding their bikes or playing with the neighborhood kids, and that is great for them physical, emotionally, and socially. They’ve even jumped in during our garage workouts and will bust out some lunges, push-ups or TRX rows! It’s great to see and reminds me about how much of an effect we can have on their lives. 

I hope Jamie's insight inspires and encourages you to keep working on your own personal wellbeing! 

Remember, we're all on this journey together!