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Jennifer Wilson - April 2019

Jennifer Wilson - April 2019

Meet Jennifer Wilson!

I grew up in the rural north of England without car or television, but with the moors as my playground and the local library as my second home.  I loved English and Physics.  At university, I read the life-changing Moby Dick, fell in love with American Literature, and came to the U.S. on a big scholarship to do my Ph.D.  I planned to return to be a professor in England, but I met a man—that’s our Larry at Prevail-- and I stayed.  I have enjoyed a fabulous career at UCLA where I learned much and taught many.  I love my English and my American families and consider myself a citizen without borders.


When did you start coming to Prevail?

When I retired, Larry and I spent time discussing what we could do together to enrich our lives in a shared way.  Our health was a priority so we looked for health promoting activities that we could do together.  Not an easy task in our yin-yang household!  I wanted dancing; he wanted gym.  I feared a repetition of my minimal LA experience of gyms: mindless running on treadmills with the beautiful people, or the Pod people, i.e. the I-Pod people.  Not my scene.  I have to think. ….. As in all good marriages, we found a path for both of us together: yoga and Prevail.  After all, yoga is a kind of athletic dance and Prevail, Larry assured me (he was already a member), is a very thinking gym.


What impact has training at Prevail made in your life?

Prevail’s impact on me is significant.  This needs a little explanation.  I have a special brain.  It works differently from most people’s.  A side-effect of my specialness is that I have great difficulty telling my left from my right and I cannot see balls or catch them well.  As you can imagine, this translated into a lot of school bullying in gym and sports classes when I was growing up.  Nobody wanted me on their team.  So I cultivated the lonely sports: solo dance and walking.  (I still dance when I clean house and I still walk eight miles a day.) Then I came to Prevail.  Sports teachers in high school were not interested in me and often patronized me (“Jennifer, run round the field.”).  My first coach at Prevail was Erin, an Olympic medal winner. Wow.  And she was actually interested in me as a person.  I went from not to hot!  She taught me how to be aware of my body and how to move it properly.  She taught me how to think about what I was doing and why and my great brain kicked in making exercise meaningful and joyful.  It is par for the course.  My current coach, Josiah (in the Master Class), is a gifted teacher –I speak from many years of university teaching experience.  He is truly knowledgeable and he shares what he knows so that you think about what you are doing and he has a magnetic rapport with his clients which inspires us to do better.  We can challenge him and he’s ok with it and we can ask him questions and he always finds a way to answer us that is both scientific and realistically informative.  We laugh a lot, I mean a LOT!  In what treadmill gyms do people laugh?  Here, we are laughing and learning all the time.  Most recently, I’ve also been taking Regen (that’s the regeneration class) with Diego G. This is a class out of an alien world.  The body is a sort of protoplasm that we poke and prod and stretch and work into enlightenment.  I know you don’t know what that means but I have learned so much about anatomy in general and my own body in particular from this class that I urge anybody reading this to try it out.  Sometimes, by the serendipity of crossed schedules or absences, we have had other coaches: the joyful Diego B. who has taught me how to breathe and who has given me an exercise routine such that I try to emulate parts of it each day while I make the dogs’ breakfasts; and the great Peter –Peter the Great, I guess—who, when he leads our class, lifts us to levels that hitherto seemed impossible.  I enjoy people- watching at Prevail.  I learn from what others are being taught.


Do you have any words of encouragement or tips for somebody new to exercise (or restarting)?

Look after your body.  It is the best instrument you will ever have.  Laugh, dance, and sing while you do it.


What are your hobbies?

Reading, writing, thinking, dancing, walking, doing calculus, completing the London Times cryptic crossword puzzle unaided, inventing machines, gardening, music, loving animals, loving children, loving husband, working for non-profits, making the world a better place.


What is your favorite movement/exercise?

I love sleds and kettle bell carries.  You can sing while you do them and everyone encourages everyone else.  I’m challenged by crawling—truly hard for someone with an elbow in recovery.  I try to sing, but you have to gaze at the green carpet.  It’s not easy being green!


Any additional comments you would like to share?

I have two additional comments.  First, Prevail helps people who have injuries as well as healthy people.  In 2017, I seriously fractured my elbow.  It was so serious that my gifted UCLA surgeon feared that I might never regain full use of my arm.  The first operation was 5 hours long, followed by a second one a year later to remove the extensive hardware pins. I did not stop coming to Prevail during this long period of recovery.  Josiah designed a modified routine for me each week—I pulled the sled on a harness, for example, instead of pushing it; and he worked elbow exercises into my program.  I have fun memories of walking up and down the gym, seriously pressing back my painful elbow while advising Westmont College interns about their post-grad college choices or, in one case, an upcoming wedding.  My exercise patterns were tailored to my very specialized needs and both my surgeon and I account my excellent recovery to a diligence in exercise that I could sustain only because I had so much outside support. . .  And last but not least, Prevail would not be Prevail without my colleagues.  When I retired from UCLA, my biggest adjustment has been a feeling of loss of community.  But I have not only Peter and Erin and Josiah and Diego G. and Diego B and Sara, our administrator.  I also have truly interesting and wonderful people in my classes.  I won’t name names in case they do not want to be out on the internet but we laugh together, cry together, and support each other in our various life events as well as in our sled pushes and our one-foot-elevated hip extensions and our serious split-squats.  I am so grateful for their inclusive camaraderie.  I have community again.  I feel safe.  I feel well.  I feel sage.


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