Jess Swarbreck

Jess Swarbreck

Kenzai Member
Sculpt Intro!

Hi Team- hats off and thank you to Maria, Rina, Lori and Mai who've kicked us off with the intro blogs!
I'll go next!

1. I'm Jess and spend my time working as a Kenzai trainer, as well as a nutritionist and PT here in the UK. I live near a small town called Uttoxeter in Staffordshire with my husband Ben and our small menagerie pets :)

2. Goals for this program include shaping up my legs and butt for an upcoming holiday which includes both skiing and looking good in a dress!

3. Time is the only one I can think of but I'm loving the routine I've been in most of the year which includes getting up early and working out before work.

4. I love watching great dancers- Michael Jacksons up there with Thriller!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Sculpt day 1

Thrilled to be kicking off this month with the February sculpt crew!

I've hit pause on ski-boot to put on my trainer hat but will be back to it later in the year- sincere apologies to my skiboot team mates for not seeing it through this time around.

Lettuce sculpt!


I still have to dig out a photo for last weeks challenge but in the meantime here's a map of Mt Tremblant, Canada.

I spent several months training and teaching skiing here back in 2006 when I was taking a year out before university. By no means is it the most beautiful place in the world but it was where I put the hardest graft into any sport ever in my life. Compared to Europe where I'd done most of my skiing before, the conditions were tough, reaching -20C some days!
Second pic is of a rather chubby 19 year old me on my first week at ski school :)


Hi Skibooters! Here are my answers to the intro blog questions...

1. I'm Jess, I live in the Midlands, UK and work as a nutritionist, personal trainer, and am also proud to be a member of the Kenzai team. Things that make me happy include family, friends, food, sports, my pets and right this moment, a wood fire which I'm sitting by after working out in the cold with my last client of the day.

2. My main goal for training this round is to prepare for my ski trip at the end of Feb- its a bit of a bucket list trip as I'm heading to Niseko, Japan for the first time. Anyone been?

3. Possible barriers to come up are shin splints (an ongoing issue) and time constraints. I'm currently setting up a Nutritional Therapy business alongside my full time job and finishing off my degree. I think it should be fine though. 4 weeks ain't long!

4. Weird stuff: If you were an animal, what animal would you be? Why?
Probably a labrador because they love eating.

Off to a great start and loving the cycle workouts. Fun!!

Mind-the start of something great 

I've loved this program and reading everyones final blogs its amazing to see how attainable tangible results can be, with short (ish at the end!) daily practice.

Generally, I've had a tough year, and it came to a head a few weeks ago with a great loss in my family. As sad as its been, I feel that the skills I acquired, pretty early on in the program, have helped me to stay calmer, to be there for my family more, and stay productive.

As the programs gone on I've found that sitting can be an incredibly effective way of calming anxiety. I've always used running in the past but find that ten minutes of meditation is just as effective, and much more efficient than a long run which isn't always practical.

I find myself breathing and practicing metacognition at random times in the day, and the results are clear in my relationships and in my general sense of wellbeing.

Pretty life-changing. Knocked it out the park, Patrick. Thanks a million :)


Yesterdays session felt like a milestone.

I got a phone call in the morning which unexpectedly sent me from highly chilled to highly frazzled in about 5 minutes. I was so stressed and cross about it...its the kind of feeling where I'd usually head out for a long run to calm down, but I didn't have time as had to get to work within the hour. So, I decided to do my meditation practice instead. I had zero confidence that it would be a pleasant session so I set my timer at 10 minutes.

At first it felt futile but within a very short time, it was as though I could feel the stress hormones melting away- an intensely physical feeling letting go of stress and anxiety. And it wasn't as though I felt as though I was doing a particularly good job of it- just a practice day like any other. But the intensity of the effect was amazing to me.

In contrast, todays 20 minute session felt kind of blah! It was full of distractions. I wondered if the idea of a longer session subconsciously encouraged procrastination during practice. Anyway, excited to see where the next two weeks take us all.

LOVE this program!


I’ve started to notice some real benefits of meditating. The process of stepping back and detaching from thoughts and difficult emotions is super helpful for me, particularly with difficult relationships. I’ve always been a ‘reactor’ the point that my family love to wind me up. I can laugh at it but have always disliked that about myself. This process is helping me to keep my cool 😎

On my way back to France with my sister for the funeral. As you can see we’re both living in the moment right now...


I found todays lesson helpful. Did everyone else physically do the exercise?
I used this bottle and observed the thought chain attached...I found that the action of thinking about thinking in this way really interesting, and I wonder if it might be a good way to detach from anxiety.

I bought this bottle at the airport yesterday, on my way home from a very emotional trip to France. Last Monday, my beloved grandmother had a stroke which we knew she would not recover from. I went to see her and was able to say goodbye and be with her after she died on Friday. She was 92 and had a truly amazing life...working as a nurse in Palestine during the war, and later as a translator and nurse to the Sultans mother in Oman. Oh the stories she would tell!The devotion of her children, my father and aunt, as well as her grandchildren, friends and neighbours, to her, for her entire life, illustrates what an amazing mother and person she was. She kept bouncing back through years of bad falls and one or two acute health problems, but never suffered with disease, living at home till the end and never ending up in a wheelchair- two things she always felt strongly about. She was the most loving, generous, and gentle person, with so much love to give- I will miss her terribly. I'm incredibly grateful for the long life she had and for her influence in my life, I'm so pleased we were there with her at the end and that it was peaceful. So many people don't have that chance.

When I observed my thought chain attached to the bottle it took me back to the airport, where I'll be next week for the funeral and all anxious thoughts about falling behind with work surrounding that. For some reason, thinking about thinking about this made tension in my solar plexus disappear momentarily. I admit I've been avoiding meditating since Friday, instead trying to keep busy and distract myself from the sadness I feel. But I've realised there's a deep sadness which I don't need to escape from, and a level of anxiety which I do...and can! It's amazing what you can achieve from really observing your thought chains- how many years have they been active in the background, causing tension in my body which didn't need to be there? ...all this from a bottle of water?


This lesson was another great realisation. Meditation is NOT just an attempt to relax. If I can equate it to training then I can absolutely get my teeth stuck into this. Great lesson!
I feel such a great buzz around this program. Its like KB1 (or PCP) all over again!


Such a simple concept but todays lesson was quite a revelation. I've ALWAYS corrected my posture from the shoulders- 'shoulders back' my parents used to say to me, which results in an exaggerated , uncomfortable arched back. Working it up from the hips makes so much more sense. So simple!


I know its been on the cards for a long time so its great that 'Mind' is finally here. I'm excited to be starting this programme, as well as training it with Patrick and Jenny.

I've done a fair bit of meditation in the past like a lot of people here, I'm sure, but have yet to achieve the goal of making it a daily discipline. I've always viewed my workouts as a form of meditation but am looking forward to finding a better distinction between the two over the next 6 weeks.


Last week, a drunk middle-aged guy I’d never met came into the pub where I work and started chatting with me and the other bar staff. Nothing unusual, but a bit later on I noticed that he was whispering, laughing and looking up at me with his mates. As I walked over towards them he asked me ‘are you going on Gladiators?’ to which they all burst out laughing.

I’m not sure if it was just in the UK that Gladiators was a major Saturday night family TV event. It’s basically a game show where fitness enthusiasts take on challenges against body building ‘gladiators’. Anyway, I was quite taken aback. This wasn’t a friendly question in any sense, it was clearly hilarious to them, but I wasn’t in on the joke. What do you mean by that I wanted to ask, but I felt self-conscious as to what the answer might be and somewhat lost for words. I’ve worked in pubs a lot so am used to customers being drunk and inappropriate, but nobody had ever crossed a line like this before. As someone with pretty low self-esteem it took me a couple of days to work through the way this guy had behaved towards me.

The same guy came in last night and sat in the same spot, with a view the whole way down the bar where staff have to stand. He clearly knew he’d gotten under my skin last week, and he wanted more. There was more whispering and laughing through the evening and when I ignored that, he started shouting a famous line from the show, ‘Gladiators, ready, contenders ready’ at the top of his voice to his friends. My blood boiled. There was no way this wasn’t body shaming- this was fit-shaming! God forbid, a woman have muscles and wear clothes that show them off.

Hats off to the manager who took action the moment I told her what was going on, the bloke sheepishly apologised and stopped what he'd been doing. He gave me a bit of attitude when I refused to serve him later on, to which I didn’t hold back. I told him he was a bully who'd insulted and embarrassed me, and that he'd be lucky if I ever served him a drink again in this pub. His response, predictably, was pathetic. He was shocked and didn't know what to say. I felt glad that I’m at an age where I could handle it and take him down a peg or two. But I was amazed, after the strides feminism has taken recently, at the number of bystanders to this incident. There were even two women there who tried to stand up for him, one saying 'aw its his birthday', the other one 'I don't think he meant it the way you took it'. One of his male friends complained to the manager that I'd 'gone off on one' at him, although she was having none of it.

So there we are. Here's to standing up to bullies!

K Run DONE! 

I've LOVED Kenzai run. Having been a runner for basically ever, I've been wanting to do this programme for a while but was always in two minds in a funny way. Running has always been something I do alone (or with my dog) and I didn't love the idea of that special time being interfered with. So stupid really! Anyway, its been amazing to do. I've enjoyed the way it hasn't made me change my fitness routine too much- its fit in with my life more easily than other programmes have and in that sense has been less of a challenge. Not always what one wants but for me, at this point in time, its been a perfect way of bringing back focus.

The biggest take aways have been from the lessons from which I've learned loads. Running techniques aren't something you get taught as a personal trainer unless you specialise and I've felt huge benefits from focussing on form, and lots of other little tips.

I haven't been focused on timing my runs, mostly because I dropped and smashed my phone on a run several months ago and am back on an old one without all my apps. I've basically stuck with 2 routes I knew the distances from before and have worked on estimates around those. I've enjoyed the sense of freedom thats brought but sorry I don't have more stats to bring to the table. I did the final run in just over an hour (but there is a massive, steep hill at the start which takes about 10 minutes to jog/walk up!) and I'm pleased with that.

Thanks to Kate P for encouraging me to crack on with this with her, and to the rest of the group, and to Patrick for their comments along the way.

And finally big kudos to Malia and Patrick for probs my fave programme since PCP. Its been AWESOME!

🍅 tomatoes

Had to blog about my tomatoes as it’s the best crop we’ve ever had, I can barely keep up! Have resorted to roasting them to use as bases for sauces or soup. So much water in them, I don’t need to add anything apart from some garlic and herbs, roast and then whizz up. Delish!
Running going well. Got caught in the rain today and took this silly selfie to prove it!


I'm enjoying reading the lessons on this program, particularly ones that remind me to keep pushing on through the runs, and indeed through life :)

I'm currently working my way through the final few weeks of a five year course in nutrition and as is often the way with long term projects (so I'm told), these final few weeks feel like I'm crawling up hill through mud! It's weird, the tricks the mind plays on you in situations like this. I'm getting good grades and yet my confidence levels are super low. I've been excited about reaching this point since day 1 yet suddenly I'm terrified about whats next.

It's a similar story with my fitness. I'm probably the best shape I've been in years, yet I look in the mirror and feel rubbish. I struggle to get the out the door to my lacrosse practice (my all time favourite thing!) or for my runs. I don't feel the need to psychoanalyse myself too much but I imagine it has something to do with feeling daunted at the prospect of life changing, albeit in a way I've planned and worked by arse off for.

Anyway, my point is, I've been 'metaphorising' the lessons where I can to help me keep moving forwards. Like a lot of people, I don't enjoy running up hills for example, and its something I've actively avoided. But the simple pointers like shortening my stride and leaning into the hill make it so much easier. And giving myself permission to go a bit more slowly makes a difference too.

My mantra has been a simple one but its a goodun, see above! :)

Jan 8th, 2018





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