After years of dealing with health issues that derailed her everyday life, iFIT member Jennifer Brumley chose to invest in her wellness. Little did she know that this decision would lead her to an active running lifestyle, new friends, and a growing number of races under her belt. Jennifer shared her experience with us, touching on how the iFIT community has been integral in her success.
What’s your fitness journey been like? What was the catalyst to begin?
My journey began due to becoming a shut-in as a result of extreme agoraphobia. I live with schizoaffective disorder, which is rare. I became too scared to leave my house and be around other people. I was so tired of the world seeing and describing me in negative ways. I cannot handle large crowds or noisy places due to PTSD from my time in the U.S. Army. My psychiatrist suggested exercise to help ease my mental health struggles. Since I would not leave my home, I decided a treadmill would be my best option.
I thought I had to accept the disabled life and hide away from the world. Through iFIT, I got my life back one step at a time. I started my journey with John Peel and could not even jog for a minute. Fast forward to today, and I now run 8Ks for fun!
I’ve traded depression and self-hatred for running workouts. I love it! No matter how bad the voices are, my legs and body are stronger. Never in a million years did I think I would refer to my NordicTrack incline trainer as “my baby” or love to let loose. Strong, powerful, and unstoppable—that is how running and strength training makes me feel.
In October 2020, I finally left the house because I wanted to run a real in-person 5K! I was terrified, but I kept quoting iFIT trainers in my head: “Learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.” I also drew inspiration from Dr. Tommy Rivs Puzey and his situation. He was fighting for his family and life. If he could fight an uphill battle, then I could, too!
After watching me fight through the fear and overcome it, I have now had two out of my three sons run their first 5Ks in 2021 with me. Both of them are now signing up for track at school. I went from having nothing to talk about to talking about traveling the world and going places I could never dream of visiting in real life. iFIT and this community saved my life, and I am forever grateful.
You inspire and engage with members of the iFIT Community with your posts. How has the community played a part in your perception of fitness?
The iFIT community is a huge deal for me. Like I stated before, I was used to the world not accepting me. I had zero friends and no one to talk to other than the four family members in my home. I went without anyone to call a friend or a person to chat about life with for four years. I felt so alone and lost. I found myself in a really dark place.
When I was in the Army, we had “battle buddies.” Battle buddies help each other deal with day-to-day stressors. That is why it is important to learn and know what pushes the group’s buttons. They also serve as an extra set of eyes and ears for one another. iFIT Trainers John Peel, Jesse Corbin, Casey Sines, and Ashley Paulson, alongside six iFIT members filled that hole in my soul and gave me a reason to show up every day. I mattered to people again, and hence we created the “SoleMates Battle Crew.” I am no longer alone and now get the chance to show others that same love and support through the SoleMates Battle Crew Facebook page. iFIT is more than a fitness platform. We are a big, imperfectly perfect family.
Are there any upcoming events on the horizon for you?
I am very excited to say that the outside world is becoming a little less scary, thanks to iFIT. In fact, I am taking the “trust the process” philosophy one step further and now have a service dog in training. The iFIT community helped me name him Max through the Official iFIT Member Page on Facebook. I’m excited to one day do all of the hiking workouts I’ve done virtually, in real life with Max by my side.
On the horizon, my goal is for me and Max to make our way across the country running a race in every state over the next couple of years. I cannot wait for all the hugs from the iFIT community as I get to meet people in person.
For someone who doesn’t know where to start, what tips would you give them to get going?
Comparison is the thief of joy. I had to learn early on that we are all in different stages of our fitness journey. I’ve heard people say they are not runners or not good at being on the bike. They look at other members and get intimidated, not feeling good enough, fast enough, or strong enough. It all starts with baby steps—walking to power-walking, power-walking to jogging, jogging to running, and finally, running to whatever dreams you have for yourself.
If you’re not a runner, that’s fine! If you’re not a bike person, that’s okay too. What if you can only do the walking series and have to stay low impact? That’s awesome! No matter what form of exercise you do, as long as you do it with a smile on your face and good vibes in your heart, that’s what matters.
Do not be afraid to lean on the iFIT community for support and love. That’s what we want to be able to do for you! Just like Mt. Everest, it takes a team to climb up mountains. When done alone, you may not succeed. When done as a team, you will reach that summit. One team, one dream!
Who is your favorite iFIT Trainer?
This question is like asking me which one of my kids is my favorite! Honestly, I think finding the right iFIT Trainer for you is like a vision quest. You may set out thinking you know which trainer is your favorite, but one day, you discover that you may have been wrong and find the one you connect with in spirit.
I am going to break John Peel’s great debate rule and say I have a tie. For me, John Peel is the light that brought me out of a very dark place. If it were not for John, my kids would not have their mom today. I love his energy, good vibes, big heart, positive messages, love of pizza, and that smile! John Peel is a bright light for me. Something that struck home that John spoke on is that I am worthy of being me.
Jesse Corbin is the other piece to my puzzle, as he came to me when I least expected it. Jesse helped me learn to love and accept myself even though I do not feel worthy of it. His charisma and energy make a 30-minute workout feel five minutes long because they are so much fun. This past May, listening to him talk about how it is okay not to be okay spoke to my heart. Jesse emphasized that you are worthy of love and you matter. For a girl who felt broken, I soaked up every word. I am a Peelie and an everyday rockstar. That makes for one heck of a power combo.
What is your favorite iFIT Series?
iFIT Trainer Knox Robinson’s South Africa Foundations of Running Series
How long have you been an iFIT member?
Since March 2019.
What do you like most about iFIT?
It might seem silly, but my answer is the name of the company. What I like most is the fact that I found a place where someone like myself can say, “I FIT”—literally! I belong somewhere.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. iFIT assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article. Always follow the safety precautions included in the owner’s manual of your fitness equipment.
Opinions of iFIT members are not necessarily the opinions of iFIT.