July 09, 2014

Three Annoying Questions For: Jen Sinkler!


Interview By Crabby McSlacker

"Three Annoying Questions" returns as we ambush the awesome Jen Sinkler!

I've been a fan for years--Jen was the Editorial Director at Experience Life, one of the few non-crappy Health and Fitness magazines out there.  Her articles were my faves, as she was generally way ahead of the curve and yet had a no-bullshit down-to-earth take on fitness trends.   You can get her "Thrival Guide" free over at her site, and with that comes a newsletter that is actually something you want in your inbox as there as always cool stuff in there.

More details on what Jen's been up to at the end, but meantime, please welcome Jen and stay tuned for her Three Annoying Questions!--Crabby



1. During your years at Experience Life magazine, many of your articles explored emerging or non-mainstream health and fitness trends--yet you never sounded at all like one of those over-enthusiastic crackpots who reflexively embraces any new fad that comes along just to sound edgy and hip.

But, if you're like me, is it possible you ever wrote something open-minded or even glowing about a food or a product or a practice or an idea that in retrospect proved to be kinda crazy-assed? Or even if you didn't write about it, anything you've belatedly discovered you were off-base about?

Alas, I did. (Besides, if you're not constantly evolving your viewpoint and changing your mind, you're not learning, right?)

In the mid-2000s, everyone was super hot for unstable-surface training (UST) — you know, standing all wobbly atop Bosu balls while you press micro-weights (because that's all you could hold without toppling off) as a way to better your balance and increase your core strength.

Well, I fell for it, too — pun intended. I assigned, edited and published an article at Experience Life during that time that glowed like a gorgeous sunset all over UST.

A few years later, and in the same magazine, I was able to right my wrong, and assigned out a second article covering the research on why lower-body UST is not that awesome at all, and how even including 2 percent of it in your training can de-power a healthy athlete. Color me sheepish! (UST is good for rehabbing ankle injuries and it's fine for the upper body, though.) Obviously I had our first version taken offline when we published the second one in 2009 — called "Build Your Balance" — but the first lives on in my mind.

I'm sure there have been others, but that's the one that really stands out.



2. Many Cranky Fitness readers out there love strength training and dislike cardio, and so your brilliant "Lift Weights Faster" concept is gonna really appeal to them. But do you have any advice for their opposites, strength-training slackers like me who want muscles but hate lifting heavy things? I'd prefer not to use my legs for anything more demanding than chasing down ice cream trucks. Is there any hope for us?

Clearly, I have a personal passion for weight training.




But what works best for me isn't always going to be the case for the person sitting next to me -- or interviewing me. The very best exercise you can do is the one you truly love doing. Exercise is a very broad spectrum and if you're looking to get started, my best advice to is to first look at what you truly enjoy doing, be it cycling, swimming, jogging, yogging or Prancercizing. Movement is a gateway drug; once you get in the habit, it becomes something your body craves.

As a caveat, if strength training is something that piques your interest but you are uncertain where to get started, unloaded, bodyweight-only exercises are a great place to start. Think pushup, row, lunge, and squat variations -- you can find a multitude of bodyweight circuits and clear exercise descriptions in Lift Weights Faster. And just think how much faster your legs will be when you're chasing down the ice cream truck once they're stronger and thus able to put more force into the ground with each stride!


3. You were editorial director at Experience Life, right, which seems like an awesome and impressive gig. And yet somehow you had the courage to leave and do your own thing. It sure looks like you're poised to create a world-dominating fitness empire. (And I'd be insanely jealous, except it's kind of obvious that hard work and creativity were involved and I'm not so fond of those). Anyway, so this is a two parter: how did you manage to make the transition, and has it been easier or harder than you thought?

In the winter of 2012, I had an overwhelming sense of now or never — either make the leap or admit I was institutionalized (I will say that if there is any place to settle in, it would have been Experience Life). I was happy where I was, but I was even more curious to see what would happen if I ventured out on my own. I believe in following your gut and according to my gut, I was ready enough.

Easier or harder than I thought? I'll just say this: Working for myself is an amorphous shitshow — it takes new directions and assumes new shapes all the time — but it's my shitshow. All mine. And it's wonderful.


Jen Sinkler provides intel on intuitive training, Olympic lifting, kettlebell training and other "weighty" issues, as well as sane nutritional strategies, easy recipe prep, dressing well in the gym, and living life as your best self over at her website, Thrive.

This spring, she released her 130-workout conditioning program, Lift Weights Faster which provides a quick-n-dirty, treadmill-free option for getting in bangin' shape.

Does the notion of Lifting Weights Faster Appeal to any of you guys?  Ever took a leap of faith like Jen and left a safe situation to do your own thing? Ever been wrong about a fitness trend?

28 comments:

  1. Great interview. :)

    Checked out the Lift Weights Faster program. Looks interesting and looks like it has lots of options for at-home exercisers like myself. I just started a new 8 week program, but will definitely keep this in mind!

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  2. Excellent JavaChick! And good luck on your 8 week program!

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  3. Hmm....interesting about the BOSU. I still like using mine to work my balance - I guess as long as I'm not relying on that alone for strength training it will be fine.

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    1. Kim, I don't think anyone has a more varied and intense strength training routine than you do!

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  4. "Amorphous shitshow" made me laugh out loud. It's an excellent description of what being self employed can entail, and I love it. I'm actually on the lookout for a new strength program to start up in August, so will check out Lift Weights Faster. Still focused on conditioning and cardio right now since I was functionally on my ass for four months, but it's going well. Now, if I can just stop eating like a mastodon... nope! :-P

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    1. I seem to be following the mastodon diet too Heather! And hope you're recovery's going ok, gotta be slow & careful however frustrating it is, dang it!

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    2. Hey, there's a lot to be said for the mastodon diet! It does a lot to make surgical recovery a less annoying experience. That said, I'm transitioning out of too much ice cream and sugary doom bits (aka candy) now. The ice cream pints I'll miss, but the candy eventually got kinda "meh." When I noticed Starburst minis starting to taste like fruit-juice soaked Play-Doh, I figured it was time.

      Recovery is going really well, though. We've transitioned from walking to biking, so weights won't be far behind. I've actually lost a fair bit of fat even with eating like a mastodon, so we'll keep up the momentum and testing my limits. Someday I'll see abs! Yes!

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    3. So glad to hear you're already doing so much Heather, and I bet you WILL see abs if you keep on plugging away. Way to go!

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  5. LMFAO!!!!!!!! Working for yourself is definitely a shit show because you never know when to turn business mode off and turn life and fun ON!!! While so many people are envious of those who work for themselves... Realize that it is actually pretty difficult too because we work 7 days a week!

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    1. Ah, but you sure pull it off well Gigi!

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  6. Ooh, cardio and strength at the same time...YES. Thanks for this Q&A because I wasn't familiar with Jen at all!

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    1. Sounds right up your alley OTF!

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  7. I need glasses! I thought it said Pancercizing not Prancercizing which is also funny! I imagined running around yanking people's pants down and running away.
    I changed jobs a couple years ago it involved a pay cut and much higher risk of layoff but it is the kind of work I like to do and is much less stressful. I also worked for myself years ago. That was not for me unless I really didn't need the money and could then turn down some jobs.

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    1. Never buy glasses CIndy, your concept of Pancercizing is just too awesome--just think what the world might miss if you could see clearly!

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  8. I am SO glad to hear about the unstable surface thing!! Seriously. Anything that confirms it's not just about me being sucky at something is a concept I can totally embrace. And, geez - Jen is cute, funny and ripped - so, I am very much gonna pay attention to all this :) Thanks!!

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    1. UltraKaz, I'm with you! EVERY surface is an unstable one with my crappy sense of balance, the last thing I need is to be teetering around on an orb!

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  9. I also was happy to learn that I can skip the unstable surface lower body exercises without guilt. My husband (not a runner) was sure it would improve my running, but I bailed after a few weeks when my hips hurt all. the. time. and I was running more slowly. Now I feel vindicated. :) Thanks!

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    1. Interesting Mary that you had exactly the experience Jen warns about. Glad you ditched the UST stuff!

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  10. Great interview!!! Me, I just like lifting weights period! :)

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    1. We are such opposites on that Jody! Wish I could have your muscles with just some cardio and fairy dust... sigh.

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  11. Very interesting. I actually dislike weights and love cardio so... I usually try to teach a weights class so I get it in that way but I've been slacking massively on that - oops!!

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    1. I so admire that you can teach a weights class even while not even being a fan Allie!

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  12. I love me some weight lifting!
    I'm quite a newbie though and I can still remember how intimidating it was to enter that weight room at my gym where everybody was super ripped (or so it seemed).
    I seriously don't give a shit about that shit anymore. :)
    I just go in, get into my Zen and lift. And then exit - gracefully (provided it's not a leg day) :)
    Great interview, Crabby!

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  13. Since strength training is not my idea of a good time, i love the idea of doing it faster and thus getting it done and over. Sorry to all who love it, it's my misfortune to have had it drilled into me from youth that exercise is torture and something you have to do when you want to be doing something better with your time.

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  14. Dear Crabby, I haz a package of fairy dust for sale. $3,995 plus $500 shipping tariff. Just say the word.

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  15. Dear Crabby, I haz a package of fairy dust for sale: $3,995 plus $500 shipping tariff. Very low cost. Just say the word.

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  16. Yes, I love this interview! I am an unabashed Jen Sinkler fangirl, and so I love that you hit her with your three (not-so) annoying questions.

    Also, I've been very happy to hear that the unstable-surface trend is fading away, particularly regarding the lower body. I had a trainer guy who used to be all "do squats on the BOSU" and I would spend the entire time worried I was going to seriously hurt myself. Let me just stand on stable ground when squatting, dammit!

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  17. I was massively honored to do this interview -- thank you all for the lovely comments, and to Crabby for asking! :)

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Thanks for commenting, Cranky Fitness readers are the BEST!

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