Jeanette Jenkins Talks Tomboy Upbringing, 'Sexy Abs' DVD + Celebrity Clientele
What do Paula Patton, Kelly Rowland, Tia Mowry, Pink! and Robin Thicke have in common? Besides their obviously smoking hot bods, the most powerful tool in their workout arsenal is Hollywood trainer Jeanette Jenkins.
Not only can she perform hardcore workouts with a pearly white smile on her face, the Los Angeles-born fitness expert is also a self-made business woman with an optimism that surpasses her lucrative empire. The Nike Training Club Ambassador is also a hard worker and has the physical evidence to prove it.
She cooled down with VIBE Vixen to talk about her upbringing as “one of the boys” and how she helped Kelly Rowland get her sexy abs. -Adelle Platon
Ever since Jenkins was a young girl, her mother enrolled her in sports and constantly placed her on the boys’ teams to keep up with her older brother Roger (she’s the youngest of three). She still maintained her girly side, showing signs as an all-around child. “I was in the middle. I would show up to play sports with pearls around my neck. I would get into my grandma’s pearls, throw on some lipstick and then tear it up at the park. I didn’t sleep on the girly stuff, I just liked playing with my brother. And that’s why now, you see my in my workout gear with pink nails and lashes.”
It was also her childhood that instilled her insatiable need to succeed. “As a young child, I just wanted to the be the best me and I also wanted to have access ‘cause you know my mother raised us in government housing as a single mom with three kids and I remember the year that I wanted to get new snow boots, she said I had to keep the ones I had from last year because she didn’t have enough money to get me new boots.” A hustler from the age of nine, she translated her talents into profits by selling back marbles to kids she played with, hosting lemonade stands and yard sales, and producing her own garage shows, charging neighbors a quarter for admission. “I was a money-maker out the gate!”
Today, she runs her business a little differently, making much more. “I got a tax accountant certificate that I got at H&R Block, so I can actually do people’s taxes. I did a CFP designation through UCLA, which is a certified financial planner, but I take on all these courses so that I can learn how to keep my finances and how to expand them without having to just rely on someone’s verbal words and opinion.” She also dabbles in some real estate and owns several properties, including a condo in Century City for $200,000 that she bought in the same building as her office. She also has stocks in coffee and organic foods to get her financial portfolio up. “Education to me, I call it like your toolbox. Fitness is my visual presence in the world, but I'm a well-rounded businesswoman that has investments in all kinds of different things.”
After getting her finances in order, she began to pursue a fitness career. “Okay, I have money, I have equity, it’s time to start taking a risk on me and start doing work-out videos.” Starting as backup talent for ESPN and Crunch, Jenkins eventually worked heavily as a technical director for Dragonfly productions (produced all the Denise Austin and Jillian Michaels videos), choreographing the exercises and making sure they were done properly. She was also a resourceful trainer, filming seven DVDs on her wealthy clients' properties, which ultimately became her first fitness series.
Her most recent project is the start of a celebrity workout series, beginning with the recently released "Sexy Abs" DVD with songbird Kelly Rowland. "I always wanted to do a celeb series of workout videos. At the time, Tia Mowry and Kelly Rowland wanted to do workout videos. Kelly had already been working out to my bikini boot camp, and without my knowing, blasted it out on Twitter. "'We’re gonna do a bikini boot camp challenge,' [tweets Kelly], and I’m like, 'Thanks, Kelly, now we really have to do this.' But it was a beautiful surprise. She’s amazing."
It was Rowland's killer midsection in the "Motivation" video that brought the concept of the DVD to fruition. "I had already been training her for her “Motivation” video, and everybody was commenting on how amazing her abs looked in that video. I was like, “Girl, everybody wants your abs.”
The best part about the workout is that it can be done by everyone. "The content, anybody can do it, whether they’re out of shape, overweight, in-shape, athlete or non-athlete. They just do the best they can, and the whole purpose is just to strengthen and improve their flexibility and range-of-motion of their core so if you’re consistent with your training, it complements a regular work-out program." It also offers the benefits of decreased risks of lower back pain and core strength. Not to mention seeing Kelly's fun commentary and seeing her workout motivation firsthand.
However, it's the star trainer's shining personality and fun approach to exercising that keeps her A-list clientele coming back."When I train a client, I give them variety, and I can really hone in on their specific needs with various methods of training. I can pull from yoga, I can pull from pilates, I can pull from kickboxing, I can pull from spinning, from weight training and from all the different sports I’ve played. And I do it in a fun way. I don’t do it in a way where I’m coming down to lecture you. I do something with them that helps them release mentally and spiritually. If you have someone giving you positive energy every day, it affects everything that you do."
With this DVD, she wants to reel in the Kelly Rowland fans and get them interested in health and fitness to show that a celebrity body is no overnight success. "There’s no magic pill, and the only way you’re gonna look great is you take care of yourself holistically--mind, body and spirit. There’s one thing they teach you in accounting that actually applies and it’s 'Pay yourself first before you pay everyone else.' So the first thing you gotta do is learn to be happy and love that person that’s on the other side of the mirror."
While she juggles multiple business ventures, Jenkins will now be adding co-executive producer to a top-secret television show set for next year. "I can tell you for sure we are signed, sealed and delivered with Akil Productions (The Game). It’s gonna be in the health and wellness category, but just to let you know, good things are coming."
She also told VIBE Vixen for the first time that she turned down an offer to replace one of her best friends Jillian Michaels on The Biggest Loser but didn’t take it "because they wanted to own my name in the health and wellness category public-wise." Michaels even asked why she wouldn't take it, and Jenkins says it was her business prerogative to own all the content she has created, instead of hand over her name and fitness empire to a distribution company.
With an already loaded yet impressive résumé, Jenkins continues to be the epitome of endless enthusiasm and refreshing optimism, something that her mom encouraged from a young age. "One thing my mom always told me, you can do it. Any wise idea, she was always like, yeah you can do it and so I just thought I could do anything." And the new year just brings more opportunity for her to take over.
Her plans for 2012 also include taking on more interns and changing her single status after putting her business and family first this year. But her most important new year's resolution: "I just wanna help people find their power.”