Gamechanger Series//The Pursuit
Endeavor highlights the story and journey of truly game changing trainers, coaches, and members of the health and fitness community. This week’s Game Changer is Jess Burns, the Lead Instructor at Flywheel Philly and a 2x Boston Marathon qualifier and finisher.
I still remember running my first mile at age 14, walking into that first gym at age 15 and taking my first spin class at age 16. However, it wasn’t until I attended Penn State University that I realized the fitness industry could provide a potential career path. While at Penn State, I studied Hospitality Management and Public Relations while participating in the Fitness Instructor Training Program on the side. The training program taught me everything from counting music, to anatomy and motivating a group fitness class. That experience built the foundation for my full-time career in fitness, as well as my triathlon and running career.
After graduation in 2009, I worked in sales for large national corporations while teaching fitness classes at various gyms such as: Sweat Fitness, LA Fitness, Unite Fitness, and the The Wall Cycling. At this time, I also started training for endurance events and exploring CrossFit to stay in shape and add a social aspect to my fitness routine. The flexibility of a sales job allowed me to dive into fitness a little more as the years progressed. In 2014, I decided to follow my passion and work full time at Flywheel Sports.
The decision to leave the corporate sales world with salary, commission, and many other perks would be difficult for most. For me, it was about pursuing something I could not stop thinking about, a career that made me happy and excited to wake up in the morning and go to work. I knew this was the right decision for me, so I took the leap and have not looked back since!
For those of you that may be unaware of Flywheel Sports, Flywheel is a boutique indoor cycling studio that came to Philadelphia in 2013. I was lucky enough to be hired as one of their first instructors, working my way up to the lead instructor in 2014. The role presented the best of both worlds, instructing and management, allowing me to be creative but also manage a talented team. The new role now allowed me to put those hospitality skills to use. As a younger company, and first of its kind to Philadelphia, Flywheel Sports hit the ground running, resonating with the Philadelphia community almost immediately. The growth still presents new learning opportunities for me and my team. The success of both studios, Center City and Bryn Mawr, has been a direct result of the passion Flywheel’s talent has for helping others in creating a community.
Throughout my journey so far, I have also been a part of the rapid growth at Breaking Point Fitness/CrossFit Ridge Ave, located in the Manayunk neighborhood. I obtained my Level 1 certification in 2013 and began coaching classes shortly thereafter. I truly love the benefits of Cross Training and how functional fitness can change lives.
Another passion of mine I discovered when I raced in my first triathlon in 2010 and completely fell in love with the sport and the community. Every year now, I compete in a handful of triathlon and running events, setting higher goals every year. In 2016 I qualified for the Boston Marathon for the second time, placed first overall in the AC Triathlon, and finished my first Full Ironman distance triathlon (Louisville, KY).
Never really considering myself an athlete, my athletic career has come with age, maturity and experience. Being able to truly follow my passion and immerse myself in the fitness industry, I found my calling by being surrounded with positive and inspiring people. Every day presents a different schedule with classes, meetings, trainings, and finding time to get my own works outs in, all while maintaining a positive attitude. When it comes to nutrition, it is crucial that I eat enough to keep my energy levels going, always striving to put the best quality food into my body. I take each day as an opportunity to learn from my community, grow with them, and deliver the most fun classes possible. At the end of the day I can look back and be proud of the lives I have impacted, and set new intentions for the days ahead!