You Just Get Better
An Interview with Jessica Kelly
LA based Jessica Kelly was a late bloomer who didn’t start going to the gym until her early 30’s. Little by little she discovered yoga, which opened up a whole new world of health and fitness. From there she moved to CrossFit and now at 42, is the strongest she has ever been in her life.
I train for a lot of different reasons. It reminds me how strong I am. Even on a bad day, it reminds me who I am. It’s such a mental game for me. Am I going to be able to do it today? If I can’t, am I going to cry? Am I going to give up? What can I pull out of myself today? It’s to prove to myself that I can do things, and to prove to myself when I can’t do them, that I can deal with it and go back in and try it again tomorrow. And that translates to the rest of my life. It’s a different type of courage and confidence and playfulness that I didn’t have before.
"I’ll never be the strongest. I’ll never be the fastest. But I’ll be the one that works the hardest."
On the toughest thing I ever did
Seven years ago, for a variety of personal reasons, I completely started over. I moved to Los Angeles on my own with no savings, no job and no contacts. I left my best friend, my marriage and my family. I was alone. But I never looked back. I started doing yoga twice a day. And discovered that helping people through health and fitness was my true passion.
On struggling with self doubt
I’ve struggled with self doubt and lack of confidence all my life. I think it goes back to not playing sports as a young girl. Only by training have I felt more accepting of my strengths and weaknesses. Where as before, I hadn’t learned how to deal with that. I’m now learning to do things I never thought I could do. So deep down I know I can do anything.
I want to be as healthy and as strong as I can be so I can live life the way I want. I want to be ready for the next adventure!
“For the first time in my life, I had an appreciation for what my body could do, rather than what it looked like.”
On turning 42
I was never really age conscious. But coming to LA when I was 35 has been really interesting. Everyone here is so focused on youth. I want to stay an inspiration. I have people come up to me and say, “You’re 42? I can’t believe that.” Why? Am I supposed to behave like an old person? I don’t know what old is. Am I supposed to look like a bag of bones? Or stop taking care of myself? I’m not training for aesthetics. I’m doing it for achievement. I have people my own age who tell me “I can’t do this stuff anymore”. It’s funny, because I never had done it before so I have nothing to compare it to. So there’s no limitation in my mind. I may take longer to warm up than younger people, but that’s it!
On her tattoo
I have a small tattoo “Amor Fati” on my arm. It’s Latin for “Loving Your Fate”. Not just accepting what happens in life, but really embracing and loving the good, the bad and the ugly – knowing that whatever is happening in the moment is necessary in order experience life and beauty and to move forward. So when something happens that I might not like, I repeat it to myself and helps me see what could come out of that moment. We can’t choose what happens to us. But we can choose how we feel about it. And why wouldn’t we choose to feel anything but good?
"Human greatness is the ability to love your fate"
On being beautiful tough
This phrase changed my life and my notion of myself. There could be a bad connotation to the word tough – stubborn, closed off, unrelenting. But pairing it with beautiful brings all that positivity to the surface. That tough is being courageous and strong. When I finally let go of what I looked like, and focused on being strong, I felt my body change. My clothes fit different. I felt different. Because there’s such beauty in strength. It’s grace and grit in harmony and balance.
On the power of one
Everyday is an opportunity to see what you can do. It’s like beginners mind. It doesn’t matter that you’re doing Downward Dog for the 1000th time. On that day, in that moment, it’s the only one.
Athlete: Jessica Kelly