by Jude Jacob December 02, 2020
About me: Born and raised in Pennsylvania US, I still live in the Lehigh Valley with husband, George and 12 year old Golden Doodle, Tessa. I'm an adaptive athlete who was born visually impaired, and I never let anything stop me from doing what I want to do!
My fitness journey
My fitness journey consisted of playing many sports, but volleyball is my passion. I played in high school as well as in college. I had the amazing opportunity to participate in the NCAA National Championships all four years! I fell in love with cycling about 6 years after college. I switched gears because volleyball was physically demanding on my body; you jump on average 500 times per match! My husband is the one who introduced me to cycling, and we participate in many charity bike rides for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.
He frequently bikes hundreds of miles each week, and he was the one who convinced me to try cycling.
These days, we spend a lot of time biking together. I love it when we go and get lost, and it's the ultimate feeling of freedom. Volleyball will always be my true love, but at 43, cycling is easier on my body, plus it's something you can do solo. Cycling popularity in the US has grown exponentially, because it allows freedom during Coronavirus stages.
As an Adaptive Fitness coach, my biggest piece of advice is to start small. Everyone wants to be a pro athlete, but there are so many steps to getting there. First thing is movement; taking the dog for a walk or even going outside to rake the leaves can be a great start. One of my client’s primary exercise is vacuuming. It’s a start, right!
One of my favorite teaching concepts is that you need to “Fail Forward.” We need to fail at things to understand what doesn't work for us. Once you know what doesn't work, you'll find out what does.
Life as an adaptive athlete
I was born visually impaired, but I never told anyone until this year–yes, at the age of 43. Honestly, I didn't want to be treated differently from my friends. As a teen, I already struggled with body image issues and being 6'3”. I have what you call an "invisible disability," meaning you cannot physically see my adaptive need, but I notice my eyelid will slant down in photographs. Playing volleyball, my coaches would tell me to face the setter; I would have to turn around and track the ball to compensate for having vison only in one eye. I always learned to adapt. Doctors said that I would never play sports, but "I did it anyway." Wherever there was a roadblock, I learned different ways to do things. I adapted and adapted well.
Mental health work
I graduated from college with a major in Education & Law. I had no idea what to do with it. After graduation, I worked for a mental health facility for children. I worked with sex offenders for six years, and it was the most rewarding and intense experience I've ever had. There were 80 boys aged 11-20, and my job was to teach sports and healthy boundaries.
After that, I moved into forensic case management and integrated individuals back into society. I loved this job. I met the most fascinating people! There were murderers and long-time prisoners, but most of the time, my clients were afraid of me, maybe because I was so tall. After five years and lots of driving, I moved to a clinic setting and worked with ID adults with Autism. I learned working in an office all day was not what I enjoyed.
Then, my friends opened a boutique boxing facility in my hometown. They needed someone to help run the facility, and I ended up managing it for four years.
Working as an Adaptive Fitness & Women’s Empowerment Coach
At the beginning of Covid season, I was the director of the boutique boxing facility. Due to state regulations and Covid compliance, we shut down the facility for three months. I didn't know what to do, and I started thinking about what's next. Coaching has always been my side hustle, since finishing up my master's in 2019. In the coaching world, 2020 coaches are called: "Covid Coaches," and there are 10k new coaches a month now. These days you have to find the best coach for your needs and where you want to go. Also, find someone that can vibe with you. Each coach brings different values to the table.
I have combination skin; I get red and flushed with an oily T-zone. My best friend Mandy Marquardt is an Team US Track Cyclist (Olympic Bound) and is sponsored by FRÉ. She is the one that introduced me to the FRÉ brand, and I instantly fell in love.
My biggest challenge as a cyclist is gnarly sunburn; basically, you look like a raccoon! Most sunscreen melts down my face when biking and burns my eyes. Can’t have that as a one eye cyclist. The road grit sticks to your face, and it's so gross! Coming home after a long ride, you are always super dirty. I fell in love with DETOX ME because it truly eats the dirt off my face!
My daily routine
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