by Jude Jacob Kayton May 04, 2020
About me: I was born and raised in Eskilstuna, a small town in Sweden just outside of Stockholm. Both my parents were immigrants: my Dad is from former Yugoslavia and my mother was Finnish. When I moved to New York I became an immigrant myself.
My fitness journey
I started with soccer when I was 4 years old. My dad taught me how to play, then took me to soccer training with 6 year old boys. After that I got into a female soccer team. At the time I was watching a lot of Karate through Bruce Lee and the Power Rangers! I started practicing karate when I was 9. I made the national team for kids and cadets and won the National Cup when I was 15. But as an older teen I lost interest in sports.
Moving to New York
I moved to the US when I was 21. It was not an easy place, especially without a working permit or a social security number. I ended up meeting a man who was the man wrong for me, and went through five and a half years of extreme domestic violence. But it ultimately made me who I am today: it strengthened me.
One morning I woke up hungover, wearing makeup from the day before and saw my reflection in the mirror. I no longer recognized myself. I realized at that moment that the man I was with was no longer my abuser - I was. I had subjected my body to bad eating habits, long nights of partying, drinking and more. So I thought back to the time when I felt best, and it was when I was physically active. For over 5 years I hadn’t done any sports. So that day I signed up to the gym and basically never stopped.
Becoming a fitness influencer
When I started at the gym I was intimidated by the machines and all the beautiful people. After a long, abusive relationship, I had totally lost my confidence. But my will to change and feel good was strong and I started researching and educating myself on how to work out and eat. I decided to compete in a fitness competition and I told people I would win. No one took me seriously and a lot of people told me “you don’t win your first competition”. But I knew in my heart I was a winner and I won that competition, the one after it, and even went on to win the overall title.
After winning, I realized I didn't want to be in the competitive fitness field forever. So, I found a way to continue with fitness without the stress of prepping. At the time, my social media was growing and I was sharing my story, which grew into what it is today (over 300k followers). I switched direction and focused on fitness online. When I coach I focus on body modifications. I often ask my clients, “how do you feel?” It’s really not about weight loss or strength gain, it’s about mindset: do you feel good, strong, inspired? The physical gains come later and in my opinion are the icing on the cake.
At the beginning of the pandemic I felt a scratch in my throat. I knew right away what was happening since I haven’t been sick in years. The next day the scratch was a cough. On the third day I told my husband I wasn’t up to caring for our 2 year daughter. Then I started getting a stomach ache. I was on all fours on the floor in extreme pain with tears running down my face. It was agonizing - nearly as bad as childbirth. I was in so much pain I finally went to hospital.
In time the pain began to lessen. Once the stomach pain went away, I had a hard time breathing. For about three weeks I couldn’t breathe without pain, though strangely some days were ok and I would feel well enough to record fitness videos. Other days were terrible. My husband and daughter got sick as well. At the time we saw the news about people dying and there wasn’t much information so we were terrified. But we recovered slowly. I’m still recovering now.
If you choose to fall and crumble you are lost. It’s definitely a battle to stay positive. I believe you have to count your blessings. This is a hard time for a lot of people who are losing their jobs and I know things could be worse. Right now we are safe in our homes, we have heat and clean water. I shared my story on social media: I want to show people that we all go through shit and come out stronger. You can grow from challenges and evolve as a person.
My skincare journey
I had really bad acne, although it got better during pregnancy. My whole face would be covered in big painful pimples. When my skin cleared up, I was very careful about the products I used. I tried FRÉ and didn’t break out once. I have dry skin and FRÉ is really moisturizing.
My favorite products are REVIVE ME and I AM LOVE because they leave my skin fresh, radiant and healthy. I have worked with a number of fitness brands and I can honestly say this is the best company I’ve ever worked with. The relationship building and customer service is fantastic. Everything is based on mutual respect and fairness.
Pregnancy & motherhood
I got pregnant in February 2016. I was active till the day I gave birth. I worked out with 40% less intensity and weight but I still lifted heavy weights. I had all day morning sickness, hemorrhoids, nose bleeds, and more. Basically everything except stretch marks! I had pelvic pain and pubic bone dysfunction, which made it hard to walk, run, lunge and kick, but I went to the gym and did stationary workouts. My husband was hugely supportive.
I went into labor at 42 weeks after an induction. I went through 36 hours of contractions on pitocin. My baby came out at 4.3kg, the highest birth weight in the hospital that week! It was the best moment of my life! It’s a joy that fully takes you over and the pain goes away. It’s an honor to see my daughter grow up. She’s 2 now.
The fit pregnancy movement
I started this while pregnant. It began as a pregnancy app for women and was the third best app in the field on Apple. But we had a bad contract and ended up pulling it from the iStore. Now I provide one-on-one fit pregnancy coaching. Women are often told to sit down and do nothing while pregnant, but the majority of women can stay safely active.
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