Outstanding Jenny Dugan!

Her Instagram profile caption says she’s standing outside so you’ll say she’s outstanding! I love it! Jenny Dugan is a 41 year old wife and mother who makes me feel like I underachieved when I was her age! Let’s dive into the story and home workout story of this awesomely strong lady!

Standing Outside

I can’t believe it’s taken so long for me to do a profile of a fellow Redskin fan! Time to correct that!


HTTR! The first thing I remember from first seeing your profile is your awesome caption! Two questions, are you standing outside right now and how did you come up with that?

Ha!  I am not currently standing outside but I will be in about 30 minutes when I take my 5-year-old out to play.  I saw it on a meme and it made me laugh out loud.  I’m silly and it’s honestly something I would say to my sisters.

Instagram launched in 2010 and your first pic is from 2012. You were thirty-six at the time I believe. What motivated you to get onto a platform that at the time was still largely populated by teenagers sharing pictures of Justin Bieber?

Initially I was motivated to use Instagram as a sort of digital album.  I had just had my second baby and I wanted to use IG to post pictures of my life, my children, my family, our adventures.  We have family all over and it was a nice way to share that.  From there it grew—  I use it to follow like-minded parents, like-minded fitness enthusiasts, like-minded out-door adventurers, etc.  It’s a great resource for information and inspiration as well as a great photo album!

Since you’ve been active on Instagram for such a long time I have to mention this: I see so much negativity across social media in the course of trying to promote the home workout lifestyle, that it’s hard for me to listen to negativity from close friends whether they’re venting about clients or complaining about something at work. I have to consciously make myself listen and be supportive until I just can’t anymore and I shut down the conversation. You posted about a similar discovery. Talk about how life and training have changed since you chose to cut off negative associations.

I’m a firm believer in practicing gratitude and being responsible for your own happiness.  But when my dad died a year and a half ago, I realized how short this life we get the privilege to live is.  I decided I didn’t want to waste any of my precious time on anything that was negative or wasn’t serving my life in a positive way.  I started simplifying my life including my training.  I quit CrossFit and started working out in my garage gym.  I stopped associating with negative people.  I didn’t realize until I did these things how much time over-engineered workouts, drama, and negative people were taking me away from just enjoying my life, my training, and my family.

Jenny Dugan using battle ropesYou definitely have a busy family! Everything from horses to living room dance parties and kids playing the drums wearing just a diaper!

I do!  My husband and I both work and we have two children.  My oldest does competitive cheer and my youngest does horseback riding.  I am also providing some personal training on the side.

Let’s talk about how that simplification plays out in your lifestyle. It can be a challenge to stay on track especially as a mother with young children who may not want to eat what’s on your meal plan. Plus food based activities are foundational for date nights and get togethers with friends and family. How do you eat to support your fitness goals and still not become “that family member” at Thanksgiving?

I employ an 80/20 rule.  I try to eat healthy and according to my fitness goals about 80% of the time.  I also listen to my body and recognize hunger signals and fullness so that I don’t binge or overeat.    I log most of my meals in my fitness pal for accountability.  I enjoy my cheats but I am mostly smart about them.  When we go out to eat, I do usually peruse the menu online prior to going out so I can make a good choice.  If I plan to have a big cheat meal—  wine with dinner and dessert, I will ensure my meal choices during the day are on point.

With such a busy family, how difficult has it been to carve out time for you? That’s something a lot of mothers with young kids especially struggle with. Giving themselves permission to take care of themselves.

As with anything, some days are better than others but I think you make time for whatever is a priority.  For me, exercise is a priority.  A couple of things I do to ensure I get my workout in:

  1. I plan my week of at home workouts ahead of time (what day I’m working out, what I’m doing, what days are rest days, etc.).
  2. During the work week, I plan exactly when I am going to do my workout (morning before work, afternoon or after work) so I can make sure I fit it in.
  3. Many of my workouts incorporate my children.  On summer days, we run to and from the pool (3 miles total); during the weekends, I place my youngest daughter in the jogging stroller and we run from park to park—  she gets time to play while I get a run in; and she often joins me in the garage when I work out—  I have 1 lb. DB weights for her and I got her a kid’s barbell from WOD Toys so she can join in the workout fun.

You and your husband are pretty outdoorsy. There is even a hashtag suggesting that one of you may have bared it all last November in the great outdoors. Talk about the importance of getting away from “civilization”. Does it help ground you, how does it play into overall Jenny Dugan wellness philosophy?

When Mark and I started dating, he introduced me to hiking, camping and enjoying the outdoors.  I think it’s so important to disconnect from the world and reconnect with your loved ones.  There’s nothing like a day of hiking—  the challenge of the hike, the connections with the people you’re hiking with, the beauty of the place you’re hiking to make you fall in love with life again.  One of our favorite day hikes is Old Rag Mountain in the Shenandoah—  if you ever get a chance to hike it – it’s so much fun!

I say you’re the outdoors type to the point where you went backpacking at 34 weeks pregnant! I see that you occasionally indulge in pullups at the local playground . . . have you considered setting up an outdoor gym at your home?

That would be so fun.  My garage gym is growing little bit by little bit but I’m hindered a bit by our HOA.   Maybe when we retire and buy a big cabin in the woods!! Until then, I’ll just keep incorporating fitness wherever I am—  whether its going backpacking with my husband or practicing pullups or gymnastics at the park with my girls.

Jenny Gugan hiking when she was pregnant The dreaded HOA bane of home workout aficionados nationwide. Well, since we’re finally talking training, tell me about your fitness history. I think that you began Crossfit in 2013, is that correct?

Yes, I started CrossFit in 2012.

What attracted you to that style of training?

At the time, I was doing an outdoor boot camp class in the mornings when my husband told me about it.  He heard about CrossFit and then signed up as a help to train for a 272-mile backpacking trip in Sweden he was going on.  Knowing I love anything workout related, he urged me to give it a try.  I tried it and loved it.

Does the Dugan clan still frequent a local Box to train or take seminars?

No, I love CrossFit and still use everything I learned but over the years I’ve moved away from CrossFit and more towards lifting programs.  I’m a busy mom so I also really like the flexibility of working out in my garage with my little one instead of trying to fit a WOD / class time into my schedule.

Describe your typical training week.

Jenny Dugan doing a one armed handstand My typical training week incorporates about three lifting days and two days of HIIT with one to two rest days (depending on how I’m feeling).  I think its super important to listen to your body and adjust accordingly.

Crossfit is sort of the gateway drug of fitness— people try it and it makes them curious about other forms of exercise and movement. One of my favorite pictures from your feed is of you and a group lifting bricks outside. Have you ever tried MovNat?

No, I had never heard of MovNat until your email.  I Googled it and it looks super interesting and fun!

You’re not the first person I’ve interviewed who is into natural, instinctual movement but who’s never heard of MovNat. I probably need to interview someone from the organization to shed some light on it for the home gym community!

I love the idea of learning about natural movement.  I think it would be great for you to set up an interview with someone from the MovNat organization. I’d definitely be interested in hearing what they have to say!

We lose the ability to move naturally unless we do it consistently. Kids train for it instinctively; when we hang out in West African squat position , my  youngest gets in and out of position so fluidly!

Jenny Dugan doing squatsWatching two-year old’s – it makes you more aware of natural movement. My youngest naturally sits in a squat whenever she is “resting”.  Watching her has made me more aware of how I am moving and incorporating the squat as a resting position.

On the other hand, my daughter’s not as stable because her muscles aren’t fully developed so it helps me see how important stability and strength are in moving well.

Yes! Stability and strength are so important in moving well which kind of segues into what BJ Gaddour (and some other fitness professionals) said: “Barefoot training strengthens and mobilizes your ankles and feet and improves muscle activation and joint positioning up the kinetic chain.

I do see you do a fair amount of training outdoors and barefoot. I train barefoot for part of each training session. It offsets some of the mobility issues powerlifting and bad postural habits have caused.

It’s more intentional now after following BJ.  He was saying people should incorporate barefoot work into warmups or with low impact activities where it makes sense (deadlifting, lunging, etc.) But in the beginning, it was a case of not feeling like putting on shoes!

Since being barefoot is intentional now . . . how do you feel about earthing or grounding?

I had never heard of this before this email.  What an interesting concept!  I know I love being barefoot whenever possible, outdoors or in.  I’m also a huge believer in the power of alternative methods in treating many ailments including insomnia.  I’ve had huge success with diet positively impacting some health issues I experienced and using more alternative methods such as arrosti rehab, cupping, and acupuncture in response to some mobility issues.

What about barefoot running?

No, but I’m always interested in trying new things.  Right now, I’m dabbling a little in yoga and gymnastics to help with my lifting mobility.

Jenny, I love your physical culture approach to life! How can people follow your training or get in touch with you to ask questions?

They can reach me through my IG @jennywren24 or by email at jennyjenanders@aol.com

About the author

John Greaves III is a writer based in North Georgia with nearly two decades of experience in training at home. A former amateur kickboxing champion, John now competes recreationally in powerlifting. He takes a physical culture approach to training; believing that strength and health need not be mutually exclusive. In addition to his nonfiction work, John has written two fiction books, A Different Kind of Giant and A Little Lesson in Manners that are available on Amazon.com.



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