When asked if UNH alumna and local group exercise coach Jackie Garnet had always had an interest in fitness, students were met with a surprising answer.
“No, in fact I hated it,” Garnet said with a laugh.
On Thursday, March 2, UNH students flowed into Memorial Union Building (MUB) room 203 to hear Garnet share her experiences about creating a business through her passion for fitness as part of the Lessons in Leadership series. Garnet graduated from UNH in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in English, and 2010 with a master’s degree in science and teaching in English with a concentration in teaching writing.
While at UNH, Garnet was co-editor-in-chief of Aegis literary magazine and spent a lot of time volunteering.
Today, Garnet teaches local group exercise classes at Seacoast Sports Clubs, the YMCA in Portsmouth and Jubilation in Portsmouth. Garnet also owns her own business where she virtually coaches clients through live videos, and recorded workouts that she posts on her Facebook page.
“I kept an open mind after school. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do, but having volunteered with Big Brother Big Sister and Seacoast Reads, I started to enjoy working with young kids,” Garnet said.
After college, Garnet worked at a local day care and eventually worked as nanny for a family in the area for five years while she completed her master’s degree in teaching.
“It gave me the opportunity to think about what I wanted to do with my life,” Garnet said.
It wasn’t until she took a Turbo Kick class at the Portsmouth YMCA [Y] through her family’s membership that Garnet found a new kind of exercise that she was passionate about.
“I think I had always associated fitness with lifting weights or running on the treadmill. I loved dance growing up, I did tap and ballet, so when I found that Turbo Kick class, it fueled that need for choreography that was missing in my life,” Garnet said.
After becoming a regular at Turbo Kick, Garnet was approached by her instructor about teaching classes and making fitness a career.
“In my mind it was writing, teaching, all the way, but this was another kind of teaching I had never thought of before,” Garnet said.
One of the questions asked during the program was how her degrees in English and teaching translated to Garnet’s business in fitness and wellness coaching.
“I found that good writing is important in any career,” Garnet said. “I’ve noticed that a lot of the virtual coaching I do is based around my relationships with people through social media, so when I create posts on Facebook, I write with intention and I share my story unapologetically. That makes an impact on people and they can relate to that… I learned all of that through my classes at UNH teaching me how to become a writer.”
For Garnet, writing and fitness also have more in common with each other too.
“For both [writing and fitness] it’s about discipline. If you want to be a writer, you need to sit your butt in a chair and write every single day like it’s your job. If you want to be good at fitness, you need to set the alarm, get out of bed, and do a work out,” Garnet said.
Garnet’s journey from graduating as an English major to successfully operating her own fitness program has given her a unique insight to the career paths students can take after graduation.
“Say yes to anything that feels right,” Garnet said. “If I hadn’t said yes to the nannying job, I wouldn’t have been introduced to the Y, I wouldn’t have been introduced to the class, and I wouldn’t be where I am now.”