SHiNING Star: Jenn Roder
Location: Brooklyn Park, MN, USA
SHiNE Certification Date: January 2022
Teaches: 4-5 classes/week in-person at a gym, nutrition shop, and yoga studio
Favorite SHiNE routines: Fire Burning by Sean Kingston & Dance by DNCE
Favorite food: French fries from Freddy’s
Pets: 2 dogs, 2 cats, a fish (that never dies and changes colors), and a hamster
Fun fact: Jenn competed in American Ninja Warrior (and totally kicked butt!)
Jenn was recognized as a SHiNING Star in May 2022 for her enthusiasm, drive, and perseverance after becoming a certified SHiNE Instructor. She was a woman on a mission during her instructor training, knocking her assignments out of the park and ready to hit the road running after completing her evaluation. But, life threw some curveballs, as it often does, and Jenn ran into multiple roadblocks trying to establish her local SHiNE Tribe.
First, some backstory…
Jenn loves people. Her goal and passion is to give people a safe space to find love and encouragement. Why? Because life is super hard, and Jenn feels driven to provide space where you can bring all the good AND all the yuck and still feel safe and accepted.
Since college, Jenn struggled with anxiety and depression. She lived far away from family and friends, and life challenged her – A LOT. Jenn is a thyroid cancer survivor and currently lives with two invisible ailments – no thyroid and Meniere’s Disease. After experiencing infertility and several miscarriages, Jenn gave birth to her son. She and her husband then adopted their youngest child from Haiti and learned what it meant to love a child she did not birth and give him space for all of his emotions.
Years later, Jenn’s passion for people started burning even more brightly. Living just outside of Minneapolis, her community experienced a lot of unrest beginning in 2020. On her oldest son’s 7th birthday, Jenn’s family woke up to the news that George Floyd had been killed and Jenn says, “It felt like the whole entire world had changed overnight.” Less than a year later, Daunte Wright was shot and killed one mile down the road from Jenn’s home. “I could see so much pain, anger, sadness, and hurt in my community. People were looking and grasping for hope, love, value and worth in their lives,” says Jenn.
Jenn recognized that her community had a lot of needs she couldn’t fulfill on her own, but she knew she could find a way to give people a space for hope and a sense of togetherness again. That’s why she chose to invest what she could into her community by offering SHiNE Dance Fitness.
With all that passion Jenn was destined to do great things as a SHiNE Instructor. But, after emailing and calling EVERY dance studio and gym she could think of in her area and getting nothing but hard-no’s and crickets, she got discouraged – but did she give up? HECK NO!
One thing that makes Jenn so extraordinary is her willingness to ask for help. She connected with her SHiNE Instructor training mentor, Cathy, who told her, “You just haven’t found the right space yet. Those places aren’t where you need to be.” After that pep-talk, Jenn took to a community board on social media and shared what she was looking for in a space for her classes. In doing so, she found a local nutrition shop owner who shared her vision of building a healthier, happier community. It was a match made in heaven!
Jenn’s advice for any new group fitness instructor with similar struggles is, “Keep your focus in mind. Ask yourself what you want to do with your Instructorship,” says Jenn. Once you find your home-base for teaching clases, there are a few things Jenn recommends to maximize your teaching experience. “I like to be in the space early and breathe. Learn names. Give students a compliment – something that will boost them as they walk in the door.” Jenn works hard to remember little details about each of her participants. She says, “My goal is to love them completely and wholly, and in order for me to do that I need to learn about who they are.”
Today, Jenn’s pay-what-you-can classes are filled with diversity in age, race, gender, and body type. She represents SHiNE beautifully by welcoming everyone in her classes, including those with mobility issues, cognitive impairments, and low self-esteem. One thing’s for certain, everyone who leaves Jenn’s SHiNE class feels seen, supported, and empowered to handle what they need to handle.
So why does Jenn put so much of her own time and energy into teaching these extraordinary SHiNE classes? “If I’m putting the good out, it will return to me,” she says. It’s as simple as that!
Jenn says, “We all come with different experiences and hurts. You cannot judge people based on what you think you know about them because you’ll never understand a person fully. You’ll never understand their experiences, the trauma, the hurts, the joys, the pains they have been through. I make a choice to see beauty in everyone and I make a choice to listen to people. That’s how I play out this passion.”