Know Your Yogi: Jennie Pierce, Yoga Director for Summit Gyms!

With the retirement and subsequent move-to-Colorado of Barbara (our former Yoga Director), we had to bring in some fresh blood to lead our yoga program! And that’s no easy feat - you gotta be patient with all the climber types that run Summit, so we had to find the right person for the job. And we definitely did! Meet our current Yoga DirectorJennie - she’s sweet, she’s kind, but she also doesn’t take no sh#$ from anyone. She teaches class here at Summit, as well as heads our incredible Yoga Teacher Training program! She’s great at teaching yoga, and also amazing at teaching how to teach yoga! If you have not had a chance to talk to Jennie yet, you should! Here’s a bit more on Jennie, so you know that talking about 80s music is always a safe bet with her … ALWAYS!

(Unless you’re talking crap on 80s music then GTFO)

How long have you been with Summit?

I have been with Summit for a little over a year! (Editor’s note: I have become really slow at publishing these I’M SORRY). I started in June of last summer, but I started as part-time, just picking up classes. I know the former director, Barbara, because we worked at another yoga company together. We stayed in touch over the years, and I knew she was having so much fun working here. One day she mentioned that she was retiring soon, and asked me if I would be interested in taking her place here at Summit. I tried to play it cool, but I was really excited, and I said “Uh huh!” And here I am!

What’s it like to work for Summit, versus a more traditional yoga company?

I have a lot of freedom to do what I want to do, and what I think is best for the yoga program - it’s super fun. I love working on my own, to come up with new ideas, so it has been really fun and freeing. Empowering, actually!

What was your start in yoga?

I fell in love with Hatha-style yoga back in 2011. I had tried a yoga class, a Vinyasa Power Flow, about 5 years before that and hated it, it was too much for me. When I found that slower style of yoga is when I fell in love with it. When I went to Teacher Training about 6 months later, I loved it so much. The most important thing to me was being able to share yoga with people. My love for yoga definitely escalated quickly - I went from my practice first starting in 2011, then to teaching about 6 months later. If I can teach yoga, anybody can teach yoga. Because I started when I was brand new to it. 

Before I was a yoga teacher, I worked in corporate America. I did life insurance for a big company. I made the change because I wanted to help people sooner. Like in the life insurance world, you sell a policy, you have to wait for someone to die for the policy to help them. I wanted to help people in a more immediate way. In a yoga class, I love when people come up to me and say, “I feel so much better at the end of this one-hour yoga class, thank you.” How can that not feel good, when 10 people can immediately tell you how much better they feel?

What was your start with Yoga Teacher Training?

Basically right after I graduated my own YTT! I kind of lucked out. I taught my first classes, and I was like, “Oh, that was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be!” Because I was really nervous and an introvert, and I hated public speaking. It’s funny — when you start knowing a subject that you really care about, and know a lot about, public speaking is not a problem, because the passion comes through. I taught for maybe 3 months, then a spot opened up in the YTT program where I was working. They brought me on as full-time faculty within three to four months of me becoming a teacher. I feel like I strengthened my yoga foundation by taking Teacher Training so early — 20 years of a bad yoga practice can take a long time to correct when you learn better ways of treating your body within a yoga pose. I think going through YTT sooner made all the difference to me, in my practice, by setting a good foundation as far as alignment, and ways to improve the body and mind with yoga. 

What are your goals for the YTT here at Summit?

We are actually creating a second program! So right now, our current YTT teaches people to teach Vinyasa, which is a flowing sort of yoga — there are no breaks between the poses, they just go right into each other — but there is another style of yoga, the Hatha-style that I first fell in love with, that we are creating a training for. Hatha is way more alignment-based, and for those teachers have a hard time knowing what to say during a pose, we are going to give you the words to say during the training. During Vinyasa training, you kind of make up your own way to describe a pose. In Hatha, there is a definite set of rules about how to build the sequence, about how to build the pose, and describe it, so we give you the words. So if you like to memorize things, or are more of a rule-follower, then this might be the training for you!

Favorite style of class for your personal practice?

My favorite one to take is Yin. I teach a Yin class, and the other night as I was making my announcement to the gym about my class, I said, “The less you do in Yin yoga, the better you are at Yin yoga!”

- What a selling point. Sign me up!!

What is your vision for the yoga program at Summit?

My vision is that we become a recognizable yoga force in the metroplex, and wherever we expand to. There is not really a brand for Summit yoga, because we allow our yoga teachers so much freedom in teaching. We give our teachers a basic rundown about what they are teaching: like, “here’s the class description, make sure you hit the things that are mentioned in the class description,” but we really let teachers have their own personality for their classes. They can make their own jokes, they can write their own scripts for their poses. It’s a lot of freedom that a lot of other yoga programs do not allow for - they’ll give their teachers the sequence they are supposed to be teaching, the times they are holding the poses, the order in which the poses come in. Having a set practice like this is definitely not a bad thing, we just do it a little differently here at Summit. But this freedom might just become our brand!

Why is it important for climbers to integrate yoga into their regimen? How can it benefit a climber?

Yoga, when taught in a way that is ideal, strengthens everything in order to create flexibility, rather than passively folding, flopping, or pulling yourself in to a range of motion that you’re not yet ready for, which could injure you. We try to focus on strengthening you first, then creating the flexibility from that strength. And every climber could use more flexibility, but we definitely want to keep you stable in that flexibility.

Favorite Summit memory?

Hmm … there are lots of moments in YTT that stand out! My favorite thing about yoga is being able to tell other people about yoga, and I love when our trainees can have those aha! moments, when they’re like “Oh, that ’s how that pose is supposed to feel stable,” or “I never knew that muscle was there until we started talking about it.” But my favorite might just be the graduations for YTT, because they are so beautiful — it’s not the room, but the people, because they are so grateful for the experience. They look back 8 weeks before and see the old person that they were, and now they are a brand-new sparkling vessel, to go out in the world and share with others their experience. And we just have a big cry fest. I cry, they cry. Everybody cries happy tears.

Jennie with one of our recent YTT graduated classes!

Jennie with one of our recent YTT graduated classes!

Little known facts about Jennie:

She has a huge used-vinyl collection! She LOVES 80s music, so most of it gonna be gloriously 80s!

She is a huge concert-goer! She loves live music, and will literally go to any concert, no matter the type of music, because she loves seeing fans enjoying music that is their total jam.

She had a HUGE community of music friends all over the country that she has met through going to concerts / online chat boards that she has a huge reunion party with every year! If she ever wants to go to a concert in another state, she always has someone to go with!

She graduated with a biology degree from Northeast Louisiana University. She moved to Louisiana, with all its greenness and humidity, to get away from her West Texas hometown, she described as “dusty and brown.” While studying for her degree, she found a love of anatomy, which ended up translating well later in her life when she took up yoga teacher training!

She once dislocated her knee while climbing … and re-located it before she was even off the wall. She said she had been taking a LOT of Yin classes at that time, so her joints had become hyper-mobile, so her knee just sort of … slipped out. Yikes! Luckily she had a really short recovery time!

Ok, there it is! We’re very happy to have Jenny on our team! Definitely take a look at our yoga schedule to see when she’s teaching, and try one of her classes! Or, if you’re ready to commit, sign up for our YTT so you can work closely with Jennie as you learn to lead your own class!