When you’re passionate about what you do, it doesn’t seem like work,” says Jenny.
Brimming with enthusiasm for whatever she tackles, she’s a force of nature whose positivity shines through in every aspect of her life.
Her boundless enthusiasm and ability to help others achieve their health and fitness goals have just seen her win through to the finals in three categories of the prestigious Sussex Business Women Excellence Awards.
And at the glittering award ceremony in Brighton on November 22, her Body Happy wellbeing centre and gym in Lewes was announced as the 2019 winner of the Wellness award and runner-up in both Entrepreneur of the Year and Sussex Business of the Year.
“I am over the moon to have been a winner in these awards and truly grateful to have amazing support from my Body Happy team, husband, family and friends, without whom the business would not have been developed,” Jenny says.
“It was exhilarating at the awards ceremony, but unusual for me as I’m far more used to celebrating the success of my clients!”
Jenny’s passion is to help people along the road to a healthy and happy lifestyle, a positive message she passes on to everyone she works with, gaining tremendous personal satisfaction in seeing them attain goals they might have assumed were beyond their reach.
She believes being active is the key to achieving this, a philosophy which has its roots in her early childhood, growing up on a farm in Hertfordshire.
“I was very active, playing outside, running around the fields,” she recalls. “I enjoyed various sports, and when it came to thinking about a career choice in my early teens, I knew I’d never want to be sitting behind a desk, I had to do something active, either in sport or working with people with injuries, perhaps as a sports physiotherapist.”
Jenny studied Sports Therapy at a London university which was the first in the country to run such a degree, and she remained in the capital for the next three years.
“I was fortunate to have some tremendous part-time jobs, including working with Fulham Ladies Football Club, and my first full-time job was based in a health and wellbeing centre in Peckham. I began there as a therapist but eventually helped to run all the lifestyle groups, and through referrals, I became heavily involved with groups working with people with COPD or who’d had strokes.
“It’s gratifying when you see someone with an oxygen tank exercising, and that helps them to become able to walk down their garden path without having to stop for breath. For the past 20 years, I’ve been working in that field and loved every moment of it.”
Jenny’s move to East Sussex came about by chance. Although she enjoyed working in London, having grown up on a farm, she missed the open spaces of the countryside.
“One of my friends relocated to Brighton, and when I visited, I knew I’d like living beside the sea and close to the Downs, so I moved there in 2002,” she says. “My husband Ben likes fresh air, so it was a good move for both of us.
“Though I was into fitness, I’d always had a love/hate relationship with running, but once I was in Brighton, I started running with friends. I did a 1.5K run and eventually a couple of half marathons. Both Ben and I still do a lot of walking along the coast or up on the Downs.”
After working in various roles in the health and fitness industry, managing gyms and health clubs, Jenny decided to take the bold move of starting her own business. Five years ago she bought a studio in Hove where she established Body Happy.
Her down-to-earth, flexible and fun-loving approach to fitness proved a great success. It gave her the confidence to open her Body Happy centre in Lewes this year which is already attracting an enthusiastic, loyal following.
“I don’t think one size fits all,” Jenny explains. “People’s fitness needs are very individual and can change through various stages of life and according to what is going on in their lives at the time. So we have a different programme for each client.
“One client is a teacher, and she wanted us to push her quite hard. But recently she came to a stage in the school term where work stress was building up, so we felt it was more important to help her to be able to relax so we calmed down her whole exercise programme.
“You have to listen to your body, and if you are experiencing high-stress levels, then it isn’t always beneficial to beat yourself up in the gym. It’s important to enjoy what you’re doing, giving yourself time to relax.
“Fitness can have a big impact mentally as well as physically. If your body is happy, then that helps you to be happy in yourself.”
Jenny enjoys cooking and often takes in home-baked samples for her team at Body Happy, but doesn’t believe in fad diets.
“I think the answer is a well-balanced diet but with some room for treats,” she says. “I don’t believe fad diets are sustainable and you need to have balance in your life. Some of my friends are surprised that while I am so keen on fitness, I do have treats from time to time, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with a nice glass of red on a Saturday evening!”
Jenny feels going to extremes in either diet or fitness is not the way to go. “You shouldn’t have to be too strict with yourself. It’s better to aim for the right balance to achieve your general wellbeing and happiness.
“I think if you find something you are passionate about, it doesn’t seem like work. I love spreading the message of positivity and the more people I can help, the better. I find it very rewarding to see clients’ mindset changing as they become more confident, trying new things, achieving them and getting more confident each time.”
Although Jenny loved Brighton, the desire to have more space around her proved too strong, and she and Ben moved to Worthing so she could have a garden to relax in and tend a vegetable patch.
“This part of East Sussex is phenomenal, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, but I’d love to move to Lewes when we can afford it. My husband and I have invested quite a lot in the business here and are very proud of it, but now that I spend so much of my time in Lewes, it would be lovely to live closer, so we’re looking around at the little surrounding villages.” •