By Jenn Seracuse, Flex Studios
For a long time, I hated my own guts... literally.
Living with Crohn's Disease, a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the GI tract, will do that to a person. I was diagnosed at 19 years old, in my freshman year of college, away from home, all alone, and sick. I mean, total body shut down kind of sick. If you have never experienced that kind of pain, be grateful… if you have, you know how hard it is to not just give in and give up. After my diagnosis I proceeded to lay in bed for a month straight. I was totally depressed and there were a lot of “why me” moments. It would have been very easy to allow my disease to control my life and defeat me, but one day, I heard a voice from deep down inside that gut which I loathed so much, asking me, “Is this really the way it's going to be? Is this who I am? Or... Do I have the guts to fight?”
So I got up (slowly) and made a decision then and there to take my life back (and my guts). I got stronger, finished college, moved to NYC, and even toured the country performing Musical Theater, like I always dreamed I would. It was right after my tour that Pilates became a bigger part of my life. I had been a fan for a while as it was one of the things that helped me regain strength during college, but I was in between shows and looking for a day job. Seemed like it might be “fun” to teach and also would keep me in shape. I had no idea how it would completely change my life. My teaching career was staring to take off and I was completely falling in love with the fitness industry when WHAM... Out of nowhere my Crohn's decided to knock me on my ass again. It was even more devastating because this time my doctors were saying I needed surgery. And just like that, I was making an appointment to have 1/2 of my insides taken out, and once again hating my own guts.
The surgery was one of the hardest things I have ever been through, but getting back on my feet (and quite honestly, back to teaching the classes and clients I had come to love so much) was all I could think about. All I wanted was to feel strong again. It did not happen overnight, but I did it, and then some. I came back stronger and healthier than before, and I owe so much of that to Pilates. That’s also when I knew I had found a new calling and passion. Once again, I found myself having to listen to that gut of mine… and I won’t lie, it took guts for me to leave the world of Musical Theater (what I always thought I was born to do) and focus all of my energy on fitness and teaching, but I have not regretted it once.
I know I have a gift and responsibility to empower other people to push past their own obstacles, and inspire them with my own story. Pilates changed my life, and I can’t think of anything better than paying it forward and offering that to someone else. It’s led me to a career and life far more rewarding that I could ever have imagined. Knowing first-hand what it feels like to not be able to (or want to) get out of bed empowers me every day, to not only keep myself strong and healthy, but to encourage every person I come across to do the same, so we can all handle anything that comes our way. I am currently (6 years after surgery) symptom and medication free, and stronger and healthier than ever!
Long story short, I no longer hate my guts. In fact, I love them. I love them for showing me how strong I really am and how much I am capable of. Last year, my guts even led me to run a half marathon (and raise close to $5,000 for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America!), something I NEVER thought I would or even could do.
So, for any of you who, like me, have been dealt a less than desirable hand, whether it be a poor health diagnosis, a death, a breakup, anything, try not to get too overwhelmed, or let it hold you back from doing and experiencing everything you want. Obstacles, after all, help shape us into who we are. Take the time you need to cope (remember my month in bed?), and then have the guts to get up and get moving. I promise it will be worth it, and who knows, maybe you will find your calling!
Jenn Seracuse grew up singing and dancing, and discovered Pilates while studying for her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater. After performing in NYC and touring around the country, she paused and underwent colon resection surgery due to her Crohn's Disease. Using Pilates to rehabilitate and cope with the surgery, she fell even more in love with it, and is now stronger and healthier than ever. Pilates became not only body altering, but also life altering for Jenn, when she realized her passion for doing translated into a passion for teaching. This ultimately led to a transition from Musical Theater to a successful career in fitness, and she is now the Director of Pilates at FLEX Studios.
Jenn is certified in Pilates Mat and Apparatus, as well as TRX suspension training and Prenatal & Postnatal exercise. Jenn has been featured in several major publications including Glamour, SHAPE, Women’s Health, MAXIM, People StyleWatch, and New York Magazine. She has appeared in segments on NBC’s TODAY, FOX News and Telemundo. She is an ambassador for Lululemon, Essentia Water, and the new fitness social media platform, Fitmoo.
Jenn trains a wide range of clients from top models, like Victoria's Secret Super Model Alessandra Ambrosio and Sports Illustrated swimsuit models Kate Bock and Lauren Mellor; to professional athletes like Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers. She also works with other film, television and Broadway stars, dancers, marathon and Ironman competitors, NYC socialites, and of course new and expectant moms. Jenn loves transforming bodies by adding a modern spin to classic Pilates exercises, and is a stickler for form and precision. This adds to the intensity of the workout, and ultimately leads to faster results, leaving you feeling leaner, longer, and stronger!