By Jessica Lippke, The Program
Everything is perfect
This past summer I stepped on the scale and was 35 pounds less than I was a year before. An athlete my entire life, I never thought I’d be one to have my own transformation story, but I’ve learned over time that I had to go through that phase of my life in order to be where I am now, and I am now grateful that it’s part of my story.
I once read:
"The fact of the matter is that each and every moment presents us with an opportunity to choose to see the perfection in our current circumstances. We might not be exactly where we WANT to be, but we are precisely where we’re SUPPOSED to be."
I’ve learned that everything, really, is perfect, and it took being surrounded by a team of like-minded individuals to really believe that this is true and that we’re all in this journey together.
A team worth waking up in the dark for
I grew up playing volleyball, basketball, and lacrosse, ultimately pursuing volleyball at the Division I collegiate level. Post-college, I craved finding my next team, discovered CrossFit, and fell in love with the community that came with it. A regular for a few years, I eventually lost my drive and passion, and spent about a year struggling to find a new team, gaining over 30 pounds along the way.
When I needed it most, in June of 2014, a friend introduced me to Swerve Fitness, a team-inspired cycling studio in Manhattan. I genuinely believe in the power of team, as some of my best memories and life lessons come from being part of them. Swerve’s methods and instructors were a game changer for me, and made it possible to go back there, back to an environment that really fosters the power of team through individual performance. Like the volleyball court, basketball court, and lacrosse field were for me growing up and throughout college, Swerve became a second home and was the catalyst that reignited the passion I have for health and fitness.
By way of Swerve, I found The Program, an NYC-based, goal-oriented group of athletes who workout together every morning throughout the week. It wasn’t until I joined this team that I really tested my commitment to my teammates and newfound fitter self. A workout with The Program means a workout at 6am; a workout at 6am means an alarm set for 4:30am. Never in my life, not even during my college training days, had I set an alarm clock for earlier than 7am, let alone for multiple days in a row. But, at the same time, never in my life would I miss an opportunity to prove to myself that I am not only capable of something different, but also worth it, and more importantly, so is the team of people who would be waiting for me when I walk through the door.
Just keep showing up
My life changed when I made it a priority to wake up before sunrise to workout with The Program, and it really helped me find my “why.” The hardest part of a 6am workout for many is making the decision when the alarm goes off to actually commit to showing up, but time and time again we’re surprised with the outcome of doing just that with the right mindset and with purpose, not only for ourselves, but for each other.
We show up to set an example for our families. We show up to be a catalyst for those about to embark on their own wellness journeys, and to be a point of accountability for those well on their way. We show up to learn, to grow, to become the best version of ourselves that we can possibly be, and to support and witness each other in doing the same. We show up to be part of something that is larger than ourselves, to work with people who are all different ages, from all parts of the world, with all different backgrounds, and on all different career paths because we are linked by common values and a common mission. It is through this joint effort that we’ve all accomplished goals that would have been out of reach if not for the team surrounding and supporting us.
It is through teamwork that we’ve created some of our most meaningful relationships, made some of our best memories, and learned some of life’s greatest lessons. It is through teamwork that we’ve gained enough clarity and confidence to make life-changing decisions and continue to become the healthiest version of ourselves. It is through teamwork that we’ve been able to raise thousands of dollars for various causes over the years, and how I ultimately found my passion for combining fitness and philanthropy and using the power of team to give back to those in need.
Teamwork for a cause
Through teamwork, you can affect change. I got my first real taste of this during my senior year of college when I had a group assignment to create an event for our class client, which was a small foundation committed to fighting the cancer epidemic through education, outreach, and environmental advocacy. With permission from the powers that be, my class group partnered with my team to evolve an already-existing volleyball tournament on our schedule into a fundraiser to benefit our client, an event that has since become an annual tradition.
Since graduating I’ve hosted and participated in various fitness and wellness events that have been tied to a greater cause, and have witnessed many friends and family do the same. It is through the power of teamwork that we can improve and save lives, and I’m not sure there’s anything more powerful.
This past July, after transforming my body, and witnessing a close friend, mentor, and teammate completely transform herself for a fitness competition of her own, I was in search of my version of something that scared me — something that would test me, that I’d have to make sacrifices for, that was a little atypical of me, and that would ultimately benefit others. I committed to a personal fitness goal, and in late October I started training with a team for the CRASH Bs, an indoor world championship rowing competition that will take place in Boston later this month. I hired an Olympic rowing coach and made this goal public to my teams to hold me accountable.
It is with so much love that I bring a charitable component to my journey in loving memory of someone who did so much good in this world and who meant so much to so many. Blind for almost 20 years, my Grandma Ruth was a warrior, a true embodiment of strength, and the epitome of leading by example. She was definitely our team captain, and she left us this past October.
I am now convinced that Grandma couldn't SEE the light because she WAS the light, and to help her to continue shining her legacy and love to all of those who knew her and to all of those who currently live without their eyesight, I’ve committed 17 weeks to working towards a goal, a goal that The Program helped me set and is helping me attain, and a goal that will benefit the Foundation Fighting Blindness in Grandma’s memory.
Grandma didn't have HER vision, but she always had A vision, and she taught me to strive to have the same. It's so important to know your "why" and to always come back to that when you're faced with challenges while you're trying to achieve something. My "why" could not be more clear, and I could not feel more empowered by my purpose and the team that has inspired me and supported me along the way. Together we are definitely stronger with TEAMWORK.
Jessica Lippke graduated Summa Cum Laude from Hofstra University with a degree in Public Relations, and was a member of Hofstra’s NCAA Division I volleyball team. Now, as an Associate Director of Project Management at Alexander Interactive, a digital agency in Manhattan she’s been with since 2005, Jess manages teams through the web design and development lifecycle, and credits her athletic and team-oriented background for much of her success. Jess is also the Founder and President of SHOW UP, LLC, a project management and event planning consulting business serving the health, wellness, and fitness community.