Jen Curtiss is a knowledgeable and passionate educator. She’s also a naturopathic doctor, a barre3 instructor in Portland, mom to two boys, and was one of the leading experts Sadie worked with to write her book Love Your Lower Body. We recently sat down with Jen to catch up. Read on to see what she has to say about barre3, managing stress, and more.
My good friend took me to my first barre3 class. At the time, I was 6 months postpartum. Right away, I was sold; barre3 was the fitness experience that I had been craving. Shortly thereafter, I befriended another client who is now a Master Trainer, Harper Kalin. When Harper told me she was going through instructor training, I knew I wanted to become an instructor too.
I try to move every day and throughout the day. I walk, hike, bike, run, and paddle. In the winter, my family and I ski. My favorite time to practice and teach barre3 is at 6:00 am when my family’s not missing me.
Few exercises truly rejuvenate the body. One of the major benefits of barre3 is that it eases our bodies into a parasympathetic state—the state we are in when we are best able to digest, rest, sleep, and heal. Barre3 is a great way to quiet the mind, slow down, and strengthen our connection to our bodies. As a result, not only do we rev the metabolism and build strength, we also burn more calories, support healthy joints, and become more grounded.
One of my favorite vegetables this time of year is zucchini. It’s so versatile and abundant. You can eat it raw, grill it, sauté it, shred it in a casserole, or bake it. Every year, my family and I grow zucchini, greens (like kale, sugar snap peas), herbs, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. My sons like to help me make dinner by picking basil or thyme. It’s a great way to involve them in making dinner. They’re always more excited about the meal when they’ve had a hand in its preparation.
I love to learn, and I love sharing what I learn with others. My approach to health is holistic. My patients and I talk a lot about how they can live better and reduce stress. When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol (stress hormones) from the adrenal glands. Cortisol also triggers a spike in glucose so that your muscles have fuel to run from the “danger.” But if you’re not actually running or moving your body, the glucose gets converted to abdominal fat for storage. The same thing occurs with insomnia, which is why people who have poor sleep tend to gain weight. Caffeine also triggers the cortisol and secondary blood sugar spike, which is why I recommend avoiding it if you’re trying to lose weight.
Watching people make positive changes is the best part of my job. That was also my favorite part about helping Sadie with the Love Your Lower Body project. I helped her guide 27 women through the 8-week program outlined in her book. Everyone lost weight, gained energy, slept better, and noticed brighter skin. It’s a huge reward to give to others through my medical practice and through barre3.