Certain things in life can be taught, like the fundamentals for living a healthy active lifestyle. One thing that can’t be taught is passion and dedication, because you either possess those qualities or you don’t. Anyone who knows Jennifer Van Barneveld, AKA Coach JVB, is aware that those two words define her more than any.
Not only is Jennifer extremely passionate and dedicated to maintaining her own fit and healthy lifestyle, but as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist & Personal Trainer, she is able to inspire her clients in a way that is the closest to teaching them how to live with the same dedication as their coach.
Her inspiring ways are no more prevalent than with one of her first and most loyal clients Mr. Rudy Reuben. With very serious health issues due to weight gain, Rudy started working with her at 365 lbs, and Coach JVB has literally helped him transform himself into a man that is 140 lbs lighter. Following her “Before and After” campaigns, it’s clear why Jennifer is a fast rising model and personality in the fitness industry.
What else would you expect from someone who has such an extensive fitness background, that began over 20 years ago as a dancer? With formal training from the National School of Ballet, Jenny has performed in Jazz and Modern dance, and has also been a dance instructor.
Having appeared in numerous fitness magazines, including Inside Fitness, Better Bodies, Planet Muscle and UMM, we’re proud to have Jenny finally grace the pages of the Lions Den U. JVB was also in Top 100 for Inside Fitness, and has been featured on Canada’s popular morning TV show, Breakfast Television.
Interview with Jennifer
Who are you?
Hello Lions Den U! My name is Jennifer Van Barneveld (better known as Coach JVB), and I am an Online Trainer, Diet Coach, and Contest Prep Specialist for fitness athletes. I was born in Mississauga, ON and currently reside in Toronto. My father is Dutch and my mother is Scottish, making me 1/2 of each.
Where and what are you studying in school?
A couple of years ago I graduated from the Canadian School Of Natural Nutrition, as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, and that program changed my life. In addition to numerous Personal Training certifications I also attended York University a decade ago, studying Anthropology.
How and when did you get into fitness?
At age 19, I started my journey into fitness as a Personal Trainer. That later evolved when I landed my dream job with one of the biggest supplement companies in the world at the time – WellNx Life Sciences (home of NxLabs, Slimquick, and NV). I had the good fortune of being the company’s Tradeshow/Event Specialist at a very young age. The experience that I gained there was life changing, as I worked side-by-side with some of the absolute best minds and talents in this industry. My philosophy today is that if you want to be successful, you must work closely with and mimic other successful people. My old colleagues serve as inspiration to me today.
Can you tell us about JVB Fitness and Nutrition?
JVB Fitness and Nutrition is my baby, and is the byproduct of my passion and skills in this industry. I do online training/nutrition consulting, and stress the online aspect, because with the technology we have today, I can communicate with anyone, anywhere and in real time. Therefore I work with numerous clients across North America, constructing customized training/nutrition programs through e-mail correspondence.
I also work as a Marketing Consultant for many diet and fitness companies, assisting with weight loss campaigns.
What are one of your client’s transformations that have inspired you? And yes, we know they all do, but is there one in particular that hits home?
Yes, all of clients that I work with hold a special place in my heart. I mean, when a client thinks that a certain goal in their life is completely unattainable, and they put their trust in me to get them there, the journey together becomes a special bond. I’ve cried many tears of joy with my clients and still do, because every journey is unique. I get to live my very own “Biggest Loser” television show with each of them. It’s wonderful!
However, if I were to pick the most inspirational story, I would have to go with my first client – Mr.Rudy Reuben. He came to me with very serious health issues due to weight gain starting at 365 lbs. When I first started my business, I was focusing more on weight loss and Rudy came to me with a number of ailments that required sensitive diagnosis. That was hardly what I was thinking when I started this business, so it was very frightening from the start.
Today Rudy and I have worked together for more than 1 year now, and I am so happy to say he has lost over 140 lbs, and is still going strong. He is no longer on disability, is back to work, and is getting ready to follow his dream of being able to do MMA style training. He also has the biggest smile on his face! Rudy constantly reminds me that “he would not be on this Earth today if not for me and the support of his mother”. It’s relationships like these that I have with my clients that make me strive to be an even better coach every day.
You’re also a Corporate Wellness Specialist, teaching employees how to balance health, fitness, and nutrition with their work schedule. Can you describe exactly what you do? Do you go from company to company?
Currently I work with 1 major corporation educating employees on how to balance wellness into their lives amidst their work schedule. Unfortunately with the number of employees that this company has along with my own clients, I just don’t have the capacity to take on more, but am hoping to automate this process a little more this year.
I come into their office periodically to assess their lifestyle, health, and energy levels. We construct mini plans for them to implement into their lives before my next visit. I feel that sitting in a cubicle under fluorescent lighting for 8 hours a day can really have a negative impact on someone’s health due to lack of activity, poor eating habits, bad nutrition choices, and neck/back problems. Implementing small changes can exponentially improve someone’s quality of life.
You are a regular fitness/nutrition contributor for Inside Fitness magazine, LeanOnLife.com, and Strong-Athlete.com. For those who are not familiar with your articles yet, what can one expect? How long have you been writing for?
I provide articles on a number of topics ranging from fitness, nutrition, coaching and motivation. Dealing with so many different clients on a daily basis (almost each with a unique situation), I write based on my current mood or interaction I’ve had with someone. The best thing about dealing with so many different individuals is that I am continuously learning, and I have countless topics to share.
You recently taught at the 2013 Ontario Physique Association (OPA) Contest Prep Seminar. What do you cover in the course and where can one sign up for something like that?
Yes! The OPA is the only organization affiliated with the IFBB in Ontario, and I was honoured to host a seminar covering contest prep for about 50 first or second time competitors. While the vast majority of the attendees were obviously very fit, training and dieting for a fitness show requires strategy. Having both training and nutrition working synergistically is of utmost importance to a competitor’s overall physique come contest day if they’re serious about placing.
My team covers what type of training you should be doing while dieting, how to diet effectively, how to diet healthily, water cutting before your show, post contest nutrition, and off-season training.
You’ve been in the industry for over a decade now and vouch that you’ve dealt with some of the biggest sports nutrition and diet brands in the world, and learnt from the best in the industry. Who stands out in your mind as someone who has taught you the most?
That’s a great question! To be honest, I can’t say one stands out more than the other, especially when I look at where all of them are today. Many own their own supplement companies, some own their own fitness/bodybuilding publications, and the athletes that I’ve had the privilege of working with are now at the top of the game, etc. They’ve all done exceptional things and I model my business, and the way I conduct myself, after their work ethic. The fortunate thing is that with my previous job, I got to spend a lot of time with all of them and learned many different things from each. I’m very blessed to have had this opportunity.
What sports nutrition, or diet brand would you recommend from all the ones you’ve worked with?
Like I said, many of my friends own their own companies now, so I know each of them have very high values with regards to quality and integrity. So me recommending one over the other is a loaded question. LOL! That being said I’m very fortunate to always be able to get almost any supplement I need through them. But if I were to give recommendations to others as to what supplement company to go with, I would go with a reputable brand that is able to provide quality interaction with you (as a consumer) through their social media pages. It shows the company truly cares about you, and spends the money to keep an open dialogue of communication.
What part of your body do you take the most amount of pride in?
I don’t particularly have a body part that I would say I take pride in, as much as I pride myself on always eating clean and being cognizant of making healthy choices. A few years ago (during my less responsible days), I used to indulge frequently in the nightlife. While I don’t frown on that lifestyle, over time it just wasn’t for me. I always found myself playing catch up from the weekends by trying to detox during the week with more training and trying to eat more clean. In the end I was just adding more stress to my body both physically and mentally. It just wasn’t a pattern I was feeling very happy with, and fitness felt more like a trap than a lifestyle. Today I pride myself on continuous learning and improvement.
What is the hardest part about maintaining such a fabulous figure?
Aww, thanks Lion’s Den U! I think for anyone trying to stay as lean as possible, it is to implement eating whole foods regularly and meals portioned to their body as much as possible. Followed by nutrition, keeping up a regular fitness schedule consisting of resistance training is the next important factor.
Fortunately for me, fitness is my business, and I get to live and breathe it. I know the challenges most of my clients have is finding the right balance.
You have a lot of recipes and healthy desserts on your blog and Fanpage. Have you ever considered putting together a cookbook?
Yes, I have numerous recipes on my page and blog. I thank my parents for passing on some culinary skills to me, because I come from 2 generations of restaurant ownership. I get a lot of joy from taking what I’ve learned over my lifetime, and applying a healthy spin on it with my focus being to always keep my creations full of flavour.
That being said, yes I am currently hard at work putting together a cookbook to share. To my clients and friends that have been following this particular project, I sincerely apologize for the delay on this, as I am putting some nice production value into this book, so stay tuned!
Can you describe what your own personal diet plan is like?
My own personal diet consists of a wide variety of whole food eating, which is lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, grain fed or organic meats, and plenty of fish sources. I eat very clean and my meals are portioned to my weight. For my clients, I stress weighing their food sources but for me, as I keep everything relatively consistent, I can eyeball the amount of food I need to consume for maintenance purposes. However if I am involved in a project or photo shoot, I will definitely weigh my food for complete accuracy on calorie consumption.
I am a huge believer in balanced meals, meaning I do eat plenty of carbs and fats in addition to protein, despite the myths that those 2 macronutrients are responsible for fat gain. They’re not! Because my diet is consistent, I also have the liberty to indulge in cheat meals.
While everyone’s nutrition needs are different, most of the time I would choose eating whole foods as the first change for someone wanting to lose weight, as these food choices are full of nutrients and low in calories in comparison to processed food, which is the opposite – full of calories and low in nutrients.
Do you have a ‘weekly workout routine? If so what is it?
I actually train each body part every 5 days, so it’s not exactly weekly. I like to keep a routine for about 4 weeks before I change things up and revamp my program. One of the things that I started implementing a couple of years ago was advanced body weight exercises and plyometrics. These exercises, coupled with my traditional weight training, have exponentially improved my physique, strength, and performance.
What type of music do you listen to when you work out?
Typically I workout to some pretty hard hitting house music from some of Toronto’s best house music DJs, such as DJ Addy, DJs Manzone and Strong, DJ Tricky Moreira, and DJ Jermz. I can’t forget to mention my girl DJ Bootz who is making quite a name for herself in the house music circuit. Look any of them up on Soundcloud and you’ll be happy you downloaded their music.
Do you have any sponsors?
I currently don’t have any supplement sponsors and, as a nutrition coach, I’m not really sure it’s for me? I do quite a bit of marketing consulting with various companies, so it might also be a conflict of interest and I like to stay neutral.
Like I said earlier, I do get plenty of supplements from friends, and I do recommend them to my clients. Sponsorship requires a lot of work put forth by the respective athlete, such as constant promotion, booth work, and other assignments. If I were to work with a company, I would do the work as per agreement, and being a person that managed booths years ago I couldn’t even imagine working at another show again. Right now, I promote products and companies that I believe in with no expectations on either end. My clients come first and I’m blessed that I have enough of them to keep me extremely busy.
However if Under Armour comes along and wants to offer me a clothing sponsorship, I’m all ears
With how good you look in Under Armour style clothing, we wouldn’t be surprised if you got a call. What are you plans for 2013?
2013 is turning out to be a big year for me, as I’m ready to expand my business to include e-books, clothing, speaking engagements, and more video based training projects. On a personal note, I’m also getting married this year so I’m very excited about that!
Congrats!! Do you have any final words for your fans and the readers of Lions Den U?
I want to personally thank the staff and fans of Lions Den U for taking interest in me. I love your page! If you have any questions regarding fitness and/or nutrition, please don’t hesitate to stop by my Website, Facebook Page, or Blog.
About the Author: TheCoach knows his stuff. Now you can either utilize the knowledge, or regret that you didn't.