GGS Spotlight: Jill McLean


Name:   Jill McLean
Age:  35
Location: Salem, Oregon

What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
To me it means being strong and confident on the inside and out. It means not being afraid to show off my “guns” while also wearing lipgloss. It means not being afraid to be more, to take up space and to encourage other women to do the same by lifting one another up.

How long have you been strength training, and how did you get started?
I’ve been strength training for about seven years. I first got started with a popular home DVD workout series that I borrowed from my sister-in-law. I followed that program for about nine months. I saw some great results, and that’s when people started pouring in with the “How did you do that?” questions. I quickly learned that I absolutely loved helping others find ways to get strong, and that’s when I decided that I wanted to be a personal trainer. In order to learn about the field, I decided to hire a personal trainer (who, spoiler alert, ended up becoming my best friend and business partner!). This helped me hone my craft, but it also gave me a lifting partner who was as in love with lifting heavy stuff as I was!

What does your typical workout look like?
I always start out with core and pelvic floor exercises for my warm-up. Even though I’m 16 months postpartum, I still find this a very important part of my exercise program. After that, I start getting into my lifts. Usually they include some type of body weight exercise, barbell and kettlebell exercise. The format looks a little like this:

  1. Core/Power
  2. Push/Pull (Upper and/or lower)
  3. Finisher

A lower volume, higher intensity approach has helped me gain strength without exhausting all of my energy, which is a precious commodity these days with a toddler.

Favorite Lift:
The Turkish Get-Up. It is just a flat-out awesome exercise that makes me feel pretty badass.

Most memorable PR:
When I got a TGU with the 28kg bell on each side. This PR actually happened for me twice. Once before I had my son, and once after. Training postpartum has been a whole new animal. It’s been like training with a totally differently body that I’ve had to take time to honor and get to know. So, I’ve nicknamed my PRs after baby as PPPRs (postpartum PRs).

Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
I usually don’t workout with headphones, so whatever is playing in the gym is good enough for me. But, I usually have to stop and jam to any of five:

  1. Turn Down for What - Dj Snake Feat. Lil Jon
  2. Bad Romance - Lady Gaga
  3. Rock and Roll - Led Zeppelin
  4. Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5
  5. Sail - AWOLNATION

Top 3 things you must have with you at the gym or in your gym bag:
Lip gloss, water bottle, chalk

Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
I usually enjoy training with others. There’s just something about surrounding yourself with like-minded people who want to enhance their life and feel good.

The energy of a good gym is hard to beat. You never leave feeling worse.

Most embarrassing gym moment:
My husband and I met at the gym where we both worked. Normally, I work out in the evening, but because I knew he would be working out there at the same time, I started doing my lifts at lunchtime to you know, impress him with my dedication and super sweet moves of course. I had band-assisted pull-ups in my program, so I got up on the box and went to slide the band around my  heel, only I missed! The band snapped me right in the crotch. So, there I stood with one leg on the box and the other hiked up to the heavens in the band looking at my crush. He didn’t rush over to help me, just stared. And I blurted out, “I’m fine!” No worries, he married me anyway.

Most memorable compliment you’ve received lately:
“You’ve been kicking butt. I’m proud of you.” A compliment from my cousin Heidi on my progress with my business lately, which means a lot to me because entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart!

Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
“I am diggin’ those pants!” A compliment I gave another woman at the gym who was wearing these awesome red workout pants that I totally dug.

Favorite meal:
Paleo pizza, hands down!

Favorite way to treat yourself:
I love getting pedicures. I could just fall asleep in those comfy chairs.

Favorite quote:
“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.”
— Edmund Lee

Favorite book:
I am a big Stephen King fan. My favorite book is The Stand. It’s unbelievably long (1,153 pages in the uncut version), and I read it in one summer. It had me riveted, and I cried near the end.

What inspires and motivates you?  
Other strong women. I’ve spent a good amount of time over the past couple of years really finding my tribe. Just like one of your awesome T-shirts says, “Strong women lift each other up.”

I’ve surrounded myself with strong women, and it has truly inspired me to do things that I would have never done before.

I’ve already spent too much time playing small and taking up less space. Spending time with strong women has helped me reach beyond my borders, find my true potential and dream big! Because…..why not?! Go for it!

What do you do?
I co-own a personal training business with my best friend Cara Turnquist called Movement Duets. We specialize in pre and postnatal training with a focus on core and pelvic floor health. We’ve been running our signature online group training program Fit Mom Foundations for about a year and recently started offering in-person training services in Salem, Oregon as well. I also work part-time as a chiropractic assistant.

What else do you do?
This should come as no surprise but my main hobby is weight lifting! I love challenging myself to reach new PRs. I also compete in the Highland Games, which is an awesome extension of what I already love to do. The difference is that not only do I get to lift heavy stuff, I also get to let it go! It’s awesomely therapeutic, and the Highland Games community is filled with some of the kindest and most amazing people that you will ever meet. I also recently started going out line dancing with Cara which is super fun because the place we go to offers lessons at 7:30 p.m. and we’re home by 10:00 p.m. Perfect for us, because #grandmastatus. I’m not the best at it, but at the very least I can follow directions, not run into people, and have a lot of fun.

Describe a typical day in your life:
I wake up around 6 a.m., hop in the shower, and get ready for the day. After that, my son Jack usually wakes up, and we have a quiet nursing session. This is also when I check my task list for the business, to make sure that I know what I need to have done for the day. Then Jack and I both eat breakfast, and I get him ready for the day. After dropping him off at the babysitter’s house, I head to the gym where Cara and I teach our Mommy and Me classes, pre/postnatal strength training classes, mobility classes, and do individual training sessions and table work. After work my husband (Sam) and I regroup at home with Jack to eat lunch. We usually take a little down time before going back to the gym for my own workout. After that, we head home for the day. Jack usually goes down for a nap in the afternoon and this is when I get my writing for done (blogs, emails, social media posts, etc.). After my writing work is done, the rest of the evening is dedicated to family time.

Your next training goal:
32kg Turkish Get-Up on each side. I’m coming for ya!

What are you most grateful for?
I’m most grateful for my husband and son. Ever since the day that I met my Sam he put me first. He always goes out of his way to make sure that I’m taken care of and that I feel special. When I said that I wanted to quit my full-time job to pursue building up my business, he barely even flinched. He said that I had to go for it. He’s been supportive every step of the way. He also helped give me the greatest gift that I  could ever ask for, our son, Jack.

What life accomplishment are you most proud of?
Giving birth! The labor and delivery of my son changed me in a million and one ways. I never knew that I was capable of such an amazing miracle.

Which three words that best describe you?
Funny. Strong. Kind.

What’s a risk you’ve taken recently, and how did it turn out?
I had been working full time at a corporate gym for almost three years when I even first thought about starting a business with my best friend. When I was about to go on maternity leave, my boss at the time gave me an ultimatum: when I was ready to return to work, I was either to work solely for his company or my business. Even though I wasn’t taking home a paycheck from it and it had absolutely zero security, I chose my business. Cara and I went all-in. We shaped and molded this beautiful business of helping moms and moms-to-be have fit, healthy pregnancies, successful postpartum recoveries and strength and support during this transitional time in their lives. Our business continues to build, grow, and change and it’s absolutely amazing seeing how it all continues to unfold.

What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve noticed from strength training?
Getting strong on the outside and seeing that strength seep into all other aspects of my life. It truly inspires self confidence and strength on the inside as well.

How has lifting weights changed your life?
If it weren’t for me borrowing that workout DVD set from my sister-in-law, I never would have ended up where I am today. I never would have seen what my body can do. I never would have pursued a career in the fitness industry. I never would have worked at the gym where I met my best friend and husband. I never would have started my business. I never would have shared my story with others.

Lifting weights changed everything. Absolutely everything.

When did you start the Moms Gone Strong, why did you decide to start, and what helped you make the decision to start?
I started the Moms Gone Strong program when I was 29 weeks pregnant. I decided to start the program because I knew that how I had been exercising before pregnancy wasn't necessarily appropriate for how I should be exercising during or even after for a while! I believe that every good coach should have a coach, and as a trainer myself, it was really nice to not have to think about my workouts or do my own programming. I was so excited to hear that this was something that GGS was now going to be offering that I couldn't not do it! It was really great to work so closely with Molly and Jessie during the pilot program, and at 16 months postpartum I'm still continuing to work with Jessie.

What was your biggest challenge in the Moms Gone Strong program? 
My biggest challenge was my ego. Haha. Prior to becoming pregnant I was already a regular exerciser, and I loved heavy lifting. It was hard for me to let go of heavy lifting for a while, but it was the right thing to do for me and my body. I found my way back to it safely.

Throughout my pregnancy the "I can" vs. "I should" struggle was constant.

What has been your biggest success from the Moms Gone Strong program?
One of the things that my mom friends have told me throughout the years is that after having a baby I should expect to pee my pants. I refused to believe that this had to be the case. I was diligent about my core and pelvic floor exercises and not placing too much stress on my core and pelvic floor, and I am happy to report that it paid off! I've had minimal postpartum issues, and I can say with conviction that peeing your pants after you have a baby might be common, but it is not normal. Prevention and healing can happen!

What do you like best about the Moms Gone Strong community?
Motherhood can be really, really lonely if you let it be. I really struggled with depression during the first few months after my son was born. Having a community of like-minded women who relate, love, and support you throughout this crazy journey of motherhood made a huge difference. No more crying alone and Googling, "Is it normal to....?" I just leaned in and asked my sisters.

What is the habit you’re currently working on most?
Continuing to do safely do more heavy lifting that's appropriate for my postpartum body.

How has Moms Gone Strong changed your life? 
It brought on so much more body awareness on my part. It helped me to really tune in and learn what "listen to your body" truly means. It's helped me make smart decisions about exercising during pregnancy and after. And it's introduced me to so many amazing women.

What would you tell a woman who’s nervous about starting Moms Gone Strong?
Whether you're a regular gym goer or a first time exerciser, this program meets you where you are. The programming is smart so you don't have to wonder if you're doing the "right" things, and the community is a safe place to come as you are and get support along the way.

What do you want to say to women, in general, who might be nervous or hesitant about strength training?
I know what it’s like to walk into a gym and not know where the heck to start. I’ve been the one who walked around the weight room, reading all of the instructions on the different machines and hesitantly trying them out, hoping that no one was looking at me. Don’t let fear keep you from starting. Go with a friend. Hire a trainer. Reach out, don’t hide out. You never know how picking up a weight might change your life. It certainly changed mine.

Get in the best shape of your life—for good.

With Girls Gone Strong Coaching, you’ll get the support, accountability, and expert coaching to eat and exercise in a sustainable way — without restrictive diets or spending your life in the gym.

Whether your health and fitness goals are to…

  • Get stronger
  • Gain muscle
  • Lose body fat
  • Improve your pull-ups
  • Have a safe and healthy pregnancy
  • Return to exercise safely postpartum
  • Heal your relationship with food
  • Increase your confidence

... or anything else, we’ll help you achieve them. You can experience life-changing results while eating and exercising in a way that actually fits into your life — instead of controlling it.

Throughout our 12-month program, you’ll get a simple, step-by-step plan for developing nutrition, fitness, and mindset habits that will lead the way in reaching your goal.

Your coach is available 5 days a week to answer questions and help you navigate situations — like eating while you’re on vacation, exercise substitutions so you don’t aggravate your knee pain, or planning a workout with limited equipment options — so you always have support when you need it. And together, you'll find the best path toward long-term results in a way that works for you.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Improve your nutrition without giving up the foods you love
  • Exercise safely and effectively so you’re getting maximum results from your workouts without burning yourself out
  • Increase your confidence, love the way your body looks, feels, and performs — and enjoy your life more than you ever thought possible

And you’ll become the happiest, fittest, strongest version of yourself, one step at a time.

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