From High School P.E. teacher to Owner/Trainer, Peter talks with Jess from HIgh Vibe Fitness

Good morning. This is Peter Keller from Fringe Sport, and today I'm talking with Jess Redfearn from High Vibe Fitness in Platteville, Wisconsin. And Jess and I were chatting just a little bit before we started recording and started the interview, and she was telling me about her journey with High Vibe, from outside fitness to kickboxing, to getting her Crossfit level one and adding barbells into the mix. And I found it really interesting. So good morning, Jess. How are you doing today?

Jess Redfearn: Hey. I'm good, Peter. Thanks for having me on.

A pleasure. So tell us a little bit about yourself before we start jumping into High Vibe and the fitness journey. So where do you come from, what's your fitness background, and what are you doing?

Jess Redfearn: So I come from a super tiny unincorporated town. I have a couple younger sisters, mom and dad. I went to University of Platteville Wisconsin for four years in physical education, and from there I got a job right out of college and I taught middle school, high school physical education for eight years and did some coaching of basketball. And then I kind of had an epiphany that last year and I just ... I wasn't happy. I had a super cush job, I was making good money as a teacher, got away with whatever I wanted, the kids loved me. And I just wasn't fulfilled.

So last day of school, I resigned and set my resignation letter on my superintendent's desk. And I didn't really have a solid plan of what I was going to do. I just resigned because I knew that if I came back another year, I wasn't going to be happy. So I left teaching and I just kind of took a couple months off for the summer and just did me. I was still getting paid, so that was good, but then we came down to crunch time. Where I was like, "All right, paycheck's are going to end, I got to return back to reality."

So I was literally laying in bed one day and this thought just came to me and I was like, "High Vibe. Like high vibes, good vibes." This was before vibes were even cool. And I just put it together and came up with High Vibe, and I started a Facebook page and threw it out there in the two small communities around us. And we started in Platteville and just did outdoor boot camps in Platteville, and then I also drove to Benton, that's my hometown where I grew up, and I did outdoor boot camps there as well.

And the response was really, really good. I was charging 80 bucks, it was a lot of money at that time. And there was nobody really doing anything like I was doing. This was about four years ago I started High Vibe literally from grassroots. So I had body weight and then I would just use my PE degree to like use classroom management and come up with different workouts and that was kind of how we got started. I mean, I gave you a lot there.

Yeah, for sure.

Jess Redfearn: But that's kind of how it got started and a little bit about me and yeah.

Cool. Well you had mentioned driving around and going from the two different towns doing a lot of body weight stuff, doing a lot of classroom management. One hot button issue that I often talk to people about is their programming methodology. So you had talked about classroom management and you talked about your physical education degree. But what was your programming theory or mindset back in those days when you were hopping from town to town?

Jess Redfearn: I mean, it was different people from the different classes all the time, so I really just focused on HIIT training. So it was a total body workout pretty much every time, and we would run some days. I would utilize playground equipment. We'd do step ups, jump up on the equipment. We would duck under fences. We would do pull ups on monkey bars. We would be rolling around in the grass doing leg throw downs, or planking, or sit ups. And so I don't know if my programming was exactly what I thought. It's evolved over time obviously, but just high intensity training was kind of what we did and I mixed it up by doing time and sets and reps, things like that. And people were successful and the word got out and it just kind of caught fire.

I love it. So again, from the pre-interview, you had mentioned then moving in to a boutique fitness studio location and adding kickboxing in. So can you tell us a little bit about that?

Jess Redfearn: Yeah. So I got into a business with a few other women. So I'm a hippy, I'm a holistic, so I really focus on a lot of emotional wellness and fitness as well, so we  thought we had this great idea of creating like a massage therapy, and we had some life coaching, and a chiropractor. But we were in a really small space and I was in the basement, and we didn't really think that out. So having loud kickboxing bags and loud music and people down there jumping around and hooting and hollering didn't really go hand in hand.

So when I started the small boutique studio, it was literally a basement. There was no windows, no lights, no flooring, no bathroom. And I walked in and I was like, "Yep, we're going to make a fitness studio out of this." And people were like, "Are you kidding me?" I think my dad was like, "Really, Jess? I've been on these roads with you before but you're crazy here." I'm like, "Nope, dad. I see it. I can make it happen." So we built it out, and of course as build outs go, I thought I was going to be done in November and it was I think January by the time I got it done with.

So I actually had to stop doing boot camps in Platteville and I just did them in Benton out of a high school gym. And then once it built out I got five kickboxing bags and went to Walmart and picked up some dumbbells and literally just bought what I could afford. I didn't take out a huge loan. My dad loaned me a little bit of money. One of my uncles loaned me a little bit of money. I had some money saved up from teaching and I just really, really started off slow and just stayed within my means and just did what I could do with what I had.

I love it. So you had mentioned now that you went and got your Crossfit L1, and that's when you kind of made the transition from kickboxing and a lot of boot camp type stuff to adding barbells in. So what did that transition look like when you were ... You get your L1, you start adding the barbells in, and how did your clients take it?

Jess Redfearn: Well, I dabble in college basketball for awhile, so we did a lot of strength conditioning stuff with barbells then. But I hadn't done a lot with barbells just because I didn't have them. So when you go to L1 and you're all fired up and you're loving Crossfit. And actually when I was teaching the first like year, my principle came and was like, "Hey, there's this Crossfit thing. Like you should check it out." And I get on the website and it was old school. I was like, "I have no idea. Like I don't even know what this means." And that's a huge regret.

If I would have jumped on that 12 years ago, I would have been at the very beginning. So I just brought it back. We started super simple and just did what we could do. Burpees, barbell burpees, and some back squats. We didn't have squat racks or anything so we just had three people in groups and spotted like that. And we just tried to teach. So it was kind of like foundation. We just kept it super simple. Taught strength and performance. And we kept it boot camp based as well. So we stuck with the dumbbells. So when the opening came around, we had the dumbbells. We weren't surprised by it. So people are excited about new things. So when you bring a barbell in, they're like, "Oh, cool. Like we'll give this a shot." Not everybody likes it. But they'll grind through it and they'll make it happen.

Awesome. Well, thanks for sharing that. So where are you now? You said you had just moved into a new location. What is your programming? What do your clients look like now versus when you were doing the boot camps and you had just started?

Jess Redfearn: Well, my situation's a little unique because I'm not a Crossfit gym. We run boot camps. And we have kickboxing. So people are kickboxing Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and then Tuesday, Thursday they're boot camping. And then they can pick up a yoga class or they can do a Sunday Sweat. So my programming, it's not your typical Crossfit. So we'll do some abs and arms on Mondays, and we'll throw some kickboxing in there. Tuesdays we usually hit legs. Wednesday we'll do some cardio. And then the rest of the week's a little bit of accessory work and Friday we usually try to have fun. I play dodge ball and stuff. And I'll play all the tag games I played when I was PE teacher. And it's like I have that upper hand of being able to think on my feet and create some fun for the community.

Let me dig into that for a minute. So you play dodge ball. When you say you play dodge ball, do you mean you do that for some of your boot camps? Or sorry, some of your clients?

Jess Redfearn: For just warm ups. So like warm up, 15 minute warm up, we'll throw some dodge balls in there. We'll do team dodge ball. Or we'll do just old school dodge ball. And that's our warm up. And honestly, like you play some dodge ball, you're getting a sweat going real quick.

How do the clients react to that? I mean do they love it? Does anybody kind of balk at that?

Jess Redfearn: I mean, you know, you'll have your egotistical people be like, "Oh, this isn't a warm up." And I'm like, "Dude, then go ride the assault bike. Just hit it. Hit it as hard as you can." Then they'll play dodge ball pretty quick. But I've honestly never had anyone say, "Oh my god, I'm playing dodge ball for a work out." I think there needs to be more of that actually in fitness and what we do. And kind of like PE, there needs to be more fitness than all the games. So it's just kind of creating that balance of having fun, letting go, bringing out that inner child, and just letting people have fun.

I love it. I wish that I would have dodge ball as a warm up sometimes. Maybe I'll suggest it now. I'm sorry, go ahead.

Jess Redfearn: I'm coming to Austin for my L2 in a couple weeks. I'll bring my dodge balls with me.

Please do. And you're welcome to come by Fringe Sport. We've got a whole gym kitted out here, so we'd really love to see you. But one thing I want to jump back into and talk about a little bit. So you had mentioned that your degree is in physical education. A lot of times when I talk with people, they have like a kinesiology degree or something like that. And you had previously mentioned that you thought that your physical education degree had helped you with like running classes and stuff like that. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Jess Redfearn: Yeah, absolutely. I think that because I did try to do more fitness-based stuff in PE and just having my degree and having basketball background, just like how to set up classes and how to manage people, how to move them through smoothly, how to work the class. Like staying out the outside and being able to make sure I'm in the position where I can make sure everyone's moving safely and effectively. All of those things are just kind of innate right now where I think if you have a new coach who maybe who came from crossfit or some other type of fitness program, and they're just jumping in and trying to coach, it's not as easy for them. So that's really benefited me in that way. Yeah, so I don't know if that answers the question, but ...

Yeah, definitely. So in the pre pre-interview, one of the questions that I ask a lot of our guests is what's something that I should ask you on the air so to speak. And do you remember what you wrote?

Jess Redfearn: I have no idea. How babies are born or something?

You said, "Where do babies come from?" You asked me to ask you that question. Here it is. Where do babies come from?

Jess Redfearn: That's just my health. I was just being a goofball. But no, you don't have to really ask me. I hope if you don't know you can Google it or probably YouTube it at this point. It's probably out there.

If you Google it, there might be some weird answers in there.

Jess Redfearn: Yeah.

Let's say go ask your mom, or your health professional.

Jess Redfearn: Yeah. I'd like to know what moms say because I always think that's funny.

My mom was a nurse, and whenever I asked her-

Jess Redfearn: So she gave it to your straight?

Yeah. She gave it to me like ... Like I learned don't ask mom about babies, or sex, or something like that because mom is going to bust out the textbook and then I'm going to learn way more than I wanted to learn.

Jess Redfearn: Yeah, I would always be like well the penis goes inside the vagina and then things come out of it. And you have like 8th graders staring at you like, "What? Did she just say penis and vagina in the same sentence?" So it was a fun time to mess with kids like that. But they listen, you know what I mean?

I can imagine so, yeah.

Jess Redfearn: They wanted to know.

I love it. Well, Jess, what else should we, other than how babies are made, what else would you like to share with our audience?

Jess Redfearn: Yeah, that was a random rant.

Oh, no worries.

Jess Redfearn: No, I just think like a thing ... What I'm really trying to do is I just, like everybody, we all know the community matters. And it's how are we going to be unique? And so I really like to bring my hipster-ness into it and just like connecting the mind to the movement to the muscles. And we come into class and we set intents and we visualize and we get just grounded in the moment, take some deep breaths. And I'll do a little bit of what people say, like woo woo, and I'll just kind of pump them up and get them going. And then I'll just have them revisit those intentions during class. Like, "Hey, why are you here? Like did you have a shitty day? Are you carrying some emotions with you that you don't need to carry with you? Like are you really listen and like feeling that muscle that you're moving? And how's your form?"

And then at the end of the class, we'll sit and we'll stretch and we'll sit in the butterfly position and I'll just have them close their eyes and we take some deep breaths and just clear ourselves. Because exercise brings so much emotional and mental stuff to the surface, and I think sometimes you can put yourself through a hard workout, but you got to clear out all the shit that you bring to the surface. So we take some deep breaths and we just fill ourselves up with some good vibes and some light and love and send it around the room and just thank everybody, thank our bodies. And we affirm some good things. I'm strong, I'm beautiful, I'm worthy. Just some of those insecurities we have, we affirm different and we give everybody high fives and that's the end of the day. And hopefully we'll see them again tomorrow and create change every day.

I absolutely love it. That sounds fantastic. Well, Jess, I found you guys online at Is that how people should find you if they're interested in taking a class or talking with you?

Jess Redfearn: Yeah, absolutely. High Vibe, Instagram (@HighVibeFitness), Facebook, Snapchat, we got it all.

Awesome. I love it. Well, Jess, this has been awesome. I loved talking with you. And have a wonderful day.

Jess Redfearn: Yeah, real quick, Peter. We found you guys ... So my training partner, we were looking for the best bumpers, and he's like, "Hey, you got to check out this Fringe Sport." So we literally have only your bumpers, only your barbells, all med balls, kettle bells, like everything we got that feeds our bootcamp comes from you guys. So thanks for really good quality product and great customer service. Like anytime I got anything going wrong, like I just shoot your staff a email and like it comes in the mail immediately. And I love the free shipping. So that stuff all makes a huge difference, especially when you're small business. That's why I love working with you because you're small too, so you got to keep each other going.

Yeah, absolutely. I love it and thanks for saying that. That's really fantastic. Cool.

Jess Redfearn: Yeah, thank you.

No worries. Well have a wonderful rest of the day and thanks for chatting with us, Jess.

Jess Redfearn: Yeah. Take care, Peter.

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