I could not start a new segment without mentioning the one person who has always been incredibly supportive, encouraging and enlightening to so many people in the fitness industry, including myself. This woman, although faced with insurmountable challenges personally and professionally, has never wavered her belief in her purpose. Her role has been difficult, yet the fitness industry could not survive without her input.
This woman is Jennifer Schembri-Portelli or affectionately known as JSP. Jenni is a close personal friend, and cool thing about having your own newsletter, you can write whatever you want – so I will.
I will begin with what an amazing mentor and friend Jenni has been to me, as I am aware that I am not the only one that has had the privilege of her wisdom and faith in who I am as a person. My first encounter with Jenni was at an aqua course in 1991 where she was one of the presenters. I remember thinking how entertaining she was and not the ‘norm’. Back then, the fitness industry was full of G-strings, full body tans, blonde hair and a certain air of ‘I’m pretty good’. I certainly did not fit that mould and when Jenni bounced in to do ‘her thing’ at the course, I felt that I could breathe. This woman was real – very real and since then I have been inspired, challenged, encouraged and constantly in awe of this woman who has an internal strength and determination that would challenge any mountain.
On the big scale, Jenni has run conventions, written ground breaking education in aquatics for all abilities, developed an incredible course and system called WETS and inspired thousands of potentials to become aqua instructors. She has done all of this while raising a family, caring for an amazing husband who was very ill and supporting not only myself as professional, but also many other colleagues including her staff. Jenni somehow always has time to talk – about anything, knows when something is important and when it is really important and how the small stuff doesn’t need so much sweat. Jenni asks the ‘why’ question rather than when and how. These are only a few of things that I love about this humble, charismatic woman.
If you ever have the privilege of meeting JSP, don’t assume anything. She will always take you by surprise – and it is always a fabulous surprise.