Jen Hendershott practices what she calls the “YOLO motto”: You only live once. Though I’ve never been to one of her Phat Camps, I suspect it’s a running theme.
The photo above is a sneak peek at an extraordinary photo shoot Hendershott did with IRON MAN’s Michael Neveux not long after the two-time Olympia champ nailed her second Fitness International title in March. Mike, Jen and the gang from Gardena took a trampoline to Detweiler Beach in Playa del Ray, California, at the crack of dawn, and the breathtaking results will be featured in the September ’09 IRON MAN (on newsstands August 1).
It’s the one-time Ohio State cheerleader’s second IM Hardbody layout—a rare honor. I drew the assignment to write the “girl copy,” as we used to call it at Hustler, a perfect excuse to catch up with an athlete I’ve known since she burst (and I mean burst) onto the fitness stage in 1997. Jen and her husband, Brian Kinn, currently life in Burlington, North Carolina. Among other topics, our conversation touched on the IRON MAN shoot, the many things that keep her occupied these days—plus a few distractions—and, well, the obvious question.
You get kudos from me for getting Mike out of the studio. Whose idea was the trampoline?
Actually, I had contacted [IRON MAN Publisher] John Balik, and they were looking for the right athlete for this shoot. My timing was right on. I was headed to California for some other business ventures and said, “I would love to do it,” Getting Michael out was fun. He is a great guy, and I always enjoy seeing him and chatting about life and politics!
You sounded exhilarated in the e-mail you sent after the shoot. Was it that much fun?
The shoot was one of the most memorable and most professional experiences in my entire career. Michael, John and the team were so fun and easy to work with. I would shoot once a month if I could with them. It was amazing jumping for nine hours in the hot sun on a trampoline, overlooking the ocean, with airplanes from LAX going over every 30 to 45 seconds! Amazing!
I take it you are no stranger to a trampoline?
I am actually not that familiar with the tramp. However, you know I love to jump and I definitely think my cheerleading experience helped with the shoot. I jumped and jumped and hit pose after pose till we got the right shot. I think at one point I jumped so high, I might have peed in my pants. Yikes!
I know you like shooting with Michael. What’s unique about working with him?
He is so simple. He gets the shots. It’s not five hours to get one shot; he just nails shot after shot. In the nine hours of shooting I believe we did 11 costume changes. That speaks volumes on his end.
The last time I saw you—at the Arnold—you were in the clouds, and from reading your blog at JennyH.com, I get the impression you still are. What’s it like to be Jen Hendershott these days?
I would not trade my life with anyone. I love being Jen Hendershott! You know I just take each experience and make the most of it. I don’t wait for my phone to ring, e-mails to roll in or money to fall in my hand. I work extremely hard promoting myself and running my businesses to make a good living and a good name for myself. My life is not perfect, but it is good! I am extremely blessed in so many ways. Most important, I have my health and I am happy about who I have become. What else can a girl ask for?
However, it’s not always easy being me. There are lots of haters! They are the people who want to be me. Believe it or not, I love the people who are continuously throwing me under the bus. I have never mistreated a soul in this sport. I do stand up for myself, and sometimes people do not like the decisions I make, but I am not a doormat. No one is going to walk all over me or tell me how to live my life.
I am a woman with drive and aspirations to be the best I can be. The more they talk about me, the more people are curious as to who I am. I always say no press is bad press. Keep talking, and I will keep doing my thing with integrity and grace.
You never stop moving. You’ve got the Phat Camps and the choreography, you’re the IFBB athletes rep for fitness, you’ve got a new NPC competition, and didn’t I hear something about a TV show? Can you actually list all your current projects?
Finishing my winter/spring tour with Phat Camps right now; starting back in the fall: www.getphatwithjen.com.
Just finished filming the MTV show “Made.” That was a nine-week process. It airs June 20, with repeats all summer.
Just launched a new affiliate program to help athletes make money so they can keep competing or make a secondary income: www.pgnnutrition.com.
Promoting my NPC event [the Jen Hendershott All Women’s Weekend] on July 18 in Charleston, South Carolina: www.getphatpromotions.com.
I also joined forces with the team at Scivation to launch a new line of women’s supplements: www.pgnnutrition.com.
I am training many clients for shows around the NPC: www.getphatonline.com.
Hmmm. That’s what I’ve got going on right this minute, but each day new things come onto my plate.
What gives you the most joy in your career?
That I get to be a role model for so many women out there. Daily I get e-mails from around the world about how I have inspired them, changed them, impacted them in some way. That is to me, what I was born to do—teach people to believe in themselves and live the YOLO motto!—You only live once. Life is so short, we have to live it while we are able to and make it the best we can.
You and Brian have an enviable marriage. What’s your secret?
Wow, lots of answers go into this: We are friends first. We don’t let others determine who we are as a couple. We are honest with one another, and we take time to spend together each day so we are always growing our life together as one. We are not interested to see if the grass is greener somewhere else. We married for better or for worse. We make our career decisions as a team: How will it benefit us? We don’t yell or argue—that’s a waste of energy. We discuss! We are the couple that can drink a protein shake or a beer together and enjoy each minute of it. We love each other very much. Life would not be as good as it is without each other!
You have recently expressed a passion for fishing. How long has this been going on?
I love fishing—always have—and I spend at least one-third of my summer fishing with my dad. I fish better than any of my four brothers. I am actually interested in becoming a professional fisherwoman. Seriously, what a great life—it’s competitive, you don’t have to diet, and you live life in a boat. Ahhh, that sounds amazing.
What else are you doing for fun these days?
Honestly, I don’t get a lot of free time, but when I do, I spend it in Ohio with friends and family. Brian and I take lots of little vacations when we can. I also just try and read some good books. It keeps the mind and who I am in check with reality.
What are you reading now?
I am currently reading The Seven Secrets by John Hagee—an excellent spiritual and empowering book.
What would you like to be doing that you’re not already doing?
I would like to be doing lots of things: public speaking is one. I would love to start a nonprofit organization. I also would love to get more involved in TV and radio. I honestly like what I’m doing, but I am always open to new ventures.
Last March, after your second win at the Fitness International—and second Olympia win—you seemed headed into nothing-left-to-prove mode. Will we see you onstage at the Olympia in September?
I have nothing to prove, damn right! You know that I have not made this decision. If I do compete, it’s because I can, but I will bring the best Jen Hendershott that anyone has ever seen. If I decide not to do it, then it’s because I am ready to move on. I do know this: Retirement is for old people, and I am not old!