Jenny Oakenfull: Why I set up Active-Eat…
I’m Jenny Oakenfull, Nutritionist, Dru Yoga teacher, former international sportswoman and founder of Active-Eat.
Being honest, I’m quite torn when trying to tell you about myself because while all those things are true; if you take them on face value then you’d think I’ve pretty much got all this health and wellbeing stuff sorted. And, let’s face it, I do need you to know that I’m a qualified and experienced practitioner with a wealth of knowledge in Yoga, Nutrition and Competitive Sport. Because how else would you be able to assess whether I am the right person to help you? The thing is, my expertise in these areas is only half the story.
The other half is a story of injuries, stress and chronic illness: Of someone who doesn’t have it all sorted but is still also on her own wellness journey – managing stress, illness and setbacks like everyone else. In a funny way, I think it’s this half of the story that has made me a better practitioner. I understand the challenges and I know the impact this work can have first-hand. It has definitely made me into the passionate advocate for healthy nutritious food and exercise that I am today.
Let me explain. In 2006 I was diagnosed with ME. The diagnosis itself was a bit of a relief – finally giving a name to all the pain and exhaustion I had been suffering. In the years previous I’d been living a busy and stressful life, struggling to prioritise my health like everyone else and working long hours climbing the corporate career ladder. After work I would crawl into bed too tired to eat anything healthy. I knew something needed to change if I was going to begin to feel well again.
After my diagnosis, food became a crucial tool in improving my health. I was amazed at the impact better food choices had on my energy levels and was inspired to train as a nutritionist to explore this passion further.
Keen to return to some form of exercise I started attending a weekly yoga class and quickly discovered the fantastic benefits of yoga for improving energy levels and managing stress. The combination of the strong but gentle movements of Dru Yoga and healthier food choices completely transformed my wellbeing and the decision to train and qualify as a Dru Yoga Teacher was a natural progression as I felt so passionate about helping others feel better.
Why Dru Yoga?
Quite a few people have asked me why I chose Dru Yoga rather than another type or style of Yoga, after all there are so many out there to try. The short answer is that I did try other Yoga styles before finding Dru, but always found them unsuitable for someone with a chronic health condition: That’s what I love about Dru! It is a powerful form of Yoga, but it is also gentle enough that anyone can enjoy its benefits.
My clients range from people with low energy and health issues, to competitive sports people who are looking to maximise performance levels. I absolutely love seeing the huge impact small changes can make on a person’s quality of life, reducing stress and increasing energy levels. It’s a huge privilege to share my knowledge, helping them build confidence and change their relationships with food and exercise forever.
In 2017 my daughter Amelia was born and as all parents will understand, managing my energy levels became more important than ever. How can we look after everyone else if our own cups are empty? Since returning from maternity leave, I have also made it my mission to create and deliver more ‘mum focused’ classes, baby yoga and retreats to help new mothers’ recharge and de-stress.
Since having my daughter I’ve become incredibly aware of how much strain is placed on the spine and back muscles while caring for little ones. Constant lifting, carrying and feeding can all take their toll. Mums often tell me that their back pain started as just a slight niggle, but then over time got worse and worse. This is such a common story and I was a sufferer too. So, in early 2019, I was inspired to complete the Dru Yoga Back Care Diploma. This has given me the knowledge and confidence to tailor classes specifically for back pain sufferers. I especially love sharing these skills with parents and carers and seeing the positive effect on their overall wellbeing.
However, back care isn’t just for parents, I have a number of people in my classes and back care workshops that have suffered for years with back pain and it has improved since attending sessions.
My in person services are based in Yorkshire, primarily in Calderdale and Bradford, UK. In addition I offer Skype based consultations to suit my global clients and their lifestyles
Jenny Oakenfull BSc (Hons), S.A.C Dip (Clinical Nutrition), DPN
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