Jennifer DeMarco is one of the vibrant souls teaching wellbeing and fitness at Rancho La Puerta. From her roots as a collegiate runner to her role as a fitness instructor at The Ranch, Jennifer’s transformative journey is a tapestry woven with life-changing experiences that have profoundly influenced her approach to wellness and teaching. Jennifer’s story is an inspiring testament to the intricate interplay of our actions, thoughts, and overall wellbeing.
Q: Where were you raised?
A: I was born in Wichita, Kansas. I moved to South Jersey across the river from Philadelphia when I was seven years old and lived there for a few years. In 1977 I moved to Manassas, Virginia, right outside Washington DC. I was there from fifth grade through my first few years of college before moving to Florida to attend the University of West Florida. I was an All-American Cross Country Runner. I’m really strong in the hills and on the trails.
Q: How long have you worked at the Ranch?
A: I started at the Golden Door in 1990 and worked there until 1999 when I came to Rancho La Puerta. I’ve been here ever since in varied part-time and full-time capacities. The Ranch acknowledged my 10th anniversary as a full-time employee just a few months ago, but to me it feels like I’ve been a part of The Ranch for 33 years.
Q: What are your responsibilities at The Ranch?
A: I lead various activities, including hikes, a running clinic, and guided trail runs. I teach yoga, meditation, sound healing, and a broad spectrum of fitness classes like circuit training, full body strength, barbell strength, and TRX. I also teach aerial silks, step aerobics, and Aquatics classes. I can teach about 75% of the classes on our schedule.
Q: You’re like the Swiss Army knife of teachers, able to lead so many diverse classes. Which do you enjoy teaching the most?
A: In my younger years, I was very fitness-oriented, with cardio, strength, and flexibility. Over the years, I have become much more interested in yoga, meditation, and sound healing, which we call contemplative programs.
Q: You’ve recently done extensive studies in yoga. Can you talk about that?
A: Currently, I’m involved in an Iyengar yoga teacher training program. I’ve been teaching yoga for nearly 40 years and have been practicing Iyengar yoga for the last 10 years approximately. I’m enamored with how this particular system takes so much more into account, like our relationship to our bodies and injuries, surgeries, and histories, and allows the use of props. I can really use the practice as a form of corrective movement and a much deeper awareness of the practice, which allows me to keep practicing forever and ever and ever without the limitations that can come from other systems of yoga where the emphasis is more on quick movement and exercise. Iyengar yoga is more concerned with precision, alignment, and correct interaction. And I’m just loving the learning that I’m being exposed to.
Q: Do you have a guiding principle or philosophy that informs your teaching?
A: My teacher Aman’s voice is popping into my head right now he says, with any kind of movement practice, we first want to teach the shape of whatever movement it is that we’re doing, followed by a deep understanding of the inner actions, what’s going on inside the body so we have the shape, and we have the internal action. Once it all happens, we create an experience of opening and expanding. It’s true in yoga, but it’s also true in other forms of movement like swimming. How we can be doing all those things with comfort, ease, grace, and breathability? It’s the same thing with weight training. It applies to me in all forms of movement, including yoga.
Q: What are some things that people should not miss while at The Ranch?
A: There’s such a broad menu of things available every day. My personal favorite things would include time on the trails. Our hiking trails are so special and beautiful that you can just walk out your casita door and be on a trail.
I love the opportunity to be out on the labyrinth. At any time of my choosing, I go out there and enjoy the experience of moving deep into my center. Suppose I have a question that’s seeking an answer or a problem that seeking a resolution. In that case, I love having that labyrinth right there so I can just go out and use it for myself.
Q: How does wellness manifest in your teaching approach and personal life?
A: I recognize that being in a solid routine with all aspects of physical fitness and cardiovascular endurance and I continue to walk or run with my dog for about an hour every morning. I do my 90-minute yoga practice as many days of the week as I can. Ideally five to six days. I continue lifting weights at least three days a week to maintain my bone density and muscle mass. And on a perfect day, I have an hour of meditation – that’s, my wellness routine. For me, it’s critical that I’m in that routine so that I can teach with integrity and embody those things. I am sensitive to people trying to be in motion while experiencing pain from recovery from surgery or an injury they’re dealing with.
Q: Any inspirational Quotes to leave us with?
I love this one from Thich Nhat Hanh: “People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk this earth…Peacefully“
Jennifer DeMarco’s journey as a Fitness Instructor at Rancho La Puerta is a testament to the power of wellness, growth, and mindfulness. Her teachings and personal practices exemplify the fusion of physical fitness, contemplation, and wholehearted living. She continues to inspire our guests and staff to find harmony within ourselves and in our interactions with the world. And who couldn’t use more of that?