There’s a lot we can learn from our Flywheel instructors — lessons that extend much further than the bike or the mat. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re sharing the incredible story of Millburn instructor Jena Karp who was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2004 and then again in March 2007. After undergoing radiation and then a double mastectomy, Jena is now cancer free. “This bump in the road never stopped me and I feel stronger than ever before. I never gave up hope and I never will,” says Jena. Read more about how this two-time cancer survivor stays in tune with her body and stresses the importance of being proactive with your health.
You have 18 years’ experience in the fitness industry. What got you into fitness in the first place?
I was always an avid exerciser. Eighteen years ago, I was approached by the owner of the gym I worked out in at the time who asked if I would be interested in teaching indoor cycling. She said I’d be the prefect fit given my high energy and bubbly personality. With that, I gave it a try, was hooked, and couldn’t stop! I went on to become a personal trainer and continued on to get certified in Pilates and kickboxing. When I heard about Flywheel, I was immediately interested in joining the team. They took cycling to the next level. I can’t image not being a part of this amazing company. I love helping people and making them feel better about themselves. This was and still remains the perfect way to combine what I love.
You are strong from the inside out. You’ve survived breast cancer twice. Can you talk about how important it is to be proactive about your overall health?
I do not believe in waiting for something to happen before having it checked out. We are given one body so let’s take care of it! Being proactive helped save my life not once, but twice. Don’t put off doctors appointments because you can’t make find time in your schedule, there is always enough time for YOU!
What words of advice would you give women who may not get mammograms regularly?
The discomfort is over in seconds! Please don’t be afraid. Mammograms can save your life! Do this for yourself.
You almost didn’t continue teaching Flywheel and FlyBarre after your procedures but then realized why would you NOT?
That is correct – I actually started to give up on myself a bit after I was diagnosed the second time. At that point in my life, trying to cope with the emotional scars of undergoing both a double mastectomy plus early-onset menopause caused me to lose sight of what made me smile each day, and I couldn’t figure out how to pull myself out of it. But after some time and continuing to surround myself with encouraging people, I soon realized what it was that truly makes me happy in life: being a positive role model to my family, friends, clients and pretty much everyone I interact with. Ever since, it has been important for me to show the world that I beat cancer; cancer did not beat me. I now choose to live life not as an obligation, but rather as a privilege that I take full advantage of every day.
How has Flywheel helped you stay strong, healthy and focused on living life to the fullest?
Flywheel has become one of the most integral parts of my life. I pretty much spend more time at the studio, making playlists and perfecting routines for FlyBarre than I do anything else… just ask my husband! Being surrounded by my Flywheel team and amazing members each and every day inspires me to new levels constantly. We have all become one big Fly family.
What’s your overall message to women and men out there?
Be present. Take care of the one and only YOU. It is important to make the most of every moment in all aspects of your life even in what seems to be your darkest hours. Having a positive outlook is the ultimate motivation and knowing that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Lastly, life is too short so don’t just coast through. (Never Coast!).
Thank you, Jena for sharing this inspiring story with us!
STAY INSPIRED. READ THESE STORIES FROM OUR AMAZING #FLYFAM.
- Read about Bright Pink CEO and Co-Founder Lindsay Avner and learn how to be proactive about your breast health here.
- Read about how Erin Santos found comfort at Flywheel after the loss of her young daughter to childhood cancer.
- LA rider Alana Trubitz turned to Flywheel for encouragement and support both mentally and physically after being diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Read her story here.
- NYC rider Jackie says Flywheel gives her the power to take control over her health – something that cancer has taken away. Read her story here.