The Full Story
Jen grew up in the small town of Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania. Lined with rolling hills, and beautiful seasons, Orwigsburg is tucked away in the southern part of the anthracite coal region. The 3,000 + people here are as tough as the anthracite coal itself; including Muhammad Ali, who in the seventies and early eighties, had his training camp here in Deer Lake.
Childhood - Overcoming Dyslexia
Orwigsburg is where Jen’s passion for climbing trees, running through the woods, sledding, and playing baseball all began. She was actually the first girl to make the town’s Little League all-star baseball team - playing second base.
Her supportive family and motivational middle school science teacher/volleyball coach/basketball coach, inspired her to pursue her athletic goals. The classroom was a tough place for Jen, having undiagnosed dyslexia, but the court, track, or field always felt like a place she could excel with hard work.
High School - 3 Sport Athlete
In high school, Jen continued her competitive athletic career pursuing three-sports: volleyball, basketball, and track & field. Jen was a setter for the Eagles volleyball team and 'three guard' for the Eagles basketball team.
In track & field, Jen ran the 4 x 100 and 4x 400 relays, long-jumped, and threw javelin. Her senior year, Jen was fortunate to qualify for states in basketball and javelin, placing ninth in Pennsylvania for javelin.
Despite being 5'1" her real passion was volleyball. She was determined to continue playing volleyball in college. Eventually, her sports career at Blue Mountain High School earned her a 2006 induction into both the Blue Mountain Sports Hall of Fame and then the ARC Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.
Penn State Volleyball
At 5’1”, following her passion and not her height, she pursued her dream of playing Division I college volleyball. Growing up watching Penn State volleyball games with her family, she always wanted to play on the team she idolized. In 1992, Penn State just joined the Big Ten, and the following year, in 1993, Jen had an opportunity to walk onto the Penn State Women’s Volleyball Team.
The transition to Penn State was tough without having big club volleyball experience like the other players. Her red-shirt, freshman, and sophomore years, consisted of having to sit on the sidelines to watch while building fundamental skills in practice, gaining confidence, and learning a new position. With Fab 50 players, and players with major club volleyball experience, Jen had a long road ahead of her in gaining the volleyball skills needed to transition from a small town high school setter, to a division I college defensive specialist.
Russ Rose, The winningest college volleyball coach with seven National Championships, expected nothing but the best effort from his student-athletes every moment on the court and everyday in the classroom. With lots of hard work, it was at Penn State where Jen earned All-Academic Awards every season.
The team was very competitive winning three Big Ten volleyball championships, making three Final Four appearances, and losing the national championship in five games, her senior year, to Kerri Walsh’s Stanford team. Penn State won their first national title the following year, followed by six others, in Coach Rose’s successful forty-five years of coaching.
Teaching and Competing
After college, Jen traveled from the East Coast to the West Coast to become an elementary school teacher. As a second grade teacher, Jen started training Brazilian jiujitsu, sometimes twice a day, and earned her blue belt. She trained for over two years, but ended up dislocating then tearing her shoulder in a few places during a competition. Surgery was needed, and she was told she’d never be competitive in any sport again. Jen continued her education earning a Master’s degree from San Diego State University, in reading and writing curriculum instruction, and another forty units beyond. Jen taught elementary school for twenty years - fifth to eighth graders.
American Ninja Warrior
While teaching, Jen had her first opportunity to run the Season 6 American Ninja Warrior Course in Venice Beach, CA and then Season 7 the following year. It was a life-changing, humbling experience, meeting a variety of diverse athletes, with inspiring stories, drive, determination, and incredible skills. She was able to share this experience by promoting health and wellness among teachers, students, and families. Jen's fourth grade class was very active and healthy taking 'movement brain breaks' during transitions, eating healthy snacks, drinking water every hour from a reusable water bottle, participating in EduNinja™ Fit lunch clubs, and meeting up as a class trying new physical activities outside of school.
Jen learned just as much, if not more, from the failures versus success. She became even more passionate about learning how to train differently, think differently, and develop the skills to overcome whatever new obstacles may appear. Right after Season 7 of American Ninja Warrior, Jen tore her left Achilles running up a wall in parkour. It was a three quarter tear. With the Doctor's advice, Jen opted to cast it, boot it, and move on crutches for many months while nature took its course before learning how to walk again. The recovery was two years in patience. This healing time allowed Jen to concentrate on building educational relationships, lead the EduNinja™ health & fitness challenge for teachers, take educator mindfulness classes, and become a positive voice in expressing the benefits of health and wellness in schools.
Teacher, Author, Speaker
The EduNinja Mindset
Jen was honored to be nominated for the San Diego County Office of Education and NBC Inspirational Teacher of the Month Award for promoting health and wellness among teachers, students, and families. Jen also was presented with The Rancho Santa Fe Faculty Association's Ovation Award for improving learning through health awareness and physical exercise. Sept. 2018. Jen started getting asked to do keynote speaking for Cal State Northridge, Penn State University, local schools and even Zoom presentations for teams such as the Yale Women's Volleyball Team to help individuals perform at their best daily.
The Jump Into Jen Burdis Fitness Training
The biggest leap Jen ever made was from the classroom, teaching for over twenty years, to the gym as a full time National Strength and Conditioning Association certified personal trainer helping everyone from elite athletes, to weekend warriors, to people looking to get effective workouts in their own homes. Jen loves taking her teaching and training skills to the next level by building relationships and getting results.
New Home in Allentown, Pennsylvania
We're grateful to be living in Allentown, Pennsylvania enjoying the beautiful seasons, being close to family, and getting to explore the East Coast and beyond. I'm excited to work with athletes and individuals here in Pennsylvania and on Zoom everywhere so we all can stay fit, happy, and healthy to elevate our life together.