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Familiar Faces: Inspiring others to get fit is goal for local mom

By: Menka Belgal, Telegraph Correspondent
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Shane’s Village, Go Mom Go, and fitness are all synonymous with one name: Jenn Soto. This El Dorado Hills mom was once the Operations Manager for American Express Financial Advisors but now trains other mothers in fitness and health.

How long have you been in the fitness industry?

It began five years ago when I purchased a Stroller Strides franchise in Folsom and El Dorado Hills when my daughter was a baby. When I bought the franchise, I knew that I had found my calling. I have always been a healthy active person but when I became a mother, I saw so many moms put everything into their kids and left very little time for taking care of themselves, not realizing that in the long run they are teaching their kids bad habits. After I started teaching daily group fitness classes outdoors at local parks, I quickly realized that I could help many moms find a balance in their lives between their children and a healthy lifestyle. I went on to running the franchise for the next three years. At that point, my oldest had started school and my daughter was in preschool. After Stroller Strides, I got certified in USA Track and Field and started a small women’s running group called Go Mom Go. We trained as a group for local races from 5k to Half Marathons, track workouts and group strength training. It was great to see moms coming together to accomplish something for themselves. Having our kids and families’ kids at the finish line was the greatest medal we could have ever received. Soon after, I made the decision to get certified as a personal trainer. This is where my business has taken me today. I have personal sessions with clients as well as small groups and all of my workouts are outdoors. People always ask me, “What happens when it rains?” We find a covered area or I come to the client’s house if they prefer, but if we can be outside, we will.

What do you like most about your job?

All my client sessions are outdoors year-round which makes for unique personalized workouts. The most rewarding part of my job is changing clients’ outlooks on their health; helping them find a balance between clean eating and exercise in their lives.

What are some of the most interesting things that have happened to you?

Having my two children has been one of the most interesting experiences of my life. They keep me on my toes at all times and make me laugh every day.

What are some of your favorite races?

The Big Sur Half Marathon is one because it is a beautiful ocean front run. I’ve done that race for the last four years and love it every time. Another is The Relay, a 12-person relay race where I lead a team on a 194 mile run from Calistoga to Santa Cruz. I have participated in this race for the last two years. My team is comprised of all women and the race typically takes us around 36 hours. It is very empowering to finish a race with an all-female team. The Folsom Olympic Triathlon is another one of my favorite races. It’s a swim down Lake Natoma, a bike ride on Prairie City Road to White Rock Road and then finishes with a run on the bike trails in beautiful Folsom.

Do you give back to the community?

I’ve been involved in community events for years but most recently have started a non-profit called Shane’s Village. Recently my son’s friend was diagnosed with Leukemia, and as soon as I found out, I jumped into action to find how I could assist the family. It started with one fundraiser which has turned into a huge community support system called Shane’s Village. We have done many fundraising events to support the family and also collected hundreds of stuffed animals and blankets to give back to patients at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. Shane’s Village grew very quickly through social networking and we are now in the process of making it a non-profit.

What hobbies do you enjoy?

I like running, snowboarding, hiking, biking, camping, traveling, live music, and hanging with my family and friends. I also love to garden with my husband and kids. We love growing our own organic veggies and herbs.

Tell us about your family.

I have been married for almost nine years and have two kids, an 8-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter.

What changes have you made to you and your family’s diet?

A few things that I have done are remove all dyes and high fructose corn syrup from our house. This means no fruit snacks and no added coloring. We also eat very minimal red meat, dairy, high sugar foods and processed foods. I say minimal because we do eat them at times but the majority of the time we are staying away from those aisles in the grocery store. If you ask my kids, they will tell you that they are not deprived of anything. They eat healthy because they know that food fuels our body. Fruits and vegetables are important in every meal that we consume but does that doesn’t mean my kids will eat a plate of broccoli or Brussels sprouts.  I do the same as many moms — hiding some veggies in their dinners as well as having a pile on their plate. My kids eat what my husband and I eat including all fruits and vegetables. They don’t have much of a choice; you would be amazed at what kids will eat when they are hungry. We do the very best that we can to eat a well-balanced diet which is in my opinion the most important factor to staying healthy.

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of my family. My husband and I are proud of who our children are becoming as they grow. They are caring, smart, responsible children and I am blessed to be their mother.