fitt creators logo

FITT Q&A: EMILY JAFFE - NURSE, PLAYLIST PERFECTIONIST, AND CYCLING SUPERSTAR

article cover

MEREDITH O'CONNOR

JUL 14, 2020

article-cover

IMAGE VIA @EM_P0W3RED | INSTAGRAM

In a recurring series, we’re talking to inspirational people doing amazing things in Pittsburgh’s fitness scene. Recently, we chatted with Emily Jaffe, lead instructor at Zenergy.

You may know her as one of the studio’s toughest instructors (and one whose classes are almost always booked), but today… you’ll get to know her a little more.

CAN YOU GIVE US A LITTLE BACKGROUND ABOUT YOURSELF?

I’m originally from New York City, but most of my family is from Pittsburgh. [She grew up here.]

Both my parents were college athletes, so there was always an emphasis on physical activity and health and wellness. I was a competitive swimmer for about 12 years, all the way through high school, and really enjoyed both the physical and mental challenge of it. It was a release.

After I graduated, I went to college in DC for two years. I wasn’t swimming anymore and I felt like something was missing. So I started searching for something to fill the void.

CUE CYCLING?

Yeah. I tried out different workouts like yoga and enjoyed them, but it wasn’t the same. Then, I came across SoulCycle in DC and was hooked from the very first time I rode.

I loved everything about it — the positivity, the emphasis on music, riding to the beat. Cycling ignited the same passion I had for swimming. I was going as often as I could. I even got a job just so I could pay for classes.

HOW DID YOU END UP AT ZENERGY?

I really looked up to the instructors I had formed relationships with at SoulCycle — the way they were able to lead a community and uplift people. When I moved home from DC, I wanted to continue cycling but also find that same sense of community.

At the time, my boss Nick [Staples] was looking to open a Zenergy in Pittsburgh. I DM’d him and everything just took off from there. I was the first person he hired for the Pittsburgh studio. It was all very coincidental, but I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity.

WAS THE JUMP FROM CLASS-GOER TO LEAD INSTRUCTOR A CHALLENGE?

If you had told me five years ago I’d be a cycling instructor, I would have laughed.

But knowing the impact cycling had on me and that it can have for other people propelled me onto the podium. I had to get over my natural introvertedness and just go out and do it.

@zenergycycling | Instagram

WHAT’S THE HARDEST PART ABOUT BEING A CYCLING INSTRUCTOR?

The nature of the job requires me to dig deep. I might have had the crappiest day in the world but that doesn't matter — you still have to give 100% every day. People can tell when what you're putting out isn't genuine.

SO, CYCLING IS PRETTY CENTRAL TO YOUR SENSE OF COMMUNITY AND OVERALL WELL-BEING.

I'm so passionate about being an instructor, and I also believe in the workout itself. It's a great feeling to be able to put yourself out there and find out that what you have to offer is something that people want. They’re looking for a community and for someone to create an environment where they can be themselves and release whatever they need to from their day.

For me, cycling has been the remedy to everything. Whatever mood I'm in, it's just my escape. It’s also a very difficult full-body workout. The goal is to feel like I exercised both my mind and my body.

I recently got a bike for my house. And honestly, if I didn’t have that right now, I don't know what I’d do — it's been my one saving grace.

HOW CRUCIAL IS A GOOD WORKOUT PLAYLIST?

Music really does make or break a workout. I pride myself on picking good music for my classes and I spend a lot of time doing it, too. I like to think when people come to my class they know they're gonna get a cool, well-planned-out playlist — you're definitely gonna know the words to a couple of songs.

ON THAT NOTE, IF YOU COULD PICK ANYONE, WHO IS YOUR IN-HOUSE DJ?

Definitely David Guetta. It’s a great mix of pop and EDM. If I could have that as the soundtrack to my life, that’d be fun.

@em_p0w3red | Instagram

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO WHEN YOU'RE NOT AT THE STUDIO OR AT WORK?

I’m always with my friends. I still live at home, and I'm notorious in my family for never being there. I really just like to be surrounded by good company. Good company and good music is all I really need.

IS THERE A SPECIFIC DIET YOU FOLLOW?

No. I’m very much anti diet culture. In the past, I’ve had a lot of challenges with food and body image. So I just do my best to listen to my body and don't put a limit on myself. If I want to eat ice cream for dinner, I'm going to.

DESCRIBE YOUR TOTALLY PERFECT SATURDAY?

Super simple. Teaching at Zenergy, then hanging out with my friends at the pool. If I could just spend my summer doing that, I wouldn’t have a single complaint.

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP FIVE FAVORITE PITTSBURGH SPOTS THAT YOU CAN’T WAIT TO GET BACK TO?

Definitely Zenergy.

The Ace Hotel.

Bird On The Run.

North Park. I really like going paddleboarding and kayaking there in the summer.

Dependable Drive-in. It's in the middle of nowhere, but I love the drive-in movie.

YOU’RE ALSO A NURSE. WHAT HAS THAT EXPERIENCE BEEN LIKE DURING COVID?

It’s kind of surreal. I graduated nursing school in December and started my job in February when this all started.

I usually work three 12-hour shifts at UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland on the trauma and toxicology floor, and being in healthcare right now is challenging given the uncertainty surrounding exposure to the virus. There have definitely been times where I’ll admit, I've been pretty scared.

But I’ve received a lot of support from my friends and family and it's been a privilege to be able to contribute in some way.

Follow along with Emily on Instagram, check out her workout playlist and tune in to the Fitt PGH ’gram for more local trainer spotlights and the latest fitness news.

✌️

Get the latest news on Pittsburgh’s fitness scene.

MORE ARTICLES

VIEW ALL
fitt logo

Discover health & fitness
in your city.

Instagram logoFacebook logo