Look Good, Feel Better
Trainer Jean Kottemann is all about quality of life.
As business models go, Jean Kottemann might have hers locked down. “I’m a personal trainer who’s a descendant of the Roman Candy man,” Kottemann says, referring to New Orleans’ long-beloved taffy business, which her brother operates. “He fattens them up, and I slim them down!” she laughs.
Jokes aside, Kottemann began training clients in the 1980s, using the Nautilus strength-training method. At that time, most gyms adhered to the philosophy that in order for a workout routine to be effective, it had to be lengthy. “Thirty years later, everybody’s turning my way,” Kottemann says.
Hurricane Katrina displaced Kottemann to Austin, Texas. She trained clients at a gym there, but she didn’t enjoy the experience. “I started exploring training people on my own,” she says. When she returned to New Orleans, a space for rent ad caught her eye. “I walked into the place, and the rent was cheap,” she remembers. “I said, ‘OK, I’m starting a gym.’”
As the owner of Crescent City Strength, located in Gravier Place Apartments downtown, Kottemann fuses strength and flexibility training into her workouts. Clients can see results from booking just one 20- to 30-minute session per week. “You can continue to get stronger with that methodology,” Kottemann says. “It’s short in duration, but the intensity is high … I try to get people excited about coming here once a week and getting the most out of it. Training should be an adventure.”
She encourages everyone she works with to define specific fitness goals. “I think that everyone should have a feat of strength — something they feel is impossible and that they can’t accomplish, and then work toward accomplishing that,” she says.
On Staying Motivated: Kottemann says her personal physical challenges, including rheumatoid arthritis, mean that she doesn’t have the option to be unmotivated. “I have to work out in order for my body to function properly,” she says. “That’s my motivation.”
She’s also a big fan of American Ninja Warrior. “When I see athleticism like that, it inspires me to want to do as much as I can when I’m training,” she says.
Her Fuel: Kottemann takes a no-nonsense approach to nutrition. “If it comes from the ground or it comes from an animal, chances are, you’re going to do very well with it,” she says. She’s also been experimenting with fermented foods recently. “I read a lot about microbiota, and I feel like that’s something that’s jingled my bell,” she says.
She has two ideas for readers looking to change up their diets. “My generic advice that has always worked well for me is, No. 1, eat every meal as if it’s not your last, because it’s not,” Kottemann says. “It’s probably not the best cupcake you’re ever going to eat in your life.” She also recommends keeping a written log of everything you eat. “Write it down, measure it, and look up the nutrition of it and see where you are,” she says.
Client Success Story: Though she has many, Kottemann doesn’t advertise her clients’ success stories. She’s glad to help clients feel better about the way they look, and she finds that helping them feel better is even more rewarding. Recently, she helped a client with sciatica overcome his chronic pain by incorporating yoga and other stretches into his workouts. “What you look like — your physique — is great and all, but how you feel living your life is even more important to me,” she says.
Wise Words: Kottemann has seen even the best intentions to exercise tripped up by excuses. “Just do it,” she says. “Get off the sofa and start. Go for a walk; go for a run; go for a bike ride; do jumping jacks — just do something. There’s nothing to stop you.” crescentcitystrength.com