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Meet Jess Gumkowski of YogiTriathlete

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jess Gumkowski.

Jess, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
YogiTriathlete was born in an instant as I held Triangle pose in the bedroom of our first home in Boulder, Colorado. It was in this moment, over a decade ago, that I realized I was the only triathlete I knew at that time who practiced yoga. With a deep knowing that YogiTriathlete would someday be something, I ran into my husband’s office and asked him to reserve the domain name. This domain sat dormant for a number of years until it became my personal blog.

A natural progression in triathlon led me half and full Ironman distance racing. It was within the longer distances that I realized yoga and triathlon brought me to the same place. Each from very different directions. They required me to go beyond body and mind into a place of the unknown where I felt a power deeper than ever before. I found this place to be where all my possibilities opened up and where my limitations fell away. This became the foundation of my writing.

Aside from the obvious physical benefit of yoga as a compliment to athletic training, it was the calmness that powered my performances. A power that far surpassed anything I could gain from physical training. I knew that I had tapped into something deep, something true. I knew that I would be sharing it with others in the future even though the particulars had not yet been revealed. I stayed with it. I showed up to my mat. I showed up to the swim, bike and run. Day after day, year after year, I trained my body and mind using the principles of yoga.

My husband, BJ, and I followed a calling in 2010 to move back east. When we landed in Newport, RI, a place we had lived before, it felt like smashing into a brick wall at high speeds. I am a native New Englander so I feel comfortable saying that the energy of the Northeast felt suffocating and anxious. We were away for a decade and upon our return, we were quickly halted by the intensity of area. I had grown immensely in the expansiveness of the Boulder. I was committed to continuing my evolution and not willing to negate the ease in which I moved through the world.

In order to do this, I knew it meant diving into something I had avoided for many years, meditation. During our five and a half years back in New England, BJ and I found our meditation teacher and yoga mentor. Both of these individuals held space for us to find our voices to share our purpose, recognize the antics of the ego and live within a level of freedom we had never known.

My meditation practice became a top priority in my life. I was experiencing the shifts that others reported. I was more peaceful, I was clear, my intuitive voice grew louder and I felt more connected with the perspectives and life situations of others. Nothing changed on the outside of our lives. Newport still offered an intensity of energy but together, BJ and I increasingly became the calm in the chaos. People inquired about our secret to life and a healthy relationship as we began questioning everything about the beliefs, actions, and thoughts that we indulged.

Simultaneously, YogiTriathlete was gaining more robustness to her character.

One night at my favorite restaurant I ordered a salad and asked the server to “hold the goat cheese”. I experienced both panic and joy at that moment because I knew something monumental had just occurred. A natural born vegetarian is how I describe myself. I was one who never considered veganism simply because that would mean I would need to live without cheese. My cheese. My most favorite food group in the universe. I ate it with every meal and snacked on it between meals.

Cheese ran through my veins. And then, it didn’t.

There I was. A yoga practicing, daily meditating, vegan eating, endurance athlete. I never felt better in my life. I was everything that I rolled my eyes at too many times to count and right by my side was BJ, finding his way breath by breath. He was just a step or two behind and watching closely. I could see he was in pursuit of the positive changes he was witnessing within me. I stayed strong on my path and allowed his to unfold without my intervention as tough as that was at times.

I knew he had what it takes, BJ is no slouch. He became a triathlete the year before me, he rolled out his mat in my classes, meditated by my side and has always been in search of higher levels of health. He’s been my partner in YogiTriathlete since its inception and his role was gaining potency.

The call of YogiTriathlete continued to grow strong. I had started teaching meditation and mindfulness while BJ began following his passion to coach athletes. We felt a strong calling to share the recipe that transformed our lives. Physical movement, plant-based nutrition, yoga, mindfulness, meditation, and minimalism were the components of creating our “High Vibe Life”.

In late 2015, I experienced a life-changing meditation. When I came out of it I texted my husband at his “real” job, a role that did not fill his heart and something that was getting more difficult for him to show up to each day.

The text read, “I’ve got a plan, we’re outta here”.

His response, “As long as it’s warm”.

Over the course of the next six months, we rid ourselves of most of our material possessions. Grandmother’s jewelry, family photographs, race medals, love letters and memorabilia, We sold our dream home, quit our jobs, packed up our Honda Fit with our dog Clark and set forth on the adventure of our lifetime. No home, no destination and no agenda other than to raise awareness that living a more vibrant life is within reach for all.

This adventure came to be known as our Ride the High Vibe Tour and was born in a profound flash during aforementioned life-changing meditation. We went “all in” with YogiTriathlete and spent the next six months touring the country, recording episodes for our recently launched podcast and connecting with people who have since become family. Word of our story grew and the YT community expanded across the globe.

Every morning we woke up, meditated and recommitted to keeping “all channels open” no matter the amount of fear we faced for the unknown ahead. We knew we had the tools, we knew our trust was unwavering and in the midst of many opportunities to indulge chaos, we chose to remain calm.

We were prepared to be pulled off the road at any time to set roots in a new community. In December 2016, six months to the day of our departure, we landed in Carlsbad, CA in a 400 square foot studio just steps from the ocean. We couldn’t have planned a more perfect landing spot and there was no question, from the moment we arrived, we knew that we were home.

In the last 18 months, we have connected deeply with people all over the globe. We have expanded our community ten-fold. We have built a team of High Vibe athletes, shared countless stories of purpose through the YT podcast, published our first book and helped many people transform their lives through mindfulness and plant-based nutrition. The expansion is beyond what we could have ever imagined but growth is never without pain and the discomfort ensued shortly after hitting the road for our tour.

We have been brought to our knees time and again in our pursuit to live our purpose. We have gone from a debt-free, cash flow life to the exact opposite. We have learned to ask for help and receive from others who believe in YogiTriathlete. We have been accepted and rejected by the yoga community at large and have learned humility to the nth degree.

We have worked relentlessly day after day with steadfast faith and belief that what we are offering in this world is life-changing. We receive blessings every day and signs to continue. We have created great momentum and we are living in the slipstream of that flow.

We are on a mission to create a better world. We do that by cultivating the best in our athletes in sport and life, creating a connection through our podcast, teaching mindfulness and meditation every chance we get and promoting a healthy lifestyle through plant-based nutrition.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Hell, no! We have risked it all with YogiTriathlete and have been completely dismantled in the process. We left a debt-free, fat paycheck kind of life to follow a deeper calling. We have incurred more debt than ever before and our faith has been tested time and again. We have held strong in our belief that we are doing what we are supposed to do in this life.

In the face of it all, we can confidently say that we are freer than we were when we were debt-free. We learned that freedom has nothing to do with a bank balance and everything to do with doing what you love in this life. We all have unique gifts that we are here to share and it is our responsibility to share those gifts with the world.

I recall a time not too long ago, as in just a few months, when we had $1.81 in our business account and $9.27 in our personal account. This held for 10-days as no income came to us. During that time, I often visited our refrigerator just to see the beautiful food inside. I checked in with myself, sometimes moment to moment, and each time, I saw that I had everything. I trusted that we would be cared for and this belief was shown to us more times than I can count.

During this 10-days, I was close to running out of my hair conditioner. I continued to squeeze out more and more from the bottle. Just when I thought it was empty, another drop would land in my hand. I trusted that I would be provided for at the perfect moment. The very day that the conditioner finally ran out I received a coupon in the mail for a bottle of free conditioner from Pharmaca.

I can’t tell you how many stories we have like this in our memory bank and how much we have grown since leaving our “safe” existence back east. We got to the place you are supposed to get to in our society. We could afford our lives, we had steady paychecks and were putting money in the bank every month yet there was something calling us to live larger. Something that was making us choke on our said “safety”. We followed that calling and I am so very grateful for it all because now we teach it to others who have the itch to live against the grain in pursuit of their highest and best.

I am so grateful for everything I am, everything I have and everything that is coming my way.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We are known for changing the face of athleticism by bringing mindfulness, meditation and high vibe living to endurance sports. People are waking up to the realization that true mental training is the missing piece in most training regimes. Mental training is not about pushing through or enduring. It is about an elevated state of consciousness where we can welcome all things, all sensations and all successes.

We teach the “how” behind changing the athlete’s relationship to discomfort and intensity in their sport. Through present moment awareness, we are training our athletes to tap into their greatest potentials not just in sport but in life. Add in plant-based nutrition and we are seeing quicker recovery times, healthier guts and overall less injury due to the inherent anti-inflammatory nature of this way of eating.

YogiTriathlete was in existence well before the masses heard of the benefits of mindfulness and meditation in sport. We’ve been living these benefits and fine tuning our skills as coaches for over 20 years combined. We do not believe that athletes are templates, therefore, no athlete is trained the same.

We work with our athletes day to day, workout to workout to serve them in their highest good. Our athletes get yoga and meditation on their training plans because we don’t see this as an add-on rather it is the foundation of high performance.

We are most proud of our commitment to stay strong in our beliefs and train against the grain even when that meant, no one wanted to coach with us. We never gave up on our truth and now we have people coming to us for exactly what we are offering and they are coming from countries all over the world. We consider our community to be “Awake and Ready” and this is what it takes to reach our maximal potential in sport and life. As an athlete, I know that this is what I want for my future, nothing less.

What were you like growing up?
I have always felt a deep power within from a young age. Reports of my childhood were that I was extremely happy, a bright light that others wanted to be around. I was always very intuitive, a visionary and free spirit but not wishy-washy. I’m the daughter of a marine so discipline is in my DNA. Goal setting and attainment is a natural element of how I live. I knew early on that there is nothing I am not capable of accomplishing in my life. My parents told me all the time that I could be whatever I wanted to be but that my happiness should always be most important on the list.

I was always active. An aerobics lover with an understanding that physical movement would always be a staple in my life. I was a natural born vegetarian. There were just some things that didn’t make sense. Why did we eat pigs but not our dog? Weren’t eggs supposed to be something else? The flesh on my plate reminded me of what a person would look like if they were dead, so why would I want to eat that?

That said, I was not subject to the human condition. I did not have a mentor to assist me in directing my power and I fell into many years of self-imposed suffering. I look back on those years with gratitude because as a teacher now I can relate so deeply to the struggles of my mindfulness clients, athletes and the YT community at large.

Pricing:

  • Triathlon and Run Coaching $125 – $225/month
  • Plant-Based Nutrition Counseling $110-$175/month
  • Private Mindfulness and Meditation Coaching $60/hour
  • Private Yoga Instruction $60 – $90/hour
  • M21 Revolution $21/month
  • High Vibe Retreats $750/person

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Brian Gumkowski and Jason Ross

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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