DEFYING THE ODDS
Meet Jamie Gottschall, a PEAC athlete-member and private training client, of Andy Halko (PEAC Master Trainer). If you are a morning regular at PEAC you probably know Jamie by now, as her energy, enthusiasm and willingness to engage in conversation is no secret. Jamie’s story though has much more to it than meets the eye and we are eager to share her story of both inspiration and aspiration.
Years later, when Jamie moved to Princeton and attended Princeton high school, she had the opportunity to join a learn to row program. On that very lake in place of “gym” class the opportunity to row finally knocked at her door. As much as she dreamed of taking a stab at it, she knew the reality of asking her mother to get her to the boathouse by 5:30 am each morning was a long shot. With that said, she continued to hold onto her dream until she could master it.
Jamie has always had the need for speed and power, whether on the high school field hockey team as a left wing, on a horse jumping (English hunt seat) or as an official Runners World Sneaker Tester. That need for speed and explosive power translated into racquet speed, where she packed a punch on the tennis courts and swept multiple mixed doubles club championships while living and raising a family in Pennsylvania. Jamie was also on a her club tennis team and more recently, played for the Buxmont League.
While running early mornings and on the tennis courts six mornings a week (as her 2 boys were either in school, or on the courts themselves), Jamie was roped into golf with her girlfriends in a 9-hole ladies league. Jamie never envisioned the slow speed of golf in her life, that is until she took a crack at it. Within a matter of a week, Jamie won the longest drive for her average 220+ yard (660 ft) drive as well as, “closest to the pin,” launching her from the 9 hole league and driving her straight into into the 18 hole league. Jamie stuck-around for at least two seasons of competitive tournaments. After the second season she decided it was not a priority, due to the amount of time and dedication golf required while balancing family-life with her running and tennis schedule.
Jamie’s greatest passion has always been dance, Latin her spicy favorite and with that said, she ended up with a Zumba certification.
ON THE MOVE
After living in PA for 13 years and their eldest son attending the world renowned American Boychoir (boarding) School in Princeton New Jersey, the Gottschalls decided to relocate next-door to Jamie’s hometown of Princeton, in effort to be close to their son David and shorten Derek’s daily commute to NYC. Once the decision was set in stone, Jamie hopped on the computer and Googled away, “Learn to row in Princeton” and there it was, the opportunity she had been waiting for since the age of ten.
When the Gottschalls finally settled into their new home two years ago Jamie was officially signed up for the Learn to Row program with Carnegie Lake Rowing Association. There was a mandatory swim and float test, which Jamie was required to pass in order to be a participant with CLRA. Once Jamie stepped foot into the Princeton University’s state of the art Boathouse, there was no looking back. “Some people would call this a bucket list checked, but for me, well, I call it my destiny."
Jamie learned very quickly that rowing competitively required a serious commitment of regimen from; rising early, building strength (both mentally and physically) and maintaining an overall healthy diet and lifestyle. For those choosing to row competitively rather than recreationally, Jamie tells us “this is a sport not for the light-hearted, but for the lion-hearted and I knew my heart was in the right place.”
According to Jamie, “Rowing truly is the ultimate commitment. It’s for the early birds who plan to catch the worm.” Her alarm is set for 4:10 am Monday through Friday and she leaves when it is still pitch dark outside and she is the only car on the road for miles. Her commute to the Princeton Boathouse is 9 minutes and their boats are on the water by 5:30 am sharp. She wears a headlamp to navigate across the Washington Street bridge on foot each morning and to set her oar, adjust her spacers an her footplate. Every practice is an hour and a half full body workout. “Rowers are basically doing squats, sit ups, arm rows (biceps, triceps, lats), hamstring curls and calf raises all in one seating, there is no better workout in my opinion.”
“The strongest most sought after rowers are typically the tallest and we are talking over 6’. Rowing is all about leverage; the taller the rower, the more water they can catch, or in rowing terms they naturally “stay long.” More body also equals more muscle and long legs, means a stronger, longer leg drive. Rowing is a deceptive sport if you are not familiar with it.
Most people think it is an arm sport, when in fact it is considered a leg sport! “Rowing is 70/20/10, 70% leg drive, 20% core and back and and 10% arms.” Jamie standing around 5’ 7” had to make up for her lack of extra length with power. Competitive rowers spend quality time in the gym doing heavy lifting and primarily for the legs. On that note, Jamie knew exactly what she needed to do if she wanted to earn a seat in an A-boat, or for that matter any competitive boat going to any of the biggest events known to the rowing community.
The first task was to lower her erg “splits” (on the rowing machine) and the way to accomplish it was by significantly powering up her workout. What she understood already from years of high performance athletic training and as a competitive athlete most of her life, was that she had to hit the gym harder than ever before. Jamie knew the journey she was about to embark on would need to be vigorous and one she could not “go it alone.”
SHE’S GOT LEGS
It was then that Jamie looked into reintroducing personal training back into to her fitness repertoire, but for Jamie to be an ultimate success, she knew she had to find the best. She had been there before with every sport she was involved in and always found the top trainers or pros to take her to the top. So the best to Jamie meant someone who truly understood heavy powerful lifting. Her mission was to find someone who personally had it on their resume and with plenty of notches in their belt. That is when she discovered PEAC’S Master Trainer, Andy Halko’s impressive resume. Jamie was sold the minute she saw that Andy was a former Penn State All-American powerlifter, who placed 3rd and 5th at Nationals and prior to that had broken several PA junior state records. That was enough for Jamie to know just who would drive her straight to the top physically, someone that had been there themselves personally. To Jamie, heavy lifting is something that should not be done unsupervised, that first it was a matter of her safety and two that she wanted that drill Sargent ensuring that she was “emptying the tank.”
Upon Jamie’s first meeting with Andy, she immediately told him she expected him to “put the hammer down on her and that rowing competitively was her ultimate goal.” She explained to Andy that rowing requires “explosive leg Drive” and that she expected strong results, yet still maintaining her feminine physique.” Fortunately for Jamie, Andy had already conditioned a male German National Team rower and with that said, it “sealed the deal” for Andy to train Jamie. So what does Andy have to say about Jamie’s progress?
“Jamie came to me in her preseason as a second year rower, looking to secure a seat in a competitive boat. She wasn’t afraid to hit the gym hard and lift heavy. We train using Olympic lifts and power lifts, specifically to improve her maximal strength and power output; to improve her splits. In a short period of time her lifts have increased by as much as 250%; which includes repping squats with one and a half times body weight. A fortuitous side effect of the heavy lifting has been a dramatic improvement in body composition. Jamie’s body fat has melted as her power cleans and squat weight rises.”
“Easily accomplishing her goals during the summer season, she set her sights higher and stepped up her training in hopes of making the world team roster for her club. Training hard even through injuries, we were psyched to learn she made 3 world team boats!”
“A few take aways that I will use to motivate future clients: heavy lifting is most efficient at increasing metabolism and reducing body fat, Jamie is a great example.”
Jamie works privately with Andy two one-hour sessions per week, typically on Tuesday and Thursday primarily in the heavy-weight room beside the indoor track.
SPRING INTO SHAPE
Now an official member of U.S. Rowing, Jamie rowed the entire spring sprint season (1,000 meter sprints) in competive boats and made her debut as stroke in the women’s four, delivering her very “first on the water” victory at the Diamond States Master’s Regatta. “As stroke seat, it was/is my job to set the stroke rate and the rhythm of the boat while leading the team to a win.” She had an amazing season of both trial and error with an elite level of rowers, but what she describes as, “all part of the process, you have to trust the process, not fear it. You make your mistakes, learn from them and look forward, never back” and that is just what Jamie did. Jamie’s belief has always been, “if you dream it, you will do it, it is just a matter of conviction that you can and that the only one or anything that can stop you is yourself. Once you have mastered the conscious mind, you can master anything. When you can tune out the noise of others, you can tune into yourself and accomplish anything you set your mind to.”
Approximately one month ago, it was announced that CLRA would be sending their strongest athletes to the Master’s World Rowing Championships in Sarasota Florida, the organizations largest international event. It is there that coaches from all over the world put their best boats together in effort to bring home a World Championship title. There is one hurdle though for anyone attempting to take a stab at making it to worlds. Everyone considering making the cut was required to take a 1000 meter erg sprint test, as well as on-the-water observation. OTW observation includes seat racing, where rowers literally swap boat seats in the middle of the lake, while climbing over each other. The women swap seats in effort to see who will make the fastest pairs.
Interestingly, when it rains, it pours for Jamie. A current PEAC member named Harry, whose daughter works for the marketing division of BOATHOUSE (an exclusive line of “elite performance outerwear” for rowers) contacted his daughter. Aware that BOATHOUSE was in search of athletes that would best represent the line, Harry told her he thought he had discovered the “perfect fit” for her at PEAC. On that note, Harry connected Jamie with his daughter Emma and well, Jamie is now an Official Brand Ambassador for Boathouse. In addition, Jamie was asked to join the BOATHOUSE team at Vesper Boat Club this Saturday, on Philly’s Famous Boathouse Row, as a model for their next big advertising photo shoot.
DEFYING THE ODDS
Jamie will be racing three out of four of the days in Sarasota Florida, September 26 through the 30th. The fourth day is reserved for composite boats made up of mixed teams of gender and different clubs. Her ticket is booked and she’s going there with her game face on. The Laker’s still have some intense on-the-water training left to face. Until then and Jamie and Andy will be pounding the pavement; strengthening and conditioning, up until her flight departs Philadelphia. “I could not have asked for a better experience than the one I am receiving at PEAC under Andy’s supervision.” “I truly feel blessed to be guided by someone who knows what it takes to win,” and in his final words to Jamie a few weeks ago after she shared the news with him that she made the cut for worlds, “Your livin’ the dream.”