We talked to Gym Jones athlete Betsy Hornstein about why she chose to attend the Gym Jones Combined Seminar, how the experience surprised her, and what she took home with her.


Cate Williams

Tell me a little bit about your background, how you found Gym Jones and why you decided to attend the Combined Seminar back in December! 


My name is Betsy, I live in Oregon and I’ve been a police officer for ten years. I’ve always played sports growing up and I’ve been very active my whole life. When I had about a year on with the police agency I work with, I started going to a crossfit gym. The owner, Tony Edgerton, who was a very very good friend of mine, introduced me to Gym Jones while I was there. Tony is a Certified Instructor and the programming he was running at his Gym was heavily influenced by Gym Jones. I found that I really liked it and it was very effective for me. I had a Crossfit Level I Certificate, so I was coaching at his gym once a week. At the end of 2019, a bunch of the coaches I worked with decided we were going to come to Gym Jones and do a Fundamentals Seminar. Then COVID hit, and things got postponed. Eventually, the opportunity to do the Combined Seminar arose and I decided to go for it. 


So, you originally signed up for Fundamentals. Are you glad you had the experience of doing the Combined Seminar? Was that mostly a logistical choice, or were you looking for an accelerated experience anyway? 


I think it was a combination of both for me. Logistically, it felt appropriate to be able to do both Fundamentals and Intermediate in one trip. But in general, I kind of try not to shy away from a challenge, so I was excited to take it at a more accelerated pace. Because I had a pretty good grasp on where I was at with fitness, being able to do that all in one trip was really just the best route for me. 

Betsy racks two kettlebells during the infamous “Tailpipe” workout.

Do you feel like that experience could have been overwhelming for someone who doesn’t have the same kind of experience you have (such as coaching experience and other certifications)? Would you recommend the Combined experience for everyone?


Not to say that anyone couldn’t get through it. But I ‘m not sure if a true beginner could fully digest everything that is coming at them at the Combined Seminar. I think it really comes down to being able to honestly evaluate and gauge yourself, know where you’re at and what you can handle. Are you able to train twice a day and also process a ton of new information getting thrown at you? Are you coachable? Because that’s the thing, someone who is really coachable might be able to handle the Combined Seminar better than an advanced athlete or coach who isn’t coachable, even if they aren’t as well prepared physically.


What part of the seminar pushed you the most? 


The Gym Jones named workouts were definitely where I felt pushed to my limits. Because you’re there with this group of people you just met, and you want to perform your best, for them, and for yourself and for all the Gym Jones Instructors who are there. For me that was when I felt the most nervous, anxious to prove myself and not end up looking like a fool. 


Well, you definitely didn’t look like a fool; you were exceptionally well prepared! That being said, was there anything about the experience that you were not expecting? 


Well,  I wasn’t fully sure of everything that was going to be required of me. I didn’t know the specifics of some of the standards, and  I mean, I was kind of surprised that I hit the instructor standard on the row. I guess what I’m saying is that I surprised myself at the seminar more than anything else. 


We love seeing people have that experience here. Did that change what you expected of yourself after the seminar? Did any of your goals, inside or outside of the gym change? 


Yeah, I definitely changed my goals after the seminar because I could see more clearly what I needed to work on. The named workouts really exposed my weaknesses. Like when we did the Jonestown Crawl, I finished and thought man, I really wish I had done much better on that. But what that really meant was, I want to improve my strength to weight ratio, right? Like at the end of the day, my performance in that particular workout isn’t important in and of itself, but better performance is indicative of having improved an aspect of my fitness that I wanted to improve. That’s where the standards come in, there are so many standards that I want to meet but I haven’t yet. They’re not unrealistic, I just need to cater my programming to make sure I’m doing what needs to be done, making sure I’m being efficient and smart  in my training.

Betsy does accessory work during an active recovery session during the Combined Seminar.

What advice would you give to someone else who is considering a Gym Jones Seminar, specifically the Combined Seminar? 


I think following a good program to prepare yourself not only physically but also mentally is going to be really important. When I came to the Seminar I had just started following Gym Jones Tactical on TrainHeroic. Even though I wasn’t super far into it,  I was glad I was following a Gym Jones program because it helped me prepare, not only physically but it helped me to understand the format of the programming portion we learned in the classroom part of the seminar. That’s the thing. The seminar isn’t just physically demanding. It challenges you mentally while you’re learning AND while you’re training. And the Gym Jones programming is really different that way, it challenges you mentally. That’s really key to really just overall life. So, that’s a biggie. You’ve got to come in physically and mentally prepared. 


My last question relates to that, I just want to talk a little bit about how the gym applies to what you do everywhere else in life. Lots of people are shocked at the things we require of them when they come to Gym Jones. But you’ve got this job that requires a lot of mental toughness already. So I’m always interested to hear what this experience is like for someone who already deals with very high stakes situations on a daily basis. Does the Gym Jones philosophy and experience still teach you things about yourself? 


You know, Gym Jones’ philosophy of “The Mind is Primary” is true in everyone’s life but is especially critical right now in law enforcement. It really is pretty rough right now. Every day is a challenge. I’m on our major crash team, so I’ll go to a fatal crash and I’ll be there trying to help investigate a catastrophic incident, and people driving by will cuss and flip us off. If you take that to heart, you can’t survive. You’ll get eaten alive mentally. And then you’ll have the super high stakes incidents like when a violent crime has been committed, and you need to help get somebody to safety but the threat is still out there and potentially coming back. So going into these tough workouts just helps you practice, in a low risk environment, the exact mindset you need to adopt when the stakes are high. When you look at a tough workout and you say, oh my God, how am I going to get through that? And you push yourself, get your head right, get yourself in that mindset and you get through it. That’s exactly what you need  to do in a real world situation. So it’s completely transferable to when we get a bad call, find ourselves in a bad situation, and you just think okay great, here we go. What’s going to happen, what did I get myself into today. In those moments, you cannot let yourself collapse internally. Because if you do, then that affects your coworkers, your teammates, and the people you’re trying to help. It all kind of spirals, and it’s impossible to help one another when you’re all in that mindset. Practicing pushing through that mental discomfort daily in the gym helps me get through it in the real world. 


I work with a lot of people who just seem lost, they’re just having a hard time pushing through this stuff. And I mean, it’s interesting out there. It’s a really bad time to be a police officer in this country,  and it’s getting to the point where some people can’t take it anymore and that’s fine. But I just don’t see quitting as an option. Following the Gym Jones programming is the thing that really keeps me not only sane, but prepared. In high stress incidents, where I’m able to just stay calm and perform, that’s because I push myself through different stressors outside of work. Every day I put myself through a workout that gets me close to wanting to quit, but I don’t. I take every opportunity I can get to practice pushing through, having that feeling, “this is hard today, but I’m not going to quit.” 

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