A Conversation with J Fitness Trainer Abbie Friedberg
J Fitness Trainer Abbie Friedberg made the decision to “change [her] world” in her early 30’s.
Abbie’s parents both passed away at young ages following battles with cancer. Her mother fought for fifteen years, her father for a little over a year. The two passed just 15 months apart, her mother at 60; her father at 66.
This took a huge toll on Abbie, but it also catapulted her forward, mentally and physically. Her mother, Abbie recounts, was a true survivor. For 15 years, her mother stayed focused on attending all the important family milestones.
Abbie explains, “My mother lived from one event to the next. She said, I want to see the twins make it to kindergarten; I want to make it to my sixtieth birthday; I want to make it to Abbie’s 30th birthday’; and then she would just do it.”
Inspired by her mother’s fighting spirit and incredible stamina, Abbie set major fitness, health, and wellness goals for herself.
It was 2002 when she started working out seriously. She had gained 45 lbs. following the birth of her twins – a boy and a girl – and she didn’t like the body she was seeing or the way she was feeling.
“I didn’t like the way I felt and looked and I knew I had enough control and willpower to change my body to be what I wanted it to be. I want live far beyond my parents ages and I wanted to have a physique that looked athletic and healthy.”
Abbie began eating healthy and working out with a passion — lifting, biking, swimming, and running.
Born and raised in Montgomery County, Abbie attended Mt. Vernon College in Washington, DC and the Corcoran School of Art also in DC. Soon after she took up work as an interior designer, a career she still maintains today on a consulting basis.
Abbie’s journey to fitness, she explains, was a slow process. “It takes a long time to lose fat and gain muscle.. but slow and steady wins the race,” she advises, citing the old adage.
Prior to coming to the J as a Fitness Trainer, Abbie trained with many trainers:
“My thing was always finding a trainer that had a specialization for my weaknesses, something that I wanted to do but that I wasn’t strong in… someone who was proficient in what I wanted to learn.”
At one point, she worked with a boxing trainer, Alex, to develop her core, strength, agility, and to continue losing fat.
“Working with Alex marked a pivotal point. He taught me about control, how the body in motion is a function of all the parts put together; he also taught me about breathing and how to get the most power from each movement.”
An old friend and trainer by the name of Dewey Fanning taught Abbie how to lift — old-school lifting.
“Dewey taught me how to lift heavy. He pushed me through a lot of weight…. Alex and Dewey both, they played a huge roll in my journey and gave me the tools and the knowledge to sculpt me into what I am today.”
Today, Abbie is living an extremely healthy life and teaching others to do the same without giving up life’s simple pleasures. “I am a very clean eater but I do have my indulgences,” she says, “I love red wine, pizza, ice cream– coffee and butter pecan are among my favorites. Again, everything in moderation.”
My life is all about wrapping up everything that I’ve learned … nutrition, workout, state of mind
“My life is all about wrapping up everything that I’ve learned from many amazing people – nutrition, workout, state of mind, all into one package, to get your body to the point where you look good and actually feel good in your own skin. And doing it safely and in a healthy and whole way.”
Abbie currently competes as a lifetime drug free figure athlete and has her pro-cards in open and masters in drug-tested organizations. She is a nationally-qualified NPC figure competitor as well. She has done sprint triathlons, run in an ultramarathon, is an avid swimmer, and loves rock climbing. She has cycled the length of the C&O canal four times. “184.4 beautiful miles” she exclaims.
Abbie is the proud mother of five: the twins, her adopted son and two step-children. Together with husband Jeremy, the family sits down every night together for a healthy meal, after Abbie spends an early evening in the garden.
“We have a very active family,” she says, “All my kids played three seasons of sports, soccer, lacrosse, wrestling, etc – they were and still are incredibly active.”
Now that four of the five children are in college and medical school, Abbie is paying back for what so many wonderful people have taught her along the way on her wellness journey. From designer to mother to professional athlete and now personal trainer her goals have been big but reachable.
“Our goals are always evolving, but there’s no final goal — this is what I learned from my mother and what I try to teach people. Set realistic goals. There is no such thing as an end goal, we are always evolving. Often goals are too far forward, too big. If you set an unrealistic goal within a short time period it can be disheartening.”
“My main goal with people is not to train but to teach,” says Abbie, “You have to go with where your body is at and what it’s feeling.”