Member at: Life Time River North at One Chicago
Her family calls her Ryan 2.0. She calls herself Resilient Ry.
As a teenager, Ryan Jurgenson loved swimming and working out with her mom at the Life Time near their home. But the stress of a bad relationship as a young adult led to rapid weight gain — 80 pounds in about six months — and a lost sense of herself.
Ryan avoided family and friends; she didn’t want to be seen. She stopped caring about her appearance and tending to some of her own needs. “I would get my kids bundled up when it was cold, and I wouldn’t even have a hat on,” she recalls. “My mom would say to me, ‘If you get sick, what’s going to happen to them?’”
Then a beloved aunt was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. Facing her aunt’s mortality awakened something in Ryan. “I realized that I was missing out on so many great moments in my life — as a family member and as a mom,” she says.
Drawing on her positive memories of working out at Life Time, Ryan joined the Orland Park club near Chicago. With a good friend along for moral support and accountability, she began a fitness journey focused on strength and resilience — including a four-month quest to nail a 30-inch box jump.
The box-jump goal was actually based on her misunderstanding of a personal trainer’s instructions. He had proposed jumping up from a seated position on a plyo box, not jumping onto the box from the ground.
Ryan’s friend captured attempt after attempt on video for Ryan’s Instagram page as she built the strength and power to finally achieve her goal. “I’m not a quitter,” she says.
Though Ryan has always wanted to help others — she attended nursing school and has worked as a patient-care tech at a local hospital — her self-care journey inspired a career change. She now works full-time for Life Time at the River North location while she studies to become a personal trainer.
Her three daughters inspire her ongoing pursuit of health, as well.
“As a mom, I would be over the moon if I’m able to teach my girls that they have the right to live and be themselves on their terms,” she says. “I want them to be confident and happy with themselves and to take up their space in the world.”
This was excerpted from “Changing Lives” which was published in the July/August 2022 issue of Experience Life.