Elevate Your Fitness with The Oxygen Challenge 6

Oxygen Challenge 6 coaches Jen Esquer and Nikki Snow will teach you how to rise above your limitations and become your best-ever self in body, mind and spirit.
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If you’re a typical Oxygen reader, you probably exercise regularly. You try to eat clean. You enjoy moving your body and being a healthy human on the planet. But do you ever feel like something’s missing? That even though you are diligent about feeding your body the right food and giving it the right amount of activity, you’re still sort of missing the mark?

Like they say, where the mind goes the body will follow, and frankly, if you truly want to improve your outward person, your journey starts inside your head. Likely, this is the irksome puzzle piece missing from your training — the one that fell behind the couch years ago and that has been gathering dust bunnies as confidants ever since.

Nikki Snow and Jen Esquer

The Oxygen Challenge 6 coaches, Jen Esquer (top) and Nikki Snow.

This year’s Oxygen 6 Challenge coaches Jen Esquer and Nikki Snow are here to help — to reach under the couch, dust off that missing piece and finally help you complete your puzzle. And even though they are dramatically different in background, demeanor and technique, Snow and Esquer are united in their view of mental capacity and the power of positive thinking as it relates to success in both your physical and emotional person. Because really, one can’t exist without the other, and when both are strong, there’s almost nothing you can’t accomplish.

“It is easy to feel lesser than and doubtful, and to live in the future hoping for results and happiness,” Snow says. “How many times have you reached a goal yet something is still missing? This is where we turn that thought process on its head and focus on mindset coaching to celebrate the present and move toward the future by setting mindful transformation goals.”

“There is a direct neurological connection between the mind and the body,” Esquer says. “We cannot contract a muscle without the mind, we cannot feel pain without the mind. If we address more ways to stimulate the mind to connect to the body, we can change the way we move, our alignment and even the way we feel pain.”

In the following article, you can learn about each woman individually to see who most resonates with you. But really, both programs are rich with indispensable mindset tools and techniques, and no matter which coach you settle on for this year’s challenge, you’ll finally be able to rise above all the limitations that have been holding you back.

Jen Esquer

Jen Esquer

Jen Esquer

Dr. Esquer, I Presume

Jen Esquer grew up in a family that valued movement — a lot. “My parents were both very active, and I learned that movement is just a part of life,” says Esquer, who was a gymnast until age 16. “It was a requirement for us to be in a sport while we were in school, and I am so grateful for that rule as it brought discipline, commitment and a work ethic to my life.”

Esquer transitioned from gymnastics to pole vaulting to Pilates to calisthenics, and today she is able to share her love of movement with others as a doctor of physical therapy and a popular social media influencer best-known for her insightful mobility posts. “When addressing aches, pains or diagnoses, I would always start with mobility, then go into corrective exercises and then strength training,” she says. “However, mobility seemed to fascinate people the most, and I began to realize that this was the foundational layer that was not talked about enough. No, it’s not ‘sexy,’ but this is the first thing people should address in order to learn and to move well.”

With mobility in mind, Esquer created a truly unique Challenge program that begins and ends with focused range-of-motion exercises but which also includes high-intensity interval training, functional interval training and a few unconventional protocols such as isometrics. “While you can gain some strength from isometrics, what you’ll really gain is an increased neurological connection between your brain and that muscle,” she says.

Eat Up

Esquer’s nutrition philosophy sounds simple — listen to your body — but this was something she herself had to learn. “Growing up, when I had stomach pain, I would take a pill,” she says. “I thought it was just genetic — my mom had a lot of stomach issues, as well — but I soon learned that it was related to food and stress. Your body will tell you what it does not enjoy, what makes it feel energized and what makes it feel swollen or inflamed.”

Esquer shares more than 40 of her favorite recipes (created by boyfriend and fellow doctor of physical therapy Dom) to accompany her workout program. “In order to improve our physical movement and range of motion, the chronic inflammation within our bodies must decrease,” she says. “My recipes are all nutrient-dense and plant-heavy, and they will fuel your body, decrease inflammation and keep you moving toward your best self.”

Q&A with Jen Esquer

Q: What is your least flexible bodypart?

A: People assume I have no mobility restrictions, but external rotation in my hips has always been a tough one for me. I work on that daily.

Q: Are you a good cook?

A: I do not like to cook! I can’t stand the prep time it takes away from work, movement and handstands (things I love!). Fortunately, my boyfriend Dom is an incredible chef! I used to be a very plain and picky eater, but his recipes have opened my eyes to new foods and new possibilities.

Q: Are you a daredevil?

A: I am not. I am more of an analyzer, assessing why something is dangerous and why I shouldn’t do it. However, I overcame one of my greatest fears of the ocean in Bali by going scuba diving. Luckily, I saw no sharks!

Q: Who is your favorite Pokémon? (Question is courtesy of Alex McGlashan, age 7.)

A: Mew because it’s the most unique and powerful Pokémon! (I only know that because my boyfriend just told me so!)

Rapid-Fire Q&A

  • If I never had to eat fish again, it would be too soon.
  • If I could have anything for a pet, it would be an Alaskan Klee Kai puppy.
  • My guilty pleasure is The Real Housewives (no shame!)
  • The weirdest thing in my gym bag is a gua sha soft-tissue manipulation tool.
  • Never would I ever stop moving!
Jen Esquer

Jen Esquer

Birth Date: April 7, 1988

Location: Marina del Rey, California

Credentials: Doctor of Physical Therapy

Social Media: 

Website: docjenfit.com

Nikki Snow

Nikki Snow

Nikki Snow

Dance Like Everyone Is Watching

“As a child, I was dancing morning, noon and night — and honestly, not much has changed!” says Nikki Snow, laughing when asked about her athletic background. “Suzanne Somers was an icon in my house. My mom would do her step aerobics tapes, and I would bop along in the background. She also bought me the Barbie workout tapes, and we would rock them out together!”

In high school, Snow discovered group fitness training and found that she actually preferred moving with people instead of for people. At the time, she was working the front desk of a gym and a friend suggested she would be a great fitness instructor. “I tried to run the other direction, but he was persistent, and thank goodness — that connection and inclusivity changed my life,” she says. “It helped me have a closer relationship with my body and gave me a great outlet to make lifelong friends.”

Snow brings that inclusivity and her 13 years of teaching prowess to her OC6 program, and she has created a one-of-a-kind plan where strength, intensity, fun and positivity collide. “This is where you celebrate and honor where you are now, challenge beliefs and patterns of thinking that are not serving you, and set transformation goals that encompass the mind, body and soul,” she says.

Everythingatarianism

In a world of super-specific diet protocols, Snow’s philosophy is refreshing. “I am an everythingatarian,” she says. “Diets are just not my bag. And yes, I have done the majority of diets around, but I felt like I was shackled to a calorie counter and was living only for my cheat day. Soon, the rebel in me would kick in and I would break the diet, feel bad about myself, jump on the shame train and search for the next quick-fix diet to take its place.”

Changing her relationship with food and becoming mindful of the purpose it had in her life altered her trajectory. “My diet consists of foods that give me an abundance of energy, vitality and strength to fuel my lifestyle and my purpose,” Snow says. “Eating clean, whole foods brings me joy, and the recipes I created for my OC6 program align with this notion.”

Q&A With Nikki Snow

Q: How long were you with Les Mills?

A: I have been teaching Les Mills programs for 13 years and was an international trainer/presenter for eight years. I still actively teach an array of classes each week at the Chicago Athletic Clubs.

Q: What was the biggest group fitness class you’ve ever taught?

A: About 1,000-plus people!

Q: What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

A: I am terrified of E.T.!

Q: Are you a daredevil?

A: So many of my friends would say absolutely not, but I am going to defend myself and say that I am learning and growing! A couple of years ago, I went surfing, and I am very scared of the ocean.

Q: Who is your favorite Pokémon? (Question is courtesy of Alex McGlashan, age 7.)

A: Charizard, final answer!

Rapid-Fire Q&A

  • If I never had to eat celery again, it would be too soon.
  • If I could have anything for a pet, it would be an otter.
  • My guilty TV pleasure is The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.
  • Never would I ever go in a haunted house alone!
  • The nerdiest thing about me is I love to make up random songs about anything. Test me — I will do it!
Nikki Snow

Nikki Snow

Birth Date: September 21, 1986

Location: Chicago

Certifications: ICF, IPEC Coaching, NLP, ACE Group Fitness, AFAA Group Fitness, Les Mills, Air Yoga, TRX

Social Media:

Website:  phitsociety.com

Now in its sixth year, The Oxygen Challenge has helped thousands of participants around the world transform their bodies and their lives. This summer, we are bringing you two fitness experts focused on strength, empowerment and the mind-body connection: Jen Esquer, doctor of physical therapy and mobility expert, and Nikki Snow, international trainer and professional coach.

So what are you waiting for? Start transforming your life and body today with their 90-day training and nutrition program designed exclusively for Oxygen — it’s guaranteed to awaken your inner athlete, buoy your spirit and empower your life! Join the Challenge today.

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