Jill Dog

My Story – Jill Donovan, CrossFit Brighton Coach

Coach Spotlight – My Story: Coach Jill

While she may be one of the most warm and welcoming people at CrossFit Brighton with a boatload of great insights on improving your form, Coach Jill Donovan is also the one to surely kick your butt in time, weight and speed as a fellow WOD-er in class… with a gracious smile!

But did you know she used to be a middle school teacher and is one of the Markillies behind the delicious food at the Markillie Cider Mill? As a busy working mom to two teenage boys, wife to Jed, owner of the famous dog Myla and often the one opening and closing the gym, what’s really behind that smile and ability? Read more.

What got you interested in CrossFit in the first place?

I tried CFB in November 2009 due to some coaxing from my husband, who was a member a year before I was.  I was very intimidated and nervous at first (I still get nervous, sometimes), but I was so empowered with the sense of getting in better shape and learning all these new “things” that I became very dedicated to just showing up.  I love the efficiency of what we can pack into an hour at CFB.

What made you want to be a coach? I absolutely loved the CFB community and wanted to serve as link to a member’s ability to improve their life, the way I had seen mine improve after joining.  I had previously taught junior high history and English, so I was excited to jump into a more diverse age group and platform for learning.  I personally place a prominent value on one’s health and wellness, so this made coaching CrossFit incredibly close to my heart.
What’s the most memorable coaching experience you’ve had?

Ha…just one??? CrossFit is a journey for sure!  For me it’s always the moment when an athlete recognizes a specific accomplishment, whether it’s a PR, or a first full-range-of motion squat.  I vividly remember tears of joy from a member after she completed the WOD “Angie.”  She just could not believe she had the capability to do all those 400 reps.  It was a pretty cool moment.

What’s your favorite playlist for working out?

I love creating playlists.  I’ll be driving and hear a good song and think, “We could totally do wall balls or heavy deadlifts to this song!” I forget that what I hear on the radio is usually edited, so the version on my playlists sometimes gets dicey…a quick fast forward and we are “On to the next one.” (That’s Jay Z, by the way!)Tell us about the family cider mill too! How did it get started? What do you love most about it?

We have had our orchard for almost 20 years and it all started because my dad likes to grow stuff.  2,600 trees later, here we are.  The best part of being part of my family’s orchard is that I get to work right next to my mom and dad and sisters.  My sons and my nieces and nephews are there too, helping out as much as they can.  I am incredibly grateful for this.  Although it’s a ton of work, I feel so fortunate that my parents and family are awesome…and I want to be around them!  The constant learning, laughing, physical labor and camaraderie are some of the best ingredients I can use for a healthy life.

Is that your “day job” too or what do you do outside of coaching?  

So coaching is my “before/after” day job.  The 5 a.m. crew and I get started before the roosters crow…and some nights I am erasing the whiteboard and shutting off the CFB lights.  During the day I work in Farmington Hills for an IT-Consulting Company – JDM Systems Consultants, Inc.  I also have nine chickens and like to run.

What do you and your family like to do together most?

We are running around like crazy most of the time.  We love our vacations to Florida and up north where we explore and fish a lot.  We hang out at home a lot, sometimes each doing our own thing, but we are all in the same house.  We all spend way too much time doting on our dog, Myla.  She is the queen and the coolest dog.  She keeps us laughing.