Girls Rule

Connecting with other women in the outdoors

Several winters back, Jennifer Thorne climbed the north ridge of Mount Nebo through waist-deep snow until she crested its 11,861-foot-high summit. During a time of year when most folks are cuddled up in front of a fire with a good book; Jennifer and two of her friends stood atop the highest mountain in the Wasatch enjoying the priceless 360-degree view of snowy mountains and grassy valleys. Removing skis from their backs they tackled a technical ski descent down one of Utah’s most imposing mountains. Would anyone believe that only a few weeks prior, Jennifer was teaching others how to make their first ski turns on the slushy spring snow of Park City Mountain Resort? Maybe one day one of those students will take in the same view. Everyone has to begin somewhere.

In 2008, Jennifer and her long-time friends, Jen Dorius and Anna Cox, were all busy with life, kids, and jobs and needed a break! Passionate about the outdoors, they decided to carve out a few days for a ladies weekend bike trip. During this time, it became abundantly clear to them how quality time outside with other women augmented their ability to, not only be more present in life, but approach its challenges with confidence. Over the years, the three have garnered extensive experience, and regardless of the activity, they’re invariably asked, “How did you learn to do that?” Knowing it would be more fun and useful to show than tell — the adventurous women began a new journey.

Jennifer, Jen, and Anna decided to combine their knowledge and love of sharing outdoor adventures with their families and others by establishing a place where women from all walks of life, and all skill levels, could connect with each other in nature. Taking on the mantle of outdoor recreation mentors, the trio created Ignite Movement. They soon discovered that many women in the community sought to learn how to participate in various activities within a climate of direct coaching, positive feedback, and emotional support from other women.

A Learning Space

The name, Ignite Movement, is not random; it represents lighting the fire to get you moving. It is for women who have been looking for a way to expand on, or learn new, outdoor activities but did not know where or how to learn the skills and gain confidence. With many free or low-cost clinics, the challenge for women is to prioritize time for themselves and get outside.

Thorne shared that one of the driving factors for Ignite is to make the connection between “being outside in nature and the benefits of it. It is not just a fitness or wellness program [taking place] inside. It’s really about getting outside. We’re promoting getting women out and having adventures, an active lifestyle, [learning] wellness, and gathering and learning with other women.”

All three women describe nature as a “place of perfect order,” and because of this Thorne says, “You can put away the chaos of this world and connect with something.” If you’re seeking a bit more balance, this connection may be what is missing. Adapting life to include outdoor adventure is fundamental to all their clinics and retreats.

Anna was recently featured in a Women of Ambition podcast; she spoke about the effect of getting women together in such a learning space and described it as “Powerful!”

Some Science on Being in the Natural Environment

This connection is not anecdotal. In multiple studies from universities to non-profit wellness clinics, the connection between human health and being outside in a natural environment is unmistakable. An article published by the Harvard Medical School suggests that getting outside is good for your health, from boosting immune systems to healing faster from injury or surgery, not to mention just feeling better about life.1

A review published on reports some “promising effects on self-reported mental wellbeing immediately following exercise in nature which are not seen following the same exercise indoors.”2

If hiking a trail in a shady, wooded grove makes us feel better, that experience is reinforced by natural processes in our bodies and brains. The effect can foster the desire to cultivate more uplifting experiences. This simple formula can lead one through a lifetime of activity on the water, in forests, mountains, and deserts. They can be pivotal experiences that change the course of our lives. One caveat newcomers stand to face; if you don’t know what you’re doing out there, you might not be poised to have a great experience. You could find yourself injured and saying, “Never again.”

Shortening the Learning Curve

With complimentary but different backgrounds in coaching and teaching (check out the “About” page on their website) and decades of experience between them, Jennifer, Jen, and Anna offer instruction and techniques that some might not have considered. With gentle nudges here and encouragement there, everyone from the newcomer to old-hat will quickly find their stride and feel assured they’re being guided by sound advice.

The mentors of Ignite Movement will also shed light on the other aspects of maintaining an outdoor fitness lifestyle. This comes down to foundational points like day-to-day diet and nutrition, mental fortitude, emotional discipline, and even taking care of your gear. Some readers may have taken notes on Jen Dorius’s recent instructional clinic on bicycle maintenance.

The knowledge they offer will shortcut the rough experiences of trial and error while attempting to learn it on your own. Mountain biking, for example, is a very cognitive sport. Not only must you learn to manipulate your body, but also the two wheels below as you ride over variable terrain; now pair that with learning to locate trails and repair a flat tire, and your heart rate may just go through the roof! It’s not easy! With the help of other women just starting out and some, who’ve been-there-done-that, one will be on their way to mountain biking independence and confidence to hit the trail with or without the group.

Ignite Movement helps answer these questions and more: How do you plan your next outing? Where are the trails? How does one navigate with landmarks and a map? What are my post-activity recovery steps to recoup my energy and soften my stiff muscles? How do I do all this so I can focus on the fun?

Rest and Recharge at a Seasonal Retreat

Sometimes the best thing you can do is concentrate the learning into a weekend retreat and soak in everything, all while being surrounded by other like-minded women. The quarterly retreats offered by Ignite Movement are pinnacle events. Their summer retreat is scheduled for June 24 thru 26. Looking forward, the next retreat will take place in the fall.

These retreats feature seasonal outdoor sports, along with a host of other wellness clinics. Jennifer explains, “Not only will you be mentored through amazing outdoor experiences — but you will also be inspired and educated with a variety of uplifting classes. All abilities are welcome! Activities will include hiking, paddle-boarding, kayaking, cooking demonstrations, inspiring mini-classes, yoga, campfires, meditation, amazing women, crater floating, food, fun, and an all-around uplifting weekend with new friends, new challenges, and new ideas!”

This trio wants to light your torch with their knowledge, give you confidence in an active lifestyle outside, and show you how to fuel the fire with your passion. Thorne talked about engaging in challenging activities outside and incorporating structured reinforcement with other women. This is just one way that Ignite Movement can help accomplish new challenges. It will not seem obvious at first, but accomplishment breeds thirst for other challenges. It can become a cycle, and you may just find yourself trying and learning new activities in other parts of your personal and family life.

To the women out there who have been looking for the means to get moving outside, Jennifer, Jen, and Anna want you to know that there’s no better time than now! They invite you to come out and join them and make this part of your life. “As you fill your own bucket, you’re better equipped to serve others.” Whether it is to be a better partner or spouse, parent or person, finding rejuvenation in outdoor adventure will truly revitalize the soul.


July 08                   INTRO TO OPEN WATER SWIMMING

July 10                   group ride to Woodland Biscuit Co.

July 27 – 28          Mountain Bike Retreat

August 14            Mountain Bike Clinic





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