About Jess

I help people create a body and life that they love. 

I am unbelievably impressed by the resilience and strength of the female body and am dedicated to helping women prepare, recover and absolutely thrive from pre-baby through their fourth trimester and beyond.

Jessica Van Raay


movement aficionado, lover of water, mountain enthusiast, super nerd, heavy lifting-sprinting-yogi, philosophical ninja, mom of twins and a newborn, and wife.  

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My name is Jess. I think the body and the mind are infinitely powerful. I do my best to embrace (and accept) the mountains and valleys of living (....oh the many lessons there are to learn that keep showing up until you get them). I believe trees, water, coffee and quiet are all awesome. 

And I coach. 

I've been coaching in some dimension since I was 14 when I was working with young competitive dancers. 

Since I always assumed I'd go to university because I'm a nerd who genuinely loves to learn, I chose a major 95% based on interest and 5% on career planning. I knew I wanted to teach and I thought the body was fascinating so - voila - health and physical education at University of Toronto. 

About halfway through my M.Ed., I was sitting at a cafe on the coast of Australia and, maybe it was the coffee, maybe it was the proximity to {my personally grounding life-force} water but clarity bluntly dawned on me. I realized I didn't want to be a teacher in the traditional setting. I didn't ... fit. 

Maybe it's because I wanted to write my own curriculum. Maybe it's because I wanted to hold space for people to explore at their pace and in directions that do not fit neatly on a rubric. 
Maybe it's because I wanted to work differently with people. Maybe it's because I wanted to put people in the driver seat as I ride shotgun (instead of placing them in third row seating with an iPad and snacks) so as to allow them to navigate the road of their own lives.

Full disclosure: iPads didn't exist at the time of my revelation. I've been coaching a looooooong time.

I smoothly slipped out of that track and right into coaching. (Wait! I finished my Masters first. I have a (compulsive) need to 'complete' everything I start. Swimming lessons? Might as well get my lifeguard. Dance classes? Might as well become a licensed instructor. It's a good tendency in some situations but there are some things we just need to LET GO, right? Jump off and move on. It's something I'm working on.)

I started coaching full-time in a fairly expected situation - personal training at a big gym. From there, I've moved a few times, worked with 100s of people one-on-one (from national level highschool athletes to 80 year-olds who want to feel more confident getting their shoes on). My last stop before venturing into the space of distance (online) coaching and hosting group programs was working in management for an incredible company. One of my primary roles was to "coach the coaches". I loved this role so much - working with over 200 instructors and coaches from varying backgrounds, professional experiences and styles. It was an insightful experience to say the least - in inspiring and constructive ways. 

Currently, I have five coaching avenues.
 I work corporately (keynotes and workshops),
host indulgent retreats,
train a limited number of individual clients,
create affordable (and downloadable) movement and lifestyle coaching programs and resources, and
run my signature movement, nutrition, and mindset coaching program The School of Lifting Stuff annually.


This approaches scratches all my "ohhhh...I love this" professional itches while allowing me to be up and ready to go with twin 3 year-olds and a darling newborn.


Are you interested in working together?



I "I came to Jess for coaching when I was really, really overwhelmed. I had this list of all these things I felt I had to do in order to get into shape. She broke it down and made me feel like I could reach my goals {increase my core strength and change the shape of my midsection) by doing one little thing at a time.... I went from feeling alone to feeling heard." 

SAMMY R / Business Consultant

"Jess is smart but has a way of breaking down the material so that it’s highly digestible. I learned a lot but it never felt over my head."

SARA K / Student

"Jess is honest and relatable in her coaching."

JEN J / Stay-at-Home-Mom

"I worked with Jess for years. About 2 years in, once we had reached all these different levels, I asked her, "Why didn't we start here? And how did you not dismiss me or fire me with all my wild ideas and lack of motivation?" And she said, "I needed to meet you where you were, not where you were going to be." I think that sums up Jess as a coach."

MAUREEN S / Teacher