When your dad, Bob Lee, has played in the Super Bowl — twice — there is a familial expectation that you'll be athletic. Jenna Lee is the youngest anchor in cable news networks, and her show "Happening Now" for Fox News often runs her ragged and creates chaos for her schedule, especially during an election year.
But Lee manages, often exercising alongside her former Navy SEAL husband. And even though her husband is a qualified trainer, she doesn't like it when he directly coaches her on what to do. (As a guy married to a strong-willed black belt, I can relate to how her husband must feel. I get nervous when my wife asks me to train her in our basement gym.)
Lee, 32, never lets a demanding career interfere with fitness; not exercising is not an option.
Tell me a bit about your fitness history. What was it like growing up with a dad who played in two Super Bowls for the Vikings?
My father retired the year after I was born, but we were always very active. My mom had me enrolled in swimming, gymnastics and ballet. When I was 5, my brother started baseball and I decided I wanted to as well, so I quit ballet to do that. There was always physical activity being part of my schedule. It's just a habit at this point.
I played a lot of competitive sports in high school and Division 1 softball for a year [at UC Santa Barbara], but after graduation I went from a lot of structure to no structure. I tried a lot of different things and ended up running and lifting weights mostly. I've run quite a few 10K races and done one half marathon.
What kind of weightlifting do you do, and does your former Navy SEAL husband train you?
I've definitely being doing more weightlifting since meeting my husband, and lifting heavier. Because of him I set a goal to be able to do a pull-up, and now I can do seven, eight in a row.
My husband and I go to the gym together a lot, and we trained for a triathlon together. Sometimes it's great, and sometimes it's hard. He's a CrossFit trainer and done MMA [mixed martial arts] training, and I get annoyed sometimes because I don't like getting him coaching me. He's actually better qualified than a lot of people, but I just don't like him telling me what to do. It's an interesting dance. We do enjoy being active together. We definitely push each other to be active.
Overall, I'm a big fan of basic lifting and sticking with the core exercises and focusing on the quality of the workout.
You've got a chaotic work schedule, especially with this being an election year. How do you manage to still fit in exercise?
It's really crazy, but I've always found that no matter how crazy the schedule is that exercise has to be a priority for myriad reasons, including all the vain ones, but also the health ones. I want to look good, but that pressure is strictly from myself because it plays into being the best that I can be, both behind and in front of the camera.
No matter how chaotic, I never let anything get in the way of exercise. It's just a part of my life. Even if I feel tired one day or am not into it I still force myself to do it because it makes me feel better. I really believe that physical fitness will change your life.
Are there any time management or motivational tricks you have for readers for fitting in fitness?
If I have a day with extra time, I will have a longer workout. I use my weekends sometimes to do a double workout or go for a bike ride with my husband after a run. On a busy workday, I'll do one of those quick 30-minute high-intensity workouts. There are times that I have an hour in between a shift because of an evening shift. I know a couple of workouts that I can do where I don't get too sweaty. I still need to take a quick body shower, but I keep my face out of it so I don't have to redo all the hair and makeup.
You recently did your first Olympic distance triathlon. How did it go? Will you do another?
It went really well, but I got a little freaked out by the swim. I had to train a lot for that part. You're surrounded by a lot of people, and it was a brutal one-mile swim; it was not the most enjoyable. I ended up actually placing in the top 10 of my age group, which felt pretty good.
The whole point was just to do it, but I don't know if I want to do another. It was a big time commitment, and the sense of accomplishment was overshadowed by the swim part not being fun. I think a marathon might be in my future, though.