How discovering human performance guided my career

In the beginning, I didn’t really know the field of human performance existed. When I thought about my career, I knew it needed to be interactive and have a physical element.

Once I figured out that performance needed to be a part of my life, and a part of whatever path I chose, my career unfolded in a positive way.

The constant in my life was always sports. That’s what I spent all my leisure time doing. My high school was really small so I had the opportunity to run cross country and play basketball, volleyball, and soccer. In my teens, my favorite show was “ER”, and I thought I wanted to be a doctor. Once I got to Queen’s University, however, I tried out a number of undergraduate degrees, from political science to health science.

My first inkling that there might be something for me in the field of human performance was when I noticed another student come to the gym every day and grab what I thought at the time was the weirdest equipment, like a medicine ball or bungee cords. One day I started talking to him, and he told me about his internship at EXOS. I also became more interested in the things my roommate was learning as part of her kinesiology and physical education major. Once I understood what the degree entailed, I transferred into kinesiology, even though I was already three years into my undergrad. The constant in my life was always sports. That’s what I spent all my leisure time doing.

As part of my new major, I had to do an independent study, which is where I ran into the guy from the gym again. He was now working for EXOS and had come back to the university to talk about his experience and to see if anyone would be interested in doing an internship. He helped me apply for an internship at EXOS’ Los Angeles location. The experience was an eye-opener to what I could do for a living. I was around intelligent, motivated people, all working together around performance training and athletics.

At EXOS, I was around intelligent, motivated people, all working together around performance training and athletics.

After completing my internship and my last year of school, I figured working for EXOS was a long shot, so I decided to go to physical therapy school after graduation. However, the summer leading up to physical therapy school, I got a call from EXOS asking if I’d be interested in a position as a performance specialist at their newest facility in Florida, which is part of the Andrews Institute.

Two years later, I relocated to Los Angeles for a new position within the company. As a performance specialist, my work focused on high school athletes and elite athletes in the MLB and NHL. Although it was still early in my career, my experience working at two of the three existing EXOS facilities awarded me some great opportunities. So when our Texas facility opened in 2011, I was tapped to manage the facility.

In 2014, EXOS asked me to be the interim director of the facility. And five years later I'm still here, overseeing the performance and nutrition services.

Next up, a new role working with Alex Lincoln, now the senior vice president for strategic business development at EXOS, to onboard EXOS employees who were going to fulfill U.S. military contracts. This was a great opportunity to see a different side of the company, and it gave me a new perspective on what it is to be an athlete and how my skill set could support those in public service. Performance training took on a greater meaning for me.

In 2013, I joined a team dedicated to onboarding new staff whenever we opened new facilities. While I was teaching and onboarding the staff heading to Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine in 2014, they asked me to be the interim director of the facility. And five years later I’m still here, overseeing the performance and nutrition services. What I do now is similar to what you’d find at other EXOS locations, but we take it a step further and integrate with surgeons and physicians to help our return-to-sport and return-to-activity clients.

Interested in becoming a performance coach or working in the field of human performance? Here’s the advice I would offer you.

1. Find the path that works for you.

Do you want to be on the nutrition side? Do you want to be a coach? Do you want your job to have a leadership aspect? Do you want to teach people? You have to decide what it is that you truly want to go after and what brings you joy. Then take on every opportunity and start building new skills. Take risks, be brave, and enjoy the ride.

2. Take your career at your own pace.

I don’t regret managing early, but I realize now I incorrectly thought success came from an accelerated growth plan. Opportunities will exist as long as you work hard and create opportunity for yourself. Have a plan, but be open to moving in all directions.

3. Don’t let labels define you.

People often ask me what advice I would give to other women pursuing strength and conditioning. Gender shouldn’t matter. Know your stuff, be good at what you do, aim for the reputation of the hardest worker in the room. Be a positive force, a team player, and someone people want to work with. Most importantly be you. This is true for both men and women.

4. Don’t be too rigid in your goals.

I used to think I had to work with certain athletes to consider myself a successful strength coach, but I would argue that some of my best coaching has actually been with athletes that I didn’t ever expect to work with. Be flexible with your expectations. You can always learn and grow from every experience and every person you interact with.

5. Have a big dream.

Working in the NFL has always been my dream, and it still is. I’m satisfied with what I’ve done, but I think it’s important to have things that are almost out of range to keep you motivated and fresh. Dream big, achieve, and have no regrets.

Interested in a career at EXOS? Learn more.

About the Author

Jennifer Noiles

Jennifer Noiles, C.S.C.S, SFG2, is a performance specialist and the performance director at Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine. She's responsible for the collaboration and integration of human performance and nutrition into the sports medicine department.

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