If Jen Leitch were a celebrity, she’d make the top of every magazine’s best bikini body list. As the owner of two local Pure Barre studios, she’s known for her body-shaping abilities.
Even more impressive? How Leitch has used the Sullivan’s Island beach community as a learning tool for her family.
Leitch recently talked about why she and her family moved from Charlotte to Sullivan’s Island, how seaside living has affected her parenting and what it’s meant for her kids to grow up with the sand between their toes.
Q. Before moving to Sullivan’s Island and owning two Pure Barre studios, you and your family lived in Charlotte and you worked as a CPA. What inspired the change in location and career?
A. One summer, visiting from Charlotte, we lived on the Isle of Palms for five weeks and really got a feel for the community. We fell in love with it. It was the happiest my family had ever been at the time. We were all so sad when we had to leave, but I knew we would be back. Two years later, we were.
At the time of our visit, I had just discovered Pure Barre. I remember thinking, “Pure Barre would do great here!”
Most people don’t know this, but I was rejected by Pure Barre twice. The first time I was shocked because the pull to move was so strong and I thought everything would come together, but it just wasn’t the right timing.
So, moving here was first but Pure Barre was a way to do that. The two things together was a dream come true; I wake up everyday so grateful.
Q. What about raising your family near the beach has made you, your husband and your kids so happy?
A. We’ve raised our kids to be outside a lot and there are so many opportunities for that to happen here. People will find a way to stay here because they love it.
Here, peoples’ identities aren’t wrapped up in their corporate lives. Here, who you are is about your job and your hobbies and what you do on your “off time.”
Q. Being outside is a huge part of how you raise your kids. How do you encourage your kids to take advantage of where they live?
A. There’s such value in kids doing nothing but being outside; laying in the grass, staring at the clouds in the sky. Fresh air, vitamin D, all of that is so important, but there’s something to be said for learning by discovering what’s around you instead of by watching a show on television.
We don’t even have cable. We finally just got a modern TV. It was getting a little embarrassing how old-school our last one was.
Q. What are some ways your kids enjoy being outside?
A. We bike a lot as a family, and we try to bike to places when we can. Obviously, being on the ocean, we spend a lot of time on the water.
My daughter, Maddie, 17, surfs, is a lifeguard and is an intern for a summer camp out on Seabrook Island.
My son, Jack, 15, is learning to kite board with my husband and also surfs. All of my kids surf.
My 9-year-old, Izzy, is especially fearless.