Staff Spotlight: Janet McClain

Janet McClain is an instructor at UW Health's Fitness CenterFor the better part of a decade our Arthritis Plus classes have thrived by providing warm water exercise specifically designed to help manage the needs of individuals living with arthritis. Certainly, the design and focus of the class has attracted many to give it a try. But it’s the energy and enthusiasm of its instructor, Janet McClain, that has made these classes amongst the most popular programs at the UW Health Sports Medicine Center.


Janet is a native Madisonian. She grew up in Shorewood Hills (not far from where she currently resides). Janet attended Madison West high school where she played tennis and soccer. Although high school girls soccer was somewhat new and nowhere near as popular as it is today, that didn’t stop Janet from playing every chance she had – often with college students, adults, and even on men’s teams.


When Janet moved on to UW-Madison her soccer connections earned her an invitation to play for the Badgers which she did for 3½ years.


After earning a degree in chemistry at UW-Madison, Janet earned a Masters at Northwestern University (also in chemistry). At this juncture, Janet didn’t see herself being a life-long laboratory researcher so she returned to UW-Madison and entered law school. Ironically, this is when Janet met (and eventually married) a chemistry researcher.


During law school Janet took an internship with Eli Lilly and specialized in patent law. After graduating, Janet worked as a patent attorney for Eli Lilly in Indianapolis for 10 years. While residing there, daughter #1 (Emily), son #1 (Eddie), and daughter #2 (Sarah) were born.


An opportunity to teach at UW-Madison brought the McClain family back to Madison (right back to Shorewood Hills) in 2003, when daughter #3 (Katherine) was born. Janet chose to put “lawyering” on hold while she focused on her busy family. Fortunately for us, Janet found time to train to be an aquatics fitness instructor and earn Arthritis Foundation certification.


In addition to the Arthritis Plus classes, Janet teaches the Thursday morning Aqua Strength & Flexibility.


Janet currently coaches 2 middle school girls soccer teams. She proudly explains that she has a child in each American mainland time zone (Emily, DC; Eddie, CO; Sarah, WA; Katherine, right here).


Now that you know a bit about the interesting path that brought Janet here, how about a few words straight from her?


A Q&A with Janet


Why Did You Choose to Teach Fitness Classes?


As my kids got older I had more time. Having always been an athlete and a vocal leader (coach, etc.) teaching fitness classes seemed like a natural fit for me.


What Do You Like About Working Here?


The people (both who work here AND those who take my classes)!


Hometown: Madison, WI.


Current Residence: Shorewood Hills (Madison), Wisconsin.


Birthday: February.


Family: Husband, 4 kids (Emily, Eddie, Sarah, Katherine).


Pets: Dog (Ralphie);  Cat (Leo).


Favorite Music: ALL Music!


Favorite Color: Blue.


Favorite TV Shows: Lost, Dexter, Soap, Friends, Seinfeld, Doc Martin.


Favorite Movies: Hair, Mary Poppins.


Favorite Foods: Anything ethnic.


Favorite Vacation Spots (thus far): Canada (visiting parents).


Favorite Athlete: Serena Williams, Roger Federer.


Hobbies: Cooking, coaching soccer, gardening.


Nicknames I've Had: Damn It Janet.


People I Admire: People who find time to help others.