(Image: Johnnie Boi Fitness)
Some of the best business are born from real life happenstance and/or experiences that shape, scrape, and pinch our lives, just enough, to propel us into action. Small business owner and fitness trainer, Jonese Holloway, felt life’s pinch, right between her thighs, as she stuffed herself into her body magic waist shaper–she says, this was her big “aha” moment.
[Related: Power Women: Five Ways to Sneak in Your Fitness While at Work]
“Putting deodorant between my thighs to stop the chaffing and sweat while squeezing into a body magic,” recalls Holloway, “This moment was when I realized I need to lose weight. I didn’t want to feel stuffed like a sausage.”
Holloway’s need to hit the gym and drop a few pounds turned into an overwhelming 60 lbs loss, an entirely new career journey, and ownership of Johnnie Boi fitness boutique, in Clinton, Maryland.
Black Enterprise caught up with Jonese to talk entrepreneurship, fitness and her workout facility.
Tell me a little about yourself and your background, and what it is that you do?
I am a personal trainer and group fitness instructor that specializes in TRX, Pilates I & II and Kettlebells. I own a boutique fitness studio in Clinton, MD where I teach these disciples. I started out as an in-home personal trainer and slowly graduated to teaching bootcamp classes. When I started in 2012, the fitness market was becoming saturated with bootcamp classes. So, I was looking for another avenue to brand myself and my teachings thus separating myself from my counterparts. Enter TRX.
What made you want to become an entrepreneur and where did you transition from?
Before becoming a fitness trainer, I was a stay-at-home mom. When I made the decision to lose weight by joining my local gym, I was unaware of all the things that working out and feeling confident and strong would do for me. Once I became a certified trainer, I started Johnnie Boi Fitness and began to train clients in their home. I got business cards and flyers and spread the word. My in-home business grew by word of mouth so referrals were my lifeline.
The transition from in-home trainer to a gym trainer now to being a storefront owner—was a natural progression. While I was fearful to open my own storefront business, I knew that it was the only way in which I would be able to grow by brand and expand my business.
Can you tell me a little about your weight loss journey and how the journey affected you mentally?
Let me say that l am a foodie and a lover of sweets. So losing weight and maintaining weight loss was challenging. My weight gain happened like most women after the birth of my second child, Amaris. Since my first pregnancy went well, I snatched back to my pre-baby weight rather fast, I attributed the snatch to good genes. I thought the same would occur the second time around. So, I basically have myself permission to eat what I wanted under the guise that good genes and breast feeding (that’s what the other mommies said) would slim me down.
Well, it didn’t work. After giving birth, I was 190lbs. Now, the first 10-15lbs shed rather well. I walked, hit my TAE-BO tapes a few times. The scale remained stuck between the vortex of 170-180lbs. It was weight loss purgatory. I signed up at my local gym and hired a trainer and began my journey of weight loss in that moment. I worked with a trainer for three months and while I only lost about 5-8 lbs, I gained my confidence back. I started to believe that if I really put my hand to the plow anything was possible.
How much capital did it take to start your businesses and how did you acquire it?
My husband put up the initial investment of $10k to help me get the doors open and the studio outfitted. Once the studio opened, we invested an additional $7k on equipment. Marc, my husband, didn’t want me to piece it together. His goal was to have the studio up and running and outfitted with everything I needed at the time of grand opening. My class max is 10 so I purchased 10 of most items to ensure each client has what they need.
What were some of your biggest fears during your time of transition into entrepreneurship and how did you overcome them?
Biggest fear was “What if I Fail.” I was also worried if I would be able to carry this through to the end by myself. What if I decide it’s too much and want to quit. What if I put my home in jeopardy. My marriage in jeopardy. I had a list of what If’s. While the voices of my fears were loud and overshadowing there was a small faint voice that kept saying, “I think you can.” You see, I thought that I needed a “Robin” to my “Batman.” But I’ve learned that sometimes you have to run your own crusades. I’m still fearful but I don’t let that stop me.
What can people expect to experience when they come Johnnie Boi Fitness?
People can expect personal attention, personal training and personal service in a small group class setting. I am a hands on trainer. If I see you doing something wrong, I’m going to correct. I’m a stickler for making sure form is correct and working within limitations. I love to push clients past what they think they can do but I’m always mindful of physical limitations and/or pre-existing injuries. My main priority is to keep my clients progressing yet safe. All our workouts are customized so no two are the same. Our environment is clean, friendly, encouraging and supportive. Our members encourage and support one another. I think of them as my extended family.