In my blog posts, I often write about things and people that inspire me to continue exercising and changing bad habits to healthier ones. While I do find inspiration in fitness articles and on Pinterest boards, the most inspiring thing to me is reading or hearing a real person’s struggles and successes.
Many of us from S.W.E.A.T. Fitness Studio would agree, one of the most inspiring stories is that of our fearless leader Jessica Sands.
When I began taking classes at S.W.E.A.T., I assumed Jess was someone who had always been into fitness and exercise. Over the last year, through stories she has told us and old photos she posted, I found out that was not the case at all. After finding out that Jess was just like you and me, I decided to ask her about her fitness journey so I could share her inspiring story on our blog.
Like many women, Jess was unhappy with all of the weight she had gained during her two pregnancies. She hated the way she looked, hated the way it made her feel and often complained to her husband Cory about it. Cory was tired of hearing it. He told her if she wasn’t going to do anything about it, she needed to drop it.
Jess told us at a fitness meeting that the conversation was so shocking, she joined a gym and got a trainer the next day. She realized her negativity wasn’t just affecting her. It was affecting her family and her marriage.
She spent the next year working out in the gym, taking classes and struggling through her ups and downs. Like most of us, Jess didn’t always feel like her exercise routines were working. She knew she had to eat healthier AND exercise or she would never reach her goals.
After a year of exercising regularly and taking classes like Zumba, Jess decided to get her teaching certification. As Jess began to lose weight and feel stronger, she knew she wanted to pass that feeling on to other people.
“I fell in love with feeling strong!” Jess said. “As the pounds starting peeling off and I started feeling better about myself, I realized I loved being empowered. I loved the feeling of my body doing things that I saw others doing and previously thought ‘I could never do that.’”
The director of the gym where Jess had been training noticed her potential and asked her to get certified in Zumba Gold. Initially, Jess thought she could never get up in front of people and exercise. But after thinking it over, she realized it was just another challenge she could conquer.
“I started thinking to myself, maybe I could inspire someone who was just like me, to get in shape,” Jess said. “I was never naturally athletic. I literally started where the average person does, with a decision to try and change my life.”
With those inspiring thoughts, Jess’s instructor career began.
Jess has been teaching fitness classes for about seven years. Instructing Zumba pushed her to get certified in other types of group fitness.
As she began her fitness career, Jess was teaching 21 classes a week, at 7 different gyms. Keeping up with her crazy schedule was a challenge in itself. After realizing that many of her students would follow her from gym to gym, just to take her classes, she decided opening her own fitness studio would be easier for everyone.
Jess begged her husband to let her spend their income tax return on her theory. She secured a location, bought a stereo, rallied a few other fitness instructors and S.W.E.A.T. Fitness Studio was born.
There are always challenges that come with owning a small business. Jess had her share of challenges including a flood that wiped out her first studio location, competing with larger area gyms, not be able to contribute to her family’s income at times and of course, worrying about whether or not people will want to come everyday.
Despite challenges and setbacks, Jess doesn’t regret her choice to become a fitness instructor and business owner. Since that first year when she was working out with a trainer, she knows she has become healthier and stronger. Helping others feel the same way is truly her calling.
“I feel like I have found my purpose. I feel fulfilled and there is a lot to be said when you can wake up each day feeling like you’re impacting your environment and contributing to and hopefully impacting others lives.”
So what’s up next for our inspiring teacher, who has already tackled many new classes to keep things fresh at the studio? Jess is currently working toward her personal training certificate, in her, “free” time. This certification will allow her to help even more people achieve their goals, at a more individualized level.
Life as a fitness instructor and business owner is not the easiest. Just like she motivates us, we motivate Jess to keep going everyday. The determined looks on our faces, make Jess realize she is sharing her gift and helping us achieve our goals.
I hope you feel inspired after reading Jess’s story 🙂 I am hoping to share other inspiring stories from other instructors and some students, one each month. I have someone in mind for next month already. Until then, thank you for supporting the studio and keep going!
-Aimee, blogger for S.W.E.A.T. Fitness and ReBath Northeast