ASU dietetics grad turns small garage business into thriving chain of fitness centers
After a brief career in biotech sales following graduation at Arizona State University, Benjamin Jones started a fitness business in the garage of his Gilbert home. He had 14 clients, a bunch of equipment, and a lot of know-how from his dietetics education and his years as a certified personal trainer and as a squad leader for the military police in the Arizona Army National Guard.
He knew he could make a business out of helping people get healthier.
Six months later, he bought into the Fit Body Boot Camp franchise and opened his first location in Mesa, bringing along many of his original clients. His passion for helping people reach their fitness goals has fueled his business’s growth. He now owns and operates eight locations across Phoenix’s southeast valley.
From the beginning, his vision has been to create places that help people get healthy through nutrition and exercise in a supportive, personalized atmosphere, one that feels more like a family and less like a gym.
It’s a formula that works. Over the past two years, his business revenue has grown 275.3%, and, by his count, he has helped his clients lose more than 35,000 pounds to date.
His gyms offer an encouraging, welcoming vibe, from the supportive instructors to the motivational sayings on the walls. One poster reads, “365 new days. 365 new chances,” a fitting message from someone who believes deeply in the power of health to transform lives.
Earlier this year, Jones received the Sun Devil 100 award, given to ASU alumni who lead or own businesses with $250,000 or more in annual revenue, placing his company third out of 83 companies in the Phoenix Business Journal’s 2019 Sun Devil 100 rankings.
Recently Jones spoke to the College of Health Solutions.
Question: How are you impacting health for both individuals and your community?
Answer: We are making a positive impact, not only on the health of our clients, but also through our various charitable giving efforts. We have donated over $100,000 to various causes since opening in 2014. We also enjoy giving back by mentoring students through internships.
There’s nothing more rewarding in life than being able to do something for somebody else, and being able to use nutrition and fitness to impact people’s health in a positive way has been incredibly fulfilling.
Q: What did you learn at ASU that helped to prepare you for your career?
A: The biggest thing was the clinically based nutrition knowledge I use every day with our clients. That has been a huge factor in how we are able to help people accomplish their goals. Over the years, I have worked in many different areas in the fitness industry and tried many crazy workout and nutrition plans. Having that research-based knowledge has made all the difference in how I communicate about health with my clients.
Q: What advice do you have for others wanting to make a difference in health?
A: My advice for those who want to make a difference or start a business is to not be afraid of failing. Setbacks happen. After I graduated, I started with a genetic testing company for hereditary cancer syndromes and got laid off after 10 months when it merged with another company. I was hired by another genetics firm, but it was a time of turmoil in the genetics business, so I took what I learned at the College of Health Solutions and my years as a trainer for Army National Guard troops and turned my garage into a gym.
So many people focus on what could go wrong instead of what could go right and never take action due to the paralysis of fear. Take a leap of faith and go all in. That is how you accomplish any goal!
Top photo: Benjamin Jones at the Sun Devil 100 award ceremony last spring.