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Anytime Fitness Franchise Owner and Trainer Daniell Jenkins Builds Strength Through Adversity

Athletech News
July 8, 2024
After a life-altering event, Daniell Jenkins found healing and purpose in fitness, leading to her role as an Anytime Fitness gym owner and trainer.

In the fitness industry, personal stories of transformation and resilience often serve as powerful inspiration for others. Client success stories serve as the social proof many personal trainers rely on for business success.

But what happens when a client is so successful that she herself becomes a fitness and wellness coach? This is what happened to Daniell Jenkins, personal trainer and co-owner of Anytime Fitness in Destrehan, Louisiana, who lost 85 pounds and gained a new career.

After experiencing a life-altering tragedy, Jenkins embarked on a journey of self-improvement that not only reshaped her own life but also positioned her as a beacon of hope and motivation for her community.

Athletech News spoke to Jenkins about her “whole person” approach and how her story impacts her clients.

This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

What was the turning point that made you decide to get fit, and how did your trainer help you?

Daniell Jenkins: The decision to get fit came after a tragic event in my life. My husband, who was a sheriff’s deputy, was killed in the line of duty. A few weeks later, right before my 36th birthday,  it dawned on me that my daughter only had me left. I realized I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was heavy, overweight and my body was starting to hurt.

I went to Anytime Fitness just to gather some information. I wasn’t prepared to commit that day—I was just trying to talk myself into it –or maybe even out of it. Later that day, the owner, whom I knew, called me. She saw what had happened to our family and wanted to help. She suggested a trainer who was willing to work with me if I was interested. I had never even considered a trainer before; I thought I would just do classes or use the machines.

A couple of days later, I met with the trainer and we began our journey together. Although I had always had a positive outlook, dealing with this tragedy was really hard. Exercise helped me through my grieving process.

What made you decide to go from being a member to a trainer and then a club owner?

DJ: I was doing nails in a salon and really enjoyed it. I loved making people feel great about themselves and chatting all day. It was a good environment for me and allowed me to have a flexible schedule so I could fit in my workouts.

Then I started playing around with the idea of teaching a class. Our facility has a lot of group fitness classes, so I became certified in one, then two programs before I became a trainer.

Over time, my body and focus changed. I wanted to be more physically active during the day, which I couldn’t do while sitting at a desk doing nails. So I started looking into becoming a trainer.

What I found was that I could still talk to people all day, listen to them and stay in the loop with everything happening in our small town. But instead of being sedentary, I could be active and show people how to take care of themselves.

As for becoming a club owner, my trainer Brandon Hebert and I always talked about running the club one day. When I first met him, he shared the same name as my late husband, which felt like a sign that this was where I needed to be. Brandon and I became super close, like siblings. We always talked about taking over the club in the future, but it was a long-term plan.

Then Hurricane Ida hit our area in August 2021, causing tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage to the club. The owner, having just recovered from the impact of COVID-19, decided she couldn’t handle there building process and wanted out.

This pushed our plans forward. Brandon and I weren’t financially prepared to buy the club at that moment, but we made it work.

How has your own journey shaped the way you train others?

DJ: My philosophy is very much about being an active listener. It’s incredibly important to me. I have clients of all ages, from their 70s down to their 20s, and they’re in all stages of life. Being an active listener means understanding where they are not only with their fitness goals, but also in their life.

When they come in for that hour, it’s just me and that person, and I try not to get sidetracked. This can be challenging as an owner because things often pull me in different directions, but I make a conscious effort to ensure that hour is dedicated to them or the team I’m training.

I definitely have a person-first approach. I’m very aware that I’m training the whole person, not just their body. Connecting with them on a personal level gives me insight into why they make the choices they do.

What do you do to keep your members motivated and committed to their fitness goals?

DJ: We work hard as a team to keep our members motivated. We have challenges where each day they come in to work out, they fill out a card, and we track their workouts. We recognize people for 50 and 100 workouts in a calendar year, and many even reach 200 workouts. They can’t count more than one workout a day, so it’s all about consistency.

Right now, we’re doing an Olympics-themed challenge for those participating in our personal training programs, whether it’s team training or one-on-one. Each of our trainers represents a different country or team, and members earn points by attending classes, getting in workouts, meeting nutritional goals like consuming enough protein, and hitting targets like 10,000 steps a day. These challenges keep everyone engaged and make them feel like part of a bigger picture.

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