Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Myles Jackson, Founder and Owner of New Image Wellness Co., located in Atlanta, GA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
When I rebranded my company from Rapid Fit Fitness to New Image Wellness Co, I did so with the idea that our name would represent everything that we had evolved to become over the years and everything that we aspired to be in the years to come. We started from humble beginnings. Just me, a vintage Nike bag, and a trunk full of equipment. No marketing budget, no start-up investment, no building, no office. My business was run out of my college dorm; I trained at Piedmont Park, on the beltline, and conducted in-home sessions. Looking back over some of those times, I remember weeks when my overhead exceeded my income and weeks when we barely grossed five dollars. But, being able to go through and grow through those times allowed me to be thankful for where we have grown as a company today and appreciate these times more.
We started out by offering small group and one-on-one sessions to anyone looking to get more active, improve their physical fitness, or change their physique. I think most fitness companies start in this way, with the primary focus being to help individuals lose or manage their weight. However, over the years, we evolved into a more comprehensive wellness company offering more than just fitness solutions and focusing on more than just changes to an individual's physique. We started focusing on things like nutrition and helping our clients to create better relationships with food. We started to understand the connection between an individual's mindset and an individual's health outcomes, and we started to focus on creating more meaningful wellness-related behavior change strategies to help those we work with truly learn to lead healthier lives. We started working with companies to provide comprehensive corporate wellness solutions to help them better serve their employees and support their health-related goals. We started working with athletes and athletic programs to provide access to sport-specific training and sports nutrition services so that everyone can compete as their best selves. We became a full-service wellness company after starting as a simple fitness solution. And in doing all of that, we've been able to help at-risk individuals with declining health to change their outcomes and take control of their lives through holistic wellness-related practices.
Tell us about yourself
When I was 8, I lost my dad to a heart attack. He was my best friend, my coach, and my twin. He was someone I looked up to and aspired to be like. He was my guiding light. Losing him, and realizing at such a young age the fragility of life, impacted how I viewed and connected with fitness for years to come. Losing him led to a battle with feeling depressed, abandoned, hurt, lost, and confused. I remember growing up with those feelings and not wanting any other child to have to experience them. Not wanting any other child to lose a parent, and feeling the pain and disappointment I felt showing up to practices, games, and important school and life events alone or without my dad.
When I was 11, after watching my grandmother struggle with kidney disease, I lost her too. She was my superwoman. My connection to my dad. And she too, was taken too early due to health complications. I remember watching her weight drop, her energy fade away, and thinking that if I could only accomplish one thing in life, it would be to help others avoid those health outcomes so that they can spare their family, but more importantly, their children and grandchildren, from the pain I felt and confusion I experienced.
Over the years, I've watched many of the friends and family members I'm close to struggling with health complications. Some could be prevented, better managed, or corrected with lifestyle intervention, medical intervention, or a combination of the two. Chronic illness and disease that has limited their mobility, decreased their quality of life or taken away their independence.
Those experiences, compounded with others, gave me the firsthand understanding needed to truly understand some of the mental and emotional barriers that keep people from living active lives and having healthy relationships with both movement and nutrition. Because I understand what it's like to struggle with an addiction to movement and exercise because you use it as an escape or as therapy. I also understand what it's like to use food to connect with nostalgic memories or to evoke better feelings or emotions. And this is what allows me today to have the compassion and empathy needed to coach the way I do. They are what motivates me to continue to work daily to reinvent how people view health and fitness, inspire people to live a wellness-driven lifestyle, advocate for better healthcare practices and evolve to fit the needs of the community I serve.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think when people look at me and all that I've accomplished as a business owner, many people choose to see the glitz and glamour of what I do and what I've accomplished and assume that those are the things that I am most proud of. While I rank working with some of my favorite professional athletes, stars I grew up watching in movies, Olympic teams, and everyday people high up on the list of accomplishments, the impact that the income I've made has allowed me to have is by far my biggest and most sacred accomplishment.
Since I started my business, I knew that changing individual lives through fitness and nutrition was just the beginning of something greater. While I have always focused a great deal of energy on having the greatest impact possible on my clients, I have also focused a lot of energy, time, and resources on having the biggest impact I can on the world as a whole. Whether that be using my voice to advocate for healthcare reform or better healthcare practices, using my time to help educate the community on low-barrier preventative health measures or volunteering with organizations working to improve community health, or investing in community health projects. I think those are the things that mean more to me than anything else that I have accomplished. And when I think of my legacy plan, what I want to accomplish, what I want to be remembered for, and what lasting impact I want to have on the world, it's just that. That I invested as much as I could into bettering the world, and I made a difference when it comes to healthcare practices, access to quality healthcare, and healthcare disparities. That is something I did inspire communities to be healthier, to live more wellness-driven lifestyles, and to develop better relationships with and understanding of physical activity and nutrition.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Shakespeare said, "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown." I think anyone in any position of leadership, any business owner or parent, can relate to this statement. You have so many daily decisions and choices to make that impact not just you but everyone around you as well. As a business owner or parent, often the buck stops at you, which makes those choices and decisions even more difficult to make because if and when they go wrong, that blame is solely placed on you.
Being in positions of leadership, being a parent, and being a business owner also opens you up to a lot of judgment and criticism. You have to be able to listen to the opinions of others, the judgment they have to pass, and whatever unsolicited advice or criticism they have to give without feeling the need to respond to it. Which often is more difficult than it sounds. Being able to listen and not react has been a skill that I've worked to develop that has helped me a lot on my journey. Being able to hear differing views and opinions and not feel the need to argue or listen to other's judgment and criticism without feeling the need to get defensive, as a business owner, and a human being in general, I believe it is important to be able to have healthy relationships overall.
However, the combination of the immense responsibility that you take on building a business, especially as you work through being a solo entrepreneur and building your employee base, coupled with all the outside noise from others, can become overwhelming. I've seen it get the best of people, and honestly, in my first year or two of business, it got the best of me. Especially when you add in learning to understand that the people you want to support you and your business, like family and friends, might not always be the ones who actually support what you do, which can be a difficult concept to grasp. But sometimes, your family and friends aren't your target audience, and that's okay. Understanding that sooner rather than later can save you a lot of headaches and self-inflicted disappointment.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
I believe that aside from having a product or service to offer when you are looking to start, run, and grow a business; there are three things that you truly have to understand to be successful. It does not understand finances or marketing. It's not planning launches and designing new products. It understands people, communication, and balance.
You can't scale a company if you can't communicate with and understand people. You can't communicate well with others or understand people if you don't have empathy or compassion. Those are the skills that have helped me, not just in business but in life, to cultivate and maintain long-lasting, meaningful relationships. When I'm looking at my mentees and others who say that they want to be successful, those are the first skills that I look for and access. Because your ability to talk to people, communicate your feelings, your story, and your ideas, care for these people, and understand them without having to know them, is what will keep new people coming and old people staying.
I also spend a lot of time reading. Reading about communication and people. Reading about leadership and better business practices. Reading about psychology, mindset, and motivation. Reading about anatomy, training, and nutrition. A lot of my time is spent reading, and I feel that helps me not only to understand better the people I work with and the communities I serve but also the world around me. Reading has given me the opportunity to learn from and, in a sense, be mentored by people I may not otherwise have been able to connect with or learn from. People like Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, George Clason, Norman Peale, and so many countless others.
I think balance, work-life balance specifically, is something that you have to learn to master if you want to be a successful business owner with longevity. That's something that I didn't have for a long time, especially when I first started building my business. Looking back at all the advice I received when I first started out, both good and bad, the one piece of advice I was never given that I make sure to share with all my mentees and anyone who asks is to make sure that they take breaks to breathe, pour into their cup, and take a break from the demands of running, and building a business. As much as people glorify the long sleepless nights, working seven days a week from dawn to dusk, and pouring everything into your business, they never talk about the other side of that, which is burnout, fatigue, and lack of interest in the things that you are truly passionate about because you are drained. I've been there, and it takes time to come out of those phases. The time that could have been used more productively, or invested into my business, had I prioritized my pouring into my own cup and practiced some work-life balance from the beginning. So now I have a very strategic plan set in place to make sure that I take a break and refill my cup often. Whether that be a trip every few months, taking time to do the things that I enjoy, like spending time in nature, hiking, hunting, fishing, camping, boating, self-care practices, or even going to the gym or running throughout the week. Things recharge my battery and help me to be a better business owner when I go back to work because I'm relaxed, at peace, and ready for whatever the day may throw at me.
Where can people find you and your business?
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