It's been a tough year for fitness businesses across the country; repeated shutdowns have depleted many owners' savings and put any thoughts of future plans on hold.
Jessica Goodhue is the owner and lead instructor at J-Glow Fitness in Kemptville and Metcalfe, and in a bid to save her business she has entered a competition that could net her $50,000 in cash.
"It's the exact amount I lost due to COVID," said Goodhue.
She has two fitness studios, and had saved up $50,000 to upgrade and expand her Kemptville studio and pay her growing staff.
The contest she's entered is the Miss Jetset competition, a worldwide contest run by Jetset Magazine out of the U.S. The magazine has a narrow audience and is geared towards helping to define affluence with the best in luxury cars, travel, private jets, yachts, fine dining, fashion, and high-end living.
It's a long way from Goodhue's world.
"I hope that regardless of what happens, this experience and the community's support lifts Jessica up, as she has endlessly lifted all of us," said Heather Fox, a Kemptville resident and fitness client of one year.
Initially it started when a friend emailed Goodhue the competition criteria and suggested jokingly that she should enter. Goodhue took in the joke but ignored the competition at first. Then it dawned on her that the prize money was exactly the amount she'd lost over the past year and needed to recover to keep her business afloat.
"I just thought this has to be a sign, so I applied," said Goodhue.
Two weeks later Goodhue got a call saying she had been accepted into the preliminary round of the competition. She immediately posted her news onto her social media feeds and was astounded when it was shared over and again by friends and clients. The competition relies on votes and so far Goodhue has made it through four rounds and is holding second place in the quarter finals (she was in first place earlier in the week).
The deadline for the quarter finals is 6 p.m. today.
If she wins, she'll not only recoup her $50,000 but she'll be featured on the front cover of Jetset magazine.
"I and my whole family have voted for her endlessly to get her what she so deserves and to show her how much the community stands behind her," said Fox.
It's her philosophy that has rallied clients behind her. Her stated goal is to make fitness "FUN – capital," and to build confidence and foster team work.
"J-Glow is like part of my family now. I have a daughter who suffers from anxiety as well as two boys and I was supporting them but wasn’t taking care of myself. Now I got to J-Glow and when I come home I'm in a much better place to help my family, while before that was not the case," said Fox.
According to Fox, Goodhue's relationship with her clients goes beyond fitness. If she sees a client spending too much time in the studio, she'll send them home and tell them to get some rest before they come back. The atmosphere she's built is one of co-operation, support and encouragement, with clients helping one another and pushing each other.
"I'm a true believer in giving back and rarely accept anything I haven't earned, though this is the best form of giving back I can offer, J-Glow is an inspirational 'Happy Place' for so many and I'm determined to keep spreading the love," wrote Goodhue on her competition page.
J-Glow opened its doors in Metcalfe four years ago and three years ago in Kemptville. Goodhue employs four full-time instructors and had to let go the staff that ran the birthday party side of her business when the pandemic hit.
"I grew up loving fitness, from the time I was 14 year old I wanted to be a fitness instructor, and everyone said it wasn't a real job," recalls Goodhue.
After graduating high school, Goodhue enrolled in a pre-health science program and started working at GoodLife Fitness. She loved her job and started taking fitness certifications. Her goal was to be able to train anyone and help them make the life changes they wanted.
"I think initially people are intimidated when they walk in, but then you watch as it becomes the highlight of their day. We see major changes in confidence among both men and women," said Stephanie Perrier, a J-Glow fitness instructor.
Today Goodhue is a certified mobility coach, prenatal coach, nutrition advisor, and trigger point therapist to name but a few of her many qualifications.
With only hours left for the semi-finals Goodhue's community is encouraging everyone to cast a vote for her. You can find out more about Goodhue and cast a vote here.
Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times