Journey to Wellness: Jackie Miller
Just as working out and living a life of wellness is a
challenge, so is running a business. Jackie Larsen saw
many personal and professional ups and downs, but
the journey made her stronger.
“I would not be who I am today if I had not been dealt my
deck of cards,” she says. “I know my purpose is to coach people
to a higher place of living. I needed every experience I’ve
had to have true empathy. If you were never overweight, how
can you truly understand? Ask me. I’ve been there, done that
and felt that.”
Larsen shares her story and her goals for the year ahead.
The early days of Fitnessology
Larsen opened Fitnessology, a personal training facility, in Green Bay on May 1, 1996.
Two factors inspired Larsen to open a wellness facility — the passing of her father and a devastating injury.
Larsen reveals she wasn’t always fit. In fact, she was overweight and a smoker until her 30s. When her father died of heart disease at age 62, Larsen knew she needed to change her way of living. “My dad was unwilling to make lifestyle changes. I had a family and a lot of life to live yet. I took on the challenge to remodel my body — I told myself, ‘It can be done.’”
While training at an area gym, Larsen sustained a bulge at the L-5 vertebra. She says, “My life was taken away from me as I crawled on the floor and sweated in pain.”
Refusing to have surgery, Larsen researched other options. She was referred to a chiropractor and massage therapist and found relief from her pain. Larsen adds, “I learned functional training and implemented this practice into my fitness protocol. I was soon training pain-free with a new determination, committed to a new
vision and wanting to set a higher standard in the fitness industry.” Her entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and Fitnessology was born.
At the time, Greater Green Bay was familiar with gym memberships, but not the personal training concept.
“When I started, there really wasn’t personal training — it wasn’t understood. If I did any marketing, someone would call for a membership but we weren’t a $10/month club,” says Larsen. “I had this idea that if you work with someone that is like a coach it would be worth the investment.”
To be the first is not always easy. “I had no idea what a ride I was going on, I only knew with confidence why I wanted this business,” adds Larsen.
A personal road to health and happiness
When Larsen puts her mind to something, great things happen. At the time she was determined to get fit, she was introduced to the world of bodybuilding. She was intrigued and learned she had the genetics to be successful, so she committed herself to exercise and building muscle.
Larsen became a nationally ranked competitive bodybuilder, participating in 26 competitions throughout the country from 1994 – 2004. “It has been an honor to accomplish competing in the sport of bodybuilding,” says Larsen. “I started in the sport at the age of 38 when most people finish. I have motivated women and men alike that age does not determine your ability to be fit.”
She’s had many adversities in life, but she’s learned from every experience. “One of my taglines is, ‘You got to be real to feel.’ I want a better tomorrow so change is a welcome visitor. I need to be honest and truthful with myself first. My integrity will follow and withstand life’s challenges,” says Larsen.
Fitnessology grew up in the fitness industry and is soon to celebrate 20 years in business — some clients have been with Larsen since day one and new clients come in regularly.
Business has grown and evolved as the industry dictated, although personal training remains its core service.
Today, Fitnessology continues to be a wellness facility for individuals interested in being coached to a higher level of fitness. “Our exercise protocols promote injury-free movements and a higher quality of living. Fitnessology is a safe environment that is good for everybody.”
The facility offers individual training and coaching with experts available to assist with corrective exercise, general fitness, nutrition, yoga, chiropractic services and more. Specialty classes and small group training are also available. “We have a developed system of training for all team members to provide a consistent product and flexibility for the client when scheduling,” adds Larsen. “We are here to serve our clients and what they need.”
About 10 years ago, Larsen helped provide the inspiration behind her current building on Voyager Drive in east Green Bay. With a beautiful blend of texture, including concrete and crystal chandeliers, the space reflects what she believes — the core needs to be strong to support the superficial. “I had the building built to show the core as well as adding the beautiful parts to reveal it’s about the total package,” she adds.
Approximately 100 clients come through the doors each day, with an even split of men and women. Eighteen people make up the Fitnessology staff, from therapists to front desk associates.
A day in the life
There is no typical day for Larsen. Each day she addresses business, client and family demands.
Larsen transitioned from being the trainer to running the business, although she still teaches a few spin classes and offers designer classes upon request. She also coaches the trainers how to best meet the needs of her clients. She is currently developing a wellness platform for an area business that takes her off-site two days a week. Evenings are often filled with networking opportunities.
Larsen’s passion for fitness and wellness extends outside her facility. She participated in the local Dancing with Our Stars sponsored by the American Red Cross in 2011. This fall, Fitnessology was the medical sponsor for the Jingle Bell Walk to benefit the Arthritis Foundation. Larsen and members of her staff also donate their time and talent to many nonprofits each year.
As a small business owner, Larsen reveals everything she does matters. She puts her energy into staying on top of the business and building customer relationships. “I am always vulnerable to the comings and goings of both clients and staff,” she says. “It takes a strong tenacity to always manage that.”
Finding success and looking forward
Larsen believes the greatest reward of owning Fitnessology is being part of so many people’s lives on their journey to wellness. “There are
many people that would have never experienced the level of wellness they have in their lives had it not been for Fitnessology,” she adds. “I will always be woven into their lives — I have been gifted that opportunity.”
It is also satisfying when her hard work is recognized. Larsen was thrilled Fitnessology was a finalist in the PFP [Personal Fitness Professional] International Personal Trainer of the Year in 2014. And, she believes the future is bright. Larsen intends to continue supporting life-changing experiences at Fitnessology. She is preparing to launch a new program targeting aging women. They’ll provide coaching along with an
exercise component and emotional support.
“Women of age find this time of their life challenging,” she says. “They often feel the changes they are going through are totally out of their control. This woman still wants to feel productive, beautiful, sexy, wanted and to have fun. Fitnessology has a community of caregivers
to provide a safe environment for difficult change.”
Larsen will also continue to fine-tune Fitnessology. She explains she’s always building her team and preparing for the next step. “It’s been a quite journey, and continues to be,” concludes Larsen. w