Black Business Spotlight: MPower Fitness

Jacob Johnson X MPower Fitness
Chris Juhn/MSR News Jacob Johnson

Nine years of personal training came together with a lifelong dream as Jacob Johnson opened the doors to his fitness center, MPower Fitness, in Eagan. The result was a personal vision of what success looks like.

But it wasn’t a straight path for the South Minneapolis native. For most of his 20s, he worked as a recording engineer helping folks achieve their music dreams. Now, the certified personal trainer aims to help others achieve their weight loss and fitness goals.

The MSR sat down with Johnson to learn about his own fitness journey and what inspired him to open up his new center.

MSR: What made you want to open up a fitness center, and did you want to be a business owner before this?
JJ: It’s always been a dream of mine to create a space to help people become healthy. At first, it was just sort of a dream about doing. Within the last year, I decided to pursue that dream.

MSR: What services do you offer?
JJ: We offer personal training sessions, group classes, and we do group fitness challenges. I’ve teamed up with a holistic self-coach, Teri Dale. I work with her on the nutritional component of the challenges.

MSR: I understand you lost a significant amount of weight. Tell us about that.
JJ:  I was going to become a father, and that was the catalyst for wanting to lose weight. I lost about 150 pounds — going from 390 to 240 pounds when I was 21-22.

MSR: Is that what got you into personal training?
JJ: I didn’t decide to be a personal trainer until about nine years ago when I was 31 years old. It’s one thing to lose weight and it’s another thing to teach others how to.

MSR: What were your biggest struggles while losing weight, and what kept you going when things got tough?
JJ: Belief that I could lose weight. It’s interesting how our thoughts affect our bodies. Once I started to believe I could lose weight, I started to.

MSR: What advice do you have for someone wanting to get in shape?
JJ: The power of belief. I have a few quotes I like to follow: “Fitness is a state of mind” is the first one. Just believing that it can be done and going from there is where it starts. The second one is “Transformation begins with seeing the best in yourself.” When we look in the mirror, we’re focusing on all of our flaws. It’s really important to see the best in yourself, and that will help bring it out.

More practical advice is once you make up your mind that you can change yourself, you have to make a plan. I recommend going out and talking to someone in the fitness and health industry because we know how to help people [get in shape].

MSR: How has the planning process been for getting your business off the ground?
JJ: I was very blessed to have a lot of good relationships — that was probably the most valuable thing I had. I had the elders that were in my community that had experience running businesses, and they counseled me quite a bit. They helped me put a good business plan together. I had tremendous help from my clients and the community as a whole. I could not have done this on my own.

MSR: How did you choose your location?
JJ: Eagan was the first place I got hired. I wasn’t working in 2010, and I started studying to become a personal trainer. When I started to put out applications, the first place I was hired at was out here. I had always dreamed that I was going to work in Minneapolis, but I ended up coming out here for my first job.

MSR: What are your future plans for your business?
JJ: My primary business goal is to help as many people as I can with their health and fitness. I’d love to branch out to another location and to speak at workshops. Right now, it’s just one foot in front of the other. I want to get this place up and running and then see what God has in store for me next.

MSR: What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind, if any?
JJ: I hadn’t thought about that. At my open house, it almost redefined success for me. I had an idea of what a successful event might be, and it really expanded it. It was almost like God saying, “Let me show you what success really means.”

I had a lot of my elders from our community come that had known me since I was a child. My uncle came from California, my mother came from the east coast, and lots of people from Minneapolis and Saint Paul. They were able to tell me that they loved me and support me and they see what I’m doing.

People that I haven’t seen in years came to be supportive. That was amazing for me. To be able to do what I do in front of my daughter and exemplify what I believe God wants me to do, in terms of loving and helping people, that’s the legacy that I hope my life can leave.

MSR: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
JJ: Just prepare yourself. Practice your craft. Relationships are the biggest thing I’ve learned in helping you accomplish your business goals.

MSR: Is there anything else you want readers to know?
JJ: Just to seize the moment. Understand that transformation doesn’t really have a beginning and end. We’re always transforming. It’s not always about starting; it’s about taking steps in the right direction. “You don’t always have to see the whole staircase, just take the right step,” in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  

MPower Fitness is located at 4176 Pilot Knob Rd. in Eagan. For more info, visit mindmusclemotivation.com or text “fitness assessment” to 651-321-3239 for a free fitness assessment and consultation.