‘You’ll never lift weights again,’ the weathered nurse said matter-of-factly. ‘You might manage a light grocery bag, but…’

‘Not even a lightweight dumbbell?’ Jo’s lower lip trembled. She swallowed back the lump in her throat as the nurse smiled kindly.

‘Depends on if you want to fully recover.’

‘But…’ Jo took in a deep, shaky breath. The stringent smell of hospital disinfectant assaulted her, turning her stomach. She exhaled, focused on keeping the nausea and tears at bay. ‘I’ve trained in the gym since I was a teenager. I’m a personal trainer now!’

‘I’m sorry.’ The nurse nodded, pressed her lips together, and consulted her notes. ‘Now…’ Her eyes returned to her 33-year-old patient. ‘This surgery will hopefully remove the breast cancer. I know you’ve been through a gruelling six months with the chemo. But it was worth it: the lump’s as small as a pea now. So we’re hoping…’

Jo heard nothing more. Her mind was consumed with the sound of her dreams crashing around her like gigantic waves in a storm-tossed sea…

Fast-forward four years. Today, miraculously, Jo of Tojo Fitness is lifting heavier than ever before and is aiming to compete in a bodybuilding competition by the end of this year!

Motivation

In 2018, Jo’s body had been in a menopausal state with severe muscle atrophy. She had a long road ahead of her, but she was willing to take it slowly to avoid any permanent damage to her left breast and arm.

Whilst back in training, Jo’s confidence began to grow again and she felt passionate about helping others who were on the same path. In her words: ‘The show isn’t over until the fat lady sings, and right now I can’t see any fat lady. And she definitely isn’t welcome on my shift!’ 

Jo’s clientele grew quickly, and consisted of those on a similar path as the one she was on, as well as people with medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and M.S. Jo beamed as she stated, ‘It was fantastic to see so many people not taking no for an answer!’

 

Tom & Jo Griffiths are Tojo Fitness: a UK-based holistic health-and-fitness couple who are deeply passionate about equipping everyone to live a long and happy life physically, mentally and spiritually.

They offer a variety of services, including online programming for one’s fitness journey, bespoke meal plans and accountability, 1-2-1 personal training, sports massage, and meditation lessons. And they cater to absolutely everyone: from the super-fit and healthy to those with medical conditions.

post chemotherapy

Jo, Tom, is this something you’ve always felt passionate about? 

Yes! We both began a long-term relationship with health and fitness in our early teens. Even before starting Tojo Fitness we were both extremely involved in the gym and enjoyed a healthy holistic lifestyle. So for us it was a no-brainer to turn this into our livelihood. This is something we live, eat and breathe; it has become a way of life.

 

How did Tojo Fitness come about? 

Jo had been a qualified personal trainer for almost a decade when, in 2017, she discovered she had breast cancer. For some of this journey it was a little touch and go, and we knew that if Jo came out the other side, life wasn’t going to be the same again — it was going to be better!
In 2019 our circumstances changed dramatically. Out of this season of change, Tojo Fitness was birthed. Jo took the leap of faith in July 2019 to start up the business, and Tom joined her shortly thereafter.

We knew we had to live out the passions within us; still, this change was a huge leap of faith — and we’re still enjoying the ride!

 

What’s it like, working together as husband & wife? 

We love working together. Tojo Fitness only works because there is To-Jo (Tom & Jo). We each have different strengths, and we complement each other well.

 

Were your start-up costs affordable? 

Gosh, our start-up costs were hefty! We’d budgeted a certain amount each month towards the set-up costs. And then throughout lockdown, with the gyms being unavailable, we had to invest in our own equipment in order to train clients in the park.

Was your age a hurdle in any way? 

Within the fitness world, we’ve discovered that our experience and ages work in our favour. (Tom is 52; Jo: 38.)

 

How scary was the plunge into self-employment? 

Becoming business owners was a steep learning curve: a life-changing experience. Combine this with relocating (in 2019 we moved to Thanet, leaving our clients behind and having to start all over again) — and the start of COVID… Scary is not the word.

The March 2020 lockdown was one of the most daunting moments for us: it was sink or swim. 

You can do it
You can do it

Was your age a hurdle in any way? 

Within the fitness world, we’ve discovered that our experience and ages work in our favour. (Tom is 52; Jo: 38.)

 

How scary was the plunge into self-employment? 

Becoming business owners was a steep learning curve: a life-changing experience. Combine this with relocating (in 2019 we moved to Thanet, leaving our clients behind and having to start all over again) — and the start of COVID… Scary is not the word.

The March 2020 lockdown was one of the most daunting moments for us: it was sink or swim. 

online training

How challenging was the transition from ’employee’ to ‘Boss’? 

Tom took to it like a duck to water. Jo, not so much. She’d been used to being an employee, so was not used to being her own boss and making her own rules. This took time to get used to, but now she wouldn’t change it for the world. Being self-employed works for us: we love the freedom; we get to decide what appointments to make and when — an incredible feeling!

 

How did COVID-19 affect your business? 

The pandemic had a beneficial effect on our business. Many people wanted to do something positive for their health, and we took our existing clients online. And due to chiropractors and osteopaths being shut, we saw a huge uptake in people with back pain getting the attention they needed by way of flexibility and specific stretching to alleviate the pain. Online was our playground! Our YouTube channel also started to take off.

Where & how do you promote your business? 

We promote our business via Instagram, Facebook and our local gym (War Machines Gym in Ramsgate.) And our existing clients do the selling for us by word of mouth to their friends and family.

 

Any highlights that stick out in your minds? 

We experience regular highlights: when our clients start transforming their body, mind and spirit. We usually begin with clients when they feel at their lowest; it’s such a privilege to see them start to fly and feel that life is for living, not just surviving.

Another highlight for us — and it was a miracle — was how word started to spread and Tojo Fitness began to grow. We trusted the seed in the ground. This didn’t take away the concern as to where our next client was going to come from; but worry doesn’t get us anywhere. We believe you just need to keep sowing the seed of your business, and the fruit will come.

bodybuilding
bodybuilding

Where & how do you promote your business? 

We promote our business via Instagram, Facebook and our local gym (War Machines Gym in Ramsgate.) And our existing clients do the selling for us by word of mouth to their friends and family.

 

Any highlights that stick out in your minds? 

We experience regular highlights: when our clients start transforming their body, mind and spirit. We usually begin with clients when they feel at their lowest; it’s such a privilege to see them start to fly and feel that life is for living, not just surviving.

Another highlight for us — and it was a miracle — was how word started to spread and Tojo Fitness began to grow. We trusted the seed in the ground. This didn’t take away the concern as to where our next client was going to come from; but worry doesn’t get us anywhere. We believe you just need to keep sowing the seed of your business, and the fruit will come.

fitness fiends

We Only Have Good Days!

Any lightbulb moments once your business was up and running? 

A major aha moment for us was the birth of Zoom. We could take training online! Our business grew more and more online, training clients 1-2-1 via Zoom, than we ever saw on the gym floor. We’d found a niche and this is still a niche to this day. We are extremely thankful for this turning point and continue to try and stay ahead of the game to ensure our ongoing income.

We also realised that qualifying as sports massage therapists would be a natural upsell for us; it certainly has enhanced our business model.

 

What setbacks or disappointments have you experienced? 

Sometimes clients move away, or, for various reasons, are unable to carry on. This is always tough for us on an emotional level. We build relationships with our clients and always find it hard when they are unable to continue. However, we accept that people come and go: this is the way of the seasons of life. 

Who has been your greatest support? 

Our family has been a fantastic support — our cheerleaders — especially pertaining to our online presence. The biggest support we’ve both had is each other.

 

Who inspires you? 

Tom’s greatest motivator and inspiration is the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger, for his dedication to the sport of bodybuilding but also as a person. Jo’s biggest inspiration is Dana Lynn Bailey, for her business model, physique, and dedication to the sport of bodybuilding, as well as for her character. Jo lives by one of Dana’s favourite mottos: ‘We only have good days’.

 

Best advice you’ve been given? 

Find your niche. It may look different to everyone else’s — that’s why it’s a niche.

 

Any nuggets of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? 

Allow your dream to become a part of you. If you do this, your dream will start to play itself out, starting from inside you. It will give you the passion, drive and staying power when starting your own business. There may be times you need to find your grit, but stick with it. Live simply, to take the pressure off, and enjoy the ride!

Our life and our business are quite integrated: we live and love what we do. However, there are times when the business can become quite admin heavy, which can be a squeeze to fit in around 1-2-1 clients. Diarising time is key, as is ensuring we stick to those diarised tasks, treating them as important as a business meeting.

Also: be prepared to work extremely hard in the beginning. We knew that times would be tough in the first few months as we built up our client base, so we took our outgoings back to the bare minimum — which at times meant beans on toast. Be prepared to do whatever it takes to build your business!

War Machines

Live Simply and Enjoy The Ride!

War Machines

Live Simply and Enjoy The Ride!

Who has been your greatest support? 

Our family has been a fantastic support — our cheerleaders — especially pertaining to our online presence. The biggest support we’ve both had is each other.

 

Who inspires you? 

Tom’s greatest motivator and inspiration is the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger, for his dedication to the sport of bodybuilding but also as a person. Jo’s biggest inspiration is Dana Lynn Bailey, for her business model, physique, and dedication to the sport of bodybuilding, as well as for her character. Jo lives by one of Dana’s favourite mottos: ‘We only have good days’.

 

Best advice you’ve been given? 

Find your niche. It may look different to everyone else’s — that’s why it’s a niche.

 

Any nuggets of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? 

Allow your dream to become a part of you. If you do this, your dream will start to play itself out, starting from inside you. It will give you the passion, drive and staying power when starting your own business. There may be times you need to find your grit, but stick with it. Live simply, to take the pressure off, and enjoy the ride!

Our life and our business are quite integrated: we live and love what we do. However, there are times when the business can become quite admin heavy, which can be a squeeze to fit in around 1-2-1 clients. Diarising time is key, as is ensuring we stick to those diarised tasks, treating them as important as a business meeting.

Also: be prepared to work extremely hard in the beginning. We knew that times would be tough in the first few months as we built up our client base, so we took our outgoings back to the bare minimum — which at times meant beans on toast. Be prepared to do whatever it takes to build your business!

Dancer pose

What would you have done differently? 

We would’ve researched building an online presence earlier into our business.

 

What was your steepest learning curve? 

Our biggest paradigm shift has been the concept of self-employment: realising that we are our own boss and we now answer only to ourselves. This was one of the hairy-scary moments, but also wonderfully exciting at the same time!

A gigantic learning curve for Tom was having to master coding, so he could build our website. He worked for hours on end, learning and creating, until the finished product was of a standard he was happy with.

Do you have any words of wisdom for those struggling with similar aspects? 

Concentrate on a couple of things at a time; don’t try to do too much, or you’ll spread yourself too thinly. And don’t try to conquer all of your to-do list in one go.

 

What are your future plans? 

We would like to break into the American market with online programming. We also have plans to compete in a bodybuilding show, which will give us a way in to prepping other competitors through their own shows.

 

Sounds like a fabulous plan! I wish you both all the very best in all of your endeavours. You truly are a Power Couple.

Do you have any words of wisdom for those struggling with similar aspects? 

Concentrate on a couple of things at a time; don’t try to do too much, or you’ll spread yourself too thinly. And don’t try to conquer all of your to-do list in one go.

 

What are your future plans? 

We would like to break into the American market with online programming. We also have plans to compete in a bodybuilding show, which will give us a way in to prepping other competitors through their own shows.

 

Sounds like a fabulous plan! I wish you both all the very best in all of your endeavours. You truly are a Power Couple.

READERS! For a chance to win 3 months of online programming plus a meal plan, just do the following 3 things by midnight on 4 February 2022:  (1) FOLLOW Tojo Fitness on Instagram & Facebook; (2) show some love & SHARE this blog post; and  (3) either TAG Tojo Fitness (or Tom/Jo) in your exercise/meditation pics – or COMMENT on the blog post with the tagline: ‘Get your mojo with Tojo’.

 

By the way, I’d love to hear your views: What does ‘spirituality’ mean to you? And what about ‘meditation’? And ‘wholeness’? Add your comments below.

 

Tom & Jo Griffiths are both accredited, qualified level 4 Personal Trainers, as well as low back pain specialists, nutritionists with the Royal Society of Public Health, and level 3 sports masseurs. Their list of additional qualifications includes Pre- and Post-Natal Exercise and Nutrition.

Tweetable TAKEAWAYS:

NO ONE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MY LIFE BUT ME.

WORK YOUR PASSION. FOLLOW YOUR BLISS. 

KEEP SOWING THE SEED OF YOUR BUSINESS, AND THE FRUIT WILL COME.

FIND YOUR NICHE. IT MAY LOOK DIFFERENT TO EVERYONE ELSE’S — THAT’S WHY IT’S A NICHE.

LIVE SIMPLY. LOVE MUCH. LAUGH LOTS.

 

FYI…

I don’t receive any reward/commission for promoting any of the businesses on my blog. I just want to inspire & motivate as many people as possible to fulfil their purpose & potential.

 

If any other key points stood out for you, or you just want to let me know what you thought about this interview, feel free to comment below.

NEXT WEEK on The Hopeaholic blog. . .

A Rocket Scientist (yes, really!) turned movie producer who’s on a mission to make a difference in the world of breast cancer.

Inspiration. Motivation. Hope. You’ll find it all here.

If you subscribe to my weekly news blurb (it’s brief, honest!) you’ll be in the know. wink

4 Comments

  1. DanL Pienaar

    An inspiring story of bravery, self-belief, adaptation and resilience. Go Go ToJo..!!

    Reply
  2. Sandy pienaar

    I think spirituality, meditation, wholeness are very worldly broad all encompassing words, avoiding the truth of what God’s Word actually says..
    spirituality.. Christianity
    Meditation… prayer
    Wholeness.. identity only found in the name of Jesus!
    That’s what it means for me..
    A very encouraging blog.. we need to take care of our relationship with God as well as the beautiful physical body He has given us. Thanks ToJo for helping people to achieve good physical health.. Inspirational.

    Reply
    • Vanessa Stevenson

      Thank you, Sandy, for your thought-provoking comment! Deep spiritual truths there. Love it. xx

      Reply

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