Ashanti Johnson is changing lives. She can confidently boast that she has helped hundreds of women lose thousands of pounds. Located in the South Shore community of Chicago, her gym 360 Mind. Body. Soul. (360mbs) has become a safe place for women to go and take their health and fitness goals to the next level. Within minutes of speaking with her, you know she is living her life’s purpose.
Born in California, Ashanti struggled with weight in her teens and twenties and was trapped in the cycle of dieting, working out, and seeing very little results. After moving to Chicago, she discovered her passion for fitness and its connection to the mind, body, and soul. This breakthrough helped her keep her weight off for good and inspired her to help others change their lives. In 2010, Ashanti left her corporate job to pursue fitness full time and ultimately opened 360mbs.
The goal of 360mbs is to help people build confidence and a can-do attitude through fitness, personal care, and achievement. The gym offers over 30 classes a week and has a juice bar. Each year they host 3-4 challenges which have resulted in record weight loss. Participants have access to meal plans, life and nutrition coaches, and weekly meetings which help them overcome obstacles. Challengers also post their progress on social media — this allows supporters to view their journey as well as keep them accountable. Community is very important to Ashanti. She hosts events and parties yearly to create an environment of sisterhood. Child care is also available.
Rolling Out sat down with Ashanti Johnson to talk about her impact on the fitness world and her next moves.
When did you realize that fitness was your passion and life’s work?
In 2010, for sure. I come from a family that is too cool for school. The last thing I could have done was come home and announce that I wanted to open a gym in the height of a recession. But I have always been one to chase my happy. I have a degree in accounting and I was working in corporate. At the same time, I had just gotten my certification and started to teach. I couldn’t wait to get off of work and teach. When I got tired of it all, I started my boot camp and went from there.
What motivates you to change the lives of others through fitness?
I think that fitness is actually the mask that I use to tap into my passion – which is finding out what makes us tick and using that to serve us to get to all of our goals. Fitness is just an easy one because I know it.
What advice do you have for people who want to lose weight and adopt a healthy lifestyle?
Follow your body. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. That is the main way we differ from most gyms and trainers.
How has social media helped you market your gym?
It’s the number one way we that we market besides our email blasts and referrals. It’s our everything. I think it’s the perfect platform because it allows us to showcase the videos of our classes, before and after pictures, testimonials, and so much in between. We have so much going on here on a daily basis that social media allows us to show it in real time. It allows our clients to paint the picture for those who don’t know what we do. It allows everyone to be an active participant and to be a part of everyone’s success. We needed a way to keep everyone accountable for their workout.
What made you open your gym on the south side of Chicago?
I have an allegiance to seeing women like me get out of their own way and have some place to go.
What successes have you experienced in your gym?
We have seen 60 pounds lost in three months and several people lose 20 pounds in one month. I’ve seen relationships form in women who are somewhat hesitant about social interaction. There is something magical about this place that opens the door for friendships. Also, it was great to get some coverage last year and be seen and acknowledged by the media. We also hit capacity in 2014 and will be expanding for that reason.
What tips do you have for up and coming entrepreneurs?
Start, just start. Starting is the hardest part. That doesn’t mean go grand. You will never know enough and once you make a mistake – you will know to never do it again. Failure breeds creativity and motivation. Also, write everything down. Lastly, everyday do one thing to serve towards that goal. You’ll be surprised at what you will come up with.
What is next for you and 360mbs ?
World domination (laughs). My personal mission is to establish confidence through achievement within all people, but of course I am passionate about our people. I think there is a lack of confidence out there – not because we are not competent, but because we don’t believe in ourselves to really go as far as the sky can take us. If I can be any influence on that, I will die doing that.
360mbs is now hosting outdoor classes and running events. There will also be a New Year, New You Challenge that begins in September. Check out their website at 360mbs.com. Also, like their 360 Mind. Body.Soul page on Facebook and follow Ashanti and 360mbs on Instagram at @360mbs and Twitter at @ashanti360.
Courtney Bell is passionate about helping people achieve their goals. She is a Life Coach, Professor, and Blogger with over ten years of experience creating strategies for adults and students to live the lives they desire. Courtney currently lives in Chicago. Like her Facebook page – Courtney Bell Coaches and follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @cbellcoaches.