Storm Fitness in Northern, VA: A Fascinating Origin Story
Storm Fitness is an in home personal training and nutrition company is based out of Reston, VA. They have been in business for almost 13 years. Storm Fitness holds the honor of being one of the very first in home personal training companies to service the Northern VA and DC area. They are proud of the results they have achieved for their clients over the years and their ability to provide in home personal training and nutrition to more areas throughout Northern, VA including the counties of Fairfax, Loudoun, Arlington, Alexandria and Washington D.C.
My name is Jessica Storm and I am the Owner and founder of Storm Fitness Personal Training and Nutrition. I would love to share with you a little bit about my background and how Storm Fitness came to be. Looking back it’s been quite an interesting ride.
The Beginning – Heading out into the real world
The journey to the making of Storm Fitness started back in 2001 when I was working at an internet company called iwon.com. They were competitive with google and yahoo at the time and I was a project manager for the company. It was my 2nd job post college and the days of the internet were booming – the stock market was roaring and all seemed at it’s height.
However, on a personal level I was growing increasingly disenchanted. Having graduated college with a science degree and wanting to go onto med school I now found myself smack dab in the heart of the business world. How did I get here? Well, it was such a hot job market when I graduated that I had 4 amazing job offers in my hand from top tier consulting companies.
My First Job – The Big Apple
It was hard to turn down being independent and on my own making some great money and headed off to a big city. I wasn’t so sure that I wanted to go back to school and take on more loans and debt. So, I decided to jump into the real world and see what it was all about. I went off into the world (leaving the safety net of my safe world in college), pumped thinking this will be great! I had it all mapped out, I was going to be a consultant for the rest of my life. I mean really, it was going to be so cool! I would get to travel to all these interesting places and meet all sorts of fascinating people while enjoying company perks along the way.
So there I went, off to the Big Apple to make it on my own. I packed a U-Haul and was on my way. Well boy, was I in for a shocker. Let’s just say, it wasn’t exactly what I had cracked it up to be. The companies were great, the location (NYC) was great but my soul was not happy. I just knew that something wasn’t jiving for me and that there was no way I could go on in this business “world” for the rest of my life. I needed more freedom and my heart longed to have a bigger impact on the world. I guess you could say I was longing to service the world in a different way and I knew the path I was on was not going to make my heart sing. That is just the way I felt plain and simple.
My Quarter Life Crisis
At 25 years of age I read a book called “The Quarter Life Crisis.” Funny – right! Ha! I guess you could say that was exactly what I was having. I knew that I didn’t want to grow older and regret not having taken any chances. I was unhappy with what I was doing and considering most of one’s life is spent in the work force I figured I better get to work figuring out where it was my heart and soul belonged. There was a sense of urgency pushing me forward to discover this.
So, I took a notebook and pen and started jotting down all the things I was good at and had a strong passion for. What kept coming to the top of the list was helping others, specifically helping to heal others. I knew I was good at coaching since I had a background in athletics and coupled with my science degree I came up with the idea of personal training. Now, it’s important to remember that at the time personal training was not a big industry like it is now. Nobody really understood what personal trainers did much less hire one. It was gaining traction in NYC and LA only because they are a bit ahead of the curve in these types of things.
My Angel – Jeff
I decided I would take action at looking into this personal trainer thing more seriously. I had a good friend from college who’s twin sister was married to a personal trainer that worked at a very prestigious NYC studio. I reached out to my friend and I was able to set up a meeting with her twin sister’s husband whose name was Jeff. You know how we all have an angel in our life? Someone who helped get us on the path to where we are today? Well, my Angel is Jeff. Even as I write his name I have endless gratitude and appreciation for helping me get started on the path of being able to service others on their health and wellness journey.
Jeff introduced me to the owners of the exclusive personal training company that he worked for. Although I didn’t have much experience or an actual certification they took to my outgoing personality and enthusiasm and extensive college science background. They also liked my athletic background. They were willing to take a chance on me, hone my skills and put me through their extensive certification program. The question was, did I have the guts to do it? Did I really have what it took to leave a steady job at a growing company with stock options and a great salary?
The Sign – My Moment
It was about a week of pondering and worrying when a sign came as clear as day. Something inside spoke to me – it was like a voice telling me what to do that it almost made it easy to make what was about to be one of the boldest moves I have made and the one that lead me to where I am today.
Here’s how it all went down: It was a crisp morning out when I walked through the doors of my company iwon.com to do another day of my project management job with the thought of a personal training career looming in the background. What would my parents think was going through my head? My Dad would be horrified that I just finished a 4-year education and was now going off to be a personal trainer. I just couldn’t do it.
All of sudden there was lots of hustle and bustle in the halls of my company and the rumor mill was going strong that layoffs would be taking place. My heart started pounding. Let’s just say, nothing much got accomplished by anyone that day. All I can remember is that each of us got pulled into a room and told our fate.
My fate was that they were re-structuring and eliminating the project management department of which I was a part (there were about 7 or 8 of us at the time). However, they liked my personality and work ethic that they wanted to keep me on board and transition me to the marketing department.
This might sound all fine and dandy to you and like a compliment considering the amount of people they laid off that day, but this was the kind of marketing that I did not want to be a part of. At that time internet marketing meant implementing annoying pop boxes and coming up with ways to deceive users in order to capture their information. If felt like spamming and dirty work to me and I just wanted no part of it. But, what was I going to do?
I went outside to ponder and found out that many people were congregating there. A group of us were sitting outside at the picnic benches brewing over what was going on and who had been laid off. I found myself wishing that I had been the one laid off because then I could have gotten the severance package and had a cushion to start the personal training job (which was going to earn me far less money and take up a ton of time) while I learned the ropes and didn’t get paid.
Light Bulb Goes Off – I Make My Bold Move
All of a sudden a light bulb went off in my head. The question came to me “what if I asked them to lay me off so that I could get the severance package?” It would be a bold move I thought. I honestly wasn’t sure if had the courage to ask. I mean, what if they said no and now they knew I really didn’t want to be there? Or what if they said no to the severance package and instead just fired me? I knew that I had to make the decision that day or my opportunity would be lost.
I garnered up enough courage and walked into the HR office and stated my case. She must have gotten the Co- CEO’s because an hour later I was in the HR office with the head of HR and the two CEO’s of the company. They looked at my like I was slightly crazy and asked if I was sure this was really what I wanted to do? “Yes,” I said (while saying to myself – “who is this person and what is she saying?” It was like I was possessed and on a mission.
This was a defining moment in my life because taking that bold move allowed me to become a personal trainer and get the training background I needed under the guidance of an amazing team (including my angel Jeff) and personal training company in NYC. Because of that day and the opportunity I had in NYC I was able to start Storm Fitness when I moved to Virginia in 2003.
My Personal Training Days in NYC
I trained tireless in NYC and worked like a dog. Honestly, day and night. I worked my tail off and for pennies. This was okay though, something in my heart just knew that it was all worth it. I knew I was on the right path and I was doing what I loved. I had the opportunity to work with some amazing clients in NYC and those days humbled me. Just starting off and having been given this chance to drastically change the way I was living was exhilarating.
Sure, my family and some people around me didn’t quite understand what I was thinking and they were concerned for me – would I have enough to live on? Was this really a fruitful career? To me, the money never mattered. I was just happy to be able to have such an impact on client’s lives, it was truly what I lived for.
Getting Engaged and Moving to VA
In 2002 I became engaged to my amazingly supportive husband, Simon. It was an exciting time. When we had first moved to the city we had agreed that we would stay there only 2-3 years. We were at our 3-year stretch and I was yearning for more trees and an easier lifestyle. Making it in the city was hard. We had no car, shared a 350 sq. foot apartment on a 4th floor walk up and Simon was traveling a lot for his job.
Things were clicking in our life and I was following signs. I knew I eventually wanted to try my hand at building my own business and it felt time to move out of the City. It was just about a week after Simon and I talked about possibly moving out to Reston, VA where my mom was located, that he got a job offer in his inbox from a recruiting firm.
Simon interviewed for the job and accepted the position and within weeks we packed a U-Haul with our belongings and off we went, on our way to Virginia to start a new life. It was bittersweet, as I had grown so much in NYC living on my own. I always say, the classic line from the song “New York, New York” rings so true for me: “if you can make it here you can make it anywhere.” I was also so grateful for the clients I had at the personal training studio and the opportunity I had been given. But this move felt right to me. We were young and the time for these chances was now.
It turned out that the job my husband took to get us out to VA was not a good fit to say the least. He wasn’t a fan. It involved more travel than he was told along with a host of other falsities. But, the good part was it allowed us to get to the Northern VA area. We lived with my Mom and Step Dad for 6 moths while we saved money to find an apartment.
Building Storm Fitness From the Ground-Up
It was during this first year that I was able to lay the groundwork for establishing my own personal training company and start building my dream. I was nervous as heck and did end up interviewing at a few places around town, but my heart kept telling me to give it a try on my own. Thankfully my husband was supportive and willing to stick it out at his job for the year so that I could get the foundation of my business started and take a stab at being successful on my own. At this time all I wanted was to be able to have enough clients to fill my schedule so that I could earn an income on my own. The thought of ever even having employees or growing the business beyond my wildest dreams was not even on my mind.
After a few months of hard work – mostly marketing and getting my name out there, it wasn’t long before I had a full list of clients. Many of them became long time loyal clients and are still with me to this very day. I had a few things in my favor:
1. I had impeccable training and knowledge from my personal training career in NYC. I was able to bring to the forefront what had previously only been in NYC and LA. Cutting edge is what I built Storm Fitness on and how we like to remain. Things change and keeping up with the times and trends is important.
2. The fitness market was not over saturated. I have watched the fitness industry evolve over the years for better and for worse. When I got in the game, the market was not so flooded with trainers. I do feel bad for customers now a days – although they have much more choice it is certainly a lot harder to weed through the endless list of personal trainers and they often don’t understand that some are much more highly qualified than others. In the end you pay for what you get.
3. I over delivered in everything including results and clients kept coming back for more. I have built Storm Fitness on this over delivering method and I believe it’s what has made us a lasting and thriving business in the market place despite saturation.
4. I accumulated so many success stories that word spread and people were getting referred to me on a daily basis. I was turning away clients and hated having to do that. So that’s when I had to take another big chance and look to attract some other high quality trainers in the area to help me service these clients.
This is where you can say the business really evolved and became it’s own animal. I had to hone down philosophies and branding, get my CRM to manage all the clients we were quickly attaining and come up with strategies for building loyalty and continuing to enhance the quality of our services.
A Happy Ending
Just so you know, that loyal and supportive husband of mine ended up quite happy after his year of sticking it out at a job he was none to happy with. It paid off for him. It wasn’t long before Simon was able to connect with an old friend who ended up getting him a job at a company he is still almost 12 years later, and he loves it by the way! You could say things really worked out. I credit it to those chances we took when we were young. Listening to my intuition and following my heart has really served me well over these years. It’s one life lesson I have learned – follow your heart and listen to your gut instinct. When you can quiet your mind and really listen it sets you in the right direction.
My business started out as Jessica’s personal training but then quickly changed a year later to Storm Fitness when we got married in 2004 – a much catchier name don’ you think? I will spare you the details of how the business has grown over the years as this story has already turned into something much longer than I imagined when I originally sat down to write it.
Let’s just say, I worked my tail off – particularly in those early years to get the business to where it is today. It took me several years to have the confidence to take on other trainers onto my team. I was young and thought no one could do it as good or the same as I could. That was a limitation. I had to get over that mentality and recognize that there were other highly qualified trainers out there that in some cases were better matches for certain clients than I was.
I just needed to do the hard work of seeking these trainers out and treat them with the kind of respect, compassion and compensation that I believed a qualified trainer deserved. The kind that I always wished I had received. I was on a mission, I was going to change the way the personal training industry had typically done things and I believe that is what I have done. I can say that is has worked with great success as 12 years later we are a thriving small business servicing hundreds of clients and each year there has been growth in the business.
My Life and Storm Fitness NOW
I look back to those early days and the chances I took and I have so much gratitude for the people that helped me in my life and the gut instincts that I followed. Today I have my amazing husband Simon that I married in 2004 and 2 children ages 4 and 6. Life is busy but life is great. Not only do I get to help my clients achieve greatness (some of which who have been with me all 12 years and are like family,) but I get to help an amazing team of trainers earn a living by doing what they love.
Truly, this is all such a gift. Although I am proud to have a successful business, it was never about the money or the growth for me. That all came because my true passion (servicing others), was aligned with my heart. It might sound cliché, but there are too many instances that happened in my life to prove other wise. I kept my sights on the service I could provide to my clients and the live change I could provide them and I followed my heart with my business decisions. Sure, some mistakes were made along the way – there always are, but you learn and grow from them and move forward.
Storm Fitness has come to stand for quality reputation and results when it comes to personal training and nutrition in the Northern, VA area. I will forever look back on that life-changing day in 2001 when I took that chance and left my business job to become a personal trainer. I couldn’t be more happy with my decision and I look forward to many more years in this industry servicing our current client base and all the new comers that have yet to experience our renowned personal training and results that Storm Fitness’s reputation is built on.
Storm Fitness is a personal training company based out of Reston, VA and services the Northern, VA area with their in home personal training and nutritional services. For more information visit their website at: www.StormFitness.com or contact Jessica Storm.