Growing up in Richardson, Victoria Thomas realized her love for sports at a young age. That love carried her all the way through college at Rutgers University on a volleyball scholarship. After graduation, her passion for sports evolved into offering fitness training for others. Though she kept going back to fitness, she felt that she needed to pursue a more conventional career path. That led her to law school.
“Pre-law school I was a fitness director at a Gold’s Gym in Dallas. But I left that career to pursue law school,” Victoria remembered. “But what’s funny is while I was in law school I was training my deans, adjunct professors, classmates. People would ask me, ‘Why don’t you do this full time?’ and I would say, ‘Oh, this is my side gig,’ but training never left me.”
After graduating, Victoria was hired by a sports and entertainment law firm. She worked with professional athletes and actors. There were many moments that felt surreal – like the time she flew out to a meeting, and Queen Latifah was there.
Still, Victoria felt the pull in her heart toward fitness. As glamorous as her law career may have seemed from the outside, it didn’t feel right.
“I was doing the Daniel Fast at the beginning of the year. It’s a religious practice for some Christians, sacrificing a type of food and drawing closer to God to see what His will is for the year,” Victoria shared. “There was an emptiness I felt, like I wasn’t doing what God wanted and intended and designed me to do. That’s what fitness is for me. I’ve been doing it for so long, but running away from it because it didn’t look prestigious.”
Finally, after two years of practicing law, Victoria couldn’t ignore her calling any longer. She left her company and put all her energy into creating the gym she now owns, JourneyFit. She was the first African American female to own a gym in Richardson.
Victoria sees now that when she opened in 2017, there were some mistakes she made from a business and marketing perspective.
“I had 150 people come to support me in my opening, but from a business standpoint, I didn’t understand some of the things that should’ve happened prior to opening,” she recalled. “I didn’t put enough effort into pre-selling memberships. That is so important for all gyms. We had this great event with 150 people, and the next day we only had one member.”
Like most entrepreneurs, Victoria had to learn some lessons about running her own business the hard way. Rather than letting the difficult moments discourage her, though, she utilized them as an opportunity to grow. After initial setbacks in marketing strategy, she hit the ground running and got creative. Within a short time of opening, JourneyFit began seeking out partnerships, hosting events and sending out press releases. It has now had partnerships with Nike, Whole Foods, Walmart and Under Armour. From there, growth has come naturally.
Nowadays, JourneyFit has locations in Richardson and Dallas with more than 400 members throughout the Metroplex. Victoria is a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified trainer whose client list includes professional and high school athletes. Her company runs like a well-oiled machine, and Victoria gets to live out her purpose every day. She’s excited by how far JourneyFit has come, but her competitive nature leads to her always looking toward the next goal.
“I am the ambitious person [and] that ambition can be to my detriment to a certain degree. Looking back, I’m grateful. But when I’m in it, as of now, I want to do tons of locations throughout the world,” Victoria said. “I was talking to some of my family members. They’re always good to point out that I’m a little overworked. They come from a good place. I want more, but it’s good to be in this reflection time period to be grateful for what’s happened.”
Victoria, now a Plano resident, stresses discipline, attainability and a well-rounded lifestyle to anyone setting fitness goals in 2021.
“The new year is interesting because everyone is on a wellness kick. Everyone is motivated. Motivation does not last, though. That’s when discipline kicks in. I would urge people going into these resolutions to figure out what type of measure is going to make the disciplined. What is that for you? Sometimes it’s an accountability partner or giving money to a trainer. Discipline over motivation.”
“Make your fitness goals attainable. Too often, people have these lofty goals, but they get discouraged when they step on the scale after two weeks. Give yourself room of ‘I’m going to make a reasonable time table.’ Keep in mind that everyone should think of fitness as a journey that never ends. It has to be a lifestyle.”
“Most important, make sure your eating plan is in order. I don’t like to use the word diet. Some people want to gain weight, some people want to lose weight. Some need more calories, more fiber, more water, more cardio. Whatever it is, be on a meal plan that allows you to achieve that. It should be attainable and flexible so you can stay consistent.”