Since the coronavirus began threatening people’s health and wellness, Jim White has seen a boom in telehealth and fielded more clients than ever before.
In this down and up year, the founder of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios is celebrating its 20th anniversary and opening a new location on First Colonial Road in Virginia Beach.
The expansion — planned pre-COVID — will take care of the growing pains the business had over the last 10 to 15 years and enable White and his team to help more people.
“This gives us the opportunity to streamline our processes and recreate our brands,” White said.
Two of the Virginia Beach studios – Hilltop and Great Neck – will relocate to the new space which White said is geographically in the middle of both. The one in downtown Norfolk will remain and White said he’s looking at other areas of Hampton Roads to invest in.
“When we first started we only had one dietitian and now we’re employing up to eight,” he said. “We realized when they come back – maybe November or December – we needed to have a bigger space.”
In April, White bought the almost 8,000 square foot building for $1.175 million. Approximately half the space will be rented to an eye doctor’s office. That still will leave him with more space than the other two Beach studios had combined.
Located on “medical row,” the new location will enable the business to more easily connect with physicians to help clients through nutrition and fitness.
“It’s going to open up a lot of creativity,” White said of the space that will be outfitted with new equipment.
An accomplished fitness expert and leader in the field, White’s resume touts a lengthy list of credentials, awards and honors, interviews (print, television, web, and radio), and public speaking engagements.
And even during the pandemic, White has remained dedicated to helping clients through the difficult days.
After closing the doors to his facilities for 70 days at the start of the pandemic, he said they were forced to diversify very quickly.
“Our registered dietitians were approved with telehealth so they’ve been working at home since March,” White said. “It’s been really big because a lot of people feel safe in their homes.”
One-on-one and small group virtual trainings were enabled so people could be at home while the trainers were at home or in the studio.
Outdoor training was also incorporated in March, April and May.
In June, when the governor lifted some of the mandates, White said they picked up a record number of clients over the next two months.
The boutique fitness studio attracted more attention than they did before the virus because many people were apprehensive about going to the big box gyms.
“Our nutrition side hasn’t slowed down since we started telehealth, in fact, we’ve had less cancellations,” White said.
White employs 27 people, including certified fitness and nutrition experts that provide tailored personal training programs for individuals (one-on-one) and groups (semi-private and small group), custom nutrition consultations and educational programs.
He will be hiring more dietitians and trainers for the new location.
“We’re very unique because we’re one of the only ones that take insurance and do nutrition,” White said.
They also offer corporate wellness, which includes lunch and learns, boot camps, cafeteria makeovers and challenges.
In 2010, White established a restaurant program with about 50 local restaurants onboard including Citrus, Azar’s and Bad Ass Coffee.
“We started realizing there was a need for healthier options at restaurants … we work with their chefs to offer the healthiest items on their menu,” White said.
Virginia Beach resident Jo Anne Crouse is brought to tears when she describes how grateful she is to have found White — and his business — more than a decade ago.
Crouse sought White’s help after she spent three years recovering from an endocrine disorder.
“When you begin to see the changes, then you’re more motivated to keep going. We kept working together and watched things transform,” she said. “Every aspect of my life has changed since then.”
The businesses’ nonprofit, LIFT Fitness Foundation — which White’s wife, Krista, works on — was created to provide exercise and nutrition counseling to homeless, battered women and at-risk youth. The organization also partners with seven agencies to help them find jobs.
“They always say there’s not a pill you can take or all the money in the world that can give you the benefits fitness and nutrition can; it just reaps so many benefits,” White said.
Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-222-5356, [email protected]
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