PHONE NUMBER: 503-446-0803
OWNER: Jess Beauchemin
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 3
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 1
WHAT SHE SELLS: Personal training, small group fitness
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: Gym-free fitness and playful movement!
If you’ve ever been motivated to finally get in shape, go for those morning runs, or build muscle, you’ve probably encountered a series of challenges that goes something like this: gyms are intimidating, mornings are cold (and early), and, honestly, exercise is hard. Thus, the intention to exercise instead becomes watching Netflix and eating fudgy brownies. But with JessBFit, exercise takes on a new character. Utilizing Corvallis’ abundant public spaces and natural landscapes, the one-woman team Jess Beauchemin offers a wide variety of services, all while keeping a fun, playful atmosphere. Each lesson is customizable to all participants and the movement is natural, so that exercise is finally something to look forward to.
Jess, when and why did you decide to start your business? I started about three years ago. I moved to Corvallis to go back to school, not entirely sure about my choice. I started the business on the side, and, after two and a half terms at school, I realized the business was my passion. So I quit school and continued the business.
Tell us more about your services? Do you have any favorites? I specialize in helping people get into great shape without a gym membership. So I travel to parks, I travel to homes and businesses, and I deliver custom fitness solutions for people who’ve been left out by the fitness industry. I do a lot of movement classes based on the principles of natural movement — body weight, calisthenics, weight lifting (with stones, sandbags, logs and other objects) – mirroring the movement patterns that humans have developed over hundreds of thousands of years. People come to me to learn how to move their bodies well and how to reconnect with play in order to improve their physical condition.
I have a number of services that I offer. I do group fitness and personal training, and I also run classes three times a year that are goal-oriented for hiking trips or snowshoeing trips. For example, my ‘Train to Climb South Sister’ class is a 12-week series, and at the end of the series we climb the mountain. That program includes fitness classes and outdoor skills workshops so people understand what kind of equipment they need, how much food they need to bring, what to do if the weather turns, how to make good decisions, how to prepare to be out moving all day long, how to deal with team members who might not agree with you, etc. I coach people not only in fitness, but also in outdoor skills. And then we do some training hikes together where we put those two elements together and test them out on easier trails before we hit the mountain and they discover, “Oh, these boots give me blisters!” or whatever.
What really drove me into the job that I’m doing now is my background as being more of an outdoorsperson and not so much a gym-goer. I enjoy teaching people how to move so that they can also climb mountains and explore unknown places and be comfortable hiking long distances without feeling they have to join a group, empowering people to take that fitness they developed in parks and do something with it like climb Mt. St. Helens, snowshoe around Crater Lake, or whatever. Always coming back to the idea that to many people, “exercise” just sounds just awful, nobody wants to do it, right? But if you have a purpose, then it’s not a have-to, it’s a want-to. Now it’s, “Wow we’re gonna climb this mountain in September, I’d better whip my butt into shape, I’d better get a backpack packed, I’d better learn how to master these skills so that I can accomplish this amazing feat and stand on one of the tallest mountains in Oregon.” That program is one I’m very passionate about. It’s been a hard sell just because it’s so unique that it’s really hard to communicate to people the value the class offers.
This is our third year running the ‘Train to Climb’ series, and we’ve had six successful trips so far. I do a Crater Lake trip in December, and then in the springtime we do the climb up Mt. Saint Helens.
What motivates me to get out of bed in the morning is getting people out and doing something useful with what they learned from me. Mindful play is my model and getting people to move more and incorporate it into their lifestyle instead of setting aside that hour where they “have” to go to the gym. They shouldn’t ever feel like they have to come to my class. My students always show up with smiles on their faces because it’s fun, and it should be fun.
What does being featured as the Local Business of the Week mean to you? It’s really awesome for me because most of my business comes through word of mouth. The more people who are exposed to what I do, the greater number of people I can bring into my community and reach out to people who want to move well, who want to be fit and want to get out but don’t have the tools and resources to get there.
Do you fill an unusual niche? Why should folks patronize your business? I fill a very unusual niche in that many mainstream fitness methods require gyms and specialized equipment, and my approach to fitness can be practiced in any environment. For example, I’ll teach a class at a play structure at a park, running around on the concrete walls, climbing all over the playground; and then I’ll go to a retirement home and teach elderly people how to stand up from their chairs and move their bodies in ways they don’t do during the day; and then I’ll go to an accounting office and we’ll use the hallway as our fitness center, incorporating medicine balls and PVC pipes to play games as well as practice traditional body weight training exercises. When people come to my classes, they learn that getting fit can be a lot of fun.
What challenges have you faced as an independent local business owner? Well, one of the biggest challenges for me is doing everything by myself. I’m a one woman show so I do the marketing, I do the coaching, I do the planning, I do the web development, I do everything top to bottom. Getting the word out is my biggest challenge. It’s hard for me to sell my services, and it’s also hard to communicate the value of what I do because that “I have to go to the gym to get in shape” is so entrenched in society. People look at what I do and say, “Ahh… that probably doesn’t work that well”, “that’s not for me”, or “I’m embarrassed to be out on the playground with a bunch of 60 year-old women.” But once I get somebody into my class, it’s a really easy sell because they can feel the benefits immediately, they can feel the social connection, they have fun, and they’re ready to come back again to see what’s in store the following day.
What do you feel is the impact of local independent businesses on Corvallis? I think Corvallis is a great place to have an independent business because it’s highly valued by the community. People want to support their neighbors versus a CEO in a boardroom somewhere far, far away. I like the fact that there are small business associations that allow us to network and talk to each other and see that we’re all pursuing our passions. We’re all totally in love with what we do, and we’ll bend over backwards to make it happen. Because of that, the service is amazing in local businesses! You really get to know the people who run the business, the people who provide the services or produce the products, and you feel like part of a community here.
What do you enjoy most about owning a local, independent business in Corvallis? What excites or inspires you? I enjoy being challenged every day to meet the specific and changing needs of my students, whether that’s due to life events or injuries or differing interests – trying to figure out ways to reach out to those who still feel left out of the fitness mainstream around here. It’s tough when you live in a community with so many active people, I think, to be an outsider looking in and figuring out, “Well how can I be a part of that?” And just learning how to be a business person has been a really interesting journey as well. It’s very empowering to have a vision and find a way to see it through.
What is your relationship to the community? What organizations do you support or participate in? I’m a member of the Friends of Corvallis Parks and Recreation. I just joined the board, and our job is to try and raise money to support parks in Corvallis and to raise awareness in the community about how much need there is for maintaining the parks so that we can continue to enjoy the beautiful spaces that we have. OSU recently organized a Martin Luther King Day of Service, and I participated in a parks project, getting out and physically helping with park maintenance. When I teach my classes in the parks, I think it helps people understand the value of parks and green spaces so that people are more willing to protect them and take care of them. We always leave the park cleaner than we found it.
What about sustainability? Have you taken steps to save energy, reduce your use of other resources, decrease your carbon footprint, reduce waste, etc.? I actually don’t have a facility, so I’m not using a lot of resources like a typical business would. Through the way that I teach people, I also encourage a lot of walking and bike riding and avoiding driving. Using our bodies to get ourselves around and to be more physically active is far more sustainable than using motorized vehicles.
Please give us your one-sentence take-away message about your business. Our society encourages kids to play, but as adults we file into the gym and step on the treadmill and just go through the motions without enjoying any of it; so what I really want to communicate to people is that play is for everyone.
(Interview and article by Anya Callaghan – July 26, 2015)
The Local Business of the Week program is designed to help the Corvallis community identify our locally-owned independent businesses by featuring one business each week. The program is part of the Buy Local First campaign co-sponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Community Independent Business Alliance (CIBA).