BABE #210: TAMEIKA GENTLES — Founder, TameikaG Fitness Inc.
After losing 90 pounds 11 years ago, Tameika left her full-time corporate job in HR to become a full-time certified personal trainer. Since starting her own business, she has helped more than 650 clients lose a cumulative 6,500 pounds while seeking a life full of balance, adventure and constant personal growth. With a strong belief system in a holistic, inclusive and natural approach to fitness and health, she also founded The Whole Experience, a wellness retreat (currently located in Indonesia and Thailand) focused on empowering women through physical, mental and spiritual health. This badass entrepreneur is changing the fitness world, and we’re rooting her on (and dying to attend her retreat, tbh), as she hustles from country to country, enriching lives along the way.
Babe you admire and why?
Oprah! I love her deep spiritual vibe and her ability to effect so many lives positively. She has remained committed to her purpose from day one, and hasn’t let fame or fortune deter her. She has an amazing spirit that gives and gives. It just completely energizes me.
How do you spend your ‘free’ time?
I love to cook. If I have a spare afternoon I’m trying a new cultural dish. Last week it was a healthy butter chicken.
Go-to coffee order and/or adult beverage?
Long black with a touch of sugar.
Current power anthem?
“Run the World (Girls),” by Beyonce, has been my power anthem for years. I always play it when I need to get hyped.
What would you eat for your very last meal?
Authentic Italian thin crust pizza.
Tell us about your hustle.
Since losing 90 pounds 11 years ago, I’ve devoted my time to helping others achieve the happiness I’ve found on my health journey. As a certified personal trainer, I’ve helped more than 650 clients, both in-person and online, lose a cumulative total of more than 6,500 pounds. On a personal level, my journey expands beyond weight loss and training. Since achieving my physical goals, I decided it was also time to deeply assess other aspects of my life. I wanted to find optimal joy within, but couldn’t quite pinpoint how I was going to get there. Through extensive reflection, it was obvious I needed to explore the world and find out. So, four years ago, I picked up my life and moved from Toronto, Canada to Hong Kong. This is where my love affair with travel began. Since then, I’ve travelled extensively, visiting more than 40 countries and soaking in various cultures from around the world, while working in corporate Hong Kong and running my side business of online training.
Tell us about The Whole Experience Retreat.
A year ago, at age 30, I left my corporate job to scale my online training business and launch The Whole Experience, an all-inclusive, week-long, traveling health retreat designed to bring 14 women together and empower them on their journey to wellness. This retreat really is one of a kind; we bring women together from around the world with a mission to share our love of wellness and travel. Throughout our retreats, we focus on the mind (through yoga and meditation), body (through boot camps, workshops and seminars) and spirit (through experiencing the cultures of our host country). We recently hosted a wellness retreat in Bali and have two upcoming retreats this fall (one in Bali and one in Thailand). The plan for 2019 is to host as many retreats as feasible. We’re looking to run retreats in Africa, South America, the Caribbean and Europe. We intend to run aggressively with this business model as we believe in it so strongly.
What does your typical workday look like?
The mornings are typically spent on self-care. I meditate, read, set my intentions, go over my affirmations, workout and stretch. Then, I settle into work, which always starts with tackling my email. That usually brings me to about lunch time. The afternoons are focused on work. I do everything from social media (I have a decent following so content is huge), marketing, accounting, operations and client services; there are plenty of hats! So I don’t get overwhelmed, I usually set three priorities I hope to accomplish each day. Some days that means shooting content, others that means producing a blog post and some days that means dedicating my time to The Whole Experience. Remaining deliberate and intentional in my work helps me to focus daily.
Which came first: your passion for travel or health and fitness?
Definitely health. But once I became my healthiest self physically, I decided it was time to understand and conquer some internal desires in an effort to have the inside match the outside. This is where travel came into play. Had it not been for my physical transformation and realizing my ability to tackle big dreams, I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to begin traveling this much.
What motivated you to become a certified personal trainer?
I saw so many flaws in this industry. Fad diets, extreme measures and unhealthy approaches all made me quiver. The formula to me was so simple: eat well, move your body and make it all work with your lifestyle so you can sustain your progress. It was important for me to begin sharing this message. Because I had the massive weight loss, it added some validity to what I was saying. I then decided to get certified so I could really show people how possible this is.
What makes your brand(s) stand out among other fitness brands?
I think people can relate to me. I lost the weight, proving it is possible. I had been overweight my entire life, and have kept the weight off for 11 years, so I think people have confidence in the balanced lifestyle approach because I’ve proved it works. Also, you will never see me promote, sell or endorse products online. Skinny teas, waist trainers, detox pills—these companies are looking for influencers to promote their products and constantly reach out to me. But my brand is all about authenticity, and I definitely don’t believe in these products so I would never promote them. I think women appreciate that about me and my brand, and it definitely stands out.
What has the evolution of the retreat been like since you created it?
I moved to Bali once I left corporate to build my online coaching business (what I thought would be the core of my brand). While I was there, I saw a plethora of retreats. The only issue was, everyone attending these retreats looked the same. They were all beautiful, thin, caucasian yogis. I thought to myself, If I were still working in corporate and needed a wellness getaway, I’m not sure I would feel entirely comfortable in this crowd. For one, I look different. And secondly, while I appreciate yoga, I wouldn’t want to do it for four hours a day. In that moment, the idea came to me. What the health retreat business needed is a retreat for everyone; those starting their journey and those well into their journey. Those who are 120 pounds, and those who are 220-plus pounds. Those who want to do yoga, but also want to do boot camps and focus on having fun. I pitched it to my followers and within minutes it became clear the demand was there. It was just time to execute. I brought on my business partner (we met while traveling) to help manage the mindfulness, yoga and half the work load, and we got to work. The rest is history.
What’s been your biggest career milestone?
The first time I made a significant change in someone's life. I’ve been featured in many global publications, on many huge platforms and have achieved quite a bit. But, it was that first client who shared that I helped to save her life—that’s when I quickly realized what true success was. Since then, changing the lives of hundreds of women and making significant impact are my biggest achievements. They make me most proud.
How has being a woman affected your professional experience?
Women naturally have an extremely nurturing spirit, and that’s helped me in my business. While I’m very business-minded, it’s paired with extreme empathy, kindness and care for my clients. That separates me from most trainers. I know everyone's health journey is extremely personal to them and this element really has aided my success.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Passion over paycheck—always. We get so wrapped up in wanting to be “successful,” we often forget our passions in the hustle. I’ve seen the most abundance when I’ve ditched the targets, forecasts and budgets, and have focused my energy in to my work. This is where you see true success defined on your own terms.
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