ORMOND BEACH – Jesse DeMers, owner of Bamboo Athletics, was inspired to start his personal training business while in prison.
“I became a certified instructor in prison,” said DeMers, 35. “I was the first Florida inmate to become a certified instructor in Florida Jail. I knew I would not get a job after I was fired. But I knew I had a gift. In prison, I ran training boot camps. That actually became my job in my last few years. “
DeMers said he created training plans for inmates.
“When I was working in the recreation yard, I put together a program for disabled inmates,” he said. “I was certified through distance learning in prison. Since then I have received six certifications. “
DeMers was born in San Diego. He and his family spent time in Oregon and eventually moved to Palm Coast at the age of 5.
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But at the age of 19 DeMers was arrested and jailed. During an interview, he did not hesitate to talk about his past and the lessons he learned from it.
“I was charged with trespassing, armed robbery and kidnapping,” DeMers said. “We robbed drug dealers. Little did I know at the time that taking someone from one room to another meant being kidnapped. The kidnapping charge was later attributed to false imprisonment. I got 15 years in prison. In the end, I served a total of 13 years. “
DeMers said even before he got to jail, he realized he needed to make some changes in his life.
“I’ve changed my life from day one,” he says. “Not since my conviction, (but) when we were arrested. A friend of mine was shot in the stomach with a shotgun. When we were arrested, I gave up immediately. I thank God that part of my life is over. I’m glad I got that out of my system and learned from it. “
If he could, what advice would DeMers give his younger self?
“I would tell my younger self that life will be better if I just persevere,” he said. “I would tell myself that the world is bigger than just me. And that my problems only get worse because I only focus on myself. There are so many beautiful things in this world, but I (couldn’t) see them because I was just so focused on myself. “
DeMers opened Bamboo Athletics in Ormond Beach, 533 N Nova Rd., Unit 108, in August 2018. There are two other trainers on staff.
The personal training packages cost between $ 40 and $ 60 per session. For example, the Extreme Toning and Toning package includes 10 sessions that focus on tightening the unconditioned muscles.
The Extreme Weight Loss Program focuses on losing weight through fitness and nutrition coaching. The “Coach J” special includes individual coaching and DeMers’ out-the-box approach to weight loss.
The opening times of the fitness studio extend from early morning to evening. The small group training takes place from Monday to Friday, the earliest course is at 5:30 a.m. The second course starts at 6:15 a.m. The evening course starts at 5:15 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. The personal training sessions start at 4:20 a.m. The last personal session is at 8:00 p.m.
DeMers said his approach to fitness sets him apart from other coaches.
“I’m a great coach,” he said. “Coaching has changed my life. Through coaching I was able to change the lives of many people in prison. I build people up. At Bamboo Athletics, we value communication, accountability and support. “
DeMers said its clientele is mostly made up of people who have jobs that typically don’t involve a lot of exercise.
“The majority of our members are teachers, nurses, officers, people who are on their feet all day and neglect their bodies,” he said. “We identify where a person is, provide a program and guide them through.
“If you’re not a good coach, that person will just fall by the wayside. When all they really needed was a text message or a phone call saying, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ All you need is someone to guide you. “
DeMers said new members will be given a questionnaire to fill out to help him and his staff better formulate a plan of action.
“There are 15 questions that identify what the person is trying to achieve,” he said. “I meet my employees every Monday and we create a plan together. Then we assign a coach to each person. “
Homework is assigned to members as part of the accountability component.
“After three months we’ve already set up the routines and it’s easier to coach from there,” he said. “But the first three months are the most important. My job as a coach is to show you the way and to support you every step of the way. But you have to put the work into it. “
Client Ebony Hilbert said a colleague recommended Bamboo Athletics to help her get on the right track.
“I was diagnosed with diabetes,” said Hilbert, 44. “I didn’t know I was pre-diabetic. I got very sick and was hospitalized in the intensive care unit. My doctor told me that I need to lose weight. I weighed 217 pounds at the time. I was given insulin three times a day. I started going back to the gym a little over a year ago. I dropped to 156 pounds. I stopped all medication, including insulin. Bamboo Athletics really helped me a lot. “
DeMers said the name for his gym came from the bamboo seed’s extraordinary journey.
“If you plant a bamboo seed, there is a strand in Asia that will not grow for five years,” he said. “You have to water and care for it for five years. When it sprouts after five years, it will grow 12 to 18 inches a day. So in three months it will be 90 to 120 feet tall. So the question is, does it take five years to grow 100 feet or does it take these three months. The philosophy arose from this. “
DeMers said that many people who want to get fit worry if they don’t see immediate progress.
“People come to me, they work eight days and they don’t lose 10 pounds in eight days, and they get angry,” he said. “And I’m telling them it’s a process. “I promise you that one day you will look in the mirror and not recognize yourself.” But you have to put the work in. “
Another member, Jennifer Dash, said a friend linked her to Bamboo Athletics.
“I was at the end of two major surgeries, kind of recovering, and gained quite a bit of weight,” said Dash, 50. And I told someone that I was in my garage and dropped something on the floor and then bent down to pick it up. I couldn’t stand without help. After seeing a friend literally shrink, I reached out and she put me in touch with Coach J. “
Dash said it was the group interaction at Bamboo Athletics that really helped her.
“I was 47 1/2 years old when I started,” said Dash. “By the time I was 48th birthday, I had lost 40 pounds. It was a team effort from the start. We cheered each other on. You get excited when people are fine. If you have problems, the people in the group will pull you along. It’s like a family unit. “
533 Nova Road, Unit 108
Ormond Beach, Florida.
About this series
The Gem Next Door is a series that highlights local entrepreneurs who do business in your neighborhood. If you are the owner of a company or would like to nominate a company for recognition, please contact reporter Erica Van Buren at EVanBuren@News-Jrnl.com. Be sure to include your name, phone number, and a little bit of the company’s history.