Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jahkeen Washington, Founder of Harlem Kettlebell Club, located in New York, NY, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Harlem Kettlebell Club is the first and only kettlebell specialization studio in Harlem and NYC. We offer group fitness, small group sessions, and private training for members of the community. Our customers are usually Harlem natives or individuals who live in the vicinity. They are also people who enjoy group classes and want to learn how to use kettlebells to improve their strength and overall health.

Tell us about yourself

As a Harlem native and someone who still resides in Harlem, I have recognized that fitness, health, and wellness have been and still aren't a huge priority. Growing up, I didn't have many places I could go to get quality instruction, and personal training was a luxury my family could not afford. After graduating college, and then eventually leaving my finance job, I noticed that things hadn't really changed. Although there are a few amazing spaces in the neighborhood, Harlem is still what I would consider a fitness desert. There are limited options for fitness training, and the facilities that exist are very much spread out.

Since 2016 I have had the luxury of opening three different fitness studios, with Harlem Kettlebell Club being my latest venture. This space is very important to me because not only am I able to add another option to the community, but I've also introduced Harlem to a modality that has been pretty nonexistent uptown. Not only are my members getting quality instruction and an amazing community, but they are also leaving each session with more tools to train themselves whenever necessary. That's important to my team and I when we think about the signs of a good coach.

The daily motivation for me is in the fact that I am making a huge difference and impact right where I grew up. I want to support as many people as possible and provide them with a fun, challenging, and results-driven experience. Our members have started to enjoy training and are excited about seeing all the amazing things they are capable of.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Outside of being able to open three fitness studios, I've also been able to gain exposure for myself and my brands in several publications. My most significant write-up was in Men's Health Magazine. I now have multiple articles and my own workout programs on their website. It feels great knowing all my work has not gone unnoticed and that I am being recognized for my efforts.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Time management is the most important thing to manage as a business owner. We often think that by working more, we are getting more done. In actuality, you need to take time off to rest and rejuvenate. I tend to have a fresh mind and new ideas after a weekend trip or even a staycation.

Time management is also important when it comes to prioritizing what's most important for the business. I like to map out specific tasks for certain days so that I am not overwhelmed trying to tackle several items at once.

Lastly, have a set time when you log off for the day. Setting boundaries between you and your customers is important and necessary. You also need to ensure you are able to make time for yourself, your family, and your friends. Life is really short, so don't miss out on quality moments with those you love.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Starting out you will wear a ton of hats. Be prepared to work on the business and in the business until you are able to hire a team and get more support.
  2. Trust the process. If you are passionate and believe in your product, you will eventually see success. You will need to be patient and not expect things to happen overnight. Have a short and long-term game plan with realistic goals so that you can manage expectations.
  3. Don't be afraid to ask for help. I made the mistake of trying to do everything alone and experienced severe burnout and a bit of depression. It's okay to get support, and it's also necessary to sneak in breaks as often as possible. We want to work hard, but not at the expense of our mental and physical health.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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