BY ALEXIS WARD
Jackie Kerekes transforms her clients into the best version of themselves.
As the proprietor of the Training Loft, a fitness center located at 3 Abington Executive Park, Clarks Summit, Kerekes has dedicated the last two years to helping people get healthy. However, her journey from sports-loving child to full-time fitness coach spanned decades of hard work.
“I’ve always been a sports lover since I was a little girl,” Kerekes said. “I played softball, cheered, danced, did workout videos. I loved the whole feeling of working out.”
The North Scranton native and Clarks Summit resident earned an associate degree in business from Lackawanna College and certifications in personal training and fitness nutrition from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Early in her career, she juggled work with raising four children as a single mother, taking part-time positions as an instructor at various gyms and fitness centers.
As her children got older, Kerekes had the opportunity to move up to full-time work, most recently as the small group training manager for Crunch Fitness in Scranton, and began to attract freelance clients that she trained out of her own home.
“I broke away from Crunch, and I had clients out of my house. I had them in my basement,” Kerekes said with a laugh.
However, Kerekes soon found that she was running out of space; if she was going to continue serving her clients, she would need a better venue. Two years ago, the space at Abington Executive Park became available, and Kerekes moved in.
“I didn’t really have a startup fund or anything like that,” said Kerekes, explaining some of the obstacles of opening her own business. “I just started off on what I had, and you know, I started building on what I could little by little. It was a challenge to not have that financial backing.”
Another challenge of the business has been balancing her home life with her work life.
“I work seven days a week, whether I’m with a client, training a group, posting on social media or trying to think of the next event I can do,” she said. “There’s not much downtime, so you have to learn time management.”
Kerekes thankfully had familial support. Her brother, Mark Greenwood, is a physical therapist in Philadelphia with a degree in exercise science and also runs his own fitness center.
“He’s always kept me under his wing as far as helping me and guiding me in the industry,” Kerekes said. “We bounced ideas off each other. Some things we do similarly and some things we do differently — it’s nice to have that.”
“When I got started, my brother said, ‘There’s nothing like it being your own. This is all you now.’ I agree,” she added. “You spend years and years of training under someone else’s model or way, but this way, I’m able to deliver and execute my own style of training to my clients, and the rewards are just great. I put a lot into it, and I feel like I get a lot out of it. I feel successful when my clients are successful.”
The Training Loft offers personal and small group training as well as nutrition coaching and guided meditation. Kerekes believes the individualized attention and strong relationships she fosters with her clients are what sets her studio part from other fitness centers.
“A lot of people say, ‘I’m not a gym person, I don’t want to be around other people,’” she said. “When I work one-on-one, the doors are shut, and it’s myself and my client, and they like that one-on-one attention. For small group training, it’s a small group and it’s the same familiar faces, so they motivate each other.”
The Training Loft, like many businesses, has recently weathered adjustments in the wake of COVID-19. The Training Loft organized free virtual workout sessions through Facebook Live.
“This is fantastic,” Kerekes said. “Right now we have 115 followers, and I’m getting a lot of very good feedback. … It’s keeping the motivation going, because a lot of people might have everything they need at home, but you need motivation and accountability, and someone to give you all that is a trainer or coach.”
Now, with a membership, clients can participate through Zoom in twice-daily boot camp sessions. Kerekes is relieved that she has found a way to make her business workable in these trying times and to ensure that her clients don’t miss their valuable workouts.
“Obviously I can’t see what people are doing. … It’s a challenge not to be able to see them in person,” she said. “But for the most part, this is working out well.”
Quarantine hasn’t stopped Kerekes from innovation. She hopes to invite a certified yogi in Zen Barre’s barre and yoga hybrid class to the online studio.
“We’re going to do a (Facebook) Live session, I think, to try and introduce her since we have a big audience,” Kerekes said. She would also like to try some outdoor workouts to get viewers into the fresh air and sunshine.
Whether online or off, Kerekes is dedicated to maintaining a positive environment for her clients and the community.
“I can honestly say I do not have negative vibes that walk into my studio, because my goal is to always have my clients be the best version of themselves and feel their best about themselves,” she said. “I want everyone to feel really good about themselves and help them to reach their fitness and nutrition goals.”
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Meet Jackie Kerekes
- At home: A resident of Clarks Summit, Kerekes has four children, Kevin, 26; Kyle, 23; Nicholas, 21; and Carley, 18. She is the daughter of Jack and Anne Marie Greenwood, the sister of Mark Greenwood and Lori Greenwood Henehan, and the significant other of Scott Abdo.
- At work: Owner of the Training Loft, Clarks Summit; a NASM-certified personal trainer; and a fitness nutrition specialist
- Inspirations: “My kids inspire me, each in their own way,” she said.
- Aspirations: To continue to build and expand a fitness and wellness community, and to make a positive difference in people’s lives through exercise and nutrition
- Diversions: Enjoying the outdoors, hiking with her dog, hanging out at the pool and the beach, and watching sports
- Aversions: Negative vibes
- Quote: “You just can’t beat the person who won’t give up.” — Babe Ruth