Victoria Thomas is the CEO and Founder of JourneyFit, a revolutionary kind of workout facility that mixes a personalized approach to fitness and nutrition with the accountability of group fitness. Thomas began her fitness path as a Division 1 volleyball player at Rutgers University where she also discovered her passion for coaching and training other young athletes. In a candid interview with Inspire N Style, Thomas dives deep into how she started with just one client to now opening her third JourneyFit location in the Dallas Design District on Saturday Oct. 3.
The Thomas family is full of top-notch athletes, so Victoria Thomas was no stranger to athleticism growing up. “I started by following my big sister’s footsteps and watching how proud and excited my mother was of her. So, I fell into sports naturally. I have an athletic build and eventually I found a passion for volleyball.”
After pursuing volleyball to the fullest extent, Thomas landed a full athletic scholarship to Rutgers University where she also pursued a law degree. After becoming a lawyer by way of one of the best law schools in the nation, Thomas says she began her coaching career as a matter of circumstance. “I was one of those hard-headed athletes that never wanted to be a coach. Moving back to Dallas after law school, I didn’t have any job opportunities but the one thing I always came naturally to me was coaching. After seeing that I had a gift to command a presence with young athletes I was able to coach for a volleyball club as an assistant coach. It was here that I realized that coaching is so much more important than just standard practice.”
Thomas began to realize that many of the young women she was training looked to her for more than just athletic guidance — it was about targeting key issues, boosting confidences levels, and cultivating lasting relationships. Eventually private coaching at the club level and at the private level spawned into leading volleyball camps with 150 athletes and then to eventually leading a professional volleyball team to a national victory.
“Team Dream” was the first all African-American women’s professional volleyball team that won the gold at USA Volleyball National Championship under Thomas’ guidance. Thomas talks about what it was to coach “Team Dream” and the hardships they faced on the path to victory:
“It was emotional for a lot of us because we utilized the opportunity to shine a light on the struggles that African-American women face in this sport through the many interviews we did with ESPN and USA Volleyball. Many of the girls I trained were pushed to play basketball because volleyball is a very white woman dominated sport and it’s also very expensive to even participate in club volleyball. I think it was important for us to just be part of the tournament and present a united front amidst all the hate mail and accusations of reverse racism we were getting.”
Nevertheless, Team Dream rose to victory with many of Thomas’ trainees moving on to full scholarships at prestigious volleyball programs like the University of Texas and Kentucky.
Thomas’ confrontations with racism during her time with Team Dream was nothing new. Growing up in Richardson, Texas as a daughter to a single mother of three was not always easy. But breaking stereotypes is just a part of Thomas’ identity, which is why she became the first African-American woman to open up her own fitness studio in Richardson.
Facing rejections from banks and silence from landlords, Thomas was still determined to open her first studio in the community she was raised in, “I knew what my purpose was, and I knew that my purpose needed to reach more people. I was put on this earth to inspire change through fitness.” Not only did she feel that the Richardson location was strategically the best fit, but it was a prime location for club volleyball teams. These teams became some of JourneyFit’s very first clientele.
Much of the training at JourneyFit is rooted in Thomas’s volleyball background but also rooted in the philosophy she developed called “Train Hard. Win.” She explains why this philosophy has been successful for many of her clients.
“It’s something that I really developed from sports but it goes across the board. I think too much we are too fixated on the end result. Did you lose weight? Did you win the game? For my volleyball players, it was like did we actually win the tournament? For my adults, when they step on the scale did they actually lose weight? I want them to understand that it really has nothing to do about the end result it’s about the way that you prepare. If you really put all of your energy into preparing properly and training hard, then you did win.”
Thomas has a passion for watching her clients succeed and will go the extra mile to make sure they see the benefits of working out and eating right.
“I literally shut my whole day down when somebody gives up. With one of my clients, I found myself at her house trying to help her understand that you’re adding on time to your life when you work out. That was one of the things that really helped me to cultivate the philosophy to focus on the process. It’s called JourneyFit because it’s about the journey.”
With body scanners and personalized meal plans in the JourneyFit online Nutrition Hub, many clients are on the journey but are also seeing extreme results. One client even went from 320 pounds to 195 pounds using Thomas’ methods.
With the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, many small businesses were forced to shut down — especially black-owned businesses — but JourneyFit’s pivot to accessible online training sessions have proven to keep people motivated.
Thomas says it was amongst her top three most stressful times (law school being one of them) as a small business owner during Covid-19 she felt like she was in decision overload. Building a new facility at the same time just added to her long list of stressors.
“Everybody was looking to me to be strong, but I was breaking down. I had to rise from the ashes like a Phoenix. God pulled me out of that low place to give me the courage and strength that I needed to be able to make the proper decisions.”
Thomas pushed through and opened her newest location in Dallas’ coveted Design District Saturday Oct. 3rd with a sold out Burn N Brunch event consisting of a 30 minute HIIT workout followed by a 30 minute catered grab-and-go brunch.
Thomas says that the journey to opening the Dallas location has been difficult, but she can’t express how excited and thankful she is that it is finally here. In the next five years, Thomas hopes to open more locations of JourneyFit and doesn’t plan to sell, but to pass the business on in hopes of creating a legacy for her family.
Visit JourneyFit and Victoria Thomas at its newest location at: 2025 Irving Blvd., Dallas, TX 75207.