Owner of Bamboo Athletics spent 13 years on prison.
Jesse Demers, owner of Bamboo Athletics, has a quick smile and an enthusiastic vibe that fills a room.
There’s a good reason for him to smile. Currently, he’s planning an expansion of his fitness and nutrition coaching business. Eighteen months ago, he was sitting in a prison cell.
His classes are starting to outgrow his space at 533 N. Nova Road in the Park Plaza mall. On March 15, he will have a Grand Opening in a larger space in the same plaza.
“I’m doing all of the remodeling myself,” he said. “It’s tough but it’s my dream, my passion.”
The gym was busy at a recent morning class. Jamie Gallegos, a client, said she likes the fact that there are early-morning and after-work classes so people can schedule around their jobs.
There are two coaches for each class, because the people are at different skill levels.
“There’s a lot of personal attention,” Gallegos said.
Jennifer Dash said she joined because she just wanted to get healthier.
“I lost 40 pounds and kept it off,” she said. “He sees potential in people that they don’t see.”
Demers is a big believer in running. Dash said a year ago she tried a 5K and had to walk part of the way, but a year later did a half marathon. He teases her now about doing a full marathon.
One of his coaches also teaches yoga.
Demers has become connected with the community, working with Boys and Girls Club of Volusia County, Ormond Beach Police Department and city of Ormond Beach.
TURNING A LIFE AROUND
Demers grew up in Palm Coast as an angry young man, full of hatred, he said. He was in and out of a lot of juvenile courts, and at age 19 in 2005, he was convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping. He was sentenced to 20 years but he only served 13 years, thanks, in part, to changing his life through fitness.
He became a recreation orderly after being certified and led classes. Through health and fitness, he overcame his anger.
“It changed by heart,” he said.
His accomplishments in the prison became known, because the warden would always show off his classes to visiting government officials, and it led to his early release.
When he got out of prison in 2018, he knew he would have a hard time getting a job because of his felony conviction, so he started fitness coaching. Not having any money, he did his coaching in a park. He drummed up business by knocking on doors, meeting people through his job at a café and even starting conversations with people in grocery stores about their food choices. He visited doctor offices because he knew they were busy people who knew the importance of health.
He also started a Facebook page and printed business cards. He had a lot to learn. When he went into prison there was no Facebook or Youtube.
Working out the park, he knew he wouldn’t get people to come out during winter, so he sought an indoor classroom and, with his business growing, was able to find a space.
“I’ve been blessed since I got out.” He said.
GROW LIKE BAMBOO
Demers’ philosophy comes from the bamboo plant. It needs water and nutrition for five months before it ever starts growing. Then, it will grow a foot a day into a strong plant.
“You put in the work and you’ll get the results,” he said.
His slogan is “habits, pattern and routine,” to develop a healthy lifestyle.
But, after hitting their goal, he tells clients they can eat anything they want on a weekend, as long as they go back to healthy eating on Monday. It’s actually a benefit called carb cycling, he said.
He also does something he was advised not to do from a business standpoint, spend free time with clients outside the gym In a coffee shop just to talk.
“It’s time consuming, but it’s cool to meet with people,” he said. “We encourage each other.”
Find Bamboo Athletics on Facebook.
“It changed by heart”
JESSE DEMERS, on physical fitness