Gordon, Micki, Jamie, Janice


In 1996 I attempted to acquire a Personal Trainer position in one of the largest chains of coed health clubs in Chicago. There were no openings near me. I found myself walking past Women's Workout World. My sister, Imella, told me to see if they had any openings. Upon inquiring inside, I was offered a management position because of my degree in management. Instead, I accepted a position as  Class Instructor until a Personal Training position became available. I taught aerobics, cardio kick boxing, resist –a –ball and step classes for approximately 5 months.
After the first month of becoming a Personal Trainer, I earned the title of “Master Trainer”. This was big because this organization had an average of 2 Personal Trainers in 26 different locations and I was the only one with this title. I was the first Personal Trainer in their history to receive an award for this honor. It was a challenge to keep this title, because all of their trainers in their 26 locations were graded on a weekly basis to see who would have the title the next week. For 4 consecutive years I retained the title until I opened A Women’s Gym.

98% of the hundreds of women I trained in those 4 years hired me as their personal trainer to help them to lose weight.  90% of those women were living with neck, shoulder, wrist, back, hip, knee or ankle pain. A large amount had osteoporosis, scoliosis or just poor posture. The majority of these women had been living with pain for so long they just got used to it and no longer sought help to relieve it.
Women are caregivers by nature, usually putting their needs aside to meet the needs of their family and to be good team players at work.  Their family and jobs were their priority not their health. I helped them realize that this was not acceptable. It was clear to me that women needed a specialty club to help them make their health a top priority, get rid of the aches and pains they had accepted as a part of life, stop the weight loss-weight gain cycle, make them stronger and increase their bone density. A WOMEN’S GYM is that club.


   by Janice Kay Smith
When I was a Jenny Craig Counselor, the counselors took turns teaching classes. One week my class script did not arrive from the corporate office. As I walked into the classroom, I listened to the challenges the classmates were comparing with each other in adhering to their weight loss program. On the flip chart in front of the room I wrote some of the words they were saying, drew illustrations that matched their words and gave them ideas and motivation on how to handle their challenges. At the end of the class they clapped for me.
When the script arrived from corporate that next week the people attending class did not want me to use it. They demanded that I give them more “motivation” classes like the previous week. My manager gave me the okay. Before long my classes became standing room only, the center was making more money, because the people were motivated to eat only the food on their menu so, they bought full weeks of food each week which, in turn, made them successful with their weight loss. It was win, win, win for everyone.
When the corporate office found out, they told me I had to go back to teaching the class scripts. Class attendance and the centers income dropped so severely that, corporate told me to stop the scripts and resume with teaching my motivation classes.
I wrote and illustrated a book based on those classes, “Ate Years as a Weight Loss Counselor and What I learned”. The 18 chapters of the book highlight the 18 most challenging situations people face while working on losing weight. The true stories and illustrations in the book come from the actual flip charts and dialog I used in the classroom. I am in the process of self-publishing “Ate Years as a Weight Loss Counselor and What I Learned.”  Look for it on sell on this website  August 2019!

 Janice Kay Smith, Owner  
Motivation Unlimited is also a result of teaching classes at Jenny Craig. Even as a child people would tell me how much I motivated them. Teaching the classes at Jenny Craig made me understand what everyone had been telling me. There is an art to facilitating in a way that teaches people that they can rely on themselves to reach their goals. Whether their goal is weight loss, getting to the gym 3 times a week, opening their own business or asking the boss for a raise, people can be empowered to Make it Happen!

Challenge #1                                                      

One of my members, T, challenged me to “Bike The Drive”, just one day before the 30 mile event would occur. Not being a fan of biking, I did not own a bike. Another gym member loaned me hers and T's sister-in-law loaned me a helmet. Being unfamiliar with the bike, 5 minutes into the ride I shifted gears and was pedaling much to fast. The reverse gears were not properly marked. T came back for me, gave me instructions on what to do and stayed with me for the remaining 25 miles. T had a racing bike and could have finished the 30 miles before I even reached half-way. She talked to me about everything but the ride. She did an excellent job of keeping my mind off of what we were doing.
At the half-way point, we caught up with her husband who was carrying their little girl on the back of his bike and T's sister-in-law was also there. The wind was so high that I wanted to stop and go home. The half-way point was located where the race began and the exit to go home. T talked me right pass that halfway point and back again to the finish line. I could not have done it without you T! Thank you for helping me succeed with your "Bike The Drive" Challenge!!

Challenge #2                                                      

One of my members, Micki, said to me, “Janice I was just a runner until I met you. Now you have me lifting weights so, you have to run. I think you should do the half marathon.”  First I laughed, really hard. She told me her husband Gordon would set up a special 26-week program for me, I was still laughing.
Well, I accepted the challenge, I ran a half marathon. On race day, Micki, Gordon, Jamie and I started the race together. Jamie, another member, and Gordon had completed 26 mile marathons before and Micki was no stranger to half marathons.
Gordon and Micki are fast and soon were out of sight. Jamie wanted to take it easy so she stayed with me but I was used to running alone. I was ready physically for the race but I did not factor in the constant distractions, and odd terrains. I was so glad that Jamie had decided to stay with me. At one point I remember saying to Jamie, “Talk to me”. Jamie’s talking helped me to block out the distractions and got me to the finish line. I could not have finished without you Jamie. Thank you. Micki and Gordon thank you for the challenge.


A year and a half after my husband died. I moved downtown a very broken person. I was broken in spirit and broken in body. I knew I needed help. I was truly desperate. With this broken spirit, what was I becoming? I was frightening my children. My bed on one side was piled so high with clothes, boots, whatever I had on that day, that week. That pile I would snuggle up to every night and cry my eyes out, until I’d wear myself out and fall asleep. The pile even frightened me. I was such a mess. I just had to shape up – in more ways than one. I had to clean up my comfort pile. I had to buy furniture for my house (I had no furniture). I had to join the human race and learn to enjoy it. You cannot imagine how hard it was for me to get out of bed.
I had noticed a gym on Clark Street. I strolled in and asked for a trainer. Male or female, they asked? Female I said. Out walked someone who was about to heal my spirit and my body, Janice Kay Smith! She said her name with this warm welcoming smile and the healing began!
My body hurt so bad it felt broken. When I walked down the street or whatever I did – it took great effort to drag my body along. I could hardly get in and out of my truck. My joints were so swollen. I was overweight and had never been overweight in my life. I was feeding my sorrow. Within weeks my joints were actually responding. It was very slow but to notice any change can start to lift one’s spirits!
Janice was a quiet, patient, unintrusive trainer. She sensed my vibes and sullen mood. She didn’t push, she encouraged with her gentle voice. I wanted to come back!
So I started bragging to my daughter, Jacquie, about my trainer and that I was starting to feel a glimmer of hope. My daughter mulled over this name “Janice Kay Smith” hum-m-m- that’s so familiar – I’ve heard her name but can’t place it.
Jacquie went home and rifled through her drawers and alas a card with Janice’s name on it. She called me and said – I told you to go to her months ago; that my boss went to her and loved her!
Jacquie had told her boss how she worried so about me! That’s when her boss told her to send me to Janice. She not only helped her lose weight – but she felt like she was soothed and comforted. She couldn’t wait to see her. “She made me feel better about myself,” she told Jacquie.
So it was fate – not luck of the draw, that day when I walked into the gym on Clark Street!
I followed Janice to “A WOMEN’S GYM”. We’re a gym, a support group and an extended family! Believe me it’s because of Janice! She draws people! We travel together, party together, work out together – there isn’t much a member wouldn’t do for another member.
Corny as this sounds, we all say we’re blessed to know JANICE KAY SMITH!


Owner of A Women’s Gym

Owner of Motivation Unlimited Incorporated

Personal Trainer for 37 years, 

Jenny Craig Weight Loss Counselor and Class Facilitator for 10 years

Author of "Ate Years as a Weight Loss Counselor and What I Learned"

Alumna of the University of Illinois at Chicago

Served on the Board of Franklin Fine Arts Center, Local School Council, for 10 years

Served on the Board of Old Town Merchants and Residents Association, for 11 years

Contact us: 1-312-587-8900