Marie's Mega Aero-Fit Gym transforming lives in Old Harbour
Cecelia Campbell-Livingston, Gleaner Writer
OLD HARBOUR, St Catherine:MARIE'S MEGA Aero-Fit Gym, located on the roof of Eastside Plaza in Old Harbour, is a testament to one woman's struggle with being overweight and her desire to help others overcome the challenge.
In an interview with Rural Xpress, Marie Francis spoke about her journey from a cosmetologist to a complete career change - a certified gym instructor.
It all started when she weighed over 250 pounds and was not at all comfortable with the way she looked.
"The seed was planted in my head after a moving experience at a gym in Kingston," Francis said.
While attending the gym, she was working out in the front row on one of the exercise machines. She challenged the instructor during the workout ... but then something caught her eyes.
"I noticed there were two big-bodied women in the gym, but after observing me, they faded in the background. From the mirror, I saw that they were crying," Francis related.
Knowing she had her own issues, she (Francis) went over to them and asked what was wrong.
"They told me that they feel so low in themselves and that they are going to leave the gym. I hugged them and told them we could do it as a team. I went online and researched proper foods to eat and made a pact with them to do the weight challenge loss together," she said about her new-found friends, who weighed more than 300 pounds at the time.
That experience brought forcefully to the forefront the need to open a gym that would not only offer an option for fitness, but one that would help overweight people regain their self-esteem and be super confident once more.
"My goal now is to see people lose the extra weight and feel good about themselves once more," said Wilson.
Since the gym has been up and running, Francis said there are days when she struggles with the thought of giving up as the financial hardships associated with its operation sometimes seem overwhelming.
"I feel like I would give up, but my reason is much more than profit, it's the feeling that I get standing in front of women who are struggling to lose weight and knowing that in a few months' time they would achieve their goals. That is what keeps me going," she said.
Born and raised in Kingston 11, Francis relocated to New Harbour Village three years ago. She started the gym with just a board step and no equipment. She recalls persons visiting the gym and leaving in laughter commenting, "Call me back when you have a real gym."
Three years later and a move to a bigger complex, Francis said it's all about determination whether in losing weight, building self-esteem or going after your dreams.