A CONVERSATION WITH JABS BY GINA’S GINA DINAPOLI.
For those of you who don’t know Gina DiNapoli, let us introduce her: she is one bad-ass fitness boss, who among many things is the creator of the very popular ‘Jabs by Gina’ class in NYC. Gina created JABS in June 2018 while working a full-time corporate software sales job. Just six months after it’s creation, with waitlists full over a month out, Gina realized that if she truly wanted to service the explosive demand for JABS, she needed to pursue fitness full-time. One year ago, in March of 2019, Gina left the corporate world to focus on building her JABS Empire. JABS was adopted by Equinox, where it was taught in 10+ locations around NYC by Gina + 4 of her JABS instructors.
What is the concept of JABS and how did you come up with it?
My original JABS format is a mix of Kickboxing and Strength Training. I have always LOVED kickboxing classes. However, I have also always been one to invest in a personal trainer to make sure I was moving properly and not just going through the motions. Proper weights, reps, sets, time intervals, and rest intervals etc. to meet my fitness-related goals (which started with weight loss, and overtime transformed to increasing endurance/ strength/ and continuing to build lean muscle). Anyhow, I became a Kickboxing Coach and started teaching Cardio Kickboxing Classes. I realized that a lot of the women taking my classes were cardio queens, but they lacked knowledge and quite honestly interest when it came to strength training. So I developed a class that intertwines the fun of kickboxing with the functional elements of strength training and muscle toning, for an optimal mix of cardio and toning.
What did you do prior to JABS and how did you make the decision to move from the corporate world to fitness?
I have had two full careers prior to JABS. First, Real Estate Brokerage (commercial buildings, not residential/apartments). This is where my life when downhill. I spiraled into a very low place, hated every day of my life, and quit my job on a whim with nothing else lined up. The day I quite my job, I decided to enter a competition that was going on at the time at Equinox where members could become an instructor. Crazy enough, I got it, but by no means was I planning on going fitness full-time. I started teaching just for fun, and it was definitely a passion of mine, but I secured an awesome job in Tech Sales. After 2 years doing my Tech Sales job and teaching on the side simultaneously, I realized, it wasn’t sustainable, I needed to choose. I know you want to hear that I was dying to go full time fitness and live this lifestyle, but to be honest, it was a very hard decision for me. I was extremely fulfilled at my corporate job. But I had watched so many of my fitness clients transform, both physically and mentally, and ultimately, I knew I would make a greater difference in the world by choosing to inspire and teach others proper training techniques.
Have you always been into fitness?
NOOOO!!!!!!!!! I was a competitive figure skater growing up, but I wouldn’t call that “Fitness”. I would call it “Sport”. In college, I totally lost it. I went to the gym 2 times in my 4 years in college (Syracuse University!). I gained the 15, and then once I got to NYC, I gained 5 more from being sedentary and eating dollar slices and all the normal things 23 year olds do when they moved to the city. I remember when I couldn’t button up my pants for work, when the arms on my dresses were uncomfortably tight, and I got to the point where I was sick of being uncomfortable in my own body. No way Jose. So, I started taking workout classes and found some I really loved. Once I found what I loved, I realized, I wasn’t showing up for weight loss; I began showing up for performance. To improve my skills. And boom, in 3 months I lost 15 pounds, I felt amazing, I was strong as hell, and I realized I wanted to give this experience to the world. So when the fitness instructor opportunity came up, I took it hoping that one day I could give someone the same experience that fitness gave me.
Tips on becoming a more active person?
You have to find a workout OR a trainer you love and trust. Either one will do the trick. Ideally both, but if you can find one of the two you’re golden. I’m not a big “take the stairs” person. I know the little stuff “counts”, but I also think that can get scary if you’re thinking about every little moment as a weight loss trick. I recommend just choosing workout methods that are intentional. Also, something I did was stop thinking of the money I was spending on fitness as a “cost”, and start to think of it as an “investment”. When I look back on everything I put into fitness, it was really all just one big investment in myself. And one more thing, if you like, love, or at least don’t mind working out, but you’re struggling to find the motivation to go, try this out: Next time you have a REALLY awesome, empowering, or mood-lifting workout, write a note to future you in your journal reminding yourself how you feel leaving that workout. And the next time you are lacking motivation read the note you wrote to yourself, to remind yourself that you ALWAYS feel better after getting your movement in!
To teach a class it takes a ton of confidence, how do you build your confidence?
Interesting question! I’ve never really thought of it like this. My gut reaction to this question is that the workout really isn’t about me, it’s about the people who take my classes. Because it’s not “about me”, it doesn’t make me nervous to teach a class. I do; however, put a mild amount of pressure on myself to make every class excellent because there are hundreds of workout classes in NYC, and if someone chose to take my class, that is really special. I need to make sure that they got the BEST possible workout. That there is no where else they could’ve gone to get the caliber of workout I gave them. I want to make sure it is the most valuable hour for them, and does right by them mentally and physically. But again this isn’t a confidence thing, it’s just me making sure I consistently deliver.
What are some key components into building an amazing class? You always have such a long waitlist!
Thank you! Going to answer with my gut again here and say that the people who come to class consistently see results – everything from happier mood, feeling committed to their fitness, to gaining strength, “finding their abs”, being able to perform movements they previously could not, I mean the list goes on. I think that it is because they get their desired outcome, that they keep coming back. It’s simple, people do more of what they see working for them.
What is your approach to eating?
Intuitive, but also, I like to eat a bunch of small meals a day. I eat 8 times a day- 4 of which I would consider a meal-sized amount, and 4 snacks throughout. Things I like to snack on range from protein shakes, nuts, PB, fruit, protein bars, and yogurt.
What’s your fav song(s) to work out to?
PANDA PANDA PANDA PANDA
Other than JABS, what are your fav workout classes?
I like HIIT classes – I love how it feels to get my heart rate up. I like finding my limits. I don’t do any workouts consistently though – I save my body for teaching. It is sometimes tempting, because I wish I could explore the fitness scene in NYC more, but I will just have to live vicariously through Elizabeth and Dale. I do strength train on my own once a week – primarily focused on keeping my back, glutes, and hamstrings strong. I know this was anticlimactic, haha.
BONUS: How many jars of peanut butter do you go through in one week?
OMG, I eat PB every day. I used to go through 3 jars a week, it was disgusting, but now I land somewhere between 1.5 and 2. Literally body type: Works out, but also eats PB straight out da jar 😉
How have you and JABS been adjusting since social distancing?
JABS is better than ever. I feel guilty to admit that, during a time where there are serious issues in our world, but at the same time, JABS provides a safe place for people who need it. We (not just me, but the other JABS instructors and others in the JABS community) are truly helping people. I get long thank you emails from new and old Jabbers every day for the outlet we are currently providing. This time has also set JABS apart as a community. There is a clear distinction between having a cult following and a COMMUNITY FOLLOWING. A typical “Cult” means everyone knows everyone, consistently attends and more importantly, hard to crack/break into unless you commit to being a “die hard”. A COMMUNITY is a place where whether you come once a week or 7 days a week you are part of the family… And that’s truly what JABS is. You’re never ‘new’ alone. People are constantly joining… every day. I am getting 15-20 new people per day via Zoom classes. I don’t even know where people are hearing about it at this point – it’s way bigger than myself. You ask how I’ve been. I’ve been great. I am healthy, and so is my family. If you don’t have that, you have nothing.
Do you think when things go back to normal, you will continue to build your business online?
Our out-of-towners are BEGGING us (me/my instructors) to continue Zoom post-Quarantine, so we will try and figure that out. People are starting to get genuinely concerned about this, as it is becoming part of their routine. It wouldn’t be difficult for us to continue a couple zoom workouts a week, so we probably will. That being said, I really have to put my focus on what is right for JABS, which will likely be making sure we are taking care of our NYC clients in our new home. I think having this foundation is extremely important before we as you said, “build our business online”. The online piece will not be an expansion project just yet, it will be to serve the people who we’ve brought into the family during this time.
The latest update: Gina and the JABS workout are no longer with Equinox (although Gina shared with us that Equinox is forever in her heart). It was a difficult choice for her to have to leave Equinox, but when we come back after quarantine, JABS will have a brand new home – and you can follow along on her Instagram @jabsbygina for this announcement!