Javeno Mclean is an award-winning personal trainer with a difference. His Manchester-based fitness centre J7 is a place where all ages and abilities are welcome. Known for his incredible rapport with clients, his videos have had over 90 million views on TikTok. We talked to him about his mission to make fitness accessible to all.
Javeno, can you tell us about the J7 Community Health Centre and what makes it unique?
J7 Community Health Centre is unique because it’s the only facility that is truly inclusive. I want and need everyone here, despite age, ability or skill level.
What inspired you to start your club, helping people of all ages and abilities?
I have seen injustice in disadvantaged communities. Over 20 years ago, when I trained my first disabled client, I realised there is power in care and that it was vital to me to get this out to the world.
How did you first get into this world of work?
I was a professional cricket player. All I wanted to do growing up was be a cricket player.
I achieved many great things in my time as an elite cricketer but experiences and events whilst I was playing in India made me realise that I gained more satisfaction out of what I could do for other people rather than myself.
You worked for Manchester City Council developing the Active Lifestyles fitness programme. What did that involve, and what did you learn from that role?
That role involved developing a menu of exercises for the entire city. I learned in that role that embracing human differences is the key to truly understanding diversity.
I learned that being unique is a gift and being noticed and acknowledged should be the main approach to improving someone’s health and wellbeing.
I learned that all people and disabilities are different, and that being patient and understanding human behaviour is a skill I was good at. I discovered I was really good at seeing the beauty and strength in people even when they didn’t.
Can you tell us a bit about some of your amazing clients who feature in your videos? For example, there is an inspiring young man called Josh, a beautiful young woman named Danae and Aunty Gloria.
My little bro Joshy is a wonderful human. He has CP (Cerebral Palsy). Joshy is amazing because he has an inability to give up; he has a truly unbreakable approach to improving himself.
He trains for himself and also to make his mother, who passed away, proud. I took him on a national TV show with me – Steph’s Packed Lunch – and he wore his mother’s favourite shirt and her wedding ring.
The beautiful Danae makes my soul happy because she reminds me of family members of mine. She wants love, attention and above all to be accepted. She has no idea how powerful her energy is. Her ability to bring joy to the entire room is sensational!
I have trained Aunty Gloria for nearly 15 years. She is wisdom, beauty, strength and determination rolled into one small, Jamaican, energetic package.
She has taught me to listen, be myself and, above all, she’s taught me to live life and be present. At 90 years old she is so mobile and strong; she’s the greatest example of what the benefits of physical activity can do.
How do you gain clients’ trust and build rapport? How do you push them to go beyond their perceived limits without overwhelming them?
Story!!! We have to know each other’s stories. Once we become friends and there is mutual respect we can conquer anything and everything. My rapport with these people comes from real love and genuine care.
Apart from increasing their physical strength and fitness, what else do people gain from coming to J7 and working with you?
Gratitude, improved self-worth and bringing back happiness. People who are disadvantaged may have forgotten how to smile; they may have forgotten that life is for living and making experiences.
It’s great to bring smiles back to people and also their families.
Being noticed and seen is life-changing, people who attend J7 are blown away by the fact they are getting real attention fuelled by love and care rather than pity.
What do you gain in return from your clients? How do they inspire and motivate you?
I have learnt the true meaning of strength. I realise strength isn’t necessarily the amount of weight on a barbell. It is strength of character and strength of heart and the determination to overcome.
The love and appreciation from the entire family is what fuels me. I see the impact my work has on a person and their entire family.
It’s an addictive feeling of satisfaction that makes me want more and more because it’s really helped someone. That is worth more than money.