Our Journey to Success profile in the September-October 2015 issue featured Josh Bowen, founder of Aspire Fitness in Lexington, Kentucky, and formerly Quality Control Director of Personal Training for Urban Active for 24 gyms in three states. The feature entitled, “Challenge the status quo. Aspire for greatness,” showcased his journey from a 140-pound kid who serendipitously found the fitness industry to a successful fitness professional who continues to hold himself to the highest standards and empowers others to do the same.
Flash forward to today, two years later, and we now are featuring Josh as the 2018 PFP Trainer of the Year. His continued success is a testament to his unwavering commitment to the industry, to his career and to his clients. While his professional and business career in the industry certainly deserves recognition and accolade, what sets Josh apart is how he combines his love for fitness with his deep commitment to significantly impacting the greater good.
Service and helping others is not something Josh does out of obligation or because it’s good business practice. Service, in some form, is a cornerstone of everything he does. Spend a few minutes perusing his social media or reading any of his three books and there is no question how important service and giving back is to him. His hashtag/pen name, #BuffGandhi, sums him up perfectly.
We asked Josh to share more about his service, vision and how he integrates service into his business.
LV: Why do you think community service has become such an integral part of your business and your personal life?
JB: I have gone and fed the homeless. I have talked with the president of Refuge for Women about sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of women. I have seen what a dramatic impact offering a free surgery to a person who could never afford it, is. Community service is my life. Much has been given to me. I feel I need to give back to the world the best I can.
LV: Tell us a little about some of the organizations you work with and what you do for them.
JB: For Surgery on Sunday (SOS), I do a 24-hour fitness event, Sweat4Surgeries, where I train on-the-hour, every hour, up to 30 clients at a time, for 24 straight hours. This event in the last two years has raised over $60,000 for SOS.
For Refuge for Women, I lead clothing drives. In addition, all proceeds from my third book, To the Grave on Empty, go directly to the organization.
I do the same for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep; all proceeds of my second book, Your Time is NOW are donated to offer photography for parents who have lost children at birth.
Operation Joy is a charity we created and have done dedicated boot camps and accept private donations.
LV: You have written three books. Talk about how your books support your mission and are part of your vision.
JB: Two of my books (Your Time is NOW and To the Grave on Empty) are completely donated to charity, meaning every dollar is donated back to the charities I designated. The books allow me to be creative and have a voice. They allow me to reflect my mission through my words. At the same time, they allow me to raise money for such a great cause.
LV: What is your vision for how you will continue to serve and how do you see that it integrates with your career and your business?
JB: My business and any business that I will be involved with, will continue to do community service. I anticipate our Sweat4Surgeries event will continue to get bigger and bigger every year. I anticipate donating more bikes to children who need it through Operation Joy. I envision working closely with the Refuge for Women to help eradicate sex slavery.
LV: What have you found is most effective in getting your clients and your community aware of your causes?
JB: Social media and face-to-face contact. We broadcast the cause across all social media outlets, letting the world know what we are doing, most importantly, why.
LV: Has your involvement in these organizations impacted your business? Impacted you personally?
JB: We are impacted business-wise because we are associated with helping these great charities, so it does give us quite a bit of recognition. Personally, working these great charities and being involved with their cause has helped me grow as a person and a personal trainer.
Josh Bowen is doing community service the way most probably believes it should be done. The obvious is that he’s creating lasting change for the people helped by the money and awareness he’s raising for some incredible causes. The less obvious, but probably of greater significance, are the people he has inspired to follow his lead and make serving others a foundation for everything they do.
Whether it’s training for 24 hours straight, trading his workout shoes for dancing shoes in a local “Dancing with the Stars” event, providing a simple pleasure for kids who need it most, or helping others through his books, service is deeply personal for Josh. He has undoubtedly raised the professional bar for the fitness industry through his professionalism, knowledge and contributions to the industry. But if one were to make a prediction, Josh Bowen’s legacy won’t be about his impact in the gym. It will be about his impact on the world. #BuffGandhi