These days, Jan Taylor focuses her life on the fitness of her clients: physical fitness, nutrition and even fitness of their minds. However, the Watertown resident hasn’t always been a personal fitness trainer and health coach, and she left a stable job to make fitness her business.
Taylor has run Get Lively out of her Westside home since 2014. She describes the business as mindful health and fitness coaching. Since starting to work as a personal trainer, Taylor has expanded to health coaching via phone or internet, and produces her own podcast.
Taylor has transformed the basement of her home into a fitness studio, where she teaches a variety of classes, including Pilates, kettlebells, and Barre. This summer, she has started running small group training at the park behind the Watertown Police Station.
Her fitness clients are local, but with her online health coaching, Taylor can reach people both near and far, including New York and South Carolina. She offers a variety of online options, including personal, one-on-one chats, group coaching calls, and online memberships where people can access videos and lessons online.
Through these classes Taylor helps people work on their fitness, eating habits, and general health. Some clients are people who recently received a diagnosis or warning from a doctor that they need to change their eating habits and get fit.
“I really love working with people, helping to show them they have a choice,” Taylor said. “They can choose positive ways to look at things.”
She often works with people who want to find a way to get more control of their busy lives, and not feel so worn out.
“I work with a lot of moms who are tired of being fatigued and exhausted,” Taylor said.
By making small and gradual changes, Taylor said, people can make succeed in making a lasting change, which people may not have been able to reach by following other diets and exercise programs.
Fitness and health instruction was not always Taylor’s passion. For 15 years, Taylor worked in fundraising and event planning at Simmons College. The inspiration to get into fitness and health sprouted from her personal fitness efforts.
“I realized I had never run a mile when I turned 30,” Taylor said. “I practiced for two weeks and eventually I ran a mile. After doing that I said I would do a half marathon.”
She began running and lifting weights, but when she met with a sports nutritionist she was told that instead of lifting weights she should try Pilates.
“I thought, Pilates, I’m not sure that’s for me,” Taylor said. “I went to Boston Body in Belmont and when I walked in I said, this feels right.”
Soon she decided to enroll in a Pilates instructor course, though she never intended to teach. After the course, she began studying for the 4.5 hour exam, but she still had not decided to become an instructor.
“My husband said, ‘What are you doing? What do you want to do with all this?'” Taylor recalled. “I got the idea to start my own business.”
She thought about doing the fitness instruction while continuing to work in fundraising, but she realized how difficult that would be. While weighing her options, Taylor remembers looking up at the sky to see a crescent moon, which was the phase it was in when her grandfather passed away. At that moment she could hear her grandfather in her mind.
“I felt his presence and heard him chuckle and say, ‘Oh Jan, it’s going to be alright.'” Taylor said. “It was really the message that I needed to have the confidence to go for it.”
Having left the stability of a job at a college, Taylor now is the one and only employee of her own business, which has its pros and cons.
“When I started I had no contacts, no experience,” Taylor said. “As a business owner, a one-man show, doing it all, even the things I don’t like to do.”
Taylor spread the word about Get Lively on social media, and she sends out weekly emails, podcasts and live videos to help people learn about herself, her services and to get connected. She also benefited from good, old word of mouth.
“I hired a business coach last year to help me with all this and she said consistency is key as it relates to building an audience, their trust, and hopefully their business,” Taylor said. “These are the primary ways that I market my business, but so much comes through referrals from happy clients.”
When not working with a client or putting together a podcast, Taylor can be seen visiting clients at events around town, just to say hi.
When she first started her business, Taylor said she would go anywhere and do anything for clients, in an effort to get established. She knew her business was really gaining traction when she no longer had to cater to all requests, such as a home visit at 5 a.m. for a class.
“In my second year I felt like I was humming. I started saying ‘no’ to certain things, and I realized I had something here” Taylor said.