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FITT Q&A: GINA DINAPOLI – FITNESS ENTREPRENEUR, FUTURE G.O.A.T.

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RYAN DEER

JUL 14, 2020

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IMAGE VIA @JABSBYGINA | INSTAGRAM

In a recurring series, we’re talking to inspirational people doing amazing things in NYC’s fitness scene. Today, we’re connecting with Gina DiNapoli, a fitness visionary with MJ mentality.

If you don’t know Gina, she’s a former PROJECT by Equinox standout that turned her original concept, JABS BY GINA, into an legitimate phenomenon. We caught up with her in May about becoming the G.O.A.T., her extreme distaste of the phrase “new normal”, and even pried out a few hints about something BIG coming post-COVID.

WHERE DOES THIS START, GINA?

It starts in Albany, where I grew up. I moved to New York to go into real estate because I thought I had the people skills for it. But I got here and I got crushed by it — I didn’t have a single sale in a year and a half. It was so disheartening for how hard I was working, and it led to this breakdown where I wondered: “why am I doing this? I’m not helping anyone”. I ended up leaving that job and applying for software sales, which I did fine in, but it still didn’t seem right.

While all this was going on, I got my certification in group fitness and ended up teaching Equinox’s kickboxing classes. I started testing my own choreo in the classes, and people loved them not knowing that they were movements and sequences I made up and not content given to me to learn and re-teach. And that led me to an audition with PROJECT by Equinox, where they let you test out your concepts.

WE HEAR THERE’S NEVER NOT A WAITLISTED CLASS. WHY DO YOU THINK JABS BY GINA HAS EXPLODED?

Every class I’ve taught since I auditioned has been waitlisted — you got that right! I wouldn’t have said this on my own, but since you brought it up, it is indeed a fact. And I think the reason it was a hit from the start is because it's combining a fun workout with something that's actually effective — a combo I think is really missing in the fitness world.

It’s transformed people’s mindsets toward fitness because they’ve found a workout where they not just enjoy the feeling after but during, and they get real results from it, too. Suddenly, you’re a month in and you stop focusing on the scale because of how much fun you’re having.

SO ONCE YOU’RE A “JABBER”, YOU’RE ALL IN?

I don’t even work that hard to sell JABS; it sells itself. People come to class once and say, “Screw it, I’m going to do a JABS format every day because that’s what makes me feel motivated.” JABBERS tell me it has “made them a morning person” — that’s when you know it’s real!

@jabsbygina | Instagram

DO YOU SEE A LOT OF THE SAME PEOPLE EVERY DAY?

People take JABS anywhere from six to 10 times per week. And I’m always asked how that’s possible. With my workout, the movements are designed with safety at the forefront — for instance, on a lower-body day, there are a designated amount of exercises that are allowed to be what’s called “knee-dominant”.

I make sure everything we’re doing is safe on the joints and strengthening the posterior chain — think back, and lats, and lumbar, and glutes, and hamstrings. Basically, all the things usually ignored by today’s trendy workouts, all while charging less than half of any of our competitors.

It's popular because the program works. If we get somebody through the door, they tend to stay awhile. We have over 250 JABBERS who have completed 100-plus classes. What's even cooler for me is that over 50 of these people have hit their 100, from start to finish, just during quarantine!

AND THAT NATURALLY LED TO JABS COMMUNITY?

I started JABS Community in May, and it’s given people this accountability factor. If you were only focused aesthetically before, this community will completely change your mindset and takes your mind off any anxiety you had around weight. And when you eventually do get back on the scale, you realize “wait, I lost 10lbs.?” Check it out; currently, we have enough transformation stories to post one every day for the next three months.

WHERE DOES THE CREATIVITY COME FROM FOR THE WORKOUTS?

When I was in college, I coached figure skating, and I realized I was really good at it. At the competitions, I was the youngest and least experienced coach by far, where every other coach had been doing it for 20 years. But my kids were winning because of the choreography and the technique I was teaching them. So I’ve always had the choreography element, and that’s why you’ll see moves in JABS that you’ve never seen anywhere else.

@jabsbygina | Instagram

SO ORIGINALITY IS A BIG STRENGTH FOR YOU?

I think that’s where a lot of fitness creators go wrong. They don’t create something that’s unique to them, so when they deliver it, it’s not authentic. I’m very much in my lane — I don’t look right or left, I just know what works for me and my JABBERs. And I deliver it well because it’s in my heart.

YOU’RE ELECTRIC IN THE STUDIO, BUT HOW IS ONLINE TEACHING GOING BECAUSE OF COVID?

It’s been a blast. It's enabled me to connect with THOUSANDS more people than I could ever possibly have reached with in a finite amount of space in New York City. I haven’t had to dumb the workout down at all for Zoom either — I’m doing the exact same moves I was doing in the studio because everything we do is a really safe movement.

And I have to say I hate the phrase “new normal”. There’s no such thing because life is constantly evolving. So I’m just trying to service what JABBERS need this week and next week. And next week, I’ll focus on the one after that.

AS A GIRL BOSS, DO YOU STICK TO A STRICT ROUTINE?

Social media influencers have created this idea that you need a routine to be successful. And I’ve never adopted that.

Last night, I went to bed at 2am and woke up at 9am; I’m totally all over the place. But that doesn’t freak me out — I don’t rely on a schedule to be productive. Like if I didn’t journal in the morning like I said I would, it won’t ruin my day, and instead, I just go with what the day brings and adapt.

@jabsbygina | Instagram

DO YOU EVER MAKE TIME FOR PLAY?

At this time, no. I don’t even work out on top of teaching. I save 100% of my body for JABS. In the past, I’ve taught 15 classes per week, but I find I’m giving 80% when I do that. My sweet spot is six classes per week, which allows me to manage the business and still give 110% every class.

JABS, between working and teaching, is definitely my whole life. I don’t go on walks or spend time on myself or anything like that, but I also think that’s what greatness is.

YOU WANT TO BE THE G.O.A.T.

You look at the best basketball players in the world who are so focused on their craft. I’m like that. I really am 100% JABS, and I think that’s part of what makes me great.

OKAY, HERE’S A FUN ONE: IF YOU COULD BE ANY CHARACTER FROM ANY SHOW, WHO IS IT?

Raven from That’s So Raven because she could see the future. If you’ve seen the show, you know it never really worked out well for her… but sometimes when I have a big decision to make that affect a lot of people, I wish I could know if it was the right choice or not. I had to make the decision—the very, very difficult decision—to leave Equinox and start my own company with a lot of people in mind.

BUT THERE’S SOMETHING BIG IN THE FUTURE FOR JABS BY GINA...

A new location in NYC! Sorry, that’s all you’re allowed to know!

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Join the JABBER crew on Instagram and Zoom by emailing info@jabsbygina.com with “I Wanna JAB” in your subject line, then be prepared to sweat. You’ll see what we mean. And don’t miss more stories and scoop from local favorites on Fitt NYC’s Instagram and weekly newsletter.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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