Domestic Abuse Survivor Finds Empowerment Through Fitness

We often hear the term “empowerment” used, especially when it comes to conversations around women and their rights in this country. Domestic abuse in the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender community is a serious issue. About 25% of LGBT people suffer through violent or threatening relationships with partners or ex-partners, which is about the same rates as in as domestic abuse against heterosexual women.


As in opposite-gendered couples, the problem is underreported. Those involved in same-gender abuse are often afraid of revealing their sexual orientation or the nature of their relationship.


The journey of Jonathan Chadwell founder of JC Fitness and a survivor of domestic violence is one of ultimate empowerment, as he overcomes his physical and emotion challenges, he empowers his clients to do the same. He is a man who says X and does X and a definitive champion. He is a silence breaker on the issue of domestic violence within the Black LGBTQ communities and turned a story of victimization into a victory.


Chadwell is a personal trainer, with a body of steel, and the brain and driving force behind his own brand, JC Fitness. His passions for fitness began to develop 3 years after escaping a physically abusive relationship with an older male partner. He chose to save his own life after enduring an eight month relationship where he had been controlled in the beginning and in the end the relationship turned violent. Jonathan turned his pain into passion by refocusing on healing through fitness and wellness.


While homeless, he found a way to make money so that he could get his training certification. He says, “I felt weak and I never wanted to feel that way again. I never wanted anyone else to feel that way. I want to prevent that by creating conversation, action plans all around healthy lifestyles. I look to educate my clients not just train them.” He spent the next 3 years rebuilding his body, confidence, and getting back on stable ground. He created a space within himself to feel safe and decided that is what he wanted to do for others, especially within the LGBTQ community where domestic violence goes underreported due to many factors.


In our ever-connected world, Chadwell has created a higher level of interaction with what he calls JC Soldiers (his moniker for his clients). He currently is working with 12 clients who all came through referrals, and in order to meet the needs of his clients he is only looking to work responsibly with 17. He not only meets with them for scheduled sessions but interacts with them daily through Facebook Groups, instagram (@officialjc_  and @jcsoldiersnyc) to connect and share with them but with the added bonus of knowing they will not be judged. “It’s where they can really post about their fitness journey no matter how small or big.


JC Fitness social media campaign


“I want them to know that we are a community, a family. We get to be each other’s safe space. We get to share with each other major transformation stories whether someone has successfully lost 30 pounds or someone is feeling insecure about joining a gym at 40 years old for the first time,” explains Jonathan.


“My soldiers are all at different levels on their journey, different goals. I share videos of their workouts, my workouts, meal plans, recipes, and self care tips. My goal is to get them to interact with each other and build that online community so that they inspire each other on their wellness journey. When I look back on my journey maybe the abuse made feel that I was broken but that was a lie. I have always been whole. My body is my vision board. I want to show others that living a healthy fitness and wellness lifestyle is healing. Self-care is not selfish when you know who you are…it all starts with self. I want my clients to know that I am not only here for them, but I hear them and I will take the journey with them however that looks.”


“Abusers isolate and healers unite.”


Jonathan Chadwell is the incarnation of endurance, a testament of what it means to survive and give back to your community. The value of life can be measure by our will to endure. We have a remarkable ability to fight through fatigue, to withstand pain, keep going, as long as we don’t lose sight of what we are fighting for. Jonathan is all about training your mind and your body to achieve true freedom through discipline, a true soldier. “I don’t expect anything to ever be easy, my expectation is to win,” says Jonathan. The race is not given to the swift but to he that endures and as a client I am clear that JC Fitness will endure the test of time.

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