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Hard work and dreams built Josh Tweed’s success story

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Believing in the possible: Josh Tweed left Bermuda for Britain, where he became successful as a personal fitness trainer and businessman (Photograph supplied)

On a wing and a prayer Josh Tweed left Bermuda nearly a decade ago for Manchester, England.

He didn’t have a job, didn’t know anyone to lean on and could only find accommodation in Moston, one of the city’s toughest neighbourhoods – Josh only saw the opportunity.

Today, the 34-year-old is a personal trainer for the rich and famous and the owner of JT Fitness, a growing business empire that sells athletic gear and at-home gym equipment in stores across Britain and continental Europe

“I always had a vision to create a brand. It is pretty hard to create one in Bermuda so I figured that England would be a lot easier to reach the people that I was looking to reach,” he said.

He took a personal trainer course and got to work, training and building relationships. “Before I knew it I was really busy,” he said.

Although the money was good, there was a downside: 14-hour workdays that were not sustainable.

“I started to think like my clients and I would say 90 per cent of them make their wealth while they're sleeping. So I was out there killing myself, I was making good money but I knew I was not going to be able to keep this up for ever. I knew I didn’t want to be 40 and working 14-hour days.”

Fitness products became his solution. Resistance bands, workout clothes, weights and accessories and water bottles are among the products JT Fitness offers today, but he started with just three items and a stock of only 50 of each.

“It was a struggle − at first − and then along came Covid-19 where everyone was working from home and a high demand for fitness products came about. If you've not got access to a gym or you can't afford to go to a gym, these are great for those purposes,” he said.

“I already had set up my website; I had already built a relationship with my supplier in China. So I was able to provide fitness products pretty much throughout the whole pandemic. I think that's where it really took off because I got extremely busy.”

Royal Mail and FedEx couldn’t keep pace. To keep up, Josh drove around the Manchester area making deliveries himself.

Customer favourite: Josh Tweed’s water bottles are a hit in stores across the United Kingdom and Europe (Photograph supplied)

While watching a show he became fascinated with the amount of plastic water bottles that are discarded in a year, and the negative impact that has.

Wanting to “give back to the earth” he decided to create his own reusable ones. Customers loved them.

“And then through one of my clients I met a buyer of a store called TK Maxx, a chain store in England. They’ve got 500-plus stores across the UK and EU. They’re massive.”

Even with numerous water bottle brands already on the market and on the shelves of TK Maxx, the buyer was impressed. Josh’s yoga mats also made it to the store’s shelves.

Other stores in Europe then welcomed him as did Asda, the British supermarket chain. Halfords followed suit.

“What I find is that they’re very interested in my story behind the fitness products,” Josh said. “There’s a lot of products out there that look great, they’re great quality, but it's not really a story, I feel, behind it.

“They ask me where did the whole idea of JT Fitness come from and I explain to them that I'm from Bermuda, a very small island; that I moved out to England and didn't know a single person and then built a successful fitness business training Premier League footballers to very high-end CEOs, TV reality stars …. I've worked with everybody.

“I think [my story] catches their interest because once I tell my story they buy right into my product.”

Footballer Marcus Rashford and fashion designer Karl Kani are among the people he has been “privileged to train”.

In Los Angeles, Josh’s clients have given him passage to the same circle as reality TV stars the Kardashians and Sofia Richie, the model and daughter of the singer Lionel Richie.

How he got there, Josh believes, is because of the dreams his mother, Kimarie Burns, encouraged.

She raised her six children alone, without a lot of money but a lot of love.

Even with that he had to jump a few hurdles before he was able to focus on a future she could be proud of.

At one point he grew enamoured with the gangs that lived in his neighbourhood in Bermuda; at 19 he had a daughter, but was not allowed to see her because of mistakes he’d made.

“I decided ‘I’ve just got to do better, I’ve got to stop stressing my mom out’,” Josh said. “Every single thing she does is for her kids. Every single day. My decisions were affecting her tremendously and I saw it. So I was just like, ‘I gotta do better’.”

Ground work: Josh Tweed with JT Fitness yoga mats in a TK Maxx store (Photograph supplied)

With that mindshift came the idea of entering the fitness industry and creating an international brand.

“My mom has always been very spiritual,” Josh said. “She has always been a believer in God and always tries to push positivity on her kids: ‘Walk with faith, and you can have whatever it is in this world that you want.’

“And I think that really set with all her kids. We all just strive for everything that we ever dreamt of doing and I think it's because of her and her belief. She made us feel like we could achieve anything.”

It’s a message that he believes all of Bermuda can benefit from.

“Anything's possible with hard work and dedication. As long as you believe in whatever you're doing and have discipline with it, you will be successful at it,” he said.

His plan is to get back to the island for a visit this summer, hopefully before Cup Match.

In the meantime he’s living the type of life that even now, doesn’t always feel real.

“Just the fact that I'm just so close with one of the biggest stars in the United Kingdom – Marcus Rashford. I’m at his house weekly. We travel not just not for work, we travel for holiday.

“Every time I’m with him, I meet somebody new or I learn something new.

“He’s the face of Manchester United, and Manchester United is one of the biggest clubs in England. For me to even be, you know, going around with these kinds of people going on jets, seeing the world, exploring new things with them I’m just like, ‘How did I do this coming from such a small place like Bermuda?’ I question it sometimes.

“What I say to myself is, ‘It’s God's plan’. Because if you told me ten years ago that I'd be doing what I'm doing now, I probably would have laughed at you.

“With my upbringing, everything that I've been through and where I come from, I would have never thought this would have been possible.”

Follow@joshtweedon Instagram;jt.fitness/

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Published May 02, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated May 03, 2024 at 8:11 am)

Hard work and dreams built Josh Tweed’s success story

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