Joni Walton

Company Strength Training 

Photography by Alexis Emm 

“You’re either going to pack it in, or you’re going to keep moving forward.” — Joni Walton, founder of Danlee Medical Products, SWM February 2017

Joni wasn’t joking about moving forward. Since that interview, she’s kept up momentum with a new addition to Danlee Medical Products: a studio gym. This month, we talked with Joni about her inspiration to install the gym, get certified as a trainer and spread her motivation.

SWM: What inspired you to put a studio gym into the office?
Joni: I have a love for fitness and enjoy working out. My own personal struggles with weight taught me how living a healthy lifestyle can not only change your body, but change your mind. Participating in regular challenging exercise gives you energy, confidence and an entirely different outlook on life. My experience helped me to become a better boss, business owner, wife and mother. I thought to myself: if I provided this environment for my employees, I bet it would do the same for them.

SWM: What was the most challenging step of the process?
Joni: Honestly, I have such a passion for this that it felt seamless. Although it was a lot to think about — along with running my business — it seemed to fall into place. I feel that I am experiencing the most challenging part now: where do I go from here? Anyone who knows me knows keeping this a small studio gym is just a starting point. I am getting interest from the public, and it’s giving me more to think about.

SWM: Did the gym end up being what you had envisioned?
Joni: So much more than what I envisioned. As we got going, it took on a life of its own. Bigger space, a shower and more equipment. It’s awesome!

SWM: Talk about the process of being certified as a trainer. Did you ever think you’d be teaching classes at work?
Joni: There are many ways to become certified. I chose to use my years of experience working out and my own fitness journey, and became certified by using an online course. To think I would be using my certification to teach classes at work was not a thought at that time. However, what a great way to put that to use.

SWM: What sort of classes do you teach? How do you plan them?
Joni: We have a variety of classes. I teach spin, interval cardio, circuit training with weights, Tabata and cardio boxing. Planning the classes is time consuming, but actually fun for me. I think about ways to challenge people, but always provide modifications for every fitness level. I want people to leave the class feeling as though they worked hard and are proud of their accomplishment. I take into account what exercises we will do, safety, space, music, timing and level of challenge. When people say at the end of class, “That was a good one, thank you,” it makes me feel good.

SWM: Were employees initially hesitant to join in?
Joni: Yes. I had a few meetings to explain what I was planning to do. Some employees were “all in” right from the beginning, some joined later and some don’t participate. This is strictly voluntary, and there is no pressure from me or anyone else within the company. My hope is that as people see the enjoyment and results others are getting from the workouts, they will decide to participate as well.

SWM: How have you seen people’s attitudes change as they continue to take classes?
Joni: This amazes me every day! I see more confidence, more energy and people are generally happier. Employees seem more engaged and aware of how their actions affect our overall efficiency and bottomline.
I was also told that my being the fitness instructor and president — leading the classes and providing encouragement and instruction — only strengthens us as an organization. I’d say that is pretty powerful.

SWM: How has it changed the office atmosphere?
Joni: The entire atmosphere of the company is better. Some of the things I hear are:
• I love working out at noon and feeling so energized for the rest of my day.
• I feel like all my stress is lifted after working out.
• I feel cleansed after working out, and ready to tackle my day.
• We feel like the level of support we give one another in the gym translates to the work environment.
That last one pretty much sums it up. Mic drop! SWM