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Jimmie Gonzalez Jr.—a husband to Stacie for 18 years; a father to Christian, Elena, and Nia; an entrepreneur; a graduate of Florida A&M in Tallahassee; a health lover; and a man enamored by the grace and mercy of Christ—is living the dream as a fitness trainer at Trinity Fitness in Central Florida.
The Trinity Fitness organization was founded by current CEO, Jason Palmisano. The story goes: Palmisano was studying exercise and physiology when he began working out with his wife and her friend in their garage. One thing lead to another, more and more neighbors and friends began to work out with Palmisano each day, and at some point there were between 50-60 people working out with them. Once he noticed a shift in focus by some people onto only their physical appearance, he decided one day that it was time to hold a devotion before their workout. This is how Trinity Fitness was created in 2008. Gonzalez said, “I don’t think it was something he had planned, but it was obviously something God had planned.”
Prior to Trinity Fitness, Palmisano was a nationally-known chalk artist; this was his ministry, so he would go to churches and organizations sharing the gospel while doing his chalk art. This is how Gonzalez and Palmisano met. At that particular time, Gonzalez had been doing personal training for several years, but then strayed away from it and began working in the social media market. When Palmisano first brought up the idea of Trinity Fitness, Gonzalez had no interest in training. But as times progressed, he felt that was God’s purpose for him—using fitness to share the love of Christ with others.
His and Stacie’s story is a bit different. Similar to Palmisano, they started out in their garage with about five friends and family members. They began doing workouts twice a week during the evening time, and then a Sunday morning class as well—this lasted for several months in 2013. They then partnered with their local church—in 2014—who allowed them to use their weight rooms. “This was a blessing that allowed us to market within the church, allowed us to build a following, and allowed us to definitely save some money,” Gonzalez said. At the end of 2014, they hosted a fundraising campaign, which in turn, was very successful and allowed them to open up in an actual facility at the beginning of 2015. This upcoming month will be the one year anniversary to having their own location.
Trinity Fitness is a non-profit organization that works off of the commitments that the members can give on a monthly basis. They do ask for an average of $50 a month, but it is not a requirement, and depending on finances, some people give more than that; some give less. “We don’t want finances to be a barrier to people,” Gonzalez said.
Every Trinity Fitness is set up the same way. They’ll begin the workout with a short devotion that includes a Bible verse, a story to go along with the Bible verse, and then a word of encouragement or a challenge for them to complete. Then they pray at the beginning and pray at the end. Gonzalez said, “It’s really more of a ministry than just a gym in itself. It’s been a blessing to see the work at people’s lives.”
He continued, “The witnessing is more in a relationship perspective. As we continue to build relationships with the team that we have in the gym, [we get] the opportunity to witness to people and get a better understanding of where they’re at spiritually. The best thing really, is the classes and building relationships with the members.”
“Being an entrepreneur is challenging. There is just all of these challenges just kind of lingering in my mind, but when I’m in classes and we have the music going, and seeing people encouraging each other and giving their best effort—seeing parents work out with their adult kids, seeing husbands and wives work out together—I’m just able to forget about everything else. So I think it’s always the best part of my day,” he continued.
Before working at Trinity Fitness, Gonzalez worked at call centers for almost 17 years. He said, “I feel like no matter where you’re at, wherever God has placed you, that’s your mission field.” He feels very blessed to be able to take something he is incredibly passionate about, like fitness, and use it to help bring people to the One he is even more passionate about in the type of environment with jump ropes and box jumps. “I don’t really look at is a job,” he said.
His favorite moment at Trinity Fitness involves a young lady who works out with them—a lady who was once a student in the college and career life group class that he and Stacie taught a few years ago. Around seven or eight years ago, she was hit by a truck and now has traumatic brain disorder. This has affected her memory, her cognitive skills, her balance, etc. Gonzales said “I remember when she first started with us, her running was a challenge for her.” When he held fitness tests, one of the tests was for to run a mile on time. She ran 800 meters and it had been years since she had ran that much. Her sister was there that day, and when her sister and Gonzalez were talking about how far she ran, it finally hit her how far it actually was. “For someone who went through such a traumatic situation and was probably told by doctors so many things she wasn’t going to be able to do, and then to see her and the excitement with that particular accomplishment was a really sweet moment,” he said.
One of the biggest pieces of advice he could give is to take every advantage you have to make a positive impact in somebody’s life. “In this day and age we get so caught up with life in general and influences and social media. Some of it is really heavy stuff,” he said, “We get so caught up that we just forget about what’s really the most important; and that’s [our] family and friends that God has placed in our lives and given us responsibility for.”
He continued, “Just taking advantage of every moment you have to try to brighten up somebody’s day, to leave a positive impact in somebody’s life, never waste those opportunities.”
For the better part of his life, Gonzalez was raised Catholic. When he moved to Tallahassee, he went to a barber who would always witness to him about God and salvation, and invited him to his church. Gonzalez said, “At the particular point, there was just a lot of searching.” Once he and Stacie moved back to Orlando, they started to attend First Baptist Church of Central Florida. “I had always known God. I knew who He was, I knew who Jesus was, and I knew about His sacrifice. But when I got to the new church, I just really started to learn more about really what that sacrifice meant, what true salvation is and what that means to a person, and how to receive that salvation.”
“Before that, I was very much in the world with the things that I was doing and the things that I would think and the things that I would say—just living a worldly life,” he continued. About twelve years ago on Easter Sunday, the pastor was preaching and at the end of the service he gave an invitation, and Gonzalez raised his hand to receive the acknowledgment from the pastor. He said, “I just knew in my heart at that time, I had a better understanding of what that really meant. I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior at that particular point. From there, it was just a matter of continuing to learn and grow, and to see the changes that came about in my life because of the fact that I knew Creation and I had Jesus in my life and an intimate relationship with Him.”
He was able to get baptized on the same day as his mother. He was able to watch his wife get saved, his children get saved, and his brother and sister get saved. “It’s just been a phenomenal thing and that’s lead me to teach and to play an active role within my church and within my community,” he continued, “My life has definitely not been perfect and I still make mistakes, but God is so good and He has been so merciful to me, and that decision has changed my life for my eternity.”
His favorite Bible verse is Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” This verse is how he got to where he is now. When he started a personal training business several years ago, he was working with a man creating his logo and he did not already have a tagline in mind. The tagline the man came up with was “exercise your faith,” which has stuck with him ever since. “As a believer you believe everything in the Bible and have faith in a God that you’ve never seen, but you know in your heart He’s there. You have to have a lot of faith in order to be a Christian.”
As mentioned previously, Gonzalez worked at call centers for 17 years prior to Trinity Fitness. He left his job after working at Sears for twelve years and this decreased their salary by 80%. “That took a huge leap of faith leaving all that behind,” he said, “and I had faith that God has always provided for us and that He will continue to do that. There have been a lot of situations in my life that, having faith, would work out how He planned ultimately. Having that deep faith has carried me. ”
One of the most important things to Gonzalez is the mission and vision for Trinity Fitness. He said, “Our vision is to inspire people to be the best spiritual and physical shape in their life. Our vision is helping people inside and out across America.”
“We truly have a gym like no other,” he continued, “I’ve seen a lot of faith-based gyms, even non-profit gyms that are doing wonderful things in the community. But I really love what we’re about and how we’re casting a fairly large net to our community and helping people to be healthy inside and out from a spiritual perspective to a physical perspective. And we really do what we can within the community to see lives transformed.”
“God asks us to come to Him like a child. God works in people’s lives. We plant seeds, we water, we nurture, we pray, and then we see what God does in people’s lives through that process,” Gonzalez said.