Mind, Body & Soul Sisters: How Entrepreneur Ashanti Johnson Gets Black Women Fit Through Sisterhood

Ashanti JohnsonFor years Ashanti Johnson worked to lose weight. She worked out for hours a day, only eating salads and maintaining a rigorous diet, but she couldn’t drop the pounds she wanted, fluctuating a three to five-pound loss and gain. So when she created 360.Mind.Body.Soul in 2010, she knew exactly what her clients were going through and consequently, the gym turned into her dream job.

“Seeing people truly living out the things they probably couldn’t even see before, that’s the best part of my job,” Johnson says. “Just seeing them blossom.”

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Located in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood, 360.Mind.Body.Soul is a fitness studio which focuses on helping its clients create their own balanced wellness routines. To do this, it uses healthy diets and exercise for the body, mental fitness for the mind, and self-efficacy for the soul.

Massive murals artfully cover the black brick studio walls with images like Ganesh — the elephant-headed Hindu god that removes obstacles — while chalk-drawn charts filled with competitive progress line the hallway. Motivation is everywhere because of out of the gym’s three pillars, the incorporation of soul is the core, separating Johnson’s programs from others available in the fitness world.

Johnson says that the soul is what drives physical and mental action. Nothing can be accomplished without its participation in the fitness process because success is based on what people believe they can do.

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“It’s the fortitude to go along with the process even when you can’t see the results,” Johnson says. “Your soul has got to align with the process, merge with it, you say yes, and then you do it.”

Johnson’s guidance and dedication to her 360 members comes from her own battles with health and weight loss. She grew up overweight and although she always worked out and remained active, the weight stayed on. When the Los Angeles native decided to move to Chicago and found happiness, the extra pounds she’d been fighting to eradicate just fell off.