Man on a Mission

How following a passion transformed this founder’s life

If you ask Jonathan Roche why he’s in business, he’ll tell you he’s on a mission: to positively transform 100 million lives by 2025.

Jonathan, an award-winning fitness expert and the founder of Breakthrough Health and Wellness, began his career as a financial analyst, but left the safety of a six-figure job when a series of life-changing events revealed his passion for changing others’ lives.

Our team has been working with Jonathan for the past several months on Boot Camp Hub, Breakthrough’s online personalized boot camp system. We asked Jonathan how he found his passion for health and wellness and how turning that passion into a business has impacted his life and his company. Here’s what he told us.

Sometimes in life, you’ve just got to GO...

How did you discover that fitness was your real calling?

I played soccer and lacrosse in college. Then I started working as an analyst, started exercising less, and started packing on the weight. By the time I even realized what was happening, I’d gone from about 180 to 224 pounds.
On the day of the Boston Marathon, I got on the train, and a guy who had just finished the marathon sat next to me. For the next 15 minutes, this guy was on fire. He’d just run 26 miles, but he was saying it was the best day of his life, and I was thinking, “I want to be this guy!” I decided I was going to run the marathon the next year.
Six months later, I was on a treadmill at the gym and got a phone call. It was one of my brothers telling me that my dad — who also was a college athlete and had fought with his weight his whole adult life — had died of a cardiac arrest.
I’d been training for the marathon for six months but I hadn’t lost any weight. When I got that phone call, I made a promise to myself to change my life — I never wanted to put my future kids in the situation I was in. My dad was my best friend, and he’s gone.
Over the next year, I dropped 44 pounds. I ran my first Boston marathon, and this year I’ll run my 20th straight.

How did you turn your life-changing moment into a business?

After I lost the weight, my co-workers kept asking me how I’d done it, so I started helping them lose weight too. Then I started running fitness challenges, and I suddenly realized how much I loved doing it — and people were crushing it doing these interval training plans I was creating. That’s when I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life.
At the core of our mission is this: people deserve to thrive and live long, happy lives.

How is Boot Camp Hub different?

The reason we’ve been able to drive industry-leading outcomes is that we meet busy people where they are. We take people whose lives are already crazy and get them to exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day.

How do you think your mission has impacted the company’s success?

At the core of our mission is this: people deserve to thrive and live long, happy lives. We believe that the #1 attribute for anyone who joins our team is empathy, and when we’re transparent and real with our members, they understand that we really care about them.

Being a business owner is hard. How has following your passion impacted your life?

Being a business owner is hard when you don’t find your calling. But if you find what you love, you’ll spend 90% of your time having a blast.
I left my six-figure job to make $6 an hour at a health club, but I was the happiest guy in there.

What’s your advice to someone who’s considering leaving a ‘safe’ job to start a business doing something he/she loves?

First, start writing your plan for what you want to build. I was working on a business plan for my fitness company while I was still working as an analyst. If you love something and you start writing about it, it’s like you’re mapping out your future.
If the plan seems like something you can execute on, start moonlighting. Then you’ll start figuring out if you really have something that delivers value to people.
But it comes down to this: sometimes in life, you’ve just got to GO. There I was just four classes short of getting my masters in finance, and I just decided, “You know what? I’ve just got to go. I can’t wait another year.” A lot of my friends and family thought I’d lost mind. I left my six-figure job to make $6 an hour at a health club, but I was the happiest guy in there. Sometimes you’ve just got to do it.

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