Balancing the Grind with Jacinta McDonell, Director of Boutique Fitness Studios

Jacinta McDonell is the Director of Boutique Fitness Studios, and responsible for launching Anytime Fitness into the Australian market in 2008.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I started in the fitness industry in 1992 when I opened a gym alongside my mum and brother. The gym was close to home in Windsor where I grew up.

Five years later I started working for Fernwood Fitness and started my journey in franchising. 

Fast-forward to 2008 my brother and I teamed up again and together launched the widely successful US franchise Anytime Fitness into the Australian market. As a Co-Founder I was responsible for brand development and franchise network growth. 

In 2017 I exited Anytime Fitness after achieving a brand network of over 425 clubs. The following year, I was recognised for my contribution to the fitness industry and inducted into the Fitness Industry Roll of Honour. 

I enjoyed some time off, spending time with my family and surviving Covid.

This time also saw me graduate from the Australian Institute of Company Directors and hold a Director/Board role at The Hunger Project. 

I knew I would always find my way back into the industry, which manifested in 2021 with the launch of A Founders Path, a wellness consulting business where I work with a select number of Founders to scale and grow their wellness business.

In Dec 2021 I joined Boutique Fitness Studios (BFS) as a Board Member, Director and Investor with a vision to work with CEO Matt Gordin to fully realise the growth and future of boutique fitness in Australia and New Zealand with BFS’s 3 master franchise brands Rumble, Cyclebar and Stretchlab. 

2022 marks 30 years in the fitness industry. 30 years where I have been badged with just about every role that exists in the industry.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

My day looks different depending on whether or not I have my kids. I am a single mum and co-parent of my 2 younger children (8 and 11yrs) and a beautiful 21 year old. 

But one thing that remains consistent is starting my day with stillness before anyone else rises. I meditate every morning and connect the day with a black coffee. This is my time to exercise mindfulness before the busyness. 

Then it’s either school drop off followed by emails and meetings or straight into my home office. 

I attend a yoga class nearly every day and try to schedule this in advance so it isn’t affected by what my kids have on.

It’s usually school pick and back to a few emails before dinner with the kids or my eldest. It’s a mad mix of family and work and I love it.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

Yes absolutely. For me this is a non-negotiable. Flexibility is key for me, it enables me the freedom to be there for my kids. As a parent we all know that things can pop up so freedom to work the hours required around these events is essential.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I think we need to understand that balance is about managing priorities and this is a constantly moving target. What’s important each day and each week varies, so we need the freedom to adapt and change when needed. 

A rigid approach has never meant better balance for me. Quite often I found this actually had the opposite effect. 

To me balance is about having the discipline to manage several priorities and still remain present where I am and with what I am working on.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

For personal reasons the last 12 months have been challenging. So I have increased my yoga practice to better deal with challenges as they arise. 

It may seem counterintuitive but with age I have realised that the more pressure I face, the more time I need to focus on myself. When I was younger and starting out in my career, I would do the complete opposite and grind through it. This shift has been transformative.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I am always reading a few books at a time, at the moment I am obsessed with Skin in the Game by Jane Wurwand, The Surrender Experiment by Michael A Singer and Legacy by James Kerr.

I read more than listen but I do love A Bit of Optimism with Simon Sinek

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

My Remarkable. It’s replaced by dozens of notepads and I take it everywhere with me !!

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?   

It was not an interview but I was lucky enough to spend some time with Jane Wurwand so my advice would be to read her book, mentioned above.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

There really are no rules. We get to choose how we spend our time, what’s important and who is worthy of our energy and focus. I think the key is realising what we are choosing and if it truly aligns with what we want to do and who we want to be in our life.

With this perspective we can prioritise how we use our time and with whom. This for me is key to finding a purposeful life that we love.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.