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May 10, 2016

 Jacinta and her brother, Justin, have always been involved in the fitness industry, with their parents running fitness clubs when they were young, and in 1992 they opened their first gym straight out of high school. 

In 2008, the siblings felt it was time for something new and launched Anytime Fitness Australia. The pair became the master franchisors of the American fitness brand and brought the 24-hour gym to Australia. Since then, the duo has been able to implement their own business strategies and techniques, creating innovative products and systems to grow the brand. They personally own 20 clubs and have grown the business to 292 clubs across Australia in just five years. The club opened 350 gyms by the end of 2012-13 financial year and the Australian group turned over $170 million.

With three kids, Jacinta's mornings are understandably hectic. With her eldest daughter at high school, a toddler in daycare and a baby at home mornings are no mean feat. She works out of the office these days but makes up for it with strategy meetings and finding board members.

When starting out, the biggest challenge for Anytime Fitness was finding locations to keep up with the franchise demand to open new gyms. These days, communicating with franchisees and making sure they’re supported takes up more time.

The company opens between 10-12 new clubs a month, so they are growing rapidly. On a weekly basis, Jacinta focuses on business strategy and has meetings with her brother, the operations manager and the support manager. The team works closely with the US on a number of projects, and anything they look the Australian team looks at

The franchise strategy is on less traditional marketing and a focus on training around the culture of the club and getting involved in the local community events. This occurs in the form of sponsoring local fun runs or school activities, sponsoring sporting teams and raising money for charities by having events inside the clubs. Many of the franchisors also write fitness columns for their local papers.

The importance of work-life balance is something Jacinta feels strongly about. And on a personal level she achieves this by going on holidays with her family.

Jacinta’s third passion after her family and business is The Hunger Project, a charity that empowers people to end their own hunger by tipping the aid model on its head. They break the cycle of hunger and poverty. They unlock the vision, commitment and leadership of the hungry by training them in the skills and confidence to feed themselves and their families. Put simply, Anytime Fitness and The Hunger Project believe in the same thing – that each and every person has the ability to transform their life and that all people are resilient and inspiring. All we need is to unleash our potential.

She has personally committed to raising $100,000 for The Hunger Project, which will provide 200 communities with the ability to purchase food-processing equipment, provide 2,000 people with microfinance loans that are often used by communities to buy seeds/fertiliser, and train up to 50,000 rural villagers on agricultural practices.

Jacinta has also traveled Malawi to see first-hand what her funds achieve. As a passionate ambassador for health, fitness, life balance and to end hunger Jacinta McDonell-Jimenez has her challenges firmly in her sites.