For Victoria Thomas, fitness isn’t a hobby–it’s a way of life. The North Texas native played D1 volleyball at Rutgers University, moved on to the Legends Football League, then worked as a sports and entertainment lawyer. Through the years, she also worked as a personal trainer, helping family members and NFL athletes alike set and meet fitness goals.
In 2017, Thomas opened her own studio, JOURNEYFIT, and now operates three gyms across Dallas. The first JOURNEYFIT location, in Richardson, was the first Black- and female-owned gym in Collin County. A downtown Dallas location followed, and a third JOURNEYFIT opened in the Design District last month. Each studio offers both personal and group training; the HIIT-style classes incorporate strength training, boxing, cardio, and more.
Today, Thomas has amassed a community of over 400 members. She also has a loyal following on her Instagram account, @iam_queenvee, where she documents her personal fitness triumphs. We (virtually) caught up with Thomas to learn about her approach to goal-setting, her plant-based lifestyle, and her commitment to realness on social media.
What inspired your career as a personal trainer?
Sports and fitness have always been at the core of my life. My mom inspired me to get into training when I was 18. She worked two jobs; in between shifts, she’d still make her health a priority by working out at 24 Hour Fitness. I was so inspired by her determination that I would research exercises, create training plans, and go with her to train her. I fell in love with it and never turned back! In 2009 I got my first job as a trainer, and my second big gig was fitness director at Gold’s Gym Garland. During that time I was certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).
In the fall of 2012, I decided to get my law degree. Sounds like a major pivot, right? Well, I graduated in 2015 and practiced at a leading sports and entertainment firm. In 2016, I decided to return to my passion and I started my own fitness and wellness brand, JOURNEYFIT. I opened my first gym in the following year. Now JOURNEYFIT has three locations with no signs of slowing down. My goal is to heal the world from disease and illness through fitness and nutrition.
How do you set goals for yourself and for your clients?
I have this quote on the wall in my first location. It says, “Your body can do anything, it is your mind that you have to convince. Focus your mind on consistency. It’s the only thing that stands between you and your goal.” When I set goals for myself or guide goal-setting for my clients, consistency is what we are striving for, not the actual goal. When you finally reach a goal and it’s time to maintain it, consistency is what keeps you from losing it. Often we want to see those huge differences so much that we don’t recognize the small ones. That is why I named the studio JOURNEYFIT. It’s all about the everlasting journey, not the destination. For my own goals, my clients unintentionally hold me accountable–I know that I am a leader and I want to lead by example. I encourage everyone to have an accountability partner along their fitness journey.
Between social media followers and gym members, you have a significant following. How do you encourage and support those who look up to you?
As an influencer, my responsibility is great, but what I realized as I matured is that people want to know that I’m human. I can have a dessert or a glass of wine every now and again. People look up to someone who can give them realness! I really do best when being myself. I attract a sustainable audience and I never have to switch up my personality. What people really want to know is that they have someone in their corner: a teammate, a coach, and a cheerleader.
What words of encouragement would you share with a reader who is totally new to working out? How should they get started with their fitness journey?
For all fitness newbies, I first want to congratulate you on starting this journey. It’s going to be filled with ups and downs–no different from life–but keep your focus on consistency. Consistency is not working out seven days a week. Consistency is balance. And balance is what produces consistency. Also, nutrition and fitness go hand in hand. Your eating plans can either slow down or speed up your progress. No matter your fitness goal, make sure your nutrition caters to your goal. There are so many good free resources out there to learn more.
How do you unwind when you have downtime?
My favorite way to unwind is to leave my phone in my car, go inside, eat my favorite meal, and binge-watch a television series. We are so connected to our phones and devices that detaching from it all, even for a moment, changes so much. I’m telling you–it makes a big difference. It de-stresses me and allows me to come back to it with clarity.
You eat a plant-based diet. How has your life changed as a result? How has your body changed?
Becoming plant-based was kind of an accident. In January of 2017, I did The Daniel Fast. For Christians, this is the time to draw closer to God and set an intention for the year. I was dealing with a lot of stress, anxiety, and decreased energy the first year the gym opened, and doing The Daniel Fast changed everything. It boosted my energy, leaned my body out quickly, decreased my inflammation, de-stressed me, and so much more. After researching, I found that these were known effects of transitioning to a plant-based diet. I share how to transition with as many people as I can because it changed my life.
What’s your favorite plant-based indulgence?
My favorite plant-based treat would definitely be the gigantic cinnamon rolls from Cinnaholic. Geez, they are so good. Another go-to of mine is Culina yogurt and granola for a simple and easy breakfast. I like the peach cashew butter flavor, and there’s also a great peanut butter flavored granola. It’s breakfast, but also a borderline dessert.
What’s your favorite workout-related purchase you’ve made this year?
My favorite equipment purchase is definitely the half-tire flip machine. There are two reactions when people see a massive half-tire in the middle of the gym: some are hyped up and want to flip it before they even step into their workout shoes, and some see it and are intimidated. To me, this is the representation of a fitness journey. To be successful at it you first have to learn proper form. For some people, this is enough to complete the exercise. Then there are those who haven’t built the strength to flip it alone. So I pair them with a partner and they successfully flip it together. Then there are those that can effortlessly beast through the tire flips. For those people, I add additional weight to the tire so they are still progressing as well. This machine depicts how everyone’s journey is different and how JOURNEYFIT can cater to every fitness level.
My favorite personal purchase would have to be my Nike Air Max 90s in metallic gold. Gold is the most prominent color of the JOURNEYFIT brand and I am a lover of all things Nike, so it’s only fitting that these shoes are on display in my Dallas office.
Follow Victoria at @iam_queenvee and learn more about JOURNEYFIT here.