Episode 101 – Janna Van Witbeck, Blue Line Judo & Judo Fit
Showing up for a Judo class while in college, Janna had no idea what she was getting into. While in the class she was thrown by the other students, literally. Although it was hard she refused to drop out. “That was just my personality, I show up even though I didn't really enjoy it,” Janna said. Her attitude toward Judo reflected her attitude toward challenging situations, she was not about to be seen as a quitter. After 4 years of training, she really started to love the sport. At that time she saw a video of other athletes competing at the Olympic level and was especially drawn to a woman who was small in stature dominating her competitors. “She was amazing and so inspiring and that's when I became obsessed with the sport. I really wanted to be good at the sport,” she explained.
Turning her passion into a business started when her son was old enough to start training in judo. Her vision was to get other people to enjoy the sport of judo and share it as widely as possible. “Whenever you have something like that in your life you want to share it with everybody and you want everybody else to do it,” she said. Although well known in Europe and Asia, judo is misunderstood and not well known in America. Janna is determined to change that.
Feeling that judo is the ideal sport for women she wanted them to have exposure to the sport and so she started in a gym where the women's yoga co-op was also meeting. Certain that they would flock to her classes she was excited to share it and it was not what she expected as the women didn't embrace it as she'd hoped. “I'd been marketing to women and I had multiple men call me and ask if I taught men,” she said. Her adult team now are mostly men. Her classes now include an adult class and a class for kids. She also offers one on one education for anyone who may not be comfortable in a class setting.
During the pandemic, her studio classes were suspended. She knew she needed to add something that could be done at home and she started Judo Fit. This is an online class that mirrors judo movements and helps teach the basics. “I started doing Zoom classes with the kids team and I encouraged them to get their parents and grandparents involved. I knew them because they dropped them off at practice. I was worried about them during shelter in place. The grandparents loved it! I realized baby boomers took off with it,” she said. This was the inspiration to get Judo Fit online. It is set up as an online subscription paid monthly and multiple classes can be chosen.
Janna has taken advantage of the resources offered at the Innovation Center and has moved her gym there. Her advice to other business owners is to not get discouraged and to listen to other business owners' stories to be inspired. Use the resources around you and reach out for help.
The next goal is to have her team win nationally and in order to do that she needs a bigger team. She also has received a grant from the State of Idaho to bring Judo Fit to France and Great Britain. Her vision remains to bring judo to the masses and inspire others to love the sport as she does while bringing gee pants in style.
For more information check out the Blue Line Judo website at https://www.bluelinejudo.com/.
If you sign up for Judo Fit you can get one month free in the studio.
Thank you to James Manzanarez for editing the show. Check him out at https://www.servantsheartent.com/.
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