"Motivation isn’t something I look for. I used to think I needed to motivate myself. But motivation ebbs and flows and that only results from an inconsistent routine. Discipline is what you need to master. " -Naomi Chavez
From working a normal 9-5 job to becoming the owner of three businesses, Naomi Chavez took charge of the most challenging time in her life to build the kind of life that would secure her children’s future.
Born and raised in Canada, Naomi has lived in different parts of her home country including Calgary Alberta, Ontario, and finally, Vancouver. She started her life in the U.S after marrying her former husband, Joe, who served in the military and later became a Green Beret. Living in Tennessee, they welcomed two children into their family. With her husband serving in the special forces and deployments, Naomi spent several years at home with their children and it was during this time that she began focusing on obtaining her personal training certificate.
“After I had my first child, Lily, in 2008, I started to experiment with what exercise I enjoyed the most. I jumped into yoga to manage the stress of my husband's 15 month deployment and started running regularly,” shared Naomi, “After I had my second child, Parker, in 2011, I challenged myself more and started pilates, spin, and ran longer distances. I experimented with being vegan for about two years but didn’t feel my best. I was still experiencing fatigue and I knew I needed to build more muscle. I eventually created a workout regimen that consisted of weightlifting and deepening my yoga practice,” Naomi continued, “I started studying for my personal training certification and fell in love with wanting to help other women and mothers find their way back to themselves after childbirth, which I did for two years before venturing forward.”
In 2018, Naomi and her kids were crushed by the news of the passing of their beloved husband and father which was the beginning of a change in their lives.
“When my former husband passed away I didn’t know how I was going to move forward with my kids. I needed to do something that would secure my children’s future. I could not work a 9-5 job anymore,” shared Naomi, “I needed to be able to give them a life that they could take what happened to them and turn it into something positive.”
And so, she ventured into entrepreneurship and opened a gym that could serve as a safe space and therapy for men transitioning out of the military.
Naomi’s entrepreneurial ventures
Naomi owns and runs a fitness center, Operation Iron Gym, in Clarksville, Tennessee, with her husband and partner in business, Chris.
“Operation Iron Gym has been several gyms in its lifetime. Originally it was a gym full of local tag art. Poorly managed and probably a hazard to most lifters who chose to lift there.” shared Naomi, “It’s actually where Chris and I trained for a few years before we became owners.”
With Chris being a professional personal trainer, he runs the training and marketing of their gym while Naomi runs the admin and branding. She went on to say, “We loved that place, it was home. It was dirty and it was loud but it was full of amazing people. We built so many good friendships and watched so many guys come in who were transitioning out of the military and found a safe place for them to lift. For some of those guys, the gym is serious therapy. Men who need brotherhood.”
Naomi continued, “Men coming out of the military or returning home from deployment are not always given the support they need. The military has a ton of resources but the men themselves often end up feeling isolated from the civilian world. The mission of Operation Iron Gym is to give those men a different kind of resource. One that makes sense to them. A place they belong. A place where they can show up and face their personal battles in their own way.”
Operation Iron Gym has about 400 members. This November, the gym will be hosting a USPA powerlifting meet and will be donating a percentage of the proceeds to VETS (Veterans Exploring Treatment Solutions), a non-profit that provides resources, research, and advocacy for military veterans seeking psychedelic assisted therapy.
Naomi has also recently become the co-owner of The Sol Press Co. in Clarksville, a juice bar offering healthy meals and a variety of fresh juices. In charge of the branding, Naomi spent six months creating the local health food favorite the store has become today.
In addition to running the gym and juice bar, she also runs her own branding business and helps new small business owners build their business. “I help business owners create their brand and build their concepts from deciding on a logo, picking a location, to detailed employee handbooks and effective customer service.” Naomi revealed that she is also in the process of opening up a new Café and eatery!
Being an entrepreneur herself, Naomi shares that the top three traits one should have when heading into entrepreneurship is integrity, resilience, and the ability to be adaptable and innovative.
The challenges, the highlights, and Naomi’s secret to juggling between work and family
Being a mom of three, we asked Naomi what her secret is to balancing between family and work. She went on to say, “I don’t think there is one secret. I think it takes constant prioritization.
I have amazing kids and they all have different needs, I just try to make sure I meet those needs as best as I can everyday even if it's in little ways. I am also very honest with them,” Naomi continued, “Chris and I both work a lot, but they come to work with us sometimes where I give them a look into what we do each day. I want them to see that I'm not just ‘busy,’ I am building, creating, and serving others in order to grow our family stability along with opportunities for them and those around us.”
Naomi described the sacrifices that need to be made to move forward efficiently as the most challenging part about her entrepreneurial journey thus far. “The world doesn’t stop, business doesn’t stop just because you have a bad day. You need to learn to prioritize your time and reserve energy for all the fires you have to put out on a daily basis,” shared Naomi, “Big or small, they require energy in some form and you need to be able to decide quickly how much energy goes into each situation you encounter.”
She went on to say that the best part about her entrepreneurial journey is witnessing all that she’s capable of doing and having the chance to positively influence the lives of others.
“I am always surprising myself. I struggle with self-doubt all the time, but when I push myself and show up even when I'm afraid, I surprise myself. I love that, and I like seeing what I am capable of. I also really love being able to choose who I work with. I get to create pathways for people that really deserve to have a space carved out for them,” expressed Naomi.
“I recently brought on an intern who is studying project management. His dream is to be on a Patagonia expedition team but he needs more experience. I try to keep him involved in almost every project I have so he can gain that knowledge and experience from each project,” Naomi continued, “You never know what kind of influence you can have on others lives. I think about that a lot.”
Naomi also shared that she enjoys hiking with Chris and their kids as a way to recharge!
Our Favorite Questions
What are the top three things people can include in their daily routine to keep fit and healthy?
"The most important thing you can do is to establish a consistent routine. I set myself up for success everyday by making sure I eat a breakfast high in protein, take my vitamins/greens, and I give my immune system the support it needs. I eat often, every 2 - 2.5 hours, and I don’t starve myself or put myself last just because I’m busy."
What are some of the things you enjoy doing to recharge or boost your motivation?
"To recharge, we go hiking with our kids. I love being outside. But motivation isn’t something I look for. I used to think I needed to motivate myself, but motivation ebbs and flows and that only results in my routine being inconsistent. Discipline is what you need to master. Show up and do what is hard. Even if you don’t feel like it."
What advice do you have for women aspiring to open up their own business?
"Don’t wait for the right time. There will never be a right time for most things that are overwhelming or scary. I do believe patience and timing are important but don’t use them as excuses to not start. Put in the work and show up for yourself and others. Build foundations and relationships without expectations and don’t listen to that voice that tells you you’re not enough. You are enough and you deserve success. Keep going!"