LIVING THE DREAM
SPRUCE PINE – Few people get to turn a hobby into a career, but that’s exactly what Jon Allen has done.
Allen’s passion has been fitness since he began lifting weights at age 10.
“I didn’t even know what I was doing,” Allen said.
When he was 11 his uncle bought him some weights and his foray into weight training officially began.
Allen, 26, is a Spruce Pine native. He attended Mountain Heritage High School and played football. After an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, his junior year, he was relegated to strictly weight training.
“I had always wanted to join the North Carolina Highway Patrol,” he said. “I got a job at Ingles to pass the time until I turned 21 but when the time came to fill out the employment packet for the Highway Patrol, I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I then went to Mayland to get my personal trainer certification and was told I would never be a personal trainer in this area.”
He received his personal training certification in 2010 and has been training others ever since. He has competed in powerlifting competitions and in 2017 became a 198-pound weight class Raw Elite Lifter after lifting a total of 1,500 pounds – a 520-pound squat, 360-pound bench press and 620-pound deadlift.
Allen later took a job as manager of Fitness Express in the Cross Street Commerce Center in Spruce Pine. He worked in that position for three years when former owner Jason Hobson offered to sell him the business. In April 2017, Allen bought Fitness Express.
“It was like taking over the family business,” he said. “Jason helped me tremendously throughout the process and I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Jon said one of his favorite things about training is watching others grow through exercise and seeing how his training benefits others.
Jon is also a newlywed. He married his wife, Amber, a fourth-grade teacher in McDowell County, on March 24.
“She was a cheerleader at Gardner-Webb and has been doing gymnastics her entire life,” Allen said. “Pound-for-pound she’s as strong as anyone who comes in here.”
Fitness Express currently has one trainer on staff, Marcus Wood, and offers several aerobics classes.
Although Fitness Express has spawned two elite-level lifters Allen and Spruce Pine Police Officer Michael Burleson – he said the gym is a really a place for normal, average people who are just trying to stay in shape.
“They are the ones that keep the doors open here,” he said. “We are locally owned, family oriented and people do not feel intimidated coming here. I’m here to guide and help people and I think they feel I really do that.”
Abigail McKinney has been a member of Fitness Express for five years and spent three years working as a personal trainer there.
“Even before Jon bought the place, he was the go-to guy,” she said. “He was the one everybody looked up to. He’s knowledgeable, good at what he does and makes other people good at it, too.”
McKinney said Allen makes it a point to put money back into the gym. In the little more than a year he has owned Fitness Express Allen has added around 60 pieces of equipment.
“He is totally passionate about what he does,” McKinney said. “He’s good at training females, males, young people and older people. He trains everyone no matter what. There’s a good crew of people there and he has really hit the ground running.”
HOURS: open to members 24/7
STAFFED HOURS: 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday
ADDRESS: 31 Cross Street Suite 268, Spruce Pine, NC 28777