words and photos by Charlee Harris

Javan Shaw has spent the last eight years defining what it means to be a “fit person” to his clients. Javan has trained people from all different backgrounds, some just looking to tone up and others training to compete in pro bodybuilding competitions. He is known locally for his outgoing personality, motivating spirit and knowledge of fitness — but he admits this was not always the case.

“As a kid, I was pretty chubby and shy, especially in elementary school, but I remember thinking people who worked out were really cool,” Javan says. 

He credits his early interest in fitness to spending time with family in Florida over summer breaks. “I had an uncle who would wake up every morning at 5 am and run, then come back and do his push-ups. This uncle would encourage me to do push-ups during commercial breaks in between cartoons,” Javan says. “This simple workout helped me realize that you need to establish a routine.” 

Javan would go on to spend most of his summer breaks with family in Florida, working on his grandfather’s farm. “We would wake up at 6 am and feed all the farm animals and then complete any other chores. My grandfather instilled a sense of discipline in me at a young age,” he says.

After high school, Javan started attending the University of Akron, studying childhood development. “I had to start cooking and buying my own groceries, so my meals started to consist of Pop-Tarts, espresso shots and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. I was barely eating during the day,” he recalls. After his employer called him in the office to express concern for his well-being, Javan realized there was a problem.

“It was at this point I realized that my life lacked consistency and I needed to get back to my roots,” Javan says. So he started to work out and eat regularly. “Within a year’s time, I started to see a significant change.” 

Javan’s mentor and workout partner noticed his progress and invited him to an upcoming bodybuilding competition. “It was very exciting, and I was just trying to take it all in,” Javan recalls. After getting a peek into the bodybuilding world, Javan made it a goal to compete in the competition the following year. After training for months, the day of the competition arrived. 

“I remember telling my family to leave because I probably wasn’t going to get a trophy,” Javan says. “However, once backstage, I found out that I was in the top five. This really validated all my hard work, and although I didn’t win, I left feeling more determined.” 

The following year, Javan returned to the competition and took first place in his class. “This time, my family stayed and everyone was celebrating and congratulating [me] — but I remember feeling like something was missing. It was at this moment that I realized I’m supposed to be helping other people.”

Javan would go on to compete and train clients part-time until 2013, when he decided to take a leap of faith and quit his job to train full time. ”My supervisor at the time told me, ‘if you find something you love doing, then you should do it,’ and I did.” 

Since then, Javan has trained more than 200 clients, including someone very special to him: His mother, Bernadette McMullough. “My proudest moment to date is helping my mother with her fitness journey,” Javan says. “I remember her first time in the gym with me, and how self-conscious she was, but she was determined to get healthy… Last year I told her I was going to sign her up for a 5K and she started training for it. Watching her cross that finish line was one of the proudest moments of my life. [Seeing] her go from being embarrassed to [walk] in the gym to being in the gym longer than me has been amazing.” 

After the birth of his daughter, Javan has decided to take a step back from competing to spend more time at home with his wife and kids. “I really want to focus on my family and building my brand so that I can help people on a national level,” he says. 

In addition to personal training, Javan regularly conducts 30-day ab challenges and teaches a boot camp class at Summer Ready Fitness every other Saturday.  

To learn more about Javan, visit javanfit.com or follow him on Instagram at @javanshaw and @teamjavanfit.

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