Weight-loss trainer on losing weight that transformed him not only physically but mentally

Weight-loss trainer Jovan Newell didn't always look the way he did. Believe it or not, he once carried massive pounds of body fat. However, Jovan pulled himself together and went through a transformation not only physically, but also mentally.

May 30, 2018


Jovan poses at Alondra Park, flexing his biceps behind a fence to symbolize the mental and physical limitations he felt when he was overweight and how he overcame them. Photo by Jorge Villa.

Jovan Newell looked at his reflection in the mirror with disgust. His hips were falling out of his shorts. A protruding belly fell over his hipbone, almost touching his thighs. Every part of him jiggled.

He tried everything he could to achieve a temporary fix of the reflection he saw staring back at him. He attempted to stand taller. He tried sucking it in while holding everything together.

But nothing worked.

This was the first night Jovan decided to take back control over his life and get serious about fitness.

Jovan was at his heaviest at 245 pounds and knew he had to lose weight.

“The first step to losing weight is running,” he thought. That night, he quickly threw on red basketball shorts, a white tank top, and allwhite Air Force Ones. He began jogging down his neighborhood and decided to let the worst happen.

His thighs started to rub together and jiggle. Cars drove by, whistling and honking their horns at him. This hurt his feelings, but he didn’t let that stop him. It made him want to push harder.

And so he did.


Jovan stares into the lens of the camera, posing behind a fence to symbolize the “fear” he felt when he was “bigger”, at Alondra Park. Photo by Jorge Villa.

Now, the 31-year-old, 5’10” African American man weighs 189 pounds. His taught muscular physique suggests a rigorous workout regimen. One also cannot help but notice his contagious smile from a mile away and his friendly demeanor that puts one at ease as if he was an old familiar friend.

Which is no surprise because Jovan grew up with five other sisters, so he always had more personality than most Jovan says.

He now lives in Los Angeles and is pursuing a degree in sports psychology at El Camino with hopes to transfer to California State University Long Beach. Jovan balances being a full-time dad, personal trainer, and part-time student with the help of Jesus Christ, strong time management, and allowing himself room to grow he says.

He prides himself on not quitting when things get tough. But there were definitely some struggles he had to go through in order to find this balance.


Jovan stares intently in the mirror as he pushes himself to continue dooing weight-lifting reps at 24-Hour Fitness Gym in Carson. Photo by Jorge Villa.

“There were six kids, two adults, and there just wasn’t an abundance of food. My mom would take us to Arby’s and get five roast beefs, hand them all out, and hope everyone gets fed,” Jovan says.

Since there were eight people to feed, money was tight for his family.

Jovan also struggled in school as a child. He received his first two Fs in the sixth grade and started skipping class in the seventh grade. This led up to him getting expelled from Narbonne High School during his freshman year.

As a result of being expelled, he began homeschooling, but still lacked the discipline of doing his school work during the day. He became bored and needed something to do with his time. He picked up his dad’s weights one day and started lifting on a regular basis. Once he began working out with his friends, he noticed that he was stronger than everyone else.

“That’s what kicked it into gear,” Jovan says.


Jovan poses behind fence to symbolize the limitations felt when he was overweight at Alondra Park. Photo by Jorge Villa.

Later on, Jovan got married at 21. Things were working for him until he and his wife starting overeating and making unhealthy food choices. It was during his marital years that his physical fitness regime and goals came crashing down.

While they were married, Jovan’s then wife attended a culinary school and became an excellent cook. They both lacked the discipline for eating healthy with moderate portions, so they quickly packed on the pounds.

Jovan was unhappy with his weight and physical appearance and became discouraged and stopped working out. He had gained 60 pounds within six to eight months.

His despair continued and eventually manifested itself in an extra-marital affair that brought his marriage to an end.

Still, Jovan kept pushing.


Jovan and Yvonne work to lose weight and get toned at 24-Hour Fitness Gym in Carson. Photo by Jorge Villa. 

Today, Jovan is a certified personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness in Carson. He is currently training multiple clients and instructing classes, such as boxing boot camp and “Booty Blast”.

You can find his fun and energetic workout classes posted by searching his Instagram handle: @personaltrainer_j_.

“Ok Yvonne, you ready to get this workout in?” Jovan says.

“Yes. Yes, I am,” Yvonne says enthusiastically as she smiles.

“Ok, you know what to do. Let’s start off with some stretches,” Jovan says to her.

Jovan demonstrates by pulling one arm across his chest while the other arm holds it in place.

“Stretch out those arms. We’re about to work them out hard,” Jovan says.

Yvonne copies his exact move. Jovan then pulls out a stopwatch and begins to time her stretches.

“Okay 3, 2,1… other arm,” Jovan guides her. Yvonne Conerly, 56, is a social worker that started training with Jovan four months ago. “My body has toned up and I’m starting to build more muscle. I lost two inches in each thigh and my clothes are fitting different,” Yvonne says.


Jovan trains his client Yvonne to help her lose weight and get toned at 24-Hour Fitness Gym in Carson. Photo by Jorge Villa.

Behind the improvement, Yvonne has a history of tendonitis, a severe muscle condition. However, ever since she bagn training with Jovan, she hasn’t had any injuries.

Yvonne says that Jovan wasn’t familiar with tendonitis at first. Once she told him about it, he researched the condition so he wouldn’t put her in a dangerous situation during workouts.

In addition, she says he is patient, yet firm with her.

Jovan wants to help other people achieve their fitness goals. He enjoys seeing his clients accomplish their goals in reaching their desired body shape.

“He can use his weight loss journey to be an example for others and his clients. To be a personal trainer you have to cater to other people’s quirks,” USC associate professor of kinesiology Robert Girandola says.


Jovan is a is not only a weight-loss trainer and El Camino student. Fun fact: he plays a little piano and sings. Photo by Jorge Villa.

“When I was bigger, if you would have told me I would look like this, I would say that you were lying,” Jovan says.

He only thought celebrities could look good because they have the money and access to the best trainers and dietitians in the world.

Jovan feels that if he can transform his body, then anyone can.

He used to be scared of people seeing him workout because he wasn’t where he wanted to be.

“The biggest step to losing weight is getting over the fear,” Jovan says.

Jovan got over that fear the first night he looked at his reflection in the mirror and decided to take back control over his life.

And now, Jovan looks at his reflection in the mirror with confidence. With his chest high and arms bulged and chiseled not to mention toned abs with rock hard legs to match, every part of him has muscle.

Jovan stands tall and flexes.

“Would you just look at those legs,” he says.


Jovan can now look into the mirror knowing he not only achieved the physical appearance he desired, but that his mentality on life and transforming oneself is possible for anyone has changed positively along the process of his weight-loss journey. Photo by Jorge Villa.

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