My name is Aiyo Jones -- as foreign as the name sounds, I was actually born and raised in New York City. Currently, I live in Raleigh, North Carolina with my wife and two children.
The name "Aiyo" is from the Yoruban language of Nigeria, meaning "joy." However, the common spelling of my name in Nigeria is "Ayo," and both men and women could have this name (kinda of like "Kelly," "Jaime," and "Tracy). The way my name is spelled is very common in India and other parts of southeast Asia, and "Aiyo" in these regions is actually an expression of pain -- like saying, "Ouch!" So...according to my name, I could give you both joy and pain. That's kind of fitting, since I teach fitness classes.
I consider myself a health coach. I teach fitness classes, run a health and wellness accountability program online, teach community health classes, and provide free fruits and veggies to my fitness participants. And guess what? I do all of these things on a donation-only basis. That's right, I don't charge for these services.
See, years ago my wife and I went through financial hardship. I used to serve in emergency medical services (EMS) as an intermediate emergency medical technician (EMT-I). One day, I was literally halfway to work when I get a call from the job stating that I cannot work until further notice. On the very next day, I received a letter from the EMS agency stating that my services were no longer needed. No reason was given. They just laid me off.
From that point, we were in a very tight financial bind. I had two young children under the age of 3 during that time and we had no steady stream of income. Money was very tight, even to the point where we could only put a few dollars of gas into the car, hoping that it would get us through a couple of days. Going to the dollar store for snacks was considered a treat for us.
However, neither I nor my wife considered ourselves "poor." We didn't "act" poor, or "look" poor, or "talk" poor. To us, we weren't "poor," we just didn't have the money right now. We were truly blessed to receive financial support from both my mother and from my church.
During this time, we did a lot of growing. This time of financial famine was a learning period for us. My wife learned to be a great couponer, even to the point where we gave up the WIC program. We just didn't need it anymore. I learned to work on cars by watching lots of YouTube videos and I eventually learned so much that I've saved thousands of dollars in car repairs.
But one of the most important things I've learned during this time was knowing what poverty felt like. One of the first things I had to give up during this financial crisis was my gym membership -- which represented my health. When money is tight, we sacrifice our own health just to survive. Gym memberships, healthy foods, supplements, and naturopathic healthcare are all expensive, and when money gets tight, we immediately sacrifice the things that keep our bodies working.
So, in an effort to help alleviate the pressure of financial ruins, I started teaching my own fitness classes at my church on a donation-only basis. You could pay a lot, a little, or nothing at all. Teaching this class twice a week on a donation-only basis was the very least I could do to help people going through financial difficulty.
Fast-forward 8 years later (it's 2020 as I'm writing this), I am still teaching fitness classes on a donation-only basis, but now I've expanded my services. Now, I:
Teach two intense cardio classes a week
Teach two intense sculpt classes a week
Maintain online fitness videos
Conduct a monthly, online accountability program
Provide free fruits and veggies to fitness participants
Teach community health classes
Yes, I do all of this on a donation-only basis -- all because I know what it's like to not be able to afford much. Those who are financially well-off could donate a lot so that those who could barely put gas in their cars could attend classes without worrying about cost.
See, the idea of donation-only is to allow those who are very generous to support a worthy cause that EVERYBODY could enjoy. What cause are people donating to? They are donating to my mission to provide accessible "healthcare" to as many people as possible at no cost to anybody.
To me, "healthcare" is not drugs. Learning how to naturally heal your body is healthcare. Having access to group fitness classes, free fruits and veggies, and community health classes so that you could heal your body is true healthcare -- at no cost to you. Of course, the ones who are truly flipping the bill are my donation partners, who commit a certain amount each month so that EVERYBODY could have access to "real" healthcare.
All of this started after I lost my job in the healthcare field...
The more donation partners I have, the more I could do for the community.
Thank you for reading my story! If you're in town, please join us for class! You may also join our mailing list so that you could have access to my online videos -- at no cost to you (but please consider donating something to this cause).
To learn more about becoming a donation partner, click here.