How This Fitness Influencer Is Maintaining Her Mental Health and Using Her Voice To Empower the Black Community

"A healthy body is a necessity for a happy life, but it is even more of a necessity for long-term activism."

Photograph courtesy of Monica Jones.

Welcome to Busy Bodies, where we ask busy Washingtonians how they balance health and fitness while working crazy hours, raising a family, and meeting the demands of the daily hustle. Know someone who’s killing the fitness game while getting it done (maybe it’s you)? Email

Monica Jones, 30, is the program director at BASH Boxing, an Under Armour athlete and model, and a fitness influencer with more than 18,000 Instagram followers.

The Arlington resident is originally from Anne Arundel County, and while she’s always been interested in exercise, it didn’t become a defining part of her life until a decade ago. “My early 20s were such a challenge to my self-image and confidence,” she says. “As I put on weight in college, I went through struggles with dysmorphia and bulimia. The thing that truly saved me from myself was helping others. I couldn’t possibly expect to tell others they needed to eat heartily and consistently to get stronger if I wasn’t doing so myself.”

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#selfcaresunday Guilt or disappointment usually pops up in calls between my clients and I early in our program… unknowingly we tend to push “moving on” but not so much the necessity of solid Forgiveness. • • • I’ve learned so much during our stay at home order and creating Adapt. A huge piece of our program was forgiving ourselves so that we could actually move forward with self trust and excitement about our capabilities. Forgiveness fosters real belief in your ability to achieve your greatest desires. Forgiveness builds a real foundation of confidence and self appreciation. And lastly forgiveness gives you permission to be happy without relapse of guilt & habitual sabotage. We cannot advance without it. Not for long, at least • • • If you’ve missed a workout, eaten the “wrong” thing, devoted your time to the wrong activity or person…take the time to actually forgive yourself before you declare that you’re “back on track”. That track still allows compromise and guilt. Forgive and Start a new path. • • Prayer, reflection, self- talk and journaling are all a few ways to bring closure to a guilt-driven mentality. These do not always provide instant gratification but when practiced they do provide a course to long term happiness. I think Most of us are learning just how fast we used to live and that there plenty of moments to dedicate to healing and growing. I myself realized just how quickly I will dedicate time to others and forget myself… today is my day to forgive and to restructure for me. I hope you find some time to be kind to yourself and are ready to start a powerful new season??

A post shared by Monica Jones Performance Coach (@trainwithmon) on

Once Jones took an anatomy and physiology class in college, she realized how fascinated she was with the human body and became a certified personal trainer. While the pandemic has uprooted her usual routine, Jones has also used the moment to launch her own virtual platform. Called Adapt, it’s a guided program that leads followers through weekly workouts and mindfulness routines.

Like many people, the pandemic impacted my mindset, and that played a bigger role on my health and exercise than the actual closing of gyms and studios,” says Jones of her inspiration for Adapt. “As a group, we’ve seen great results for our mental and physical health at home, which has been a great contribution to my own health, too.”

Jones has also used her platform to bring awareness to social justice issues and the Black Lives Matter movement. “I make sure to focus on speaking from my own perspective and experiences to empower the Black community to pursue a healthier lifestyle,” says Jones. “I also aim to inform my community of the lack of—and withholding of—resources in the Black community, to encourage them to buy and support Black businesses and families. I hope to represent the movement with a unifying yet persistent voice. A healthy body is a necessity for a happy life, but it is even more of a necessity for long-term activism.”

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1 in every 4 black males will go to prison n their lives. many black boys experience harsh youth & are forced to skip being a child. many of them are tried as adults (sometimes with no real cause of arrest) with limited defense or support- • • •My brother has been In prison for two thirds of my life and my experience of different prison visits is filled with minority families struggling to find peace in visitation. I could go on all day about my brothers life and how it’s shaped my family but I just want to continue the conversation @societyscage sparked for us in the district. We are as a human race imprisoned by our default settings and mindsets. Privilege means we can free ourselves at ANY time and we MUST. No, not all black males in prison are wrongfully arrested, but many are constantly abused, refused health care and lacking support from the prison system. Many of them are kept there far too long without an appeal or case re-opening. Many of them miss their entire families and children’s lives. A huge reason I reach for greatness is to ensure I am a resource and a career provider for my brother when he is free… but I am ready to reach further NOW. By supporting black businesses, voting, staying informed and providing mentorship for black youth. Through daily efforts to educate ourselves and help others, we can slowly make a better future for our brothers and sisters? #fridayfacts #societyscage

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Here’s how she gets it done:

“Typically, I’m up between 5:15 and 6:15 AM to get ready for my 6 or 7 AM clients. I make a protein smoothie with either cold brew or matcha, and I do my best to take down a liter of water by 10 AM. After training clients outdoors for a few hours, I eat again. This is usually Mighty Meals or something I prepped for myself of the protein, veggie, and carb variety.

“For my personal workout, I usually have a mittwork boxing session with my coach, lift weights, or go to a group fitness class like BASH or MADabolic. I prefer to work out at 7 or 9 AM, but during busier weeks, I fit in my workouts whenever I can. Coaching is my most strenuous cardio of the week, and I coach around four classes weekly at BASH. On those days, I’m racking up two-to-three workouts and eating an extra breakfast or lunch. I work 30 to 40 hours a week, between six or seven days a week. Honoring a consistent day off is a huge goal of mine that I hope to achieve by the end of 2020.

“Once I have my second breakfast, I dive into emails and post and engage on Instagram. I will usually have Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nutrition calls with clients in the afternoon, as well as meetings with the BASH management team. By late afternoon, I have another protein-focused snack like a shake, shrimp and cucumber salad, or chicken and tomatoes. I will either coach BASH around 4:45 PM or do my own lifting and footwork session by 5 PM.

“After 6PM I focus on content organization or fold my never-ending pile of laundry. My dinner is usually Mighty Meals (I love the ropa vija or the tofu sweet chili soba noodles on heavier training days), or I rock with homemade sweet potatoes; chicken, steak, or salmon; and Brussels sprouts. As it nears bedtime, I’ll plan for the next day or write out some content. Around 9PM, I take my collagen and magnesium and my boyfriend, Dre, and I say our prayers together. Lastly, I tee up the Headspace meditation app and slide on my eye mask to get to sleep by 10:30 or 11 PM.

“Preparation is key [for my success]. Random planning brings random results. I put everything in my calendar ahead of time and then fill in creative tasks, recovery, and extracurricular activities. If it all looks good, I let it ride. If not, I adjust where I can.  

“More than any other time in my life, I just feel fortunate to move. Between quarantining due to Covid-19 and the increase in social injustice we’re seeing daily, I’ve had a lot of time to realize how fortunate I am to have the tools (my body and maybe a few different weights or bands) to get some meaningful movement on a daily basis. I’m safe to move about my neighborhood, I’m empowered to teach others to move, and I’m constantly seeing improvement in others around me. My deepest inspiration comes from leading by example for my community.

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“Contrary to what your ethinicity is, No one is safe when hatred goes undisputed”. • • • I said this 3 months ago. And of course, these battles get worse before they get better. But I look at photos like this and imagine how hurtful it’d be for my loved ones to use them as images at EITHER of our funerals…how hurtful it’d be to be paralyzed at best knowing we ran and cycled and boxed our way through every day… Neither Dre nor I are exempt from risk of taking 7 bullets behind our backs. So what will it take to change society? An Asian gunned down in broad daylight? A white woman? A white child ?? Yes, I have faith and I am still fighting…but today I won’t hesitate to tell y’all that I’m TIRED. Register to vote. Find the strength to act- lean on your community. Be present. Be kind. Be human. #justiceforjacobblake

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“My accountability partner is most definitely my ‘swolemate’ and boyfriend, Dre. He is also a personal fitness trainer and coach at BASH and MADabolic in Arlington. We can move all day, every day, together in different forms like boxing, lifting, cycling, or running. I’m also held accountable by doing Instagram live workouts for BASH and my own UnderAmour routines once a day. With all these resources, I really don’t need much motivation and look forward to moving every day.

“For some time, exercise and health for me meant to be fast and have abs. It meant that I was somehow catching up to others who were already fit. Over the past decade, my desire to be ‘fit’ has transformed into a genuine love of performance and self-care. Training myself and others has been my greatest achievement in life. Every day there’s an opportunity to improve and to feel challenged. Not only do I get to move and shape the body that I love and want, I can use that experience to help others do the same and find happiness.”

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.