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'Exercise is cheaper than therapy'

FITNESS GURU: Gina Obeng AKA Just Geen

WHEN GINA Obeng separated from her boyfriend of seven years in 2011, she was understandably heartbroken.

She sunk into a bad spell of depression, and it took all of her energy to try and get out of it.

“Going through the break-up made me feel really down and insecure,” Gina recalls. “I lost myself and became depressed.”

Obeng, also known as Just Geen, struggled with her weight from a very young age and through the turbulent break up she found an outlet in health and fitness training. Within a year she managed to change her life around by dedicating her time to learning about the benefits of healthy eating and personal training.

Taking things one step at a time, Gina started running and then working out at the gym, where she discovered her passion for exercise.

“I was never really an athletic person, I was never into sports or anything physical. For some strange reason, one day I started running and found it very therapeutic,” the Ghana-born entrepreneur tells The Voice.

“Exercise is cheaper than therapy. My idea was to turn a negative situation into a positive outcome. I managed to do that through exercise. It changed my whole mind-set. I would recommend it to anyone going through tough times in life.”

As she began to see and feel the results, she decided to share her incredible journey with friends through an Instagram account.

Impressed by her ever-changing physique, her followers started to grow. “A lot of people started asking for advice and tips, because people assumed I was a personal trainer.

“Then my friends started asking if I was going to train and become a personal trainer, but it hadn’t really crossed my mind.”

Her pals encouraged her to get qualified, but Obeng had reservations.

“I used to call myself a floater, because I felt like I was just floating through life without a real aim. I went to university, but when I left, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do.

“When my friends encouraged me to get qualified as a personal trainer, I had reservations about it because it wasn’t something I had ever wanted to be before. I was worried that it was just a phase I was going through.”

But after careful consideration, she took the leap, got qualified and hasn’t looked back.

Following a philosophy that Obeng would later use to inspire and help others, she decided to turn her negative experiences into a positive.

In 2014 she launched her business Just Geen, where the east Londoner offers the ultimate fitness package for consumers looking for personal training and/or a healthy meal preparation service. Whilst juggling her full time job as a probation officer, her nights are dedicated to her personal training and meal prep services.

Launching her business just two years ago, the 26-year-old has gained momentum in the fitness industry and has provided a service for personalities including Wretch 32, Krept and Konan, Stormzy, Manny Norte and Danny Welbeck.


IN ACTION: The east Londoner provides a personal training and food prep service

“Having celebrity clients is unreal. It’s so surreal. I’m such a fan of Stormzy, so working with him has been surreal, and I’m so grateful. Even having an interview with The Voice – I never thought this could happen. I didn’t know it was going to take off like this.”

Obeng, who currently cooks all her meal prep dishes from her home in Barking, east London, is working towards opening her own Just Geen’s Kitchen where she can sell her African-Caribbean-inspired meals with a healthy twist.

“I had always battled with my weight. When I was in school, I was always overweight. So when I started
understanding my body a better and working out, the next thing I knew I needed to tackle was my food.

“Because I’m Ghanaian, I’d go gym, and then eat jollof rice and yam and wonder why I wasn’t losing any weight,” she laughs.

“My long-term ultimate goal is to open up a restaurant. I want to open up an Afro-Caribbean restaurant to rival Gyms Kitchen.”

She continues: “The whole concept is all about the healthy alternatives to food you love - I call it guilt-free food.

“A lot of the dishes I make are like Afro-Caribbean food with a really healthy twist. For example I make jollof quinoa, plantain lasagne and plantain waffles. It’s all about having a healthy alternative to food we enjoy.”

Obeng still works as a full time probation officer, but ultimately, she wants to turn Just Geen into a full time business.

“I’m giving myself until the end of the year to take that leap. I guess it’s more of a fear factor, because I’m comfortable right now, with a steady income. But it’s getting to the point where it’s quite overwhelming. So I need to take that leap of faith and just do it.”

Through her journey, as well as improving her own health and frame of mind, Just Geen has also helped inspire other people who are experiencing hard times.

“I was so embarrassed to document my personal journey. You’re allowing yourself to be vulnerable. When I first started working out, I was doing it for me. I wasn’t training for anyone else. It was all me, me, me. When I started getting quite a bit of a following, I thought ‘the only way I can get people to connect and buy into me, is to be honest and be who I am’.”

She adds: “I’ve been able to connect with so many people who have been through the same thing too.

“I’m so glad I didn’t keep it to myself because I’ve been able to inspire so many people. I know in our culture depression is not something people like to openly discuss. I’m just trying to break barriers.”

For more information, visit www.justgeen.com and follow @just_geen on Instagram

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