(Jeff and Julie Day)
“Make that coffee every day. Be consistent with it” said Jeff Day, 52, who owns Spoga Fitness Center in Hammond, La. with his wife, Julie Day.
The Days and their Spoga family have built and maintained a positive limelight in the Hammond community since they opened in the year 2000. Through their success, they have sustained a humble attitude that has radiated throughout the community. One person that has stood out from Spoga, is Jeff Day.
Jeff is originally from Laplace, La. where he grew up and went to high school. When he was born, he suffered from a birth defect that caused him to lose one of his legs and as a child, he had to learn to cope physically and emotionally with the disability. Jeff admitted to having a social anxiety about his missing leg, but that obstacle helped him to kick start his interest in fitness because he had to push himself a little harder. Jeff said, “I guess I grew into accepting certain challenges and pushing myself.”
Jeff explained how important fitness was to him growing up. He said, “I just knew when I exercised, my performance was easier and better. I wanted to share that.” He explained how his passion grew for fitness and as other kids started to notice, they asked for his advice. Jeff said, “I started going to the gym when I was only 12 years old.” Jeff eventually moved to Hammond in 1988 and attended Southeastern Louisiana University to pursue a degree in health promotions. Jeff was a member of the Southeastern cheerleading squad and was also the man behind the mask of Roomie the Lion for a year and a half. Being a cheerleader also added to his passion for athletic recreation while sharing his enthusiasm for life.
When Jeff started becoming involved in the fitness industry, Julie had already started her own spin cycle studio that offered stretching, resisting and spin classes in the year of 2000. She named the spin studio, Spoga. As their relationship flourished, so did their interest in expanding Spoga. Jeff eventually met with a future business partner through one of his long term clients and spoke about the potential of expanding into a larger, fitness studio. Jeff said, “I think the fear comes in anytime with something that you don’t have experience in.” Jeff noted that when they opened Spoga, it was originally located in Downtown Hammond on West Thomas Street. However, they recently moved to their new location on C M Fagan Drive, 18 months ago. Jeff said, “Nearly 18 years later and we just kept a steady progression in our business.” Through their success, Jeff developed his name in Hammond by his character and motivation.
Life had not always been simple for Jeff. He explained that he was not born into a wealthy family, but he remembered his mother working extremely hard to provide for them. Unfortunately, both of Jeff’s parents became ill at the same time. His mother was diagnosed with cancer and his father with liver disease. Jeff had a successful job doing health screenings around the country, however, when both of his parents had passed away and his brother was diagnosed with cancer, he decided to stay with his family. Jeff said, “I started realizing the importance of maybe not traveling so much.”
Jeff also explained about his many motivations, one being his faith, but the other one being his late mother. Jeff said, “My mom is my biggest reason. My mom’s desire to be the best she could be every single day, and I never heard her once complain.” Jeff gives full attribution to his mother for the type of person he evolved into. He said, “Because she didn’t complain, I didn’t put value on things, I put value on people.”
Jeff, being a humble man, does not leave out any of his successes without his wife, Julie. He spoke highly of her and said, “I have never been around anybody that is a smarter worker than Julie, my wife.” Julie Day owns Spoga Fitness Center with Jeff and they have built their empire together. Jeff also said, “My wife is 99.9% of everything in this business.” He said, “Her impact on the business, you can’t even measure it, because she is the business.”
Hailey Gross, Spoga Manager and Jeff’s step daughter, explained how he has impacted her life. Gross, who was recently married, said, “Jeff has been in my life since I was around 5 years old, and he helps me realize, truly, how blessed we are to be healthy, how beautiful life can be and that I can overcome anything.” Gross explained how passionate their family is about fitness and how positive Jeff is. She said, “He has a vision for the future and he puts his heart and soul into everything.” Gross also touched on the populations that Jeff has reached out to. She said, “He works with children, specialty athletes, people with disabilities, the elderly, heart attack and stroke victims and the everyday athlete.”
Another friend and employee of Jeff Day had nothing but positive things to say about them. Angie Finch, instructor and chief operating officer at Spoga Fitness Center, explained how involved Jeff is as an owner. Finch has been a class instructor for 10 years, but has been working at Spoga full-time for the past two years as the chief operating officer. Finch spoke about Jeff and Julie and said, “They are an outstanding duo. They work extremely hard and are very hands on. They are at the gym everyday working just like the rest of us.” Finch explained how Jeff not only makes an impact on their members, but also the Hammond community. She said, “He truly wants to help every single person. He takes the time to discuss life, learn their story and help them in every way he can emotionally, physically and spiritually.” Finch noted how positive Jeff and Julie are in Hammond and how much help they offer outside of their gym. She said, “They do what they do every day to help those in our community.”
Long-time member of Spoga Fitness Center, Bobbi Amar, 19, has been a member of Spoga since she was old enough to join. Amar is a student at Louisiana State University and works at North Oaks Hospital in Hammond. She explained that she makes time to attend Spoga every time she is in town. Amar said, “I have been a member of Spoga since I was old enough to join, which began with the young lifters after school program when I was 10 years old.” Amar mentioned how positive a light Jeff and the Spoga team are to our community. Amar said, “Mr. Jeff and the Spoga family inspire people to be the best version of themselves in all aspects of life, not just physical fitness. They care about your emotional and spiritual well-being, and something just as simple as how your day went.” Amar gave much credit to Jeff and the Spoga team for being the athlete she was in high school. Amar was a top cross country and track runner at St. Thomas Aquinas High School and she said, “I would not have been the athlete I was, nor the person I am today, without the help of Mr. Jeff and Spoga. He has inspired me to continue to live a healthy and active lifestyle, as I plan on running my first half marathon in January.” Amar also explained how much of a family Spoga is. She said, “There isn’t a day that I don’t walk into Spoga without being greeted with a smile, and if it is from Mr. Jeff, it is accompanied by a fist bump and ‘What did you have for breakfast today?’” Amar continued with how much Jeff and the Spoga family make an impact on the local Hammond community. She said that he serves with Our Daily Bread, Special Olympics, Options Inc. and he speaks to many different audiences about health and fitness.
As an outsider looking in, Alexis Sterling who is the enrichment leader at Options Inc. explained how much he has helped Options. Options is a private, non-profit organization that helps people with disabilities live and work in the community. Sterling said, “Jeff and his team at Spoga give back to our community to help better the lives of people with disabilities by having weekly sessions of exercise with individuals from our enrichment program as well as some from our community homes.” Jeff said, “If we don’t reach out and take care of people who need it the most, then what are we doing?” Jeff and Alexis have recently worked with each other this past year to coordinate a charity event called “Ballin’ for Options.” This event was created to raise money for Option’s enrichment program as well as to provide a competitive and exciting sporting event for the participants.
“No one can define their own success,” said Jeff. He explained how he looks for success through the eyes of others and if they are motivated by what he does. Jeff is not only a successful entrepreneur, but he leaves his mark on the city of Hammond by being a great mentor and leading with example through motivation and kindness. Jeff ended with some memorable advice, “Don’t look for people to pat you on the back and tell you how great you are.”