Jackie Warner is an entrepreneur, personal trainer, and reality television star. After making her fortune in the cellular phone industry, Jackie built a fitness empire that includes two health centers, a luxury fitness vacation, and numerous workout DVDs. Since 2006, she has starred in two Bravo TV reality shows Work Out and Thintervention with Jackie Warner, both featuring her role as fitness expert, life coach, and businesswoman. Jackie spoke with dot429 about being “out” and successful in business, in Hollywood, and in life.
Very few people move to Los Angeles and become successful overnight. Your website mentions that you were a self-made millionaire by the time you were 22. How did you do it?
Jackie Warner: I was really good at sales. If you’re a type-A personality that knows how to sell things, you can be good at anything you do as long as you’re driven and work hard. I started off as a salesperson in a cellular company in the ’90s at a time when the cellular industry was the number-one booming industry. I was the top salesperson, I had a meeting with the other top salesperson, and we started our own company. We started from nothing, we rented our faxes and phones, we couldn’t afford anything. We had a $250-a-month office space, and I just sat and cold called corporations. We would pitch $50,000 worth of service in one day. Within six months’ time, I had my own company, and it took us about a year to open up. We boomed literally overnight.
How did you move from making sales for a cellular company to building your fitness empire?
Jackie Warner: I didn’t get certified as a fitness trainer until I was 30, so fitness didn’t come until later. A lot happened between the cellular company and fitness. I worked for Warner Brothers for a while as a script coordinator, and by 30, I was a businesswoman and owned businesses. I started my first gym a year later, at age 31. After that, I started my second gym. I am a personality that does not work for others, so I always try to create businesses myself. I got into fitness because I was training and body-building a lot. I trained for myself, and a lot of my friends were very interested in nutrition and body-building, and because it changed my life, I got certified at 30, started training a handful of clients, and saw such an amazing transformation with them, not just physically but emotionally. I knew I was very passionate about it and wanted to do it for the rest of my life.
Were you out when you were growing up in the Midwest, or did you come out later?
Jackie Warner: I was not out growing up in the Midwest. It was not a safe environment to come out in. My parents were fundamentalist Christians, and they would definitely have sent me off to some sort of Christian camp. I came out when I fell in love and had my first substantial relationship, as I think many people do. I was 21, I fell in love, lived with her, and had a partnership with her, and that’s what drove me to come out to my mother.
Did you encounter any difficulties after coming out, personally or professionally?
Jackie Warner: I had my cell phone company when I came out, so I created my own safe environment, and everyone in it knew I was gay. It wasn’t something I ran around publicizing. There was no need to. But my mother and I didn’t speak for a year after I came out because she did not accept it, and I did not want anything to do with her because she was very negative about my life. It took us about a year to reconnect, so it was a traumatic event. But she came around eventually.
A lot of people talk about their sexual orientation as being a hindrance to their careers. Do you think your sexual orientation has helped you in any way?
Jackie Warner: No, not at all. It is definitely a hindrance to your career. I hate to say that, and nobody likes to talk about that, but it’s true. You basically turn yourself off to half of the country. It’s not a turn-on. It’s a turn-off, unless you say you’re bisexual. I know many gay and lesbian people who claim to be bisexual when I know good and well they’re not. And what they’re doing is trying to save their career. Bisexuality is sexy to men, but lesbianism is not. Being out definitely does not serve me well professionally, but I made a choice to be open and honest a long time ago because I didn’t want to feel like I was hiding. But I do understand why people do hide.
You’ve enjoyed immense success in your fitness career, including TV shows and workout DVDs. What kind of work goes into the branding that you do for yourself?
Jackie Warner: It’s nonstop branding, nonstop work. I’m very lucky to have a good publicist who believes in me and works hard for me. Even when I don’t have a show on air, I’m constantly in the public eye. I’m always in three or four magazines a month. I still do the Today Show, Good Morning America, and other TV shows locally and nationally. I’m constantly creating workouts, making sure that I’m always training and ready to give fitness advice to magazine editors.
You have a head for both fitness and business. Which has gotten you to your current level of success?
Jackie Warner: It’s a combination of both. The reason I or anybody in my industry is successful is that we have both. I know amazing trainers who have no business ability and no charisma who unfortunately don’t get anywhere in their career except with training. They make a good living training, but they’re not going to get DVDs or TV shows.
You see a lot of trainers on TV who have short-lived careers. What has contributed to your career longevity?
Jackie Warner: I make sure that I market myself as the fitness go-to person for people in the industry, meaning people in media. The other factor is that I am no longer a fitness professional; I’m a life coach, as people can see on Thintervention, my show on Bravo. It’s not about just fitness and weight loss. It’s really about how to achieve a happy and balanced life. You have to incorporate all kinds of things, including religion, metaphysics, and psychology, if you want to continue growing and being relevant as a businessperson.
To visit Jackie’s website click here.