UHCL alums change careers, find their purpose in helping others get healthy

August 9, 2022 | UHCL Staff

Digital Barbell

Change is the only constant in life--Jonathan and Blakley Fletcher can attest to that. Both graduated from University of Houston-Clear Lake in 2000 with bachelor’s degrees in fields that they thought would be the foundation of their careers. 

Blakley used her bachelor’s in management information systems, working in administrative systems at Rice University and felt she was where she wanted to be. But Jonathan, who had a bachelor’s in psychology, went to work in sales for an insurance company and knew almost immediately it wasn’t for him. 

He began a 10-year career remodeling houses and working in real estate, and she continued working at Rice. 

“We didn’t know anything about nutrition or structured training,” said Jonathan. “We never thought this would become our career.”

The transition toward exercise and fitness began when Blakley got interested in Crossfit. “I got certified as a Crossfit coach and started coaching at Rice, and then at another gym,” she said. “In 2014, I started at Crossfit gym out of our garage while I was still working at Rice part time. Then I opened my own Crossfit gym full time in Bellaire, from 2015 until 2019.”

Along the way, as Jonathan continued remodeling houses, the fitness coaching business grew. 

“We started Digital Barbell in 2018 through a members and referrals from my gym,” she said. “We had the opportunity to move to Boise, Idaho when a friend allowed us to live in her home rent free for over a year, which allowed us to grow our business.”

Jonathan said they sold the gym, and Blakley quit her job at Rice. “We took the leap to live in Idaho,” he said. “We would write custom workout programs. We were already coaching people online when Covid hit, and living in a new city where we knew almost no one really allowed us the time and opportunity to grow Digital Barbell. We had videos and structure in place to be fully online, and so it was an easy transition to online fitness.”

Jonathan said their career change has given them a unique perspective in their relationships with their clients. “They want to work out and get fit, but they don’t know what to do,” he said. “They get burned out or hurt, or they don’t get the results. We have a common-sense approach to working out and eating, and getting the physical results you want.”

He said they had clients in all age groups, from 20s to 70s. “People want to do something they enjoy, but they want to see results of their hard work. We have a passion for coaching, along with our background in Crossfit and strength training,” he said. “After learning the science behind it, I learned how to apply it to people. Blakley owning the gym gave us hands-on experience with people that I believe you have to have before you coach people online. But it’s like anything else in life—the more experience you have, the better you get.”

The two have passed three years as the full-time owners of Digital Barbell. “No more remodeling houses,” Jonathan said. “No more systems management for Blakley. We are 100% in now.” 

Neither have regrets about changing career course. “There’s no way you could predict anything like this, but now we can see all the different steps that needed to happen to bring us to this,” Blakley said. “I never thought I’d own a gym. I never would have guessed any of this.”

UHCL offers a Master of Science in Exercise and Health Sciences with concentrations in sport science or public health. Learn more about the Exercise and Health Sciences program online.