In an ever-expanding health and wellness scene it can be intimidating and dizzying (to say the least!) to figure out what options are available...and which are best for you specifically. Wading through online reviews on different websites can take so much time, and often not clarify anything. San Diego fitness maven and social worker Anisett Jacques-Willis decided it was time to fix this exact problem. Her solution: One Centricity, an online platform connecting customers to fitness and wellness providers in the area, all at a discounted rate. Most importantly, everything is tested by industry experts to insure quality and integrity, which means you can try out a class with confidence instead of possibly wasting your time. Magic!
The platform, built by AJW and her husband, was bred of the Queens, NY, native's own desire to not only engage in challenging fitness herself, but to help others lead healthy lives too. This has been her lifelong goal, manifested in different ways, especially in her work as a social worker in all sorts of settings, from Rikers Island and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to the Department of Veterans Affairs. As a child, she loved everything from dance to track and piano. Later, as an adult she joined NYC running crews Bridge Runners and Black Roses, using her time treading as a release. When she made the hop to San Diego, she got a job at California correctional facility and then returned to helping homeless veterans. But, she knew it was time to add another aspect to her wellness life, and to others' too.
Now, as she builds her brands, clients are leaning in and providers are taking notice, hoping to be part of her community! Read on to hear about how she uses her diverse background in her wellness career, what she suggests new clients look for and how she keeps herself fit, healthy and centered.
SBS: How has your background in social work informed your work with One Centricity?
Anisett Jacques-Willis: My work as a clinical social worker with various population and organization allowed me to truly learn human behavior and how that can be affected by the environment. I know I entered this field because of the strong desire I have to help others in need. My work providing counseling, advocacy and direct care services all led to one thing: self-care.
Helping my clients find different behavioral methods to make sure they take care of themselves first, no matter what the circumstances are, allowed me the see the power behind it. Working with individuals with a wide range of assisted services, such as housing, employment, mental health, medical and addictions all led to one strategy, which was adjusting to changes in their life and helping to develop strategies to change their negative behaviors.
SBS: What are some aspects of social work you’re learning to release as you work on One Centricity? How have the two areas intertwined?
AJW: I knew that hearing the stories of psychological trauma, addictions and violence daily was not healthy for me. I started to experience vicarious trauma and knew I had to find ways to not let it impact my personal life. Due to the type of career I have, it forced me to find methods to care for myself. I knew it would be both easy and hard because it’s entirely up to you to find the time and energy to care for yourself.
Fitness and wellness was the method of choice for me, and it became my outlet after a long day at work. The task was to just show up, and that is what I did. I showed up to a workout or a mediation session. It became the self-care I needed to avoid burnout in the social service profession. The release allowed me to be my best self and to take on the daily tasks of helping others. This feeling remained with me in years to follow. This led my path to develop One Centricity, to teach others how to discover ways to be their best self through different forms of self-care.
SBS: How did you take the leap) to becoming a business owner?
AJW: I started by asking myself questions like: How can I share the experience I have and the importance of self-care with others? How can I do something that I’m passionate about, personally, without being under the umbrella of major organizations?
Here I am today accepting my role as a wellness provider for mental health, physical fitness and well-being. My passion is a constant reminder that pushes me to form ideas that will transform my dreams into reality.
After working on the emotional side of becoming a business owner, which will always be a work in progress, I started to lay down the groundwork. During the day, I work as a Clinical Social Worker for the Department of Veterans Affairs. In the evening, I change hats and work on building alongside my husband, our company One Centricity.
I started by studying the current market place and what was missing. I found mentors in the industry to help direct our vision. I started going out there and connecting with people and testing out providers in the industry of fitness/wellness. I lead and breathe the lifestyle that I want our brand to stand for. I signed on one partner to our platform and it felt great. It told me someone believes and trusts in our mission. Then it just was a ripple effect from there, with more and more people allowing us to share their story and their brand in a different light. The journey of connecting with providers continued from there.
SBS: What’s your own approach as a provider in the larger sense, and how do you move within that role?
AJW: I directly service people to assist them in solving problems and coping with their struggles in their everyday life, which at times has caused me to have compassion fatigue. I’m a giver, and my fulfillment in this field comes from seeing the growth, resilience and progress of the clients I’ve worked with. It left me, at times, feeling depleted and with a lack of energy to pursue my own goals.
I started to notice that I was a cheerleader and motivator for everyone else but myself. I held in a lot of self-doubt and fears of failure with my projects. I often asked myself, ‘How do I help others find the strength from within to achieve their goals, yet I am unable to do it for myself?’
It was hard to get out of my head, but I knew I had to. I started listening to my own heart, but what also helped me was the strong relations and connections I’ve built with loving people. When they say to surround yourself with like-minded, successful people and you are destined to be successful yourself, I believe this to be true. This is something I live by: Positive energy only.
SBS: Who surrounds you?
AJW: I was surrounded by an amazing group of women both in San Diego and New York. They always held me accountable and believed in me. We supported each other in all aspects of life. I grew creatively from the positive energy bursting from others. Self-talk became something I did often. Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you will achieve results. I started setting my intentions!
SBS: What inspired you to start One Centricity?
AJW: I wanted to bring the concept of self-care to the forefront of everyday lives. Everyone should have that one thing that helps them maintain or strengthen health. I want people to rediscover themselves to help keep them centered, grounded and stable. I wanted people to discover different methods to take care of the body and mind that houses our soul. Today, there are so many fitness and wellness services and products out there, which can make it difficult for people to find quality. I wanted to guide people in finding the right one for their lifestyle.
For myself, it is fitness in any form that will be fun, will challenge me, as well as allow me to produce a really good sweat. It allows my mind to focus on the present moment and to silence the unwanted noise. Our ultimate goal is to help others find their One Centricity.
SBS: What’s your mission?
AJW: Our mission is to inspire and assist in your life of health and prosperity while maintaining a personal relationship with you: our favorite person. One Centricity is a content aggregator and product reference, a vehicle to connect, educate and bring together all people within the world of self-care.
What makes us special is the research we conduct on each product or service offered on One Centricity. We provide a one-stop-shop for all things promoting fitness, health and wellness. We are working with personal trainers, personal chefs, fashion designers, wellness retreats, nutritionists, mental health providers, wellness providers and more.
SBS: What tips would you give to new business owners?
AJW: Finding the right mentors will have a great impact on the performance of your business or goals. Your mentor should be someone you respect and admire. Your mentor may also be someone that has had experience in the field or career you would like to grow in. Mentors will provide advice, direction, support and motivation. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help or to be vulnerable. You will not know all the answers, and that is ok.
SBS: What tools, practical and emotional, helped you on your path?
AJW: I was surprised at first by how many people are willing to help you achieve your goals by offering advice. I found my mentors by reaching out to different people in my field, through social networks such as LinkedIn, and also networking within my social circle. I put myself out there, as scary as it was, hoping that someone would connect with me. It took some time but it has afforded me benefits to grow socially and build my confidence. Along with finding a mentor to help you grow in your career or your brand, going to network events is just as important. I found going to meetups put me in front of people that I would never have gotten a chance to connect with otherwise. I make sure to get their contact information and to connect after events for needed advice. Another way to connect with mentors or a network is by asking friends and family.
SBS: What tips would you give to shoppers looking for health and wellness items in the area?
AJW: Research and connect! There is so much out there, so make sure you are reading about products and service providers. Read reviews from real people. Ask for a trial or free session, and, if possible, test it out before purchasing. Read the bios or talk to the person behind the brand to show why they are in their field. You will connect with brands on a deeper level and build trust by hearing their stories.
SBS: What's your own wellness routine? How has it evolved?
AJW: I like to change up my wellness routine so it keeps me stimulated and excited. Some days, I put on some running sneakers and pick out songs that will help elevate my mood to go for a run. I also enjoy running to do errands rather than drive. For instance, I will run to the nail salon or grocery store, then take an Uber back.
Other days, I prefer social wellness, from taking a gym class or spending time with friends. I consider myself very social, which is great, and studies have shown it helps promote longevity. But I know I also need alone time to help me recharge. I try to give myself some alone time for a few hours or a full day if possible and completely disconnect. I have started to incorporate more mindfulness exercises to my daily routine including mediation, breathing and awareness. Mindful awareness is something new I'm doing, which is paying attention in a particular way...making sure I look around me when walking and listening to the sounds.
SBS: What's your approach to nutrition?
AJW: It’s a lifestyle, not a diet. I like to make it realistic for my lifestyle. I select healthy options from each food group: a protein, vegetable, complex carbohydrate and healthy fat, such as avocado or nuts. I minimize my intake of sugary food, drinks and processed food. I like to go on spurts where I eat vegan or vegetarian and avoid alcohol for 40 days a few times a year. I use it as my cleansing process. Overall, I just like to do what is best for my lifestyle and schedule but remain mindful to what I'm feeding my body. If I have moments that I want an In and Out burger, yes, I will go grab it. When it’s a lifestyle, you form a healthy habit and do everything in moderation.
SBS: What are some trends you love? Hate?
AJW: I love seeing new fitness trends that make fitness fun and exciting. I like to keep my mind stimulated so something new always gives me that. Team-based workout studios from spin and rowing to HITT and boxing are popping up everywhere, and I’m here for it.One new trend that I would love to try next is Pound, a full-body workout that uses drumsticks.
AJW’s SBS Mantra: Be Brave. Fear tends to hold us back from so much. For me, the mantra Be Brave does not let fear overpower my thoughts.
The best, zaniest part of being AJW: I talk to everyone. I’m that person that will talk to you on a flight, walking on the street and in line. My husband often jokes and says, ‘There she goes again, Mrs. Talk Fairy.’ If you have a heartbeat, you'll get a smile, hello or a full conversation. This also includes pets.
AJW’s Cali Faves:
Healthy Restaurant: Café Gratitude
Splurge Restaurant: Cloak and Petal
Nightlife Spot: Old school hip hop and R& B dancing
Yoga Studio: Saffron & Sage
Fitness Studio: Edge Cycle, Brainstorm Fitness, Barry’s Bootcamp, and outdoor boot camps
Fun Activity: Road trips
Calming Activity: Poolside
Online Resources: Side Hustle Pro (podcast)
Book: The Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne Dyer