Leaving A Dark Place

Johnny Loper | Contributor
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I remember as a little boy and being raised by a single mom in my childhood. I got to spend most weekends with my dad and through the school weeks with my mom. The biggest light bulb went off for me in the 4th grade. My teacher told me that I was a big trouble maker, she didn’t like the way I looked, she didn’t like the way my hair smelled and that I would not make it through school. She would also put me in a dark room and send me my work for the day but I was not allowed to be around the other kids during class.
I never shared this with my mom but one day my mom came to get me from school and quickly realized that I was not in the class that I was supposed to be in and was escorted to the place where I was located. She was hurt and embarrassed. She asked me, “ Why are you in this dark room behind a curtain”? I said because the teacher said I was slowing the class down and I never finish my work on time. My mom looked me in my eyes and said “ Son Never Ever Allowed Anyone Else To Put You In A Dark Room… You Were Meant To Shine & That’s What You Are Going To Do”… You understand Me?
I repeated that grade with a different teacher and became an honor student. I also gained the confidence I needed to pursue different sports and becoming one of the only players in Wayne County History to play All 4 Sports from Freshman to Senior year.(football,basketball,baseball,track) I’m a Waynesboro, MS. native who starred at wide receiver for South Carolina State from 1995-2000, I had lofty aspirations of making an NFL roster, in large part because I wanted to retire my mother from the factory job she had for 38 years in my hometown.
However, after being invited to try out for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers following a three-year stint with the now-defunct Memphis Xplorers of the arenafootball2 league, My dreams of embarking upon NFL riches ended abruptly when I failed to earn a spot on the teams’ 53-men rosters.  I enjoyed a brief professional football stint with the Memphis Xplorers of the arenafootball2 league from 2000-2003. Today, as the owner of Jay-Lo Fitness, I have witnessed my annual income increase considerably now that I have branded myself with Jay-Lo Fitness.
anything in life is possible if you refuse to give up

Moving to Olive Branch, MS. I started my business 15 years ago, a regular work day for me lasted nearly 16 hours.
I didn’t see a problem with that. “I was actually enjoying life because I didn’t have kids and It was just me and my wife, Weslynne Loper. But when my little boy, JT Loper came along, it wasn’t about me anymore. I kind of had a sour taste in my mouth because my dad was a hard working man and had to work all the time. He couldn’t make all of my sporting events when I was a kid.”

Now a father of two JT 6 & Jalynne 4, I sensed immediate changes needed to take place once my wife, Weslynne, gave birth to our first child. Among those changes was to make certain I didn’t spend lengthy hours at Jay-Lo Fitness.
I don’t regret not being chosen in the NFL because it humbled me and helped me find my true purpose in life.
One thing I learned was the importance of staying in good health. I truly think if it weren’t for the long hours I invested in a fitness business that had already earned a favorable reputation among Mid-Southerners, it likely would have taken longer for me to realize why a career in the NFL wasn’t meant to happen. I not only was able to retire my mother, Fannie Loper, from the factory job she had since I was a child, but she has lost about 50 pounds because of her commitment to using AdvoCare products and healthy lifestyle change. She is debt free and in the best shape of her life at 62 years old.

“That was my whole reason for trying to get to the NFL. I was trying to get my mom out of that trailer and to retire her from her job.”

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My dreams of playing in the NFL are now a distant memory. My transparent story has given me tons of exposure and I have become well known in recent years because of my rapid success as an entrepreneur. I take part in regular speaking engagements to discuss health, wellness, and living a carefree lifestyle.  Now that I have been afforded more freedom away from my gym and enjoys a mostly carefree lifestyle that includes coaching kids in sports, frequent vacations and more time with my family. Over the last 6 years, I have taken part in another venture that I believe will enhance the lives of others.  Because of my continuous success through Jay-Lo Fitness and Advocare in recent years, I have had the luxury of delivering speeches to an assortment of organizations throughout the Mid-South.  Given the thunderous applauses and favorable feedback, I expect this venture to expand in the foreseeable future.  Just recently, for instance, I spoke before approximately 25,000 people during an Advocare Success School event at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT & T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
A little country boy from Waynesboro, Mississippi was given the opportunity to be center stage addressing an audience that size,” “That in itself should let anyone know that anything in life is possible if you refuse to give up.”  I have gained a newfound passion for sharing my success in front of sizable crowds and speaking in front of large audiences essentially has become a part of my vision.

“It’s always special when you are presented with an opportunity to help someone else by sharing your story. “There are a lot of people in this world who are hurting or who are in need of some form of inspiration in order to make it through the day. I consider it an honor and a privilege to be viewed as a leader who has the heart of a servant.” While my requests to give speeches have increased considerably in recent years, I don’t always know which topics and issues to discuss once I take the stage. In other words, I admittedly follow my instincts with regards to grasping my audience’s attention, something my attendees have come to embrace.

Sometimes, I never know what I’m going to say until I’m in front of the audience But I can say that I enjoy sharing my core values with my audience. At the end of the day, I believe that success comes from strong faith, strong commitment, strong family, and strong love. I hope that after every speech, the audience looks at me, hears my message, and leave the room motivated by the thought of, “If he can make it, then I know I can make it.”

Johnny Loper

Johnny Loper

Fitness Professional | Owner of Jay-Lo Fitness

Johnny Loper, a fitness expert who recognizes the importance of a healthy mind, body, and spirit.

“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for the things he has allowed me to experience. It is those constant thoughts of my hometown and my upbringing that keeps me humble. Those thoughts keep me grounded and fuel my drive to always want to help someone else achieve prosperity.”

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