By Noel Bartocci
Photography by Susan Beard Design
Joey DeMalavez isn’t just a fitness instructor and personal trainer—he’s a genuine force of nature. In fact, Joey is a force whose presence in Manayunk predates the opening of his family-operated boxing gym, Joltin’ Jabs, located at 4303 Main Street.
When you’re talking with Joey about one topic, it often branches off into other areas of interest—from the nature of Philadelphia and the neighborhood as it was decades ago, to his roots in the area and how its constant evolution is a pleasure to witness.
“I grew up on Tower Street, and [Manayunk] wasn’t like this before,” Joey said about the past state of the streets—a rougher, more industrial town decades ago.
Joey is energetic, enigmatic, and engaged in whatever is in front of him. He focuses his passion into the present—including conversation—which makes it easy to understand why he was voted Best Personal Trainer.
When I sat down with him to talk, his son—also Joey—joined the conversation. The two Joeys instruct a total of 12-15 classes and private sessions a day total between both of Joltin’ Jabs’ locations (the newer gym located in Center City), which consist of a mix of group and private sessions. I asked both gentlemen if they had a preference of class type—having the privilege of training both groups and one-on-one, as well as multiple experience levels. The eldest Joey offered his boisterous excitement for each.
“With one-on-one private lessons, you can really focus in on technique. The strength training is still there, but that extra alone time lets you narrow in,” Joey Sr. explained about private sessions.
However, both Joeys are quick to explain the magic of a group class and how a good trainer can juggle the intensity and level of passion in a room.
“In a group, one or two people who aren’t pushing as hard can bring the whole group down,” Joey Jr. added.
His father elaborated further and said, “The eyes and the body language tell me a lot, so it’s about doubling up the right people to help elevate each other.”
They nod in agreement with one another, as if junior starting the statement and senior finishing it as intended was further validation of it being truth—and just like that, it’s revealed.
The secret to being a great personal trainer is the ability to read people. Joey reads the energy of a person or a group and tailors each class to match. If you wrote down all of the exercises involved in a class, it may appear simple, but that’s not why you take the class. You sign up for the passion, the push you want or need, and the opportunity to elevate yourself and the people around you. Joey knows this, and he imbues this talent by being the perfect blend of motivator, instigator, and mentor—with a dash of curse words when necessary.
“This is my passion,” Joey said. “As long as I see the smiles, I’ll keep going. Watching someone make progress is like...” Joey simply grinned, to perfectly finish his sentence—noting the often-unexplainable ways we make a difference in one another.Joltin’ Jabs and its larger than life proprietor, Joey DeMalavez, inherently understands the importance and honor of being able to be a positive change for someone else. It’s the fuel for their passion, and he drives that home every single day. As he succinctly stated towards the end of our conversation, “You get one body. You gotta do right by it.”
Join a class here.
Visit the Manayunk Development Corporation Contact page for full contact information.
Office: 4312 Main Street, Philadelphia, PA 19127