“Does it creep you out?” Lena Gines smiles sincerely as she looks at the turtle, one of several family pets the Gines family is currently raising. The turtle pauses upon my arrival into the living room, changes direction, and slowly crawls back toward the window. Meanwhile, a small dog barks from the couch as five children clamor their way down the stairs of the family home. Shyly, they slip around their mother and choose spots on the furniture to sit.
Despite the whirlwind introduction, the Gines family couldn’t be more on top of life. The Gines children—Destiny, 17, Devine, 16, Elyon, 14, Eternity, 12, Rendell, Jr., 9—attend school and sports practices in addition to spending time with their family.
Mom, Lena, and dad, Rendell, both work outside the home. While Rendell (“Dell” for short) works in an office downtown, Lena now has her own business—Get Fit With Lena. When she opened her boutique gym just off 72nd and Blondo streets in early 2012, it took the whole family to make it happen.
“I was spread really thin working at several different places,” Gines admits. She didn’t have control over her own schedule, which, as a mother to five active kids, was difficult at times. It was also difficult to match up her schedule with Dell’s.
But family has always come first for the Gines clan, which is why, when Lena told Dell and the kids she wanted to start her own business focused on fitness, no one balked. In fact, Lena laughs, everyone was used to having a sweaty mom. Before she worked for herself, she’d run from teaching a class to her children’s activities, not wanting to miss a single one.
You’re probably thinking that starting a business would only serve to take more time away from the family, but Lena shakes her head and smiles. “The kids were involved in the whole process. Really involved,” she shares. “Dell and I gave them paintbrushes and we painted fun colors and had a floor and mirrors put in. My husband was a huge help on the business side of everything.”
And once everything was up and running, the studio still didn’t steal Lena and Dell’s attention away from the kids. “It has opened a lot of time for me,” Lena insists. “Seems weird, but I can have someone come in and substitute for me or teach the classes when I want to go with the kids topractices and games.” It’s a flexibility that wasn’t there for her before when she was teaching classes based on the schedules of companies she worked for.
Additionally, the children didn’t mind that they were spending their free time helping out at the studio. In fact, as they’ve gotten older, it has become a place where they can work out on their own, or bring in their friends for exercise and fitness classes.
While the Gines family enjoys working out together in the studio, the space has become a second home for the family. The eldest child, Destiny, celebrated her 16th birthday there. Additionally, the Gines family has held holiday parties and other events in the space, coming together in their labor of love not just for work, but also for play.
To pull it all off, Lena says, “You will have to sacrifice some sleep.” She gets up very early to go work out or teach classes, so early that she often gets home before her kids are even awake. Before they were old enough to keep an eye on each other, Dell often stayed home while Lena went to teach a class or work out. Now, she and Dell or she and the kids can work out together if desired.
Additionally, working out early in the morning allows Lena to get home, wake the kids for school, and get their day started with breakfast. “The health aspect is very important for my family,” Lena says. “They watch what Dell and I do and it’s neat to see what they’re going to be and how they’re developing.”
While the family, no doubt, fully immerses themselves in being there for one another, they have learned one thing over the years: “I’m no good after 8:30,” Lena laughs. Dell chuckles and the children can’t help but grin in agreement. “It’s exhausting and it’s hard,” Lena admits. “But you have to make the time. I wanted to set an example for my sons and for my daughters especially. You can do the things you’re passionate about and that bring you joy.”