Photography by Travis Duffy
Javeno McLean is a personal trainer, community champion and owner of the award winning J7 Health Centre in Blackley, North Manchester. He is best known for his inspirational, life changing personal training with the disabled, sick and elderly in his community. His uplifting videos posted on social media have captured the hearts of millions around the globe.
Born in Jamaica in 1985, Javeno was raised in the Blackley and Crumpsall areas of North Manchester. Early on, he achieved his goal of becoming a top-flight professional cricketer, but soon realised that his true passion lay in helping and encouraging others to achieve. He began his new career running Manchester City Council funded community exercise classes, before deciding to open J7 in 2015. "I hate the word 'gym' that's why it's called the J7 Health Centre. A gym can be a lonely intimidating place. I wanted to create an environment for people to feel safe. I wanted somewhere anyone could come in and feel welcome, somewhere where no one is watching you and judging what you're doing."
Javeno outside J7 Health Centre
I’ve never cared about what people can’t do. It’s what they can do that interests me. I don’t care if people have wheelchairs, sticks and frames, I want to show my client and friend that they can do something they never thought possible.
Disabled or with cancer, Parkinson’s, dementia and I don’t take a penny off them... I get paid with memories.
The J7 family - Javeno, Josh Coy & Aimee Hodgkiss
Javeno's achievement's include: 2021 National Fitness Award Winner and 3X winner of gym of the year. He holds the record for the world largest wheelchair exercise class and is a tireless fundraiser for important causes in his community.
The J7 Family - Aimee's Story
Aimee Hodgkiss is one of many that make up the 'J7 family'. The 25 year old from Stockport who has cerebral palsy, discovered Javeno through TikTok and was encouraged to contact him by her friends.
Aimee is a survivor of the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing. She attended the Ariana Grande concert with her mum Yolande, and had just passed through the foyer and into the lift to the car park when the bomb went off. The doors were open, but the couple saw it all. Unbelievably, Aimee and her mum were unhurt. Yolande, who is a nurse, selflessly attended to the injured until the paramedics arrived.
"I was spending a lot of time in my bed feeling sorry for myself because being disabled is not easy. Javeno has given me self-confidence and self-belief. Javeno has given me a reason to get up in the morning. I’m so, so, so grateful to that man. If he doesn’t get a Pride of Britain Award, I swear I’m going to kick off! He’s the person I go to if I’m feeling low and if he needs a pick-me-up, he’ll message me. That’s what J7 are about, we’re a unique family. Javeno is not just my trainer, he’s my best friend.
Aimee & Javeno working out at J7
The Mancunian Way
Mancunians are built different, we’re very resilient, very determined and we’re unbreakable people. This is the kind of spirit I try to put into my clients to let them know that whatever life throws at you we deal with it the Mancunian way… we deal with it properly and we make a success out of whatever cards we’ve been dealt - Javeno McLean
THE SHOOT: J7 Health Centre, Blackley, Manchester
Javeno's fitness gym where people of all abilities from across the community come together to train
Student reflection: Travis Duffy
The J7 Gym is just a short walk from where I live. On arrival we got a warm welcome from the J7 team and took the opportunity to meet Aimee and Josh, two of Javeno’s regulars who came along to help with the shoot.
We started by doing some candid shots of Javeno working with Aimee and Josh on some exercise routines and then went onto pose some shots of the three of them where Javeno’s upbeat and mischievous personality showed through. These were some of my favourite shots.
The lighting in the gym was quite uneven, not the best for portraits, but our trusty LED wand gave us some much needed extra light. I went on to photograph Javeno on his own, posing him around the gym equipment.
Javeno & Travis
I wasn’t too nervous, during the shoot, Javeno was very friendly and easy to work with and the J7 gym was a relaxed environment to take photos in. I completed the shoot by photographing Javeno outside the J7 building. The light was good for these shots and the images provided a good contrast to the shots inside.
I’m happy with how the images came together, although I feel I could have experimented with a few more interesting angles, but I believe I have captured Javeno’s character. The experience of working on the Greater Mancunians shoot was invaluable. It took me out of my comfort zone and gave me the opportunity to practice an unfamiliar type of photography.