There is more to this Canadian beauty than meets the eye. She touts a strong work ethic from growing up on the family farm, intuitive business acumen, she shares an impermeable bond with her son, and is driven to seek out a greater purpose. Jana Webb is not a complicated person, but her story is certainly an interesting one.
Since she was 12 years old, helping on the family’s working farm, Jana was taught that in life you need to work hard for what you want. It’s all she’s known, explaining “you just work until the work is done; there is no schedule.” This was an early lesson that would come back to her in adulthood, as an entrepreneur and founder of Joga, the yoga based fitness program designed for athletes. So how does a girl who grew up on a farm in rural Alberta become a successful business mogul who trains athletes all over the world? Ambition with a twist of fate, that’s how. According to Jana, at 17 years old she created a vision board and appealed to her parents that “there’s got to be more.” Upon graduating high school, she promptly packed up and left her small town of 800 and headed for Calgary, determined to make her vision a reality.
Fast track seven years later, with a background in marketing and school accreditation in film and television, Jana was bursting onto the scene hosting a Canadian travel TV show and trekking the world marketing various brands. While on a work excursion in Kelowna, B.C., a car accident side railed her current aspirations and the focus became on recovery. During this time, Webb’s singing coach introduced her to yoga and encouraged her to incorporate the breathing techniques and stretching into her other physical rehabilitation. Admittedly not a natural “yogi,” however quite competitive by nature, she didn’t give up until eventually discovering what Jana says felt like she “was at home:” Ishta Yoga. This triggered her new found passion and what she describes as “an innate ability to understand human movement.” The following years were spent teaching yoga back in Calgary, as well as working in a healthcare setting alongside chiropractors and physiotherapists; it was through this experiential learning that Jana learned more about the human body than she could have ever imagined.
When a former professional football player began regular yoga sessions under Jana’s guidance, he expressed how beneficial these classes would have been, back when he was training and playing. Opportunity came knocking when she heard the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders were looking for a resident yoga coach. Backed by her client’s referral, Jana went for it –and got it. “I walked in and there were 65 massive football players, and they looked at me like ‘you’re going to do this … and we’re going to do that?’” she jokes. “The first session was a disaster, because all I knew was what I’d been taught and immediately I knew something had to shift. These bodies couldn’t sustain a regular tree posture, their hips are too tight – or a warrior posture; they don’t have the external rotation in their hip joints. So I started to manipulate the traditional yoga movements and make them more cohesive to the athlete’s body.” Webb further explains it:
“With Joga, it’s all yoga movements that emulate the bio-mechanics of sport. The important piece of yoga that we needed to maintain with the Joga philosophy is breathing, because what the athletes do need is relaxation, they need to regenerate and recover – and those are all the traditional breathing and relaxation benefits of yoga.”
Two years later one of Jana’s quarterback clients with the Calgary Stampeders won MVP, and attributed much of his excellent physical fitness to his Joga training. With his encouragement, Webb decided to brand her exclusive yoga studio and market the unique method of “yoga for jocks” for which she had become known, leading to the creation of Joga.
After the birth of her son, Will, Jana continued to run her Calgary-based studio and teach Joga for a living, but as any business owner knows, it takes considerable time to see a return on investment. So when a job opportunity in front of the cameras became available, she and her family moved across the country to Toronto. As the television audition proved fruitless, that didn’t stop Webb from making the most of the situation. “I went to the (Toronto) Argos’ General Manager, we had won a championship in Calgary together, so he ended up hiring me and we’ve been working together for seven years.” But her influence isn’t found solely on the gridiron, Joga has been part of the training for some of the Toronto Blue Jays players as well as the Toronto Raptors and several other NBA and NHL teams. This is where her work ethic comes into play, as Jana describes how she’s acquired all of these elite clients: “I hustle. I market myself. I go to all the conferences, fly to the cities and meet with the strength and conditioning coaches.” And it doesn’t stop with her, Joga boasts 350 certified trainers worldwide, who aside from teaching the unique style of athletic yoga, are also taught invaluable business skills when marketing Jana’s brainchild. “We actually teach our coaches how to manage business, how to present themselves, how to network and market. If they don’t know how to do that, we can give them the best product in the world, but if they don’t know how to get clients, we’re not successful and they’re not successful. We’ve really stepped up our game in supporting our coaches.”
In the highly competitive industry of sport, it’s important to be widely accessible and stay at the forefront of everyone’s mind. This is where Jana’s latest endeavors are getting her and Joga into the public eye. Just one month ago, Joga House opened in Yorkville, the first one of its kind in order to test the waters of a possible fitness franchise. “We’ve already trained our Joga coaches to be business people, the next step is Joga pop ups so that we can give them all the tools to create their own business wherever they are, and possibly partner with gyms in their local area – and the next step from there is a franchise opportunity,” Webb explains. Pop up shop, defined as a space that is opened temporarily to take advantage of a trending product or service, is perfect for determining which locales Jana’s program will be well received and is worth upgrading to another brick and mortar Joga House franchise. A frequent visitor to the Niagara region, Niagara-in-the-Lake specifically, she is enthusiastic about opening a pop up here, particularly in partnership with a local winery. When speaking about her certified Joga coaches, and the lack thereof in the Golden Horseshoe: “We need some here! We need somebody certified down here because we always get business (down here) but we can’t fulfill it right now.”
Another way in which Jana is getting herself and her brand out there, is by recently starring in the premiere season of the Real Housewives of Toronto. While accepting the opportunity to use it as a platform to market her brand, she maintains her one goal was to remain as real as possible. “When I do something, I am in the zone, that’s when I am in the moment,” and being as natural as possible caused Webb to truly forget the cameras were around. While some of the other Housewives may have amped up their personas to be perceived as more fabulous, Jana kept it real, and kept her focus on bigger gains than popularity. On more than one occasion, the Joga logo would appear and her brand would be broadcast on nationwide television, some of the best advertising in which she could have ever invested. Such savvy marketing strategies are one of the reasons why Webb can relate to and admires Bethanny Frankel, most famously known for her role on the Real Housewives of New York.”Similarly, Frankel used her show as a means to promote her trademark brand of low calorie cocktails.
As for other female role models in Jana’s life, she assuredly gives her mother the top spot. “My mom is the person I admire the most. I understand where I get my fight from … she’s been sick several times and fought through everything. She’s raised four kids … she’s like Superwoman.” Credit is also doled out to her father, “my dad is where I get my business sense from; he’s a very kind man and a hard worker.” On a global scale, the Joga founder admits she has respect for the “Material Girl” herself, Madonna, explaining: “She’s reinvented herself so many times and I really admire that because it’s so easy for people to ‘hit it’ in one area of their lives and then that’s what they’re known for. Whereas she’s always pivoting, always pushing the limits and always going outside of her boundaries, and I really admire that.” One trait that Webb clearly shares with the iconic blonde is unbounded ambition. When speaking about what she has her sights set on conquering next, “I’m trying to scale my business globally. I’ve got interest from Australia, South Africa, the U.K. and the U.S. market, which I’m really excited about. So if I get this first Joga House right, the goal is to roll that out across the world!” However, one of the hardest things Jana is working on now is learning how to slow down and appreciate every moment. “A personal goal for me is to learn how to find a little bit more balance. Spend more time with my family and my son … really taking the time just to enjoy life a little bit more,” says Webb. When Jana does have the rare opportunity to indulge, what does she admit is one of her guilty pleasures? “I eat red meat and I love my beer,” she states like a true Albertan. “And if I am going to splurge, it will be on the spa. Every city I go to, I want to know where the best spa is.”
Today while meeting with me, Jana is wearing a hat from her very own merchandise line, flashing the juxtaposed “J’s” representing the Joga logo. On other days, she wears the proverbial hockey mom hat, when she takes Will to a hockey practice or game. Back home, you might catch her in a cowboy hat relaxing in rural Alberta. Regardless of all the sides there are to Jana Webb, her most prominent characteristics are her positivity and optimism. When asked about her future endeavors, including if offered the opportunity to do her own reality show, she replies: “I really believe that the universe presents things to you, and if the universe presents it, then it’s probably an opportunity to say yes. Life is so short.” The young girl who once exclaimed “there’s got to be more,” is still creating vision boards, now with her nine year old son, and reaching for bigger dreams. “If you work hard and do things with integrity, everything will work out.”
During her stay in Niagara, Jana’s accommodations were provided by the Queen Regent B&B, located in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Make up done by Emmy-award winning artist and friend, Amanda Terry, also owner and proprietor of the Queen Regent.