As a successful Black female businessowner in a male-dominated industry, Aliyah Ortiz started Tone Body Fitness in the mid-1990s out of a desire to provide her local Hawthorne community the foundation needed to successfully reach their health and fitness goals.

It was a unique mindset at the time – this was before the fitness club boom and social media fueled health and nutrition trends. Inspired by the long-term benefits of physical fitness and nutrition, Ortiz wanted to implement change and motivate her community in the Los Angeles area to pursue a healthier lifestyle. So, she became a certified master trainer, studied exercise fitness and nutrition in college and signed the lease on her first fitness center in 2001.

Today, 20 years later, Ortiz has impacted countless lives through a premium physical fitness studio in the Hawthorne community of Greater Los Angeles. Combining her love of fitness and nutrition with her many years of business experience, Ortiz welcomes a wide range of clients and athletes at Tone Body Fitness. The facility has grown to provide the public with machines, free weights, studio classes, a cozy lounge, nutrition bar and more.

“We are more than just dumbbells and treadmills,” Ortiz said. “We help bring families and the community together by providing a facility where people can come to not only exercise, but also receive the education and resources they need to live a healthy life.”

Ortiz says it’s her loyal customers, and eventually their kids who grow up to become customers themselves, who have made the difference in helping her business stay afloat in an otherwise oversaturated market. However, what her clients and community might not see is Ortiz diligently working behind the scenes every single day to scale her business and better serve her customers.

Although Aliyah has been a successful business owner for more than two decades, she understands there is always room for improvement – especially as her business continues to pivot in response to COVID-19. From the plot of land where her physical business stands to the recent adoption of tech services, like virtual coaching and touchless payments, Ortiz has big plans for Tone Body Fitness. She recognizes the importance of having a business partner to lean on – especially when it comes to reaching her long-term goals, like expanding to include classes for kids with special needs, senior citizens and other underserved communities.

Helping Minority-Owned Business Stay (Financially) Fit

Earlier this year, Ortiz was introduced to Lisa Dixon Stevens, a Vice President and Senior Business Consultant with Chase. The bank recently launched a new initiative to address the structural economic challenges experienced by minority communities as part of its $30 billion commitment to advance racial equity and provide economic opportunity. Though Dixon Stevens and Ortiz have only worked together for a short time, Ortiz refers to Dixon Stevens as her “guardian angel” and feels grateful to be receiving such instrumental support from her financial partner.

“When we first met, [Ortiz] told me, ‘I don’t need another financial institution to deposit my money. I need someone to help me grow,’” Dixon Stevens said. “I knew at that moment that we could succeed together.”

Dixon Stevens, who comes from an entrepreneurial family, has a long history of helping local minority small business owners gain access to resources, technology support and mentorship they need to grow their enterprises. For example, Dixon Stevens has helped Ortiz imagine – and bring to life – new virtual coaching services during the pandemic including group fitness therapy and a YouTube series to expand her impact to a new, virtual audience. In addition, Dixon Stevens helped Ortiz to enhance her customer service experience through contactless payment options at the point of sale.

“[Ortiz] is the perfect representation of this Chase program because we want to be catalysts for positive change, especially in underserved communities,” Dixon Stevens said. “She lives that mission every day, and in everything that she does.”

JPMorgan Chase’s new program aims to help strengthen sustainable business growth for entrepreneurs in historically underserved neighborhoods. Through this initiative, small business owners in 13 cities across the U.S., including in Los Angeles, will be matched with a Chase senior business consultant who will provide advisory services such as mentorship, business development coaching, resources and financial planning. The program is available to all, Chase customers and non-customers alike.

With the support from Dixon Stevens and her financial partners at Chase, Ortiz says she is, “strong, confident and motivated to build on her company’s longstanding success and create real generational wealth for her family.”

To learn more about how Chase is supporting minority entrepreneurs in the Los Angeles area, reach out to Chase Senior Business Consultant Lisa Dixon Stevens at [email protected]. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. Member FDIC.

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