Whyography of the Week: Val Fleurantin Turner, ‘Coach Val’

Val Fleurantin Turner’s Whyography is one of more than 30 stories featured in the “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose” book. 100 percent of proceeds from book sales benefit the Fueled by Purpose micro grant fund for womxn-owned businesses. To purchase the book, visit the Marketplace page.

Val Fleurantin Turner was living the life she had imagined for herself growing up in Haiti. She’d relocated from Florida to Minnesota for a software engineering job. She was a soon-to-be-mom moving up the ranks at the largest medical device company in the world. She’d been invited to participate in an emerging leaders’ program. But when the program required her to interview senior leaders within the company about their experiences, she noticed something concerning. They all expressed regret about not being there to raise their kids. Val immediately jumped off the leadership track.

Everything changed after that. Val was happy when she got to work on new projects, but it was short-lived. She accepted a new position at another large corporation, but she was still dissatisfied. She enrolled in an MBA program, which was challenging. Then she and her husband got divorced. Now she was juggling single parenthood, a demanding career and grad school. She was mentally and physically exhausted. Without knowing what she’d do next, Val left her job and put her MBA on hold.

For a while, she felt stuck. She spent time working out because physical activity made her feel better. She immersed herself in her North Minneapolis neighborhood—something she hadn’t done previously because she was too busy working. She discovered that while she lived in one of the healthiest states in the nation, her largely African-American community didn’t have access to the healthy food and health care it needed. On her way to pick up her son from day care one day, Val began praying in her car for a sign about what to do next. The answer that came: Make an impact in the community through fitness. At the day care center, the director asked what she did for a living. When Val said she was in between jobs, the director replied, “You should be a fitness instructor.” It was the confirmation Val needed. She decided to become “Coach Val,” a certified Zumba instructor.

Val knew she could make the greatest impact by offering her fitness classes for free. But she’d gone from a six-figure income to no income and her resources were dwindling. So rather than taking on the financial burden of her own studio space, she connected with community organizations in high-traffic locations. They agreed to let her use their spaces, and classes soon began filling up. As participants started sharing stories about how their lives were changing as a result of Val’s programs, she wanted to do more. She became a certified lifestyle coach to expand her reach. Her goal is to create a healthy lifestyle movement that has generational impact in urban communities across the country.

Val couldn’t be happier she jumped off the corporate ladder. It has enabled her to prioritize what matters most to her. It has also allowed her to follow in the footsteps of her grandmothers, who were successful business owners in Haiti, and whose example Val always knew she’d follow.

To learn more about Val’s business, visit her Facebook.

Photo: Val Turner

About the author: Chris Olsen is a broadcast media maven turned communications consultant and the author of “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose”. Through her work as a consultant, Chris realized her WHY—to support womxn-owned businesses in confidently communicating their purpose, setting them up for entrepreneurial success. She created My Founder Story as a platform for doing so.

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