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Penn graduates are a triple threat in making fitness fun

Triplets Malik, Khalil and Ahmad Jones form Triyo Fitness, where having fun is a prerequisite.

From left: Malik, Khalil, and Ahmad Jones are Penn graduates who opened a training business called Triyo Fitness.
From left: Malik, Khalil, and Ahmad Jones are Penn graduates who opened a training business called Triyo Fitness.Read moreTOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer

Triplets Malik, Kahlil, and Ahmad Jones — all 24-year-old graduates of the University of Pennsylvania and certified personal trainers — are building a business on the belief that they can make working out fun.

“We want to have fun, and that is how we train people and how we teach class,” Malik said. “And for us, it’s important to create a space where everybody’s having a good time, everybody’s enjoying themselves, and that then actually produces the best results.”

The triplets formed Triyo Fitness after graduating from Penn in 2018. When the coronavirus pandemic began, they developed virtual programs for corporate clients, including a boot camp-type workout that the three of them lead together.

For instance, Khalil may lead the class in boxing moves, Ahmad will focus on strength-building exercises, and Malik will turn to cardio and full-body movements.

“You have three different instructors, three different modalities, but there’s something for everybody who takes our boot camp,” Ahmad said.

Just because the brothers make workouts fun doesn’t mean they make them easy.

“I did it, and it was pretty tough, but they make it exciting,” said Carlton Marshall II, a former high school classmate of the triplets at Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C., who recently hired Triyo Fitness to run a Zoom boot camp for Capital One, his employer. “They don’t want to be too intimidating. They give options: If you are more advanced you can do one exercise, and, if not, you can do another exercise.”

Besides their natural enthusiasm, the triplets add to the fun factor with the music they curate for their workouts.

“Music is a big part of it,” Malik said. “If I can’t dance to the music, I am not going to be dancing. And if I am not dancing, people aren’t going to see me having a good time. And if I am not having a good time, nobody else is going to have a good time.”

Adolph Sims, community manager for lululemon on Walnut Street, another participant of a Triyo boot camp, said music fueled the workout. “They had some hip-hop, EDM, a lot of pop — things that make people feel good.”

Sims added that the chemistry among the brothers is apparent.

“They really vibed off each other,” he said.

The instructors realize that if they are having fun, it can be infectious.

“So I think it starts with us enjoying ourselves, having some fun, and then that gets [noticed by] the clients, it gets into the workout, and from there we’re all having a good time, having a party,” Malik said.

A workout party.

“Fun is almost like a requirement when we do our job,” Ahmad said. “There is no reason fitness can’t be fun, and for us there is no reason it shouldn’t be fun.”

Because of the repetitive nature of workout routines, it’s necessary to find a way to enjoy working out, the triplets said.

“It’s not something you can do over and over again if you don’t like doing it,” Ahmad said.

Still, Khalil added: “It’s not always going to be like, ‘Oh, this feels amazing.’ It’s going to be hard. It is going to be challenging.”

No more challenging than starting a business right out of college. The brothers — Khalil and Ahmad majored in communications, Malik studied business — earned their personal-training certifications while at Penn. They started hosting free Saturday-morning workout sessions on campus.

“We knew we liked fitness, and we wanted to build a brand on campus to see where it could go,” Malik said.

After a year of doing it for free and building up a following, the triplets started earning a paycheck from Penn.

“The school said, you guys are crushing it, we love what you are doing,” Malik said.

And they have continued to crush it.

All three of them also work separately as personal trainers, and their eventual goal is to have a brick-and-mortar location for Triyo Fitness.

In addition, they are working on an app where people will be able to access their exercise content a lot easier.

“With the pandemic, we have shifted, we have pivoted,” Malik said. “We have found the opportunity that there definitely is for us to continue to thrive.”

And doing so with a huge smile along the way.