From tragedy to triumph

Janita Rhodes preps her work station last week in the cafe at Lake Michigan College in Benton Township. Rhodes, who also teaches a cardio drumming course at Healthy Harbor, opened a nutrition store on Friday at the campus cafe. 

BENTON TOWNSHIP — Janita Rhodes starts everyday with a healthy mindset.

When she’s not supervising a cardio drumming class at Healthy Harbor in Benton Harbor, she’s running a nutrition store at Lake Michigan College.

The store, which is run through Herbalife, had its grand opening Friday and can be found at LMC’s cafeteria near the college’s bookstore.

Originally from Chicago, Rhodes and her family moved to Benton Harbor a few years ago after she was in a bad hit-and-run accident.

Since recovering from her injuries, she found a new outlook on what she wanted to do with her life.

Rhodes sat down with Herald-Palladium Staff Writer Tony Wittkowski to discuss what made her want to venture out for her own business.

What brought you to the area?

Tragedies. I was in a really bad car accident when I was five months pregnant. My husband lost his job because he had to take care of me. Seven months after that, I went to have a birthday party and got off the expressway and my car was shot up in a random shooting.

Was this in Chicago?

Yes. A week after that, my husband said “You know what? We’re moving.” We have four little kids and the whole ordeal was scary.

I understand you teach a class.

I do cardio drumming. We do it out of Healthy Harbor every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Cardio drumming is a very, very active exercise. We have yoga balls, laundry buckets and yoga sticks. We beat on them.

How did you get into this?

Through Herbalife. When I joined them as a distributor, I was introduced to it. I’m told my personality is live and lit, so we gave it a try. The first time I (held a class), we had maybe four people show up. It went from those four people to maybe 17 or 18 at a time.

What’s the main appeal of cardio drumming to you?

Making other people happy. I want people to be healthy and happy.

What did you do prior to this?

The real question would be what haven’t I done. I’ve been a licensed cosmetologist and a CNA (certified nurse aide) certification – but ever since I had kids I can no longer stand the sight of blood. I decided I wanted to start my own business by the time I’m 35 and leave something for my kids. I’m 32 now and it’s happening.

Nice. Tell me about your newest business venture.

I will be incorporating my smoothies and energy drinks with their cafe. I want to give the students and staff a burst of energy.

How long have you been with Herbalife?

Believe it or not, since November of last year. The things it did for me made me jump with two feet in. I was working what was essentially three jobs at once and decided to go after this.

How often will you be open at LMC?

Every day, Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

How long has it been since you wanted to find your own location?

Six weeks ago actually. I was interviewing for this position with Ford in Chicago, and I just heard this voice say, “Go after what you want, and not what you think.” I was driving and pulled over to the side of the road and called my husband, asking him if I was doing the right thing. He told me to believe in myself and do what I want. I chose to invest in myself and go for what I know.  

We’ve been going with it since then. Everything has been falling into place. 

What are you looking forward to the most? Where do you see this going?

In February, I’ll be able to open my own nutrition club versus just a satellite location. I eventually want three storefronts. I want there to be a nutrition club that is next to a daycare center and full-service salon on the side. When you book at these two places, you would have a daycare right there as well.

Contact:, 932-0358, Twitter: @TonyWittkowski