Grow With Jo’s founder is taking over the fitness industry, one step at a time.
– KEYS SOULCARE
If you’ve ever watched a workout video on YouTube, chances are Grow With Jo has landed on your watch list. Right from the comfort of her living room, Johanna Devries quickly became the authority on at-home, walking workouts. Drenched in sweat with her signature smile, Jo — as friends and followers affectionately call her — reminds viewers they aren’t alone.
This lightworker built her blossoming community on the principles of sustainable, effective, and fun movement. Her workouts range from themed dance parties to HIIT kickboxing and active rest. The goal? To celebrate your body, no matter where you are on your fitness journey. The 28-year-old wellness leader is a beacon of joy to an impressive 2.77 million subscribers. (And, yes, she’s just getting started.)
Keep reading to discover the healing journey that led her to inspire millions, plus get a sneak peek at her vision for what’s to come.
WHAT WAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FITNESS BEFORE GROW WITH JO?
I studied Kinesiology [at McMaster University] in Canada, where I’m from. I gained the freshman 15 and became completely sedentary. I didn’t work out [or] move my body at all. I [slowly] started to work out at home and eventually got more confident to start working out in the gym.
With my competitive nature, I started going really hard into fitness and I decided to get into fitness shows. [Working out] became very, very unhealthy. It was detrimental to my emotional well-being, my personal life, and even my studies. I didn’t want to go to family events because there would be food there that would “tempt” me. I wouldn’t want to do something with my significant other because I would have to get my three hours of cardio in. I sacrificed [so much] to look a certain way.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU NEEDED TO MAKE A CHANGE?
When I went on stage for the last time, I almost fainted. Yeah, I looked great, but I [was] so unhealthy I couldn’t even hold myself up. I [said], “Okay, no more of this.” I needed to find a way to look good, feel good, do good, and be a good influence on the people around me.
WHAT HAS HELPED YOU BUILD A HEALTHIER RELATIONSHIP WITH FITNESS?
Changing the way that I think about myself. If a negative thought tries to permeate my subconscious mind, I flip the narrative. If something bad comes into my head, I say out loud, “I love the way that I look. I am beautiful, I am strong.”
Breathwork is another tool I use to come back to the present moment. [I also stopped] forcing myself to do a whole hour of working out just to prove that I can. I allow myself to take breaks, rest, and have five-minute workouts and 10-minute stretches to [move] my focus away from [getting] “results.”
WHAT DOES YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FITNESS LOOK LIKE NOW?
[Movement] plus self-care, giving myself rest and eating [well]. All these things are going to add up and it’s not going to be perfect. Doing all those things each and every day will be the result that I want. And that’s not just how I look, it’s how I am able to influence the people around me. How I can spread a positive light and just live life to the fullest in my purpose.
WHAT HAS THE GROW WITH JO COMMUNITY TAUGHT YOU?
Everybody learns and grows at a different rate — mentally, physically, and spiritually. All I can do is encourage people to keep pushing. Everybody’s dealing with something in their life and it can slow down their original intention. I know a lot of women struggle with an all-or-nothing approach. That was my mindset, too, until I had my son. I went through a really difficult pregnancy, labor, and recovery. I didn’t have all the tools to reach that previous version of myself or a new version of myself to [feel] confident and great in my skin.
[I realized] a lot of women start again. They start their journey multiple times. Maybe they’re a beginner again because they stopped for a month. Or maybe they worked out for years and then had an illness or gave birth. Things just happen and it makes you feel like a beginner again.
HOW ARE YOU HELPING WOMEN WHO ARE BEGINNING THEIR FITNESS JOURNEYS AGAIN?
I’m helping women who feel like they’re beginners again (or beginners for the first time) to gain confidence with workouts that aren’t boring. They don’t [feel] like [it’s] a chore. [I truly believe] you can find yourself again through movement you enjoy. That kind of brought me to where I am now as a YouTuber. I only started [focusing] on YouTube a year ago. My husband and teammate, Lawrence De Silva, and I were able to amass [a global community] on YouTube — we even have a following in China and Brazil. It’s really cool to see all these women’s lives impacted by the message that you can find balance, you can enjoy your workout routine, and you can find yourself again through movement and taking care of yourself.
Therapy is the number-one thing that has transformed me. My sessions feel like I’ve gotten a full body massage. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression over the years; I was really struggling with finding that balance. I am a huge advocate for therapy, but I almost felt some shame about it. Everything in my life has been so amazing. I’ve been so blessed, so how do I need therapy? But once I actually started it, I realized it’s really just an hour of you being able to process your emotions and your thoughts with someone’s unbiased opinion.
Another thing is getting out of the house because I do everything at home. It’s my safe space, but it allows me to become a little mentally trapped. Every week, I’m taking an hour and a half to just do nothing but take care of myself. I’ll go do my nails every other Friday and then get my [pedicure] the opposite Friday. That has made a huge difference.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
I was teased a lot as a kid for being chubby and that insecurity often resurfaces. I would say you’re more than what your body looks like. You have so much potential. Don’t waste that potential worrying about what other people think about you. Push yourself forward and live in your purpose. Keep putting that effort in and believing in yourself. The path will lay itself out in front of you.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR GROW WITH JO?
I’m envisioning the energy of women in a crowd and manifesting it for myself. I want to continue to pour into women’s lives and empower them to live in their purpose. And I would love to do that through public speaking, one-on-one mentoring, and [connecting with] women in person to tell them, “Babe, you are so powerful. You got so much inside of you and you can literally move mountains.”
We’re feeling so inspired. Tell us, what are you envisioning for yourself? Drop your manifestations in the comments. (Oh, and do yourself a favor and follow Jo.)