Giving families the opportunity to improve their health and fitness has always been an important part of Hal Jackson’s life. As the owner of Factor X Fitness in Thomasville, Georgia, Jackson knows that goal is more important now than ever with the COVID-19 pandemic causing so much uncertainty in people’s lives. Of course, there’s been a good bit of uncertainty with Jackson’s Factor X being one of those first types of businesses targeted for closing, due to the nature of social gathering that exists with his and all workout facilities in the country. Jackson admitted that it’s been hard.
“We had to shut down for four weeks,” he said. “It was difficult. We were forced to stop all drafts from happening while we were shut down.”
Jackson was born in 1974 in Thomasville, and except for a short trip down Highway 319 to Tallahassee to get a college education at Florida State University, the Rose City has been the place he has called home his entire life. Before graduating from FSU in 1997, Jackson attended and graduated from Thomasville High School in 1993. While Jackson had enjoyed working out in high school, he said it wasn’t until he got to college that he really took it seriously.
“I really got into it at FSU,” he said.
Once he graduated from college, he returned to Thomasville to help with the family business.
“My family owned numerous convenience stores around the area called Jack Rabbit Food Stores,” he said. “I always had a close family and grew up in a Christian home. My dad, Harold, needed help overseeing the stores, so I was glad to help him and give back for all that he had done for me.”
When the family started talking about selling the stores, Jackson started contemplating what he wanted to do next. It was then that he first began thinking about the possibility of owning a gym.
“Before we sold them, I knew I wanted to open a nice, family-friendly gym in Thomasville that treated its members with respect,” Jackson said.
He did just that on Oct. 4, 2010, with the grand opening of Factor X Fitness, located at 1314 East Jackson Street in Thomasville.
“It has been a great experience, especially helping people meet their weight loss and overall fitness goals,” Jackson said.
Having to shut down his business during the pandemic was hard, but it was part of being a business owner. As bad as that was for Jackson, his employees, and gym members, it wasn’t anything compared to the personal adversity Jackson faced in August of 1999. His brother, Ben, who was a standout baseball player with Valdosta State University and was looking at a possible career in pro baseball, was practicing with others at a local high school baseball field. According to Jackson, his brother was recovering from back surgery and was playing with a summer league team called ‘the Hot Dogs’ in order to get back into playing shape. It was a typical hot, summer day, and Ben was pitching when out of nowhere he was struck in the back of the neck by a lightning strike, killing him instantly.
“His death showed me just how short life can really be,” Jackson said.
With the dark skies of the COVID-19 virus starting to hopefully clear, the restrictions that closed Hal Jackson’s gym have been lifted, and Factor X Fitness is back open for business.
“I was the last gym open and the first to reopen,” Jackson said. “Since we have reopened, a lot of new measures are being followed to keep the gym extra clean, and we are closely following Governor Kemp’s guidelines.”
Jackson said he has always made sure his gym was extra clean, even before the current guidelines took effect.
“We have always kept the gym extra clean and sanitized, so it helps that our employees know the drill already,” he said.
Now what? Does Jackson expect his level of membership to return all at once?
“I think it will be a very slow process,” Jackson said. “I do believe our current members will eventually return, but there is still a bit of uncertainty with a lot of people. I have been encouraged by those members that did return, and we even have a few new members joining up.”
Jackson added that his oldest daughter is interested in fitness, having worked at the gym for three years. He said his youngest daughter will hopefully want to start working there too. Family is important to the Jacksons.
Please use every other cardio machine.
Please clean before and after you use equipment (with our gym wipes).
There will be no locker use untilfurther notice.
Please clean before and after you get in the tanning beds.
Try to stay 6 feet apart and continue to social distance.
Please wait at the front desk to scan in and get your temp taken. (Anyone with 100.6 degree temperature or above will be denied access.)
Written by: Phil Jones | Photography by: Eric Vinson