Cherokee Office of Economic Development · Cherokee by Choice.

Entrepreneurship Stories: Black Business Month Series – Michael “MJ” Johnson of NYX Training Center

August 24, 2023

Entrepreneurship Stories: Black Business Month Series Q&A Featuring Michael “MJ” Johnson of NYX Training Center

August is Black Business Month in the U.S., and to celebrate, COED will be featuring black-owned businesses of Cherokee County all month long.

This week we’ll hear from Michael “MJ” Johnson of NYX Training Center – a ninja, parkour, and World Chase Tag facility located in Woodstock. We are so excited to celebrate these businesses this month!

  1. Tell us what inspired you to start your business?

Much of our inspiration to start the business was pretty much that we used to work at a gym called Ninja Quest Fitness and it closed. Between [my co-owner] Dara and I, we coached 90% of the kids, teenagers, adults. When that establishment closed, she and I had different opportunities elsewhere, but we just felt as though we were abandoning our kids and our group there. So, we took the leap of faith to open our own.

  1. How has being in Cherokee County helped grow your business?

I would say I feel as though Cherokee County itself is in that that upswing. There’s new development happening and it’s a bustling hub for families – and families are our target demographic. The previous establishment that we worked at Ninja Quest was in Marietta over by Canton Rd. That was more so a business lane, there’s not too many houses.

There is a neighborhood behind our facility, and several others in the area. All of those have families. Our greatest marketing so far has been word of mouth because Dara and I pride ourselves on our service. Moms tell other moms who tell other moms who tell Dads and I feel as though because we’re in Cherokee and it is such a family-centric county, it’s helped bolster who we are and get that out there organically.

  1. What advice would you give to other small businesses who are wanting to grow/scale their business?

My very first thing is there’s no such thing as too much capital. Going into our business, I wish we would have done better at budgeting our build out so that there was something to fall back on. I think the number one mistake most people make going into business is taking what they’ve been given investment wise and using all of it, not accounting for the months – because it will be months – in which you do not break even.

I wish someone would’ve shared that advice with me when we started. If I could share anything, it would be that.

  1. How can we as a community best support your business now and in the future?

I think you guys have been doing a lot so far and we appreciate it. I enjoyed presenting at Fresh Start Mornings in June, I think that’s a great event. It’s a great way to network and meet other business owners and I appreciate the fact that you reached out to us for this interview. So, I think for us that’s probably the biggest thing – we’re just working on outreach and however we can work with others to tap into the community.

We’re struggling with [people finding us] now, it’s just because we’re in the back of an office park. A lot of people come back and say, “We had no idea you guys were here.” So, we’re putting that at the forefront. We’re just trying to get our name out there and let people know this is who we are, and these are our services. When people come in, they’re like, “I’ve been looking for this. We found you on a Google search, thankfully. But we had no idea we were five minutes away.”

We are also looking for information on how a facility like ours can get an after school program going or get into schools. We want to do outreach where we offer discounts and memberships to those that cannot afford extracurricular activities. We would like to offer memberships on us for them to come and still be active. So, in that way, they’re not just at home bored, dwindling away or doing things that they shouldn’t be doing.

Our goal is to get in contact with the community of Cherokee and the community of Woodstock to continue to push overall health and wellness for the kids.

  1. What kind of services do you offer at NYX?

We offer overall character development and physical fitness, both educational and conditioning opportunities. At NYX Training Center we teach hand-eye coordination, air awareness, foot dexterity and we focus on building the athletes from a moral standpoint, as well as an athletic.

In our facility, we offer World Chase Tag, parkour, ninja, some training classes, and we are looking at opening other classes as well. It’s open to all age ranges from two up. For ages two to four we have a Mommy and Me class, for ages four to six is our Mini’s program, and then for ages seven and up we place the student where they are respectively as as an athlete.

  1. You’ve participated in American Ninja Warrior. Did your involvement with American Ninja Warrior inspire you to open NYX Training Center?

If it wasn’t for this show I wouldn’t be a coach. It was more so me being turned into a coach that inspired me to open NYX – and the only reason why I became a coach is obviously because I was on the show.

My gym [at the time] was like, “Hey, you’re a pretty good ninja. Come coach.” So, the show sparked a love that I didn’t even know that I had. Being an athlete is fun, but being a coach is rewarding. If it wasn’t for the show I wouldn’t coach, and if I didn’t coach, I don’t know if I would be the person that I am now. It’s been very fulfilling.

Seeing your kids accomplish literal life goals at such a young age does something – especially when at that young age, they reflect and look back and credit you. It was the most fulfilling moment I’ve ever had reading something that a kid wrote to me speaking of how he’s literally dreamt about this one thing for years, and because of his hard work and our time and investment he was able to achieve that.

  1. What would you tell someone who is considering taking a class, but is hesitant to do so?

There’s a quote that pretty much goes, “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second-best time to plant a tree is today.” Don’t beat yourself up about not being prepared at a younger age or beforehand, because that’s all hindsight. You can do whatever you want and achieve whatever you would like – you just have to put the work in. We all start from ground zero, I know I did. No matter what you’re doing in life, whether it’s physical, business or just parenting, we all start somewhere, so don’t be afraid to plant that tree.

For more information on NYX Training Center, visit

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