RICHMOND, Va. (BTW) – The body you want is on the other side of hard work – that’s a philosophy Maria Jones lives by.

“I was overweight and depressed, so I just wanted better for myself,” she says.

Jones started working out and the change was almost instant, both inside and out.

“Women were noticing that I was much happier at work, I was losing weight, and so I said, ‘come walk with me.’”

That commitment to her health blossomed into a new career as a personal trainer and her own gym, “Body by Maria.”

The body you want is on the other side of hard work – that’s a philosophy Maria Jones lives by.(NBC)

Over time, she shed more than 80 pounds, going from 215 pounds to 130 pounds.

Carmen Candelabra is on her own fitness journey, with Maria leading the way.

“We know we can be ourselves and we won’t get judged. We work out, we make friends, we inspire each other. I came in at 181 pounds. I couldn’t even walk fast. Now, I am running 2-4 miles,” said Candelabra.

Candelabra said she thought about getting plastic surgery, but Maria showed her a healthier life is possible.

“Everyone is getting surgery and women are starting to look different, and when you get to a certain age, you start thinking about, should I do the same thing? But here at Body by Maria, we know we can work out, lose weight and get ourselves the way we want to. It brings self-confidence, it makes us feel good about ourselves, it gives us inner strength and it makes us realise that we can accomplish anything,” said Candelabra.

Carmen’s first steps have her on an amazing path to success, and she wanted to tell Maria thank you by nominating her for NBC′s Acts of Kindness.

Maria received $300 and a $50 gift card to Mexico Restaurant.

Maria’s gym is more than just a place to work out – it’s a space for these women to come together and shed their insecurities, along with the weight.

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