Meet the Identical Triplet Brothers Taking Over Philly’s Fitness Scene
The three work at Rumble, Barry’s, and Unite. But they swear they never switch places.
Malik, Ahmad, and Khalil Jones are all 23 years old. They’re all graduates of UPenn. They’re all Philly fitness trainers. Oh, and they’re identical triplet brothers who you probably can’t tell apart.
The triplets, who currently live together in Grad Hospital, moved here from Washington D.C. to go to college and fell in love with Philly. (We can’t blame ’em.) Through their fledgling fitness company, Triyo Fitness, all three teach both large-scale group workout events as well as personal training both in-person and virtually. And they’re very steeped in Philly’s boutique workout scene: Malik teaches classes at Unite Fitness; Ahmad teaches classes at Barry’s; Khalil teaches classes at Rumble. You probably recognize them: because they look alike, and they all have a certain je ne sais quoi, they’re hard to miss — they’ve been on Family Feud together, and they even do some Latin dancing, of which they say the skills are applicable to teaching a group class, “which is essentially a performance,” says Ahmad.
We kept seeing them around town, and we had to know more. So, we sat down with all three of them to find out what motivates them, how well they get along, and most importantly, if they ever switch places without telling anyone.
Philadelphia Magazine: Let’s start with the most important question. Do you ever switch places?
Ahmad: Ha, no. We never switch places. But people get us confused all the time. Honestly it’s ridiculous that we all work at these gyms in the same five-block radius in Rittenhouse. Literally people will come in and I’m sitting in Barry’s and be like, “Wait I took your class yesterday at Rumble! How are you working here now?” It’s fun because people think one person is teaching all of these classes. It’s funny. We also promote one another and say, “Appreciate you coming, you should check out my brother’s classes. So then people do the ‘Triyo Fitness Tour,’ or the ‘Triyo Triple,’ as some call it.
PM: How did you all start down the fitness path?
Ahmad: It started when we were in high school. Our parents were pushing for us to find something that we really enjoyed — a passion. They wanted us to start to pursue our own interests, but also find something we could do together as a group. They talked to us a lot about synergy and working together as a group. That was something they wanted us to utilize growing up. So, when we were in high school, our senior year, we decided to make an ab workout video. That was our very first venture into the fitness industry. Of course, we’d been athletes all our lives. Soccer, basketball, a whole bunch of sports. But anyway, we posted this video on Youtube and Facebook, and within three days we had 1,500 views on our video. We thought, “This is kind of cool! We might be on to something here.”
Then, the three of us were training together in our high school gym. Other students, especially freshman, would come up to us and ask if they could lift weights or work out with us. We slowly became the fitness guys in our high school. Then, we got to Penn. All three of us went to Penn together, which of course in itself is an achievement. Our freshman year we started doing boot camps with dorms and fraternities and sororities. It was totally free and we just wanted experience and starting to build out own personal fitness brand. The second year when we were sophomores we started to monetize it and the dorms actually wanted to pay us. University of Pennsylvania became our very first client.
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PM: You spend a ton of time together. Do you always get along?
Ahmad: When we were little we were not into the whole triplet thing. It was definitely an adjustment because when we were like five to 12 years old, we started to really notice that we were identical triplets. We got a lot of attention and it was basically unwanted attention. Especially out in public. We looked a lot more alike when we were younger. People would stare at us, point at us, want to take pictures with us. They were just stopping us constantly. And we were like five, we didn’t want that! We would purposefully not walk in a straight line when we were in public. If we were staggered people couldn’t tell as quickly how much we all looked alike.
Then, probably around age 13 or 14 we started taking advantage of being triplets. It helped us on sports teams, and with studying together and being in the same study groups. Group projects were better working together, too. In the beginning there was some issues with adjusting to the fact that there’s two other people that looked like us, and maintaining our individuality while still being a part of that group, but we quickly began to use it as a strength.
PM: What did you major in at Penn?
Malik: I majored in business. Everyone at Wharton goes to the same kind of investment banking and consulting gigs once they graduate. I studied real estate when I was there too, and I had a corporate real estate internship. But it wasn’t for me. It’s a fine path; it just wasn’t for me.
Khalil: I studied communications with a minor in consumer psychology. I knew I wanted to study psychology. I did a focus in marketing—how do you best reach the customer and position the product? So learning all of those things, combined with my personal training, kind of allowed me to become the marketing person for Triyo Fitness.
Ahmad: I studied communications with a minor in international relations. When it comes to Triyo Fitness I do a lot of the artistic aspect and directing our visuals and how we look. I studied Portuguese and sign language too.
PM: So, after graduation, how did you decide to start Triyo Fitness?
Ahmad: Upon graduation from Penn, we decided to take our own path. All three of us had opportunities to work at different corporate internships throughout college, but we decided we wanted to pursue fitness as a team after graduation. We figured if there’s any time to pursue a dream and be entrepreneurs it was right after college, rather than wait a couple years and lose that momentum. We got certified as personal trainers and started taking personal training clients.
The first six months were kind of rough. We were paying rent but not much else. About a year ago, in December of 2018, all three of us got offers to work at Fit Academy in Brewerytown. That was our first venture into boutique fitness in Philly. We were there for nine or 10 months, and then we started moving to different studios. So now Triyo Fitness has been really diving into the Philly fitness scene. We’ve done collaborations with Lululemon; we’ve worked with Vesper Day Club, we’ve worked with WeWork. We’ve been thriving and hustling to build our brand up.
Khalil: And, our parents love that we are doing this. They love anything we are doing together. As Ahmad was saying, they told us to work together. They told us we should make something together because we are so much stronger together. They say the whole is as good as the sum of its parts. We’re all great individually, but together we’re more.
PM: You and your parents were on Family Feud. How did that happen?
Ahmad: Our family showed up to Family Feud auditions in Philly on a whim when my mom saw there was going to be auditions a weekend when she and my dad were visiting us. That’s just the type of family we are. We’re a “Yes” family. There were 200 families in there for the audition, so we played a mock trial game, and a month alter we got a call to be flown out to Atlanta to be on the show It’s way tougher to play that game then from your couch. There’s a video of us salsa-ing on there on live TV on Youtube somewhere. If we have no good reason not to do something, we’re in.
PM: What keeps you motivated?
Malik: I think seeing the clients’ success is my motivation. Seeing the amount of progress someone makes, seeing the impact I can have doing what I love to do. For me it’s like I can give this person an amazing experience and seeing the progress and the smile on their face, that keeps me motivated. It tells me I’m working with one of my talents and gifts. It’s just a confidence I have that I can do things better than the average person, and I can remember everyone’s name, and I can make people feel stronger and feel like it’s the best class they’ve ever taken. That we can help someone out.
Ahmad: I try to remember that only way that you lose is if you stop trying. The only thing every winner has in common is that they never quit. There are difficulties that come with having your own business – there’s early hours, late nights, there’s times where finances aren’t right, but the one thing is not to quit. It might not happen tomorrow, or the next day, or in 10 years, but you don’t stop.