By Ali Nolan
This Is Alabama
When Kendell Jno-Finn moved to Birmingham from Dominica to attend Samford University, he didn’t think he’d be in Alabama long past graduation. But he stayed, first to get his doctorate in physical therapy from UAB, and then to launch his career.
“If I had just packed up and gone back to the Virgin Islands, run back to Dominica, I would’ve only been benefiting myself,” he said. “I would’ve made a decent living, and I’d be able to do my thing, but I really wouldn’t have been able to impact the communities, the village, where I grew up and the country as much as I could. I developed business acumen and relationships here that allow me to do that.”
Jno-Finn’s journey led him to become a partner in an existing practice. In 2015, he started a performance venture on the side that focused on working with golfers, runners and other athletes. But when, in 2017, Hurricane Maria tore through Dominica and the Virgin Islands, he felt like it was time for him to make his own clinic his top priority.
“It was the idea of ‘Am I trading off time or am I investing time?’ because when you trade off time, you build somebody else’s mansion,” he said. “You trade time for work, time for money. It just wasn’t something that was appealing to me anymore.”
By 2018, Jno-Finn had fully launched his own physical therapy practice with the vision of helping clients improve their mobility, confidence and overall wellness. The idea was driven by his desire to “make movement monumental.” He calls the clinic M3 Endeavors, and he owns two locations in the Birmingham-Trussville area.
From youth athletes looking for performance training to professional football players in need of Pilates to weekend warriors with pains to community members dealing with neurological issues, Jno-Finn and the M3 staff help them all.
He’s grateful to the Birmingham community, and it feels as though this is his home away from home – even though he hasn’t fully embraced the language yet.
“I still struggle with accepting the whole ‘y’all’ thing after all these years,” he said.
Here, Jno-Finn talks about the best parts of living in Alabama and where to go to get the best burger in the state.
This is Alabama: What’s your favorite part of living in Alabama?
Kendell Jno-Finn: I can live here and I can absolutely plan a vacation or go anywhere easily. I think the fact that I can be in Chicago, Dallas, Charlotte or Miami on a direct flight – it’s been beneficial for me traveling for conferences. This year I’ll travel six or seven times to speak, and it’s fairly easy for me to hop on a plane, even if I have multiple stops. I can hop on a plane, get somewhere and generally be back on the same day if I need to.
It also doesn’t have a tremendously high cost of living. And it doesn’t have extremes, usually. Well, except for the heat and humidity. Because, you know, the heat index is supposed to be 110 here today.
TIA: Who would be on your Alabama Mount Rushmore?
Jno-Finn: Nick Saban. It’s really not about football for me. It’s about organizational leadership and holding people accountable. Obviously, you think about his success, but what I really love is the process. Having spoken to and worked with people who have been coached by him and who have been part of his programs, that’s why I would put him there.
I think Hall Thompson in terms of what he did with Thompson Caterpillar. It’s pretty remarkable.
John McMahon Jr., the founder of Ligon Industries.
Charles Barkley. Not only because he just speaks his mind but in terms of the path that he’s taken.
Jesse Owens has to be there.
Rosa Parks. I think for a woman at that time to do kind of what she did, it was so impactful.
Joe Louis, but I wouldn’t put him on there before Jesse Owens.
TIA: How would you describe the people of Alabama?
Jno-Finn: Protective. I think once people here have wrapped their minds around you, once they’ve accepted you, they will protect you. That’s what I’ve learned. There have been some things that have happened from a business standpoint, and the people that were there were the people I didn’t expect to show up for me in a million years.
TIA: What’s the most beautiful place in Alabama?
Jno-Finn: Probably the mountains in the northeast corridor. DeSoto State Park, and up that way, that is probably the place. And driving across that way, if you come from DeSoto State Park going across toward Boaz, coming up and down those mountains and looking across the rivers, that’s pretty awesome. I think I’m probably a little biased because it reminds me of home. Dominica has nine volcanoes; it’s the most densely populated volcanic country in the world, so I like the mountains.
TIA: What’s your favorite restaurant in Alabama?
Jno-Finn: It would be Chez Fonfon because you can always get the burger. What I like about it is that it’s small. It’s not really pretentious. I know we’ve got Highlands and, you know, face it, Frank Stitt has done his thing. And there are a lot of new places to eat. But if I had to think about my favorite, I think it goes back to memories for me, and the times that I’ve gone there and the people that I’ve been with, the conversations we’ve had and the service and the food. I’ve never been disappointed.
This story was previously published by This is Alabama. Want to read more good news about Alabama? Sign up for the This is Alabama newsletter here.