After years of starting her workday at 3 a.m., Jennifer Holloway says she's ready for a change.
By the end of the year, she expects to step down as Bay News 9's morning anchor. But she has another job ready: pushing the exercise machine she invented, the Workout 180, as it hits the Home Shopping Network and other outlets over the next few months.
Holloway hopes to stay at Bay News 9 or owner Bright House Networks in a different job, but can't say what she might do because negotiations haven't been completed. Officials at Bright House and Bay News 9 declined to comment.
Weekend anchor Erica Riggins is preparing to take over the morning anchor job when Holloway leaves, and the local cable news channel has announced an open weekend anchoring position.
An employee at Bay News 9 since its debut in 1997, Holloway took over as morning anchor in 2000. She says her departure now is "a change of pace'' she initiated.
"I don't need to be Katie Couric to feel I've accomplished what I set out to do as an anchor," Holloway said. "Being a single woman with no children, it's all based on what Jen wants. And now's the time for a change."
Profiled last year on the PBS series Everyday Edisons, Holloway's invention offers a souped-up take on the typical aerobic step platform, adding a pushup bar, resistance bands and a removable middle section users can balance on to complete a wide range of exercises.
As part of the series, inventors partner with the creators of Everyday Edisons to develop and market their products. Selected for the PBS show from 500 Tampa-area hopefuls in 2005, Holloway has spent years with them refining the product; the company spent $400,000 just to build molds for the units.
Now, Holloway says Home Shopping Network will feature the device in early October. (A recent visit with her partners sparked rumors, which she denied, that she was leaving Bay News 9 for a job there.) This month's Shape magazine includes a complimentary review. The $199 unit is available online, and Dick's Sporting Goods will soon carry it, she said.
Why an exercise machine? Holloway, 37, is a former Miss Georgia who dedicated herself to exercise after growing up as a heavy child (her nickname back then, based on her maiden name, was "Wide Load Waldroup").
She's got two more ideas ready, once the Workout 180 is established.
"I won't retire on this product, but it's a dream come true," she said. "I've done what I said I was going to do."
Eric Deggans can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8521. His blog, The Feed, is at blogs.tampabay.com/media.