Jenny Craig (the person) worked as a fitness trainer at a small gym in New Orleans during the 1970s. In 1979 she married a 50% owner of that gym and by 1982 the gym was doing $35 million in business a year. They sold the gym to a company that was a subsidiary of Nutri-System for $3.5 million but, as part of the sale contract, they were prohibited from competing with Nutri-System in the United States for two years.
Not to be deterred, the Craigs formed Jenny Craig Inc. in 1983 and promptly moved to Australia and began doing business. They did very well. By 1985 Jenny Craig Inc. was operating 69 centers in Australia and during that year, their non-compete clause with Nutri-System now expired, they began opening Jenny Craig Centers in Los Angeles and Chicago. The company grew from there into a multinational giant by the early 1990s.
The Jenny Craig weight loss program was based upon sound principals of behavior modification, nutrition and exercise. They key to the company's profits were it's foods, sold directly to customers.
By the mid 1990s, the commercial diet industry in the US began to saturate and Jenny Craig Inc's growth slowed. The company endured a period of time during which Nutri-System, the original "800 pound gorilla" of commercial weight loss closed nearly all of its franchises and corporate centers.
In 2002 the Company was sold to a private investment group that in turn sold it to Nestlé in 2006 for a reported $600 million. Jenny Craig remains a major player in the commercial weight loss industry today and was, in 2011, rated by Consumer Reports as the most succesful commercial weight loss program.