For as long as I can remember, I have been someone on the move: I never liked sitting still in class, I hated being stuck at home doing homework when I could have been outdoors playing, and I hated being tied to a desk job once I entered the workforce. For me, working a steady but adventure-free job feels a whole lot like taking a swim while wearing a pair of cement shoes—like I’m drowning in paperwork, administrative bureaucracy, and unimaginative thinking.
When I combined all of that with the student debt I racked up to go to school to get that unfulfilling job, I wound up being a success on paper, but feeling like I’d failed at realizing my own personal vision for the future. Finally, after what seems like way too many years wasted on a stranger’s vision for my life, I decided to take matters into my own hands, and jump head-first into a new direction: one that led me directly into my passions, and not away from them.
I’d spent years in high school and college as a long-distance runner, and although I wasn’t sure how to actualize it, my gut was telling me that I would have a fulfilling career in fitness. I started with small, but significant steps: I went “back to school” and completed a certification for personal training, then started to build up a small stable of clients at my local gym.
Simultaneously, I started an online presence and branded my personal vision for an all-inclusive, “everyone welcome” style of boutique training; although I’d often scoff at those “Instagram Models’ who’d spend half their lives monetizing their very existence to make a name for themselves, I begrudgingly adopted many of the same techniques to build my online presence, and to associate my “fast, fun, and fair” fitness routines with my brand.
A Different Kind of Gains
Soon enough, I had amassed an online client base that began to clamor for “in-person” training—the kind of clients that could keep doors open at a physical gym—should I decide to procure a space in which to build one. Suddenly, I was seeing myself the way I’d always been happiest at every stage of my life—constantly on the hunt for the next exciting opportunity and adventure. I knew it would be risky, and I was only able to procure a few initial investors to get started, but I knew that I’d be offering a tried and true product to a select base of loyal customers and that my business would grow once the word had gotten out. So, four years ago, riding on the coattails of a new bull market, and the end of the 2008 economic downturn, I went for it—the doors to my elite training gym opened. I was so sure that they always would be,
Once the pandemic forced the closure of my physical location, I spent a couple of sleepless nights wondering what I was going to do to keep myself in business, and I won’t lie: there were several moments when I felt that my new business was done for and that I’d be shackled to a desk again in a year or so once a vaccine had been developed.
However, I was able to push past that initial heartbreak, and tilt my eyes skyward; the most difficult aspect of working a classic desk job had been the missed opportunities for constant innovation: why would I let the pandemic take that spirit for me now? So, I listed off some ways to keep afloat while waiting for the all-clear to begin in-person classes and training again:
- One-on-one digital training sessions with premiere clients.
- Consistent video updates on the gym’s social platforms, with varied subjects that include: nutrition, at-home workouts, the latest in terms of safety guidelines, and the importance of a lifetime of continued physical fitness.
- Offering price codes and limited offers that can only be redeemed if purchased now, to increase cash flow.
- Creating original content that expresses the value of continued membership: now more than ever, a clients’ need to be a valued member of a community is important to not only their physical well-being but their mental health as well.
C’mon Now, Just Give Me One More
These practices—along with evaluating my business professionally to better predict my next moves—have been essential in the fight to keep above water while riding the pandemic’s wave. The valuation process, although brutally honest and forthcoming, was anything but disheartening. Although professionals do have to take into account the obvious global disruption, and what that means for your business personally, the right evaluators will also take the “soul” of your business into account during their reckoning.
I found that, even with the hardships going forward, the evaluation process reassured me that my vision for a fitter future is still on track, no matter the obstacles. Together with my continued loyal online client base, I will be able to expand in the future with capital investors—as long as I hold on to today.
Just one more rep, folks.