A Written Account of Some Experiences, Lessons, and Losses That Came With Running a Fitness Business…
The year 2020 was a big year for me. Not because of a certain virus that came along with a certain shutdown; but because for the first time in my life I faced and overcame one of the biggest adversities to myself, which was anxiety. When I first opened StrongFound Personal Training in 2016, little did I know how unprepared I was. Not because I didn’t possess basic organizational skills, lacked professionalism, or was unpassionate about what I did. It was because I was going to face anxiety in my adult life in its truest and most present form. The ‘big black bird’ that we feel is going to swoop down and carry us away, in the loose words of my Cognitive Behavioral Therapist.
In February 2020 I assembled my team in Austin, TX for a One-Day Summit put on by PerformBetter at the gym, Train for the Game. Here I got to meet and speak with coaches at this gym, trying to learn their insights. Better yet-I was able to listen to Alwyn Cosgrove speak and actually approached him after to ask questions regarding Small Group training and recording workouts. Riding that high and momentum, I had scheduled a 1-hour phone consult with Thomas Plummer, a Fitness Industry expert and business consultant. This was the ‘boldest’ of moves that I could make, and something that I would never had the guts to do prior to working on myself.
I will never forget the first sentence of advice that Thom spoke to me. “Well Seena, from what I’ve gathered you are a better coach than your own gym.” Translation-I am a well-qualified and established coach, but I have a gym that does not meet that standard. This is coming off of a recent Fall-2019 expansion where we took on two additional business suites, purchased additional equipment, opened a payroll, and doubled our monthly rent.
We all know how the ‘next month’ goes. Thom would continue guiding me and providing insight while I tackled sanitary measures, limited occupancy, spacing, personal protective equipment, and last but not least-online training. Despite this crucial pivot and the cloud of measures in place, the greatest good that came of it was practicing and learning about online social media presence. Again, something that was off of my to-do list prior due to being camera shy and not believing I had information that warranted sharing with viewers.
If 2020 was the year to push, 2021 was the year to grow; or so I thought. This is where time, previous business pitfalls, and becoming a new parent (to two boys under two) finally caught up with me. Although 2020 was a year of personal and business growth, I was attempting to make up for the initial three not-as-productive years in a short amount of time, which led to me attempting to jump business phases too soon, and hoping/praying that there would be an end in sight. Rather than being caught by the giant bird, I was eaten up by the monster that had been created; the business itself.
In October, 2021 StrongFound Personal Training came to an end as a brick-and-mortar fitness business. And it is not until now; six plus months later that I’ve had the time to process this, recover from the doubtful thoughts, and move onto my next business venture. This memoir serves as a way to seal and express parts of the experience, and let you in on some of the best lessons that I can take with me.
These lessons are a combination of experience, what I have been taught, and my own personal take on what I would like to continue with going forward into the fitness industry…
- Charge what you are worth.
- You will not be the right fit for everyone; select clients that share your set of core values.
- Know your market and build your gym around that.
- Bringing clients results is the first-best marketing tool.
- 15-20 years ago if you were a good trainer/coach you were somebody. In today’s world you must specialize.
- Leadership is not just about being an example, it is about establishing what you are not willing to tolerate.
- Create content which answers clients’ biggest questions.
- Have systems in place (for everything) and learn to implement them effectively. Once you do have a team, teach them to implement those systems.
- Establish yourself as the expert rather than the supervisor.
- Believe your own hype.
If you are a budding coach, then perhaps these points will get you thinking; if you are a past client, perhaps these points provide a little more clarity into what has gone on underneath; and if you are a resident of the Lost Pines, perhaps these points give you a head-start into the mind and thinking of a soon-to-be local fitness business owner. From this point on I will only look forward, taking the sweet memory and experience of StrongFound and molding it to the mind of the coach that I am today.