The End of an Era
As many of you would know, the House of Reps Gym we have been based at will be closing in mid-May.
This has been a great facility to work from during the past two years and Integrated Fitness & Nutrition has seen some big changes in that time. The gym itself has also expanded - growing from 30m2 to over 300m2 of quality equipment based in the heart of the City.
Since I wrote an article back in 2015 about why we were adding personal training at this gym (Why Personal Training?), it seems fitting to pen an article running through some of the highlights since then.
Getting Started – July 2015
After a Phil Learney seminar in London earlier that year, I decided to add a personal training component to the business. The online business was going well, but I was still working part-time. Whether it was expanding the online business or adding a personal training arm, there was significant time and capital required for the business to become a viable full-time role.
All throughout university and during the first year of online coaching, I had actually sworn I would never do personal training because of the reputation Personal Trainers had built for themselves (unqualified, expensive, etc) and I didn't have much appreciation for the industry. My views have changed somewhat - I know there are a lot of great coaches out there - but some of the things I still see and hear in gyms or online perpetuate my original thoughts.
I wanted to avoid commercial gyms in preference of a private training facility where I could train clients in a comfortable environment for them. I found this very small private training facility in the city and set up camp. At this stage, the gym was two power racks, kettle bells, and a bike/rower. No space or equipment was wasted and we never felt cramped - it was great fun!
The first month or so of this expansion were a grind. I had a number of clients working with me online, but this only translated into a few personal training clients. Since I was working in a private facility with no foot traffic or members looking for my services, it was up to me to fill my diary.
My schedule was smattered with sessions so there were some 6am starts, 7am-9am gaps, followed by a 9am session.
I spent the gaps working on articles, writing programs, and trying to stay warm. I didn't realise you needed the fans turned on alongside the wall mounted heaters - because hot air rises - otherwise we had a toasty roof and cold gym. As you can see from the attire in this post from June 2015, it took a long time for me to work that out...
There was also plenty to learn. I have always been a fan of planning ahead and education, but sometimes experience is the best way to learn. You quickly ascertain fixed and variable costs when the rent stays the same – no matter how many clients you are working with!
I was still working in a bar part-time. There were two weeks in which after working part time and my in-person/online work, I paid for the privilege. Lucky that didn’t last too long!
Six weeks later I quit part-time work and I was ‘100% n the game’. It was scary but exciting.
[RECOMPOSITION] was a shorter-duration intensive training and nutrition program. The goal was to identify people’s needs, implement changes during the six-week program, and then have space for the participants to continue on in wither 1:1 or small-group training.
The [RECOMPOSITION] programs were a key turning point for Integrated Fitness & Nutrition. I met some incredible clients, most of whom I will train this week, and learned alot about business, managing others, and what we are good at, during this time.
The first program was run in November 2015 and I had grand plans. I had another trainer lined up to coach it, spent a few hundred dollars on Facebook advertising (poorly), and then sat back to watch people flow in.
We had two people sign up, one of which was Ashleigh Went who was reviewing the program for Her Canberra.
Even with less numbers than expected, we ran the program as planned. I ended up with the coaching reigns and there were a few latecomers to the program – which ended up with a few long days (6am-5pm non-stop Saturday training sessions).
Ashleigh’s in-depth review was published in January and connected us with new clients who were interested in [RECOMPOSITION] 2 in February 2016. After that was successful, we ran [RECOMPOSITION] 3 in May 2016.
We have not run another [RECOMPOSITION] program since, due to the lack of space from client retention. Every client has continued training beyond the program, and over 85% of participants are still training to this day. I did enjoy the [RECOMPOSITION] programs, but I am not complaining!
Running [RECOMPOSITION] taught me my marketing skills are awful (and should be outsourced) but the service sold itself. Once we had the groups come through, people signed up, got results, stayed on, and referred others. From that point on, reviews from current and previous clients, and consultation meetings became the focus of client acquisition.
Fast forward to now, a potential client can find us through referral then read a range of reviews on Google, then come in for a free strategy consultation where they can meet me and see what we will do. We still run a few Facebook Ads to let people know we are here, but personal training is not something that you buy from an ad.
Referral, The Integrated Insider, and Articles are the key to giving potential clients an insight into our methods. Besides being more effective than advertising, it allows both the client and us to ensure we are the right fit for the other, and vice-versa.
Life's too short to be stuck with a Personal Trainer you can't stand!
University of Canberra Internship
In February 2016 we launched an internship program in partnership with the University of Canberra. The aim was to provide final year exercise science & associated double degree students with practical personal training experience working with general population clients.
This was unable to be done before, as Exercise Sports Science Australia required internship personal training supervisors to be university-qualified to be able to supervise university students.
The internship was popular and we had over 30 applicants. We ended up taking Najwa, an Exercise Science & Rehabilitation student. Naj was outstanding during the internship and is a highly talented personal trainer, as any of my client's can attest to!
Naj now runs her own training sessions for Integrated Fitness & Nutrition and has combined some knowledge she picked up during the internship with her own ideas and style.
The internship was a step to the next level. University approval meant we must be doing something right, and it also gave an opportunity to share some lessons I had picked up.
I have always found that when I can explain a concept to someone else, I am confident in my understanding of it. A big part of the articles I write is organising my thoughts - giving me confidence in my knowledge!
Key Lessons Learned
One of the most important things is coming to terms with occasional bouts imposter syndrome - usually when starting a new program or taking on another client with impressive experience or profile.
When you start something on your own, there is always the questions of ‘Am I/is this good enough? Do I know what I am doing?’
Whether it be setting your rates relative to an undervalued market, or ‘coaching’ people twice your age with work and life experiences to boot, it’s easy to come back to that question.
Whilst it still pops up every now and then, I hope it never goes away. The day you think you know it all is the day you stop learning. I have learned how/why to short a stock, that insurance companies in South America can payout claims by using drones to inspect unreachable areas, and the reason why it's colder at 7am than it is at 5am.
I recently read an article from Alex Viada talking about imposter syndrome and he summed it up better than anyone else.
Imposter syndrome is very real. Best way I've found of dealing with it is to see myself as a communicator and conduit of good ideas, not a person who's supposed to know everything.
Imposter syndrome is not a lack of confidence or any identity crises. It stems from an understanding that you don’t know everything and aren’t necessarily the best in the game. If it makes you study harder and prepare better, it can be only be a good thing.
5am is a Great Time of Day
The past two years have introduced me to 4:40am starts six days per week. I have always been an early riser (I thought 6:30am was early) but these starts have given me a new perspective.
Right now, I am in Merimbula on the last day of an extra long weekend and it’s 6:02am. I got up at 5am, have eaten breakfast, had a coffee, and written this article. In 28 minutes, I can train outside and then head to the beach before we leave at 9am, and then I'm on calls from 1pm.
It’s not about being motivational or impressive – I go to bed each night at 9:30pm - but time is such a valuable resource. By getting up earlier, I feel I have been able to find more of it.
I will be an early riser for the rest of my life!
We are currently in negotiations with local gyms to host Integrated Fitness & Nutrition. Being at capacity, our goal is to fulfill the needs of our current clients at the new facility we move to.
Setting up my own gym doesn’t excite me for now. I enjoy training clients, developing and refining strategies, and writing content that provides insight and clarity to body recomposition. Managing a facility and staff, on the other hand, does not interest me.
The gym I would build requires huge capital investment and is unlike anything Canberra has to offer. Whilst the model is proven world-wide and Canberra has the right market for it, it’s not for me right now. I have only been in the industry for three years – there is a lot more to learn!
What if someone else beats me to it? Good, I will work there.
I will be personally backing off the in-person hours I do. Two years of six-days per week at 4:40am has been great, but it’s time to transition towards scaling my knowledge and experience. I am lucky that my coaching, business, and writing experience now present me with some exciting opportunities.
We will keep you updated via the website of any locations moves and business changes, but it you want to stay in the loop, The Integrated Insider is the place to be - they got this information last week.
I’ve said it before, but rewarding the people who are engaged and helping out has been the best thing I have ever done. We just ran our 2017 survey and every responded is one the Insider and would recommend our content/services to a friend.
If any spaces open up over the next two months – the Insider's will have access first.
The past two years have been great. Thanks to Kieran from House of Reps for putting together a great facility and accommodating our business.