Creating an exclusive fitness studio business

Tegan Mathews Website Blog - Creating an exclusive fitness studio business

One of the blessings of my childhood I will be forever grateful for was the opportunity I was given the opportunity to try ballet. Little did I know it would eventually lead to me owning my own business in the fitness industry years later.

I absolutely loved ballet and won a scholarship within my first year which carried through every ongoing year after that. This scholarship covered all of my expenses which meant there was no excuse for me not being able to follow my dream of being a ballerina.

The shift to fitness

After a severe bout of glandular fever left me unable to dance I turned to fitness and became heavily involved in the industry, gaining my qualifications as a Physical Therapist so that I could help others to feel fit, strong and live healthy lives too.  This was a passion that continued throughout my corporate career as a sales and marketing executive in the printing industry.

It was during this time that I recognised a need in the market for executive fitness studios to bridge the gap between the at home personal trainer and the large and impersonal gyms. I wanted to create an alternative for people who didn’t feel comfortable going to a large gym and where they could receive the attention they deserved, without having to have a trainer come into the personal space of their home.

The beginning

So, I set about researching the concept of my idea and found that it had merit and so I then found the most amazing warehouse on Elizabeth Street in Sydney that was perfect for what I wanted. It needed some fairly major renovations which I thought I could do myself and the concept was to create an exclusive fitness studio where you have tailored programs together with a luxurious and clean environment to train in with the latest and best equipment.

It was a solid concept but my first attempt at getting this off the ground failed miserably. Looking back, although I had already had two businesses, this was a whole new level of business with over budget renovations, leases, equipment and astronomical insurances. Needless to say, with the death of someone close to me being the icing on the cake, I walked away from it before it cost me too much of a loss. But I didn’t lose hope in the concept, I just knew I needed more knowledge to make it work.

Getting back up again

Fast forward three years and I was much more prepared to give it another good nudge. I found the perfect location on a main road with over 50,000 cars a day, painted the building bright lime green and completed the necessary fit-out and renovations (yes I am a sucker for punishment but I love renovating!). I’ll admit I was waiting for it to be perfect but after doing an Anthony Robbins weekend I said, “stuff it!” and I opened the doors.

By now there were a few other boutique fitness studios in my state. A lot of them were sweat pits for boxers, but some had the concept working. I decided to do it a little differently and imported a state of the art analysis machine that enabled me to offer in-depth analysis of where peoples health, cardio, fat and even hydration levels were. This gave them a real starting point and measurable they could see improve.

Having a point of difference

I also offered a money back guarantee which was basically unheard of in the fitness industry but I knew I was an excellent trainer and if you followed my philosophies then there wasn’t a body I couldn’t change. By that stage I had been a trainer (outside of my corporate life) for over eight years and had the runs on the board to back my profile and provide the results.

To cut a long story short, the business was a success. Within its first year of opening we were turning over multiple six figures and within the second year I opened a second studio and duplicated the concept. I had over twenty awesome staff who I loved dearly, was opening my third location, and spending a few months of each year overseas travelling (while the business continued to grow).

The only problem was, I had lost my passion for fitness. Heck, I wasn’t even training myself anymore. It was all about the business, numbers, client analysis, insurances, leases, finances, advertising, marketing, wages and so on. So, I decided to sell up and move on to my next adventure. I had enjoyed the ride, learnt a lot, but it was time for a change.   

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