When Business Meets Pleasure

It’s said that if you can turn your passion into your job, then you’ll never do another hard day’s work in your life. So, it makes sense that once you’ve found the love of your life, creating a business together, based on what you both enjoy, is potentially a great recipe for success. We spoke to three couples who have turned their passion for keeping fit and healthy into a thriving business.

About Rebekah and Lawrence Drummond:

How old are you both?
32 years
How did you originally meet?
At the local gym
How long have you been together?
12 years together, married for 8
When did you become qualified as a PT?
Rebekah in 2009 through Australian Fitness Network; Lawrence in 2000 with the Fitness Institute of Australia, and he is currently updatint to Certificate IV with Australian Fitness Network.
When did the business start?

Rebekah and Lawrence Drummond have been a couple for 12 years, and married for 8. They met at the local gym where Lawrence was the head personal trainer. ‘My normal trainer was away and I needed some help so the staff sent him over. We got along really well and realised we went to the same school. We hit it off and became inseparable,’ explains Rebekah.

The Drummonds currently own Origin Fitness (www.originfitness.com.au), a unique PT business that puts the ‘personal’ into personal training. They do this by providing highly tailored and individualised programs; by working hard to create a like-minded community of people who are typically generous and kind; and by showing their clients utmost respect so they never feel like they are a number or that they are taken for granted.

“It is possible to work together and stay married! Seriously though, it was scary at first to do this, and is still a bit scary. However it is not until we stop and take a moment to look around that we see how far we have come and feel very proud of ourselves.”

What are the biggest challenges being in business with your spouse?
‘Lawrence works full time and on our business, so it is always a juggle between competing tasks and priorities,’ says Rebekah. ‘Another major challenge is that we don’t see each other as much as we would like, because we are not actually working together.’

Lawrence adds, ‘We have different management and working styles so we try to be patient with the other when explaining or learning something new. It can be difficult factoring in the different strengths and weaknesses we both have, because often you assume it will work easily since you know the other person so well.’

How do you separate business issues from your personal life?
‘Moving the studio out of our house really helped. On one hand it was handy being at home because when a client left we could just walk up the hall and be at home, but it’s better this way where we have a distinct separation between work and home. We are also getting better on setting boundaries for clients and us. We do not work Saturday after midday or Sundays because that is our family time.’

‘Having said that, however, we do talk about the business all the time because it’s an integral part of our life and it’s important. Sometimes the discussions are about serious things, but often it is about our clients, something they achieved or something they said. We often find ourselves brainstorming over our meal preparation or when we are driving somewhere.’

What are your plans for the future?
‘We have so many plans for our business; the main challenge is implementation! Every year we run an event called the 12 Hour Challenge and this year it will be huge. It’s for a charity called Nepean Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where our son spent the first 10 weeks of his life. We also want to expand and employ other trainers over the next couple of years. We have so many exciting ideas for products to make and sell, but they are big projects and take a while to plan.’

Rebekah says, ‘We would like to have another child, so that will have an impact on my availability to work with clients. My government job had paid maternity leave but there is no such thing when you work for yourself. So, we need to plan for the impact on our family and our business when the time comes.’

Lawrence adds, ‘I also want to ensure our work life runs efficiently enough that we can spend more time on the most important things, like being with family and doing the things we love to do – outside the business.’

About Kirsty and Andrew Page:

How old are you both?
Kirsty is 34 and Andrew is 38
How did you originally meet?
In the army
How long have you been together?
Together for nine years, married for seven
When did you become qualified as a PT?
Kirsty in 2009, Andrew in 2012, both studied with the Australian Fitness Network
When did the business start?

Kirsty and Andrew Page have been together for nine years and married for seven. ‘We met in the army, when we were both on a course in Albury (NSW). We ended up getting posted to Darwin on the same posting cycle. We were engaged within three months and we have never looked back!’

Kirsty and Andrew currently own No.1 Personal Training and Fitness (www.no1personaltraining.com.au), which they established in 2009. The business focuses on making personal training and a healthy lifestyle available to everybody.

‘We have structured our fees to make our programs readily available for all members in our community, without lacking in service. Our programs are available both online and face-to-face and are varied to suit all levels and abilities. We have a strong focus on individual goal setting and achievement, and we strongly believe, healthy mind, healthy body.’

‘We are also currently working on a “Done for You” package to offer to fellow personal trainers the ability to replicate the success we have had; again, with the focus on being able to make a healthy lifestyle available to everybody and aiming to assist upcoming trainer’s start their own business with ease. It has made such a positive impact on us, we are keen to help others achieve similar success.’

“The business has made our marriage stronger. As a team, we maintain a functioning and financial business that makes us both extremely happy. And the best part is – we get to share the whole experience with the love of our life!

How did the business come about?
Kirsty first came up with the business idea in 2008 while Andrew was in Afghanistan with the Army.

‘Mentally, I was in a bad way and had taken time off work,’ Kirsty explains. ‘I was suffering from depression (I’ve since been diagnosed with bipolar disorder) and had gained over 20kg (most probably due to medication). I was feeling just miserable. After one particularly low evening and a big heart-to-heart with my mum, I decided to make a change. Mum said five little words that simply, and abruptly turned my life around. She said “Do what makes you happy”.’

She adds, ‘I had a background in business/accounting, spent time in the military and was currently in a very “comfortable” government job, but none of it made me happy. I realised I was happiest when I was active, so I enquired with Australian Fitness Network and started my Cert IV in Fitness. By 2009 I had completed my Cert IV, lost 20kg, left my unhappy “comfortable” job and was ready to begin my new life as a personal trainer! Since starting the business, I’ve successfully managed my bipolar without medication, thanks to a consistent fitness and nutrition plan and, of course, amazing support from Andrew.’

In the beginning Kirsty ran the business with a laptop in the front loungeroom of their ‘army’ home and a local park. ‘I got 1,000 leaflets printed,’ says Kirsty, ‘and walked them around to each letterbox in my suburb.’
‘For the first few months I would go to the park, set up signs, markers and equipment. Some days I would have a small group, some days lucky individuals got a private session for the cost of a group session; and some days nobody showed up! But I kept at it, day after day, which paid off.’

‘Within six months, word had got around that there was a “Bootcamp” in our local area and suddenly classes went from three to four people, to 10 to 12; and then one day I had 20 people show up. It was at this point I hired casual staff and signed a lease on a studio. By late 2010, our average classes required two trainers.’

‘Andrew was always there to help out, but decided to get qualified and join in the fun, to save costs and help out. He began his fitness studies in 2011 and was running his own boxing classes in their studio soon after.’

About Lauren and Chris Dufey:

How old are you both?
26 years
How did you originally meet?
Through mutual high school friends, we were high school sweethearts.
How long have you been together?
Couple for 8 years, married for 1 year
When did you become qualified as a PT?
Chris in 2005, Lauren in 2010, both studied with the Australian Institute of Fitness
When did the business start?

What are the biggest challenges of being in business with your spouse?
Kirsty explains, ‘The biggest challenge is keeping the business relationship separate from our marriage. Not very often, but on the odd occasion, one of us won’t like the other telling them how to do something. We’ve found if we stick to our roles this doesn’t happen.’

She adds, ‘Also, training each other – this is a definite no-go zone! Occasionally we will run together – we have completed the Sydney and Gold Coast Half Marathons together, and by that we mean we crossed the finish line hand in hand (a bit soppy, yes, but it was fun!) – but mostly, we do our own training separately.’

Keeping an active social life also helps; Kirsty and Andrew make sure they have ‘date night’ once a week so they can be Mr and Mrs Page, rather than business partners all the time. ‘It might be dinner, movies, a night away… whatever,’ says Kirsty. ‘We also make sure we do other things with our own friends. For example, Andrew plays cricket with the boys and I have regular coffee/nails/shopping dates with girlfriends’.

What’s one of your favourite memories from your business?
‘One of our happiest days ‘on-the-job’ was taking our two pug dogs (Bonnie and Bennie) to walk with a client in the 4km Parkinsons Unity walk,’ explains Kirsty. ‘This particular client had Parkinsons Disease and could barely walk up the steps when he first met us. But on that day he, us and our pugs all crossed the finish line together. It was really special.’
What are your plans for the future?

‘In terms of business, we hope to keep our studio operating as it is and work on getting the 40 Day Fat Loss Challenge and No.1 BOOTCAMP completely operational by the end of the financial year. And, on a personal level, after many years in the Army Andrew has secured a permanent contract with the Department of Defence in our local area, so we are currently looking at purchasing our first home. This will have a positive impact on the business, as we will be forming firm roots in our area and hope to work more with the community’.

Chris and Lauren Dufey were high school sweethearts. They’ve been partners in life for eight years (married for one) and currently run Vivid Fitness, which is an 18-month old business specialising in fat loss (www.vividfitness.com.au). Lauren specialises in pre and post natal, while Chris has been a specialist in fat loss and body transformation for seven years.

“Sharing the same goals for the future is key to making our situation work for us, and to our advantage. We seem to balance each other out.”

What are the biggest challenges being in business with your spouse?
‘In the beginning, it was talking business too much, but we quickly stamped that out. Now, we separate business issues from our personal life by having set times in the week to talk business, and then the rest of the time is for non-work’.
What’s the best part about being business partners?

Lauren says, ‘Working together towards the same goals and success and being able to work in close proximity in small doses, is very rewarding. Also, understanding each other’s schedule helps – waking up at 4.30am is easier when we’re both doing it! And although we’re married and in business together, we still have our own interests outside of the business.’

What are your plans for the future?
‘On the business front, we are rapidly expanding, bringing on more trainers and tapping into different gyms to generate greater client results,’ explains Chris. ‘We have also just brought on a general manager, which we are super excited about. ‘And on a personal level,’ adds Lauren, ‘We are expecting our first child in June, which has made us realise that we need a strong team around us, that we can grow and rely upon.’

Article written by Analee Matthews for What’s New In Fitness Magazine – Autumn 2013 edition.

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