I’m so excited to post my first article for What’s Your Story Kingston!
Although I’ve worked with Dustin on projects like his logo and online image, I haven’t gotten a chance to hear his personal story. I did get a chance to pick his brain during a 20 minute interview, and here it is below:
Dustin pictured above with his German Shepherd, Mishka
When we met, we were both working at the same boxing gym… while you were managing/training I was working as an admin assistant. How did you come to that point in time? Where did your love for fitness come from?
Since a young age, I’ve always been involved with sports and fitness. It was the time when I went on to college when I had to make the decision on where to go with my career. It was there that I found that Personal Training was a viable option to choose. Since I started out it was a long vision of mine to have my own gym facility. But being young and inexperienced, working for others was something that I had to do before branching out on my own.
How did you go from working for others to working for yourself?
What sparked that change?
From my experience working in the field, I came across many people who were running their own business, although they had some good points to them I also found some flaws (how they ran things or what they were doing with their clients). Through my own experience, classes, courses etc I have a large knowledge base to what works and what doesn’t, when I don’t’ see those important elements being applied in the field, it really stands out to me. When you don’t want to make the necessary changes to your business to make it better, it can be frustrating. During those specific moments I had the real desire to open my own business, to do what I thought was right, and of course make my own mistakes on the way.
Right, not mentioning any names…. What were some of the big mistakes that you saw that held a gym back from success?
Well, Things like being able to open your eyes to your current situation. For example; being too caught up in your vision and seeing only what you think is right and not seeing what is wrong. Things like spending more money than you make, these big mistakes have hindered potential success.
We just published a blog with the topic “do you need to spend money to make money?” You do need equipment to have a gym, how do you avoid spending too much while still making your facility appealing to customers?
It’s really important to lay out a list of what you would like to have. You will have a wish list of what you would love to have but you need to work within your means. If you’re starting small you aren’t a multimillion dollar corporation. I chose to make a list of what I’d like to have, then put the items in order of priority to slowly build upon equipment as more clientele came in.
With your continuing education in the fiend and building upon expertise, how do you communicate that to your clients to stand apart from your ‘competitors’ who have just completed a weekend course, or worse, don’t have proper knowledge at all? Do you find it difficult to compete with the flooded market or are your clients asking the right questions to sort through the BS?
The problem with personal training is that it’s not a regulated field. There are many people out there who spend 4 years getting a proper education and others who spend little time on a weekend course, these are not the same things. There are people out there promoting themselves as ‘experts’ in the field who don’t have the proper training or education to back it up. It’s difficult for the average person to distinguish who is highly educated and who is not. It’s hard for individuals to market themselves and show that they do know what they’re doing. I always tell people to do proper research on their potential trainers, they are investing their money and time in people who are changing their LIFE.
More on getting yourself out there, I know that your business is new to Kingston, how are you going about advertising in Kingston and targeting your ideal market?
What I offer applies to a wide demographic; seniors who are looking to get rid of some extra weight to students who are in need of proper sports training. I find having such a large demographic can make marketing difficult because what works for some groups will not appeal to others. I do find that just reaching out to folks to answer their questions, it works best for me. To create that connection and relationship with the community and have clients approach me when they are ready to make that change.
You’re a sole proprietorship, as am I… I like to make all the decisions, I don’t mind collaborating with other experts, but being on my own allows me to go into the direction that I want to go. How do you feel about owning on your own? Is this something you would recommend or do you wish you joined with another trainer to ease the financial burden?
For people starting up, it’s tough to get rolling in the beginning. It costs money to get started, and in training, you need to build up clientele. In my situation, I had a small following and I found it to be of benefit to get a space for myself. Not everyone is so fortunate to have traffic coming through to help with that starting out. Like I said, I’ve had the experience working with others who had trouble listening to feedback and making changes. But now, working on my own, I can make all the ‘right’ decisions and see the growth that comes from that.
Was there anyone who gave you advice that really helped bring you success in business, a mentor who guided you or showed you the ropes?
Through the times I worked in the field, I really learnt the most from others’ mistakes. Seeing decisions that jeopardized others’ success taught me more than anything I learnt in school. Many people I worked for were quite successful, so there were positive habits to learn from as well.
Are there any mistakes that you made, that you would like to share, that you learnt the most from? Is there something that you would never do again, or are you cautious in the steps you take?
The biggest thing that I was not guilty of, but others might be cautious of, is ensuring that you make a plan before getting started. Even if you aren’t planning to land investors, things like a business plan are valuable; a plan lays a path that draws you in the right direction. I see a lot of people who put the cart before the horse and get out to start the business without a direction to go in, at that point you just lose money trying to catch up to mistakes in a poor foundation.
Do you feel like social media has taken the “professionalism” out of business? Do you find it has made things easier or harder for owners nowadays?
It is a big part of advertising and marketing, especially trainers without a physical space. Social media is how they find clients, they go online. Now we have access to our clients at all times. This is the direction that we’ve gone. It’s so important to be involved with the audience on the computer. That being said, there are so many platforms, that it feels like you could have someone working for you full time to take care of that properly.
I really appreciate you taking the time to sit down and talk with me today. I have one last question for you Dustin, what is your favourite summer activity in Kingston?
I am a big fan of kayaking in the water during the summers, heading down to Ahoy Rentals and taking the kayak out for an hour or two is one of my favourite things to do. There are many things that I enjoy in Kingston though; it’s a wonderful place to be.
If you would like more information on the services that Dustin offers, you can contact him directly at 613-929-9794.
For any business owners who would like to be featured on ‘What’s your story Kingston’ please contact Catharine at firstname.lastname@example.org