The Evolution of Tall Trainer (pics)
It all started back when…
That’s a cheesy way to start….I’m going to share with you the history and struggles of Tall Trainer Fitness.
Tall Trainer Fitness has existed since Oct 2006. They say the most challenging time for a business is the first few years. I definitely think it was the first year. But first let me give you the back story of how and why we even started.
It all started back when… (ok so I’ll use it!)
…when I was in college. I didn’t think there was such a thing as truly professional fitness training. All the “trainers” I had seen were anything but professional. Mostly just crazy gym people, that liked it so much they started helping others. I had never met someone who took it farther than a hobby.
And in the magazines fitness trainers looked pretty creepy. Like this guy.
What is he doing LURKING behind her like that?
So in college I was on a pre-physical therapy track with an interest in teaching and coaching as well. (this by the way left me graduating with nearly 200 credit hours! And some fun student loans) As part of my pre-physical therapy type track I was supposed to get an internship. I know my chances of getting a PAID internship were zero so I looked for internships in the town I was going to college. I needed to continue working at the mexican restaurant I was working in to pay my bills so I could get through college.
I almost had to delay because of lack of funding but working, some timely academic scholarships, and a teacher who let me house sit for a semester got me through. (all God!)
I started this internship at Hendrick Health Club. It was the most advanced and forward thinking health club I had ever seen. I was excited to learn about it, but still was planning on Physical Therapy or Teaching.
Long story short (I could go into MUCH detail). I took a job after the internship got certified in personal training and so many other group exercise classes. I eventually worked my way to being the manager of the Personal Training Department at this club.
I was loving it, but…
I was beginning to realize how few people had access to a fitness solution so awesome as HHC and I was beginning to feel like a distant relative of my parents and siblings. I decided to move so I could spread this type of awesome exercise environment.
So I moved closer to home.
Ok, like REALLY close to home.
Ok, fine, make me say it. I moved back home! 25 years old, no job, living with my parents. Was I crazy? I had no connections, no start up $, no clue!! Just passion.
The First Year
In that first year I had many times that I thought, “seriously, you are a loser, this isn’t working, you are just one of those loser guys that says he’s starting a business but actually just looking lazy”.
Living at home drove me nuts. I loved re-connecting with my family and I don’t regret the time I was able to spend with my brother 7 years younger than me and sister 10 years younger (as well as my parents who are now boot campers for life). My pride was being crushed. So everyday I got up and worked, at first on a logo, website, and reading all sorts of marketing books. I ran around town sticking ugly blue fliers on doorknobs. (I spent over 30 hours on that and got one client).
I started with $100 in my business checking account so I could receive checks as “tall trainer”. A duffle bag of bands and other exercise tools and a black mat. I would go to peoples houses and show them how they could get an awesome workout without the expensive health club equipment and without a “workout room”.
I drove all over:
Geneseo, Rochester (goodman), Penn yan (and farther south), Geneva, and even a few in Canandaigua. I would go any where some one wanted to train. I had plenty of time! I just didn’t have many clients.
Finally, I built up enough of a client base that by June 2007 I was starting to feel like this was actually going to work!!! I even sent out a postcard mailer (that’s big $$) :o). By October 2007 one year after moving home I could afford to get my own apartment (one block away from home :o). I was a KING! Boy did I feel good. Having a living room, kitchen, bathroom all to myself. I had lived on my own (no roommates) for 4-5 years before I moved home. It was nice to be back to that level again.
Next, I was looking for a place I could open a studio.
I wasn’t planning on stopping the going to people’s houses. I just had a plan for starting this group training class in the early morning so I could help more people at one time. I knew that with personal training 2-3 times a week I was getting pretty good results with my clients, but they weren’t doing any extra work beside our session time (or some were but some most definitely weren’t). I knew people needed accountability more days a week. they needed their whole workout program covered. They needed a complete solution. Something that would ABSOLUTELY deliver results.
At the time my friend Bryan (pictured above with his wife Christin) lived in an apartment above a couple shops on main street. It was a nice building, but when I was leaving his place one night, studio on my mind, I passed through the alley to get to my car and looked in a window to find a room that was all tore up with clearly no plan for development in place. I cataloged it and continued to notice it and think about it.
It was good size but not huge – the rent wouldn’t be too bad
It did not face main street in fact it was not a very easy to find shop – perfect – not desirable = still cheaper rent AND hidden = privacy for our clients.
I finally called the land lord and we made a deal to get it going.
While the landlord (chris costello) was working on the space getting it ready for me. I got a call from someone out on route 21 that they were putting together a place and wondered if I wanted to rent space. I told him no and that I had a place that I was about to open.
Little did I know at the time I would be VERY grateful for that call. (God is cool!)
The studio was finished and in January I was to start the first boot camp there. I announced it in an email and got about 4 people signed up. “cool! 4 people at one time! and 5 days a week! This is going to be great!”
BUT, BUT, BUT
When I announced it the local zoning officials noticed and promptly let me know that you couldn’t do fitness on a ground floor on main street. I tried for a variance saying that this location was NEVER going to be used because it was so hidden unless it was by an adult book store (which might have been easier to get approved). I was told by a few people that I could just sell some fitness stuff out of the front and train people in the rest of the space so it would be a retail place. There was no way I wanted to open a studio by trick so, No Deal. Studio sunk.
But I was able to call my new hero on Route 21 and get a reserved time in his martial arts studio at 5:45 am. Boot Camp still happened!! I also ended up renting a small office space from him as well and began meeting with some clients there. We could call that the first studio.
I still didn’t want to give up on this other studio though. It looked so nice in there. It was fully complete. I desperately wanted in there. Chris held that spot for me and also fought for our case. That and a host of other friends helped push for a change of zoning for that particular area the was nearly impossible to rent out for retail. Finally with a change in zoning I was able to use the space for the May boot camp! 5 – months after I was supposed to open the first time. I tell people I train not to give up all the time. This was a great example of how sticking with it can get you there. The same with weight loss or any other goal. Sometimes when you feel like quitting a break through is right around the corner. If you quit you will ABSOLUTELY never make it, but it you keep going you might. (sorry, just a teachable moment I couldn’t let go)
Back to the story:
New Studio finally opened, May 2008!!!!
Boot Camps were up to about 8-10 people by then.
Since that time. I’ve gotten married to an amazingly talented (and beautiful) girl and we started working together.
After we got married we also expanded the studio (Sarah helped it Grow!). The expansion was complete October 2010.
We doubled our floor space and for the first time had an office in the studio!!! I still remember the first time training people in that space. I didn’t know what to do with it all!
And still 3 years later we were already needing more space. (well actually we needed more space before then but we made due) So we doubled our floor space again. 1,000 to 2,000 now 2,000 to 4,000 square feet! We added more team members too!
Lori was added next and slowly took on more and more responsibility. She is the one you will talk to when you call. She knows our schedule and availabilities better than I do! It’s not unheard of for her to spend and hour talking to someone on the phone to help answer their questions.
Andrew (my brother!) was added next. He is a masterful trainer incredible at relating to people and is in charge of the Evening Classes at our studio.
Christine was added to the team next and she has been a great help for us to keep up with our growing responsibilities and team coaches the 7:45 am and 9:00 am classes.
To round out our rosters we have Lynn! She team coaches the 5:20 and 6:30 am classes as well as fills in anywhere else. She’s a great worker and a gentile spirit. Great for those coming into exercise intimidated.
We have grown from zero clients to about 120 clients in any given month.
It’s a busy job but we don’t mind.
Those people are our mission.
You are our mission.
So that’s our story….(so far!)
As for the future of Tall Trainer?…
We hope it includes YOU!!!
We hope you’ll join us!