Why lifestyle is key for this Vision Personal Training franchisee

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Inside Franchise Business: Why lifestyle is key for this Vision Personal Training franchiseeWeight was always a touchy subject for Sarah Broad. But a leaflet in her letterbox changed all that and altered her life forever.

Sarah Broad was overweight, suffered very high blood pressure, was super stressed and sleeping badly. She hoped a visit to the doctor would set her up with some tablets to, in her words, “make it all better”. She counts herself lucky that the doctor refused and told her to lose weight. Given a week to set some changes in place, the reality of her lifestyle hit home. “I’d always been touchy about my weight but used to say, ‘I don’t have time, I’m a working mum with two kids, I’m too busy’. Friends told me I’d get diabetes or have a stroke, or get really high blood pressure and all of a sudden one of those things came true.”

Shaken by this experience, when Sarah saw a Vision Personal Training flyer on top of her mail she didn’t need any more convincing – through her daughter she already knew of someone who’d lost 30 kg through the program.

“It was meant to be. I emailed them straight away and said, you have to help me.”

Sarah’s daughter signed up too. “She’s a perfect size 8, tall and slender, and she signed up to help me walk through the doors. That was almost six years ago.”

Sarah’s weight loss and subsequent career change has been quite a family affair. While she was transforming herself from an overweight middle-aged mum to an energetic, passionate gym owner, her son decided to become a personal trainer because he wanted to help other people like her.

Today he works in the studio she and her husband own at Wahroonga in Sydney’s northern suburbs.

“My family is massively important to me, and to have their support every step of the way has been brilliant. I started doing runs and swims, and I always have a member of the family with me.”

It’s all a long way from believing she didn’t belong in a gym environment. Stepping into Vision was quite different from her expectations, however: it’s a small and less intimidating space, a safe environment.

“My trainer worked out what I was like. Vision teaches you to learn how clients want to be trained, and to coach them to get the best results.

“It became a strong bond of utter trust. If he asked me to do something it was because he knew I could. It never got any easier, I just got pushed harder. It was his influence that made me change careers.”

From car rentals to gym junkie

Sarah and her husband ran a car rental business in NSW and ACT that provided replacement cars for drivers. It was a high pressure job dealing with cross and angry people all day, she says.

“I’d go to my sessions and say ‘I need to box to get rid of my frustration’. Then my trainer said, ‘Why don’t you try and do something different? Go and do Cert 3 and 4 and see if you like it.’”

Not only did Sarah enjoy it she immediately spoke to the owner of the studio she was training at about buying a gym herself. Her timing was perfect – the owner was selling the Wahroonga studio.

“We literally uprooted everything. We sold the car rental business and bought this.”

Her husband did the due diligence, investigating a couple of studios to ensure the business had the potential required for an investment. Today he’s making things happen behind the scenes.

The move was the second stage of a major transformation for Sarah.

“I’m almost 50, I needed to do something that is about more than money. This fitted exactly. It’s about people. If you’re not passionate about people, it can’t be driven by the bottom line.

“This changed and saved my life. If I hadn’t done this six years ago, I would undoubtedly have been in all sorts of trouble.”

Lifestyle is more than fewer hours

The plan was to take life a little more easily after selling the car rental firm and not put in the 60 hours or more a week to run a business.

Sarah admits it didn’t get further than being a discussion with her husband.

“I’ve always been a bit of a workaholic but this is my passion. I have a ridiculous lack of work–life balance, but this doesn’t feel like work. It does sometimes, but most of the time I love being around the trainers, I get so much energy from them.

“You just let some people come into your business and be part of this amazing thing. I go out walking with clients, I go out for coffee with clients. You get to know people unbelievably well.

“During the week I’m here. I don’t actually need to be here but I choose to be because I love it, talking to people about their challenges.”

And she’s continued her passion, doing at least one cardio session daily to keep fit and keep her mood healthy.

“So many people battle with anxiety and depression and there’s a simple solution. Start moving.”

While the business is successful it hasn’t reached the same financial heights the car rental operation achieved. And that’s fine, says Sarah.

“It wasn’t about making the most money that we could. It was about fulfilling the emotional side of life a bit more, and giving back. It’s fulfilling my needs, and my husband’s needs and helping other people.

“That feeling when someone jumps on the scales and has lost the last bit to reach their goal weight, or got to under 100 kg, the look on their faces is magical, they give you a huge hug.”

Sarah Stowe

Sarah Stowe heads up the editorial in the Inside Franchise Business group at Octomedia. Sarah is a hands-on editor who has worked in consumer and B2B titles in UK and Australia and she has been editor of the View More...
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