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» An interview with Jodie Arnot from Healthy Balance Fitness : 13 Feb 2011


An interview with Jodie Arnot from Healthy Balance Fitness : 13 Feb 2011

Jodie Arnot is the Director of Healthy Balance Fitness, a successful fitness business that has been providing boxing, boot camp and running programs in Melbourne since 1998.

In 2010 the success of Healthy Balance Fitness was recognised by Fitness Australia when it was awarded the 'Winner - Victorian Fitness Business (under 2000 members)'.

I'm grateful to Jodie for agreeing to answer some detailed questions about the industry and on running a successful fitness business. I hope you'll enjoy this look into the background and operations of an industry leader.


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On your professional career

What people (in particular industry people) have influenced you over the course of your 12 years in health and fitness and how?

There are so many fitness professionals and fitness business owners who inspire and influence me every day. Following are two main influencers:

Lisa Westlake was the first inspiration for me when I was studying fitness. I would drive 25 minutes to participate in her classes! She gave me plenty of time after class offering advice and encouragement regarding my study and my future career in fitness. With Lisa's help I landed my first job in fitness which quickly lead to moving into a management position. (I recommend approaching people you admire and trust. You may be surprised how willing people are to share their time and advice.)

Amanda Hall, relationship manager at Fitness Australia, has influenced, inspired and supported me more than I could express. Amanda and I worked alongside each other as self-employed personal trainers (many moons ago!), then set up Healthy Balance Fitness in partnership originally. Even though Amanda moved on from HBF, she still offers invaluable advice and support. I respect her passion, dedication and integrity. I recommend fitness businesses to seriously consider a business registration with Fitness Australia if you haven't already. Amanda will dazzle you!

I have also been influenced by a network of family and friends who pitch in whenever they can and provide a 'non-industry' perspective.

If you could break your career (or business development) into phases, what would they be and what influences were involved?

Learning - I took on many roles in many companies to learn as much as possible from a wide range of people
Building - I practiced all the skills I'd learned, consolidating and building confidence in myself and in the eyes of others
Defining - I finally determined what my particular skills and talents are and how I'd put them into place in this industry
Consolidating - I built and grew HBF to a profitable, successful entity
Sharing - Along with making HBF more and more of a success, I'm now focusing on assisting other fitness professionals, the community, charity. My focus is wider than just my bottom line.

Emulating successful people is the best way to move toward success yourself. What three things about you would be worth emulating?

Ethics, Resourcefulness, Compassion.

To me these qualities stand a person in good stead, not only in business but in a successful and happy life.

Thomas Watson (founder of IBM) says the secret of success is to "double your rate of failure". Is there any failure you've experienced in the process of building your business that you would share with others?

I suffered physical and emotional burnout twice in my career when I wasn't paying attention to my own work life balance. I almost quit the industry twice, and am so glad I didn't! It has been a tough learning process, but I am now very conscious of managing stress, anxiety, physical energy levels, and scheduling downtime.

Running a fitness business can be a draining and challenging career but a very rewarding one if managed well.

What professional affiliations, subscriptions or registrations do you and/or your business have?

  • Fitness Australia individual and business registration
  • Australian Fitness Network membership
  • PT on the Net subscription
  • HealthyPeople Membership
  • Sourcebottle subscription
  • UltraFit subscription
  • Runners World subscription

On training your clients

Training systems and recommendations have changed a lot over the last decade. How do you keep yourself informed?

Networking with other fitness professionals, professional development courses online and face to face, online resources, magazines/ journals and social media.

What is your favourite tool(s) of the trade (can be a piece of training equipment, administrative tool, software, etc.)?

  • Boxing gloves & pads, circuit timer (often found in my handbag!), marker cones, medicine balls.
  • My iPhone
  • My sneakers!

What should be the Golden Rule for all group fitness instructors?

Words to summarise the perfect class: safe, effective, inclusive, varied, fun, well planned.

On hiring staff

How many staff do you have working for you now and are they all Fitness training staff? Do you outsource any other roles (bookkeeping, PA, etc.)?

Currently we have 7 staff to instruct our classes. HBF has an accountant, but so far I've been responsible for all admin, book keeping and every other role. This will be changing in the near future as we get bigger and even more busy.

Do require any ongoing studies or professional development of your staff? Do you provide this?

Yes, to stay registered all fitness professionals must acquire CECs or PDPs every two years. We offer our staff professional development as a part of our team meetings. Some of our past development has included: class ideas, workshops with a physio, boxing course, Asthma first aid certificate, workouts with other fitness companies, advanced boot camp instruction course.

Can you describe your perfect candidate?

  • Cert IV in Fitness or above
  • First Aid Level 2
  • Insured & Registered
  • Has own car
  • Lives central to our classes

Preferred experience and confidence in leading groups, particularly boxing and boot camp/circuits

  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Well presented and professional
  • Reliability & stable work history
  • Enthusiasm and passion
  • Warm and approachable nature
  • Resourcefulness and initiative
  • Honesty and integrity

You mentioned to me that you once had a candidate answer their mobile phone in an interview (unbelievable!). Do you have any other recruiting nightmares to share?

Unsuccessful candidates have made the following mistakes in their interviews:

  • Answered their phone during our interview
  • Arrived late, rescheduled at the last minute, or didn't arrive at all!
  • Did not turn up to agreed induction/training session
  • Criticised their past or present employer or colleagues
  • Wore very revealing clothing
  • Chewed gum

On Social Networking

You are a regular contributor to Twitter. Is this a 'nice to have' or a 'need to have' in your business? What benefit does it provide?

Twitter is still in its infancy for the fitness industry. It is viewed as 'nice to have', but I feel it won't be long before it's a 'need to have'. Jump on board early, separate yourself from other fitness professionals/businesses! I have seen fitness jobs advertised via Twitter, been kept up to date on immediate news in the industry , have found useful links to research and events, have met other fitness professionals and business owners and established networks for advice and support. The networking benefits are amazing. I used to be very sceptical of Twitter's benefits until I actually tried it out for myself. If I was a new fitness trainer starting out in the industry I would get on Twitter and follow all the business owners and experienced trainers. Build your network and your future!

What sort of information do you think should and should not be included on your tweets?

I think it is important to be yourself, be chatty, interact with others and not just broadcast your ads or links. Reply, discuss, retweet, and really engage with people. Allow people to get to know you, but decide on clear guidelines or social media policy. A good rule of thumb is to only tweet about things you are comfortable with your clients, colleagues and boss reading. Michael Halligan from Engage Marketing once observed that his biggest response on Twitter was gained when he openly tweeted thoughts related to his daily life not his business. Be real and people will relate to you, respect you and hopefully do business with you.

Healthy Balance Fitness has a Facebook page. If directing clients towards more information on your service, do you prefer to direct them to your website or your Facebook page? What is the reason for this preference?

We direct clients initially to our website, but after they've enquired we also ask them to visit our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. Our website provides more information about the type of classes, our staff, timetable, and our blog which is a health and fitness resource for anyone (not just our clients).

On work/life balance

The movie 'Fight Club' had a great quote, "The things you own end up owning you". What measures do you take to stop your business owning you?

One of my favourite films! Delegation, scheduling regular time off, pursuing non-fitness industry related activities too, giving yourself guidelines to prevent working all day every day. There are no 'medals' for being the busiest and most stressed person around. I've stopped seeing long hours as a badge of honour and started to enjoy a balanced life and a successful business. It is possible!

And finally, what does 2011 have in store for Jodie Arnot and Healthy Balance Fitness?

Just some of the goals on my list for 2011:

  • Some new professional development sessions with our fabulous team
  • More charity and community work
  • A new website
  • Writing guest blog posts and articles for journals
  • Business mentoring - to brush up on my skills and learn some new tricks

And a plenty more that I'll keep under wraps for now!

Thank you very much to Jodie for her answers. You can follow Jodie and the happenings at Healthy Balance Fitness online at the following:

Web site: healthybalancefitness.com.au
Twitter: @HealthyBalanceF
Facebook: facebook.com/healthybalancefitness 



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