Our guest today is a bit different than a lot of our other guests, because she actually focuses mostly on brick-and-mortar. She is a 47 year-old mother of two, and owns a fitness studio in a very small, low-key area in Vermont.
Amy is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer, a Certified Weight Loss Specialist, and a Precision Nutrition and Lifestyle coach. She is big on working with women over 35 years old who want to get in better shape, and has set a goal to help 1,000 of her local residents achieve a health and fitness goal by the year 2020. Sounds easy, until you realize that she lives in a town with a population of 800.
Why do we have her on our show? Well, she has been able to build a multiple, six-figure business in her small town. And regardless of whether you’re in the online market or not, there are some amazing lessons in this episode and some knowledge that is invaluable to any entrepreneur.
Click here to subscribe to the Healthpreneur™ Podcast on iTunes
In This Episode Amy and I discuss:
- Similarities between her brick-and-mortar business and the online realm
- Amy’s unbelievable history with Chrohn’s disease
- How to focus on one niche and dominate it
- A few amazing mindset lessons
- How to build a six-figure business in a small town
5:00 – 13:00 – Creating a thriving business in a small town
13:00 – 16:00 – Amy’s story: Chrohn’s disease, her growth mindset
16:00 – 23:00 – Obstacles, goals, dominating your niche
23:00 – 27:00 – Forget about the money, focus on what you want
27:00 – 31:00 – Rapid-fire questions
What You Missed:
If you haven’t checked out our last episode with Peter Baker, you really need to.
Peter used to work for Coca-Cola and he shares with us his “take this job and shove it” story and started an on line training business.
Peter did not hold back on his thoughts, opinions and advice.
If you’re looking to start up and on line training business, you have got to check out my interview with Peter.
Hey, hey, Healthpreneurs, what’s up? Yuri here. All right, so today, I’m excited that you’re with me again, because today’s a very special day. It’s another episode of the Healthpreneur™ Podcast. Every single episode is special in my eyes.
I put a lot of heart and soul into each of these interviews, bringing you some cool inspiring guests, who are health and fitness entrepreneurs, doing great things to inspire you to help you grow your business, and obviously using the internet to amplify your awesomeness to reach even more people.
It’s been a funny couple of weeks, and I want to share a little story with you before we jump in today’s episode.
I was having a conversation with someone recently about podcasts, and they’re like, “Dude, you’re like one of the best interviewers with respect to podcast.” I was like, “Thank you so much. That means a lot to me.” I told him, “It’s funny, because I’ve started and stopped four podcasts”.
“Why have I done that, and why am I doing this again?,” in terms of why am I starting another podcast?
And then I realized, the previous podcasts were great. They’re still on iTunes if you want to check them out, but, I was doing too much in the process of the podcast.
What I realized was if I can build a machine around me, if I can build a great system around the podcasting process, where all I have to do is show up and have these great conversations, that, for me, is where the magic is.
That’s what I’ve created with the Healthpreneur™ Podcast, and I’m super excited.
I don’t know if I’ve been as excited about any content-delivery type of platform as I am about this current podcast, but I’m here to tell you that I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to be here for a long time to come, with many more episodes, and many more interviews.
If you haven’t yet subscribed, be sure to do so today, because you’re not going to want to miss any of the amazing guests that I’ve got coming your way.
Today, we are talking with a very interesting lady. Her name is Amy Lewis, and she’s a little bit different than a lot of other guests in the fact that she runs, for the most part, a brick and mortar fitness studio.
She’s a 47-year-old mother of two, and lives in a very small, low key area in Vermont.
Now, check this out. The town has a population of 800 people, and she’s been able to build a multiple, six-figure business training client in her studio in this little town.
You might be thinking, “Okay, Yuri, what the heck does this have to do with helping me build my business online?”
It has everything to do with you, because you’re going to discover some amazing lessons in this episode. Some important mindset things you need to understand.
How to overcome certain obstacles, whether or not you’re in a big market or a tiny little niche online, or you’re only dealing with people who only want to grow their right bicep not their left, there is opportunity for everyone.
This interview with Amy is going to highlight that, and it’s going to remind you of the power of going small.
Let me tell you a little bit more about who Amy is, and then we’ll get into the interview.
She’s really big on working with women over 35 years old who want to get in better shape. She’s really pumped about helping 1,000 residents in her area achieve amazing health and fitness goals by the year 2020.
She’s a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Weight Loss Specialist, a Precision Nutrition -Nutrition and Lifestyle coach, and just an awesome person.
If you want to learn more about Amy and what she’s up to, you can head on over to her website at fusionfitnessvt.com, and without any further ado, let’s bring Amy on to the show.
Amy, how’s it going? Welcome to the Healthpreneur Podcast. How are you doing?
[Amy] I’m doing great, Yuri. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me today. I really appreciate it.
[Yuri] Yeah, I’m excited. You’ve done amazing stuff, and we’ll get into what you’re doing in a second, but I want to know what’s new and exciting in your world. What are you excited about these days?
[Amy] Although I love summer and I’m excited there’s still time left to get out there and do some paddling, hiking and all that great stuff, I’m personally excited about all the awesome things we can do here in Vermont.
But for me, what’s even more exciting is watching the folks I work with, feeling their strength that they’re building, as we work together and as they get into the next season’s activities.
They’re coming in every day and telling me every day how much stronger they are, so it’s so much fun to see that.
I see the transition as the kids go back to school. I really love to go through these times of change during the year, because it always brings a new beginning. It’s awesome.
Creating a thriving business in a small town
[Yuri] I’m interested to talk about where you live, because you’ve done something very unique, which I don’t think a lot of people would consider doing. You have your studio in a town of, what, 800 residents.
[Amy] Yes. There’s 800 residents who live here year-round. The local community gets very small once the ski season is over.
[Yuri] You have a studio in a town of 800 people, which in a lot of entrepreneurs’ minds are thinking, “Well, that’s way too small of a market,” and you’ve done very well.
What have you done to really capture a great segment of the population, to help them towards their health and fitness goals?
[Amy] It’s really nice being in a small town, because everyone really does know one another, so you end up chatting with people wherever you are about health and fitness.
I also live in a resort town. Killington is a big ski resort town and is known as the Beast of the East.
Whether you live here locally or not, people want to be active. What I’ve done is reach out to the local community and offer them a way to improve their health and fitness, get the fit and healthy bodies that, frankly, they deserve, so that they can do all these amazing things with friends and family, and feel great when they’re doing these things.
Not only do we offer workouts and workshops for mindset and nutrition, we offer this amazing community, and that has drawn people in.
The community that I’ve created here just draws people in. They feel comfortable. It doesn’t matter your age, your shape, your size, your ability level. Everyone feels comfortable once they’re in.
It’s really the community feel that I’ve developed here in the studio, and then the outreach beyond the studio to folks and just chatting it up.
[Yuri] You now have word of mouth and people talking about it all over the place, but when you first started, how did you get people to walk in the door?
Did you partner with other businesses in the area? Did you hand out fliers to everyone’s door? What did that look like when you were starting?
[Amy] A little bit of all of that. I did reach out to local businesses and let people know what was going in.
I was already working with a few clients. I’ve been in the industry for a long time, and getting back into working with people in person. Those people were talking about their experience with friends and family and more and more people were finding out about us word of mouth.
I did go to local businesses, and one of the things that I did was film little, five-minute, commercials asking these local businesses a few questions about how they got started, what their passion was, and a few tips they could give people, and shared those videos on Facebook and on my website.
Essentially, I was sharing the great experiences I had with the local businesses here, and then they in turn, talked up the studio.
Really, the goal was to help other businesses to gain visibility.
Where we’re located, it’s a long way into town and you have to go over a pass, and the winter gets dicey, so people want to stay up here on the mountain as much as possible.
What we were doing was showcasing different restaurants that had health eating options and go to other complimentary business for health and fitness as a way to help them, and they ended up wanting to help me as well
It was really great to be able to give before I really had much, and then in return, folks came to me as well.
[Yuri] That’s so smart.
[Amy] I also reached out to the local newspaper, and let them know that even in a town of 800, that I had a goal to help 1,000 local residents achieve a health and fitness goal by the year 2020.
They came in and did a piece on the studio opening, along with a press release. They tried it out, took pictures, and that was in the paper, too.
I was able to use the pictures they gave me on social media.
It was a great way to give people information, tips they could apply right away without ever setting foot in the studio, and then creating some curiosity around that.
At this point, being more established, I find the person-to-person, creating relationships, and getting the stuff out there on Facebook is what works better than a flier, unless it’s something brand new.
[Yuri] For everyone listening, what Amy just said is so valuable. To give you some perspective, we lived in a small town called Port Perry for five years as we’re starting our family. It’s a small town, not 800 people, but it’s about 9,000.
I was going to this gym, which was a 24/7 type of gym. I never saw anything about the gym anywhere in the town. There was no cross promotion with other businesses.
I remember the trainers or the workers in there would be sitting in their office, playing on their phone. There was no proactive part to really grow their client base.
It’s the tale of two gyms. You got your studio where you went out from day one and added value before you asked for anything in return, and then you have the case that I just mentioned where these guys are just sitting in their office doing nothing and expecting miracles to happen.
It’s such a great example of why you’ve done so well in a very small town.
Have you always had that mindset even before you had your studio of being this person who’s like, “Okay, I’m going to make this happen no matter what, if someone says I can’t, I’m going to show them how to do it or show them that I can do it.”?
Has this always been part of your mindset?
[Amy] Did I always have the mindset? I don’t think so. I did have that work ethic instilled in me. I always strove to do better than I did before. I was always in competition with my own self.
I was a teacher for 10 years, and a friend of my husband came to help me set up my classroom, and he said, “Who are you competing with? Why don’t you just do what you did last year?”
That wasn’t acceptable to me. This is a new group. I wanted to do better. I wanted to improve. I’ve always had that instilled in me, to always try to be my best.
My dad was an integral part in that. He’s gone almost 21 years now. He always said to me, “Whatever you do, always try your best, and always be kind to people.”
Those things that we tell our kids, even though we can’t always tell if it’s getting through to our kids, well, they are. I’m proof of that.
Amy’s story: Crohn’s disease, her growth mindset
Growing up, I had Crohn’s disease. I had it since I was 12, and I went through all kinds of procedures. I was in and out of the hospital, had emergency trips to the hospital, often, and eventually had surgeries for bowel resections.
They wanted to do another bowel resection, which would have been a colostomy, and I was in my 20s, and I was like, “No way. There’s got to be another way.”
The doctors weren’t so happy with me, but I didn’t want that, and I was being told I couldn’t have children. I would never support a pregnancy. I said, “There’s got to be another way.”
I was determined, and so for two years, I did a strict diet and supplementation program. I could not work out with the intensity I wanted to, which was hard, but I was able to do gentle yoga and meditation, and through that focus, after two years, the doctor who agreed to monitor me said to me, “You’re going to put me out of business. You have no evidence of the disease anymore.”
Crohn’s Disease isn’t something people think that you can get rid of. I have scars from my surgeries, but no evidence of the disease, and I have two beautiful children.
I will not pretend that I don’t have mindset issues that I work on, but getting things done and not failing is … There are failures along the way, but not being the ultimate is something that’s always been a part of my life.
[Yuri] That’s awesome, and that’s why entrepreneurs rule the world. No offense to employees and nine-to-fivers, but that’s why I love speaking with entrepreneurs like yourself, because that mentality of constant growth and contribution is embedded in our DNA. It’s just amazing. I’m glad that you were able to share that with us, so thank you.
What’s the biggest challenge you faced in your business?
Obstacles, goals, dominating your niche
[Amy] Well, there’s a few. You got to keep the wheels turning. I’ve listened to Grant Cardone who says, “Don’t rest on your haunches.”
One of my obstacles was resting on my haunches, getting myself ramped up, and say, “Oh, everything is rolling along nicely.” When that happens, things start to slip. The great part of that is recognizing that and being able to say, “Well, this was working and how can I celebrate my clients? How can I move this forward,” and it’s doing all the things that were working.
One of the obvious obstacles is the population. Even though I’m in a town of 800, the town that I live in, which is the next town over, has a population of 600 people.
There’s smaller towns around. There’s probably about 2,200 people immediately, and then there is a bigger city, and believe it or not, people do drive up over that pass. People act like it’s another galaxy sometimes. It’s really funny, but people will drive up to us.
As I previously mentioned, reaching out and not thinking about the bottom line, and focusing instead on what value can I add, it all ends up coming back to you
I remember worrying about money. I would worry and worry and worry. I don’t have enough. I don’t have enough. I don’t have enough. I did in fact have enough.
I worried myself into not having enough money, so I said, “Well, if it works that way, it’s got to work the other way.” Indeed, it does. Focus on what your goals are and move beyond those obstacles.
I have built a business up to six-figures with 800 people in my town. I’m now reaching out online, because quite honestly, I want to make a bigger impact in the world. I love my community, and I want to help as many people as I can here.
There’s a big wide world out there of people that are looking for what I have to offer, and I want to be able to add to them as well.
[Yuri] That’s terrific. 800 people doesn’t mean 800 potential clients, because I’m sure there’s young and old, and there’s going to be a certain percent of the population who has no interest in what you have to offer.
You might be dealing with a smaller segment of that, and I think that’s even more awesome, which is a great lesson for anyone listening, is that you don’t have to be on Dr. Oz, right?
Just focus on a small niche and dominate that. I think you’re a great example of having done that.
[Amy] You know, Yuri, the great thing about doing that is that even in a town so small, it’s not like there’s a ton of fitness places, but there are fitness businesses.
Because we each have a different niche, we’re able to work with one another and say, “You know what, listening to what your goals are, I really don’t think we’re the best fit for you. However, this person over here has a great program. I’d like to send you over there because I think that’s a better fit,” and that really allows us to have credibility and be able to help people even if they’re not our ideal client.
I generally work with women 35 and up. It doesn’t mean that every client is a woman, and it doesn’t mean everyone is 35 and up, but that’s really who I target. I am 47, so I fit right in.
You don’t have to, obviously, fit into your ideal client, but it’s great. It’s a great thing to be able to work with other people within the same industry.
[Yuri] Again, what I’m getting from this is that your town is a very similar experience as what happens with a lot of online businesses.
One of the things I noticed when I started my business online was that everyone is so collaborative instead of competitive.
When I was training in a gym in Toronto before all this, way back in early 2000s, it was like the trainer beside you is your competition. You don’t want to give away clients.
When I came online, everyone was like, “Yeah, I’ve got this really cool complementary program that I think your audience would love.” Hey, I’m not doing that, so yeah, sure, I’ll just recommend over to you.
That’s pretty much what you’re doing in Killington, which is just a great example of how there’s more than enough for everyone, and it’s just such a cool reminder for everyone listening that’s its win-wins for everyone.
[Amy] I grew up in Rockland County, New York, which is about 20 miles northwest of Manhattan. I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum, and again, it comes to mindset.
When I was in New York in a one-on-one training studio, I didn’t feel like I was competing with the person next to me, because even when I was in my 20s, the clients I got were the post-rehab people.
I’ve always worked with people 35 and up even from that time, so the other trainers would send those people to me. They didn’t want to work with those people. They didn’t know how to work with people coming out from post-rehab.
For me, it was a great fit, because I wasn’t training people for fitness shows and bikini competitions.
Even within a facility, you can find your niche., It’s so important to find it, and then just put your blinders on and laser focus.
Don’t worry about what the other people are doing. Otherwise, you get discouraged and caught up in the whole, they are doing better than me, and really, you have so much to offer.
I’ve branched out online now as well, and the people that I have worked with in the online space are super welcoming and helpful and it’s wonderful to be in a collaborative situation.
Forget about the money, focus on what you want
[Yuri] Let’s say someone is where you were years ago, worrying about money, and maybe not having the mindset that you have now.
What guidance do you give them? How do you steer them in the right direction? What advice do you give them to really build that mindset that’s going to help them succeed?
[Amy] The advice that I give is to really take the time to sit with yourself and figure out your vision for your life if money were no object. You just do a brain dump so that you’re not thinking, and you’re not starting to say that you want to move to Maui or whatever your thing is, that you don’t start to negate it. You just want to do a brain dump.
Then notice your feelings. If you’re worrying about money, there’s no way you feel good. You want to feel good. We’re really designed to be happy. We’re not here to be miserable and stressed.
If we’re worried about money, and I’ll speak from experience, you can have panic attacks, stomach problems, digestive issues, and that doesn’t feel good.
Instead, you start focusing on what you want and not I want more money, I want more money, I want more money, but why do you want that money? What are you going to do with it? Are you going to donate? Are you going to feel great because all your bills are paid, and then you’re going to be able to take a vacation, or give your kids another experience?
Whatever you want to do with that, focus on it in a feel-good place, and that way you can start to attract to yourself the good things.
I know it sounds a little woo woo, but if you look at the thought patterns and the negatives that have come to you, you flip that and start to think positive.
In each moment of you noticing you’re not feeling well, you’re feeling bad, or you’re feeling panicky, what can you do to feel good? What can you focus on, or what is not quite right that’s making you feel that way?
It takes practice to turn your attention from what you’re worried about and start giving to others. It might be something as simple as opening a door for somebody or giving someone a smile, or maybe someone is struggling and you give them a quick tip.
Those things are all free. You don’t have to spend any money.
Write someone a thank you note. Do things so that you’re adding value to other people’s lives. It doesn’t have to be monetary, and that energy and that value will come back to you.
One thing I like to do when I’m feeling like, “Okay, I need more money,” is picture myself as a money magnet, and I literally close my eyes and picture myself standing there with my feet apart and may arms out, and money just flying and attaching to my body.
That’s what has worked for me. I hope that’s helpful.
[Yuri] Well, I call it delusional optimism, which is kind of what you’re talking about.
You have to feel as if, it’s already here, it’s already happening. I’m all about the woo woo and the law of attraction. I’m a huge believer in that.
There’s a big disconnect that I recognized a little while ago, which is, it’s one thing to think, “Yeah, I’m going to have more money,” but it’s very different thing to feel that.
If there’s a disconnection between the thinking and the feeling, well, the universe is going to reward the feeling more than the thinking.
I love how you talked about, do things for others. It’s one of the easiest ways out of stress. If you’re feeling crappy, it’s because you’re focused on you. Focus on others. Open the door. Write a thank you note, as you mentioned. It’s one of the easiest de-stressors. It’ll make you feel better. It’s so good.
[Amy] It does, and I do want to mention one thing, because with the law of attraction, there’s a misunderstanding that you can just think positively and things will happen.
That’s not the case. There is a lot of hard work, grit, heart, determination that goes into it. The thing is, when you focus on what you want and you feel good, you must do the things it takes to get there if you’re passionate about it.
If you’re not passionate about it, you’ve got to abandon it.
I remember having a project come almost to fruition and saying to my mentor, going over where I was, where I wanted to go, stopping myself and saying, “I’m just not passionate about this.”
He said to me, “You need to drop it.”
I was like, “But I’ve spent so much time. I’ve spent so much energy.” He said to me, “If you are not passionate about it, you’re not going to help people with it. I don’t care how far you’ve come. I don’t care how much you’ve invested, time, money, you have to drop it and do what you’re passionate about.”
I wasn’t happy at the time. I was mad. I listened though, and I’m grateful that I did.
Your passions can change. Obviously, you’ve got to feed your family, but then look to that thing that you’re passionate about, and then you’ll take the action steps to get there.
[Yuri] Yup. If the energy is low, it’s got to go.
Amy, are you ready for the rapid fire?
[Yuri] All right, so I’ve got five questions to end this bad boy off with. It’s been a great conversation. I’m really happy with where we’ve gone.
Whatever comes top of mind, first thing. Are you pumped? Are you ready?
[Amy] I’m ready. I’m nervous.
[Yuri] All right, here we go. Your biggest weakness?
[Amy] My biggest weakness is I have a gut ball. Second-guessing myself and talking too much.
[Yuri] Cool. Your biggest strength?
[Amy] My compassion and my willingness to work hard and do whatever it takes.
[Yuri] Nice. One skill you’ve become dangerously good at in order to grow your business?
[Amy] Developing my listening skills and really closing my mouth. Asking a question and using the technique I used when I was a teacher, which is just shut up, right?
You ask the question, and then be quiet and allowing the client, however long it takes them to answer, and give them the space to answer.
[Yuri] Very nice. Great insight. What do you do first thing in the morning?
[Amy] First thing in the morning, I wake up, I stay in my bed and I revel in how good I feel. I always find something to feel good about before I get out of bed.
Then I have a whole morning routine, and this is something that I had learned and developed in my time working with Craig Ballantyne.
I get up, brush teeth, wash my face, but then I always sit in silence and just breathe.
I do my affirmations, so I see myself as if to really envision myself in those affirmations.
I do some reading. It really depends on the day. I do some journaling. I always write down what I’m grateful for in the morning, and I do it at night too, and the night before I write down what I need to accomplish the next day, so I’m not worried about it allowing it to sink in overnight.
I do my visualization, my breathing. I read. I do my affirmations, and I do my gratitude journal, and then I head out. I usually have to head out early in the day. Then my exercise gets in there. I love to do it first thing, but I just get it in when I can.
[Yuri] Good for you. Final question, complete this … Well, it’s not a question. Complete this sentence. I know I’m being successful when …
[Amy] I know I’m being successful when I see my clients making major changes. It’s not even major changes. It might be a small baby step, like they got here. I’m quite serious.
I know I’m successful when I’m able to hold this space for my clients and help them to take that next step toward their health and fitness goals, and they really are baby steps, and helping them to understand it’s all progress not perfection.
[Yuri] Beautiful. That’s great. Amy, this has been awesome. Thank you so much for taking the time and sharing your experience, your journey, your wisdom with us.
What is the best way for people to check out what you’re doing perhaps online or if they’re, obviously, in Vermont, in Killington?
[Amy] The best place to find us is to go to our website, fusionfitnessvt.com. It’s F-U-S-I-O-N-F-I-T-N-E-S-S-V-T dot com.
[Yuri] Cool, and we’ll make sure to link up in the show notes for that.
[Amy] All right. Awesome. Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure talking with you, Yuri. Let me know what I can do for you. Let me know if you need anything. I’m happy to help.
[Yuri] Awesome. Thank you so much, Amy. It’s been a lot of fun.
[Amy] All right. Awesome. Have a great day.
[Yuri] You too.
Wasn’t that such an awesome interview? I mean, talk about big thinking in a small environment. That’s not easy to do, because we are shaped by our environments.
A lot of times, it’s very easy to fall into the standards and the expectations of those around you. I’ve noticed this firsthand, because I lived in a small town, as I mentioned in our conversation with Amy, for about five years.
I noticed that that kind of small town feel was rubbing off on me, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to move back to the big city, not that we live downtown, but just in a more metropolitan area.
Nonetheless, it’s great to see people like Amy who are doing great things, and impacting a lot of people. You don’t have to impact a million people to change the world. She’s impacting people in a very personal way, in a very local way, and that’s great. There’s nothing wrong with that.
There’s no gold medal given to the most people impacted, most number of Instagram followers. None of that stuff really matters, because at the end of the day, if you can work with people and really touch their lives, that’s what matters the most.
I think what Amy shared with us is a great example of being able to do that no matter what environment you’re in, right?
If you’re in the online space and you’re thinking to yourself, “Oh, I don’t want to narrow down my niche because there might not be enough people who are interested in this,” well, let Amy’s story be an example to the contrary.
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