Fit­ness, reloaded Lind­say Har­ris left her cor­po­rate ca­reer to start a fit­ness com­pany that would pro­vide clients with ef­fec­tive, per­sonal classes with­out the per­ma­nence of lengthy gym mem­ber­ships. She started the ven­ture in park­ing bays of malls in Pre­tor

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I worked at Deloitte in Tax and Le­gal. I then re­signed and started work­ing for my dad in our fam­ily busi­ness.

Where did the idea come from?

While work­ing for my dad, I couldn’t help but feel that I wanted to do some­thing by my­self – even as a small side­line thing. I’ve al­ways been very pas­sion­ate about sports and fit­ness, so I de­cided to start a small out­door train­ing group.

What mo­ti­vated you to turn it

Af­ter run­ning my train­ing group on the side for about a year, I re­alised how much I loved work­ing with peo­ple in achiev­ing their health and fit­ness goals. I also re­alised that there was a lot of po­ten­tial to grow. So I re­signed from my job with my dad and pur­sued FitFirst (FF) full time. At that stage, my busi­ness model was not at all clear. All I knew was that there was a lot of po­ten­tial in the fit­ness in­dus­try, and I loved what I was do­ing.

How did you make the first class hap­pen?

I posted an am­a­teur video on Face­book, which got me my first three clients! They are still with me to­day – al­most three years later – in our vir­tual stu­dio.

When did you of­fi­cially start op­er­at­ing?

FF has of­fi­cially been op­er­at­ing since the be­gin­ning of 2014. I was at Pretoria Coun­try Club but I strug­gled to ex­pand from there due to weather el­e­ments and lack of vi­able out­door op­tions. I then came up with the idea to rent park­ing bays and run­ning an “ur­ban boot camp” in the base­ments of malls. I started at The Club Cen­tre (a shop­ping cen­tre in Hazelwood, Pretoria) in Au­gust 2014. The idea was to open ur­ban boot camps at var­i­ous malls. Un­for­tu­nately I could not win the malls over to al­low me to rent park­ing bays, so af­ter a year I was back to the draw­ing board. That’s when I came across the vir­tual stu­dio idea. We opened our stu­dio on 1 Fe­bru­ary this year.

How does the vir­tual stu­dio work?

Work­outs are pre-recorded and edited to in­form clients on what they need to do, when to do it and how to do it. In­struc­tion re­gard­ing your form for each ex­er­cise, which in­ter­val of the set you are on and a timer are all dis­played on the screens on stu­dio, along with the ac­tual work­out on screen. Added to this, we have a per­sonal trainer in each ses­sion to guide, mo­ti­vate and in­struct clients. So our clients get best of both worlds – mod­ern tech­nol­ogy with mo­ti­va­tional on­screen in­struc­tion, and tra­di­tional one-on-one per­sonal at­ten­tion from a trainer in a group en­vi­ron­ment.

Where do you cur­rently op­er­ate? Tell us about your ex­pan­sion plans.

We are still at The Club Cen­tre in Pretoria. We have had im­mense in­ter­est from peo­ple

FitFirst plans to grow its re­tail front in the fu­ture.

The FitFirst vir­tual stu­dio opened at The Club Cen­tre in Pretoria on 1 Fe­bru­ary.

Lind­say Har­ris Founder and owner of FitFirst

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