Certified Personal Trainer Karlie Ramlogan owns IS Training in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Like many entrepreneurs, she started out heading in one direction and changed to another. The fitness instructor, who also happens to be a half marathoner and CN Tower Climb elite athlete, shares her tips and advice here.
Sometimes you have to flip things around
How did your business get started?
I grew up always really into sports — playing sports and watching sports.
My first career was focused on spiritual health and development. I was working at Summit Community Church overseeing their children’s and family ministries.
I loved the people part of my job — mentoring, leading teams of volunteers — but being a person with ADHD, I found it challenging to spend any length of time at a desk doing administrative tasks. I began to see that I would be better suited for a job that would require me to be on my feet most of the day.
Making the leap of faith
Walking away from a full-time salary when I didn’t have another job lined up was definitely a risky move, but with the support of my family, friends and church community I was ready for the challenge!
As I started up my business, I took a second job as a group fitness instructor which gave me great experience coaching people of all fitness levels.
I began to understand that everyone has barriers to the goals they want to achieve; some are physical, others are mental. Oftentimes, it is a bit of both.
That’s where IS Training came from.
My methodology starts with learning about my client: who they are, their likes, dislikes, strengths and challenges. Only then do we start talking about their goals.
I find when I approach my service like this, I learn a lot more about the optimal health goal, and not just about the end results they are looking for.
I knew it was time to take it up a notch
I had my business name, I had my offering and I was picking up clients through word of mouth. Now I had to figure out a way to get my business out there. Being an in-home personal trainer meant I didn’t have a physical space. Suddenly, the job of marketing my business started to overwhelm me.
A space that could be shared with anyone who could benefit from my services.
Conquering social media
I was already familiar with social media, so I decided to start there. I opened up an Instagram (IG) account for IS Training. It was a perfect place to share my tips, videos and inspiration, but there wasn’t a lot of room to describe my services and provide information in an easily accessible informative way.
I knew I needed a website.
Without knowing where to begin, I went online to search for how to build a website, and GoDaddy popped up. I reviewed a few different web services and GoDaddy was a name I was familiar with (funny enough I knew the name GoDaddy from their commercials!) so, I started getting to work, thinking I would keep going until I met a hurdle.
But, to my surprise, the process of getting online was a lot simpler than I originally thought. That’s what I really like about GoDaddy – it’s really user-friendly, with step-by-step instructions.
Two years in
It’s been a little over two years since starting IS Training. I now have my social media account and website connected. My website is the hub of my business.
Although I started off working out of my basement apartment, you never would have known it.
The website provides a place to introduce my:
It also lets me showcase who I am and promote my business to the world. I love the “marketing” in GoDaddy’s Website Builder service, especially this year when our whole industry turned upside-down due to COVID-19.
I am able to add promos to my site, use SEO tools to update my website copy so it continues to rank well on Google, making my business easier to find online. I still use social media to showcase my training videos, but now I have synced to my website. Instead of managing two different platforms for my business, I organise content, make updates and respond to clients from one screen.
What is your business philosophy in a nutshell?
My background is mentoring and coaching individuals and small groups of people. I took that passion and experience and combined it with my love for fitness and healthy living. I focus on the whole person (body, mind, spirit) and I apply that to how I train my clients. My favourite catchphrase is “You’re stronger than you think! :)”
With my business, you get a holistic approach to health. I very much believe that the mind and body are one and that you can’t affect one without affecting the other, so when I’m coaching people that’s the approach I take.
What was it like working on the GoDaddy commercial?
Getting to be part of the GoDaddy commercial was so much fun and an experience I’ll never forget!
This was my first time ever being on camera so I tried to soak up every minute!
Spending the day with the GoDaddy team and other small business customers made me feel like we were one large group working towards the same goal. Of course, we were kind of also promoting our own businesses — but I guess that’s the point.
I’m happy I get to show Canada how GoDaddy Website Builder made it easy for me to start my business and how easy it is for anyone to do the same. I never expected when I started two years ago that today I would have my own website and a spot in a TV ad. 2020 didn’t turn out so bad after all.
What online tools do you use for your business?
As I mentioned, I use GoDaddy’s Website Builder to create, host and promote my business online. The customizable temples made it really easy to lay out my site — it does not feel like a daunting process. If I have new images or new promotions, I can update my current template, or select a new one altogether.
The search engine optimization (SEO) wizard was my first introduction to SEO and how keywords work. It wasn’t until I built my website and accepted all the suggestions Websites Builder gave me that I really started to understand how important SEO is to growth.
The COVID-19 lockdown forced us fitness professionals to become more creative and look for alternative ways of reaching and serving our clients. It’s great to have online tools like email marketing that help you stay in front of your clients, even when you can’t physically be there.
What difference have these tools made to your business?
Connecting my Instagram account to my website has been a time-saver! I don’t have to worry about posting new content to multiple platforms. I just upload to one and it automatically syncs to IG and Facebook.
If I can save time on an administrative task and have more time to do what I love, it’s a win-win!
Website Builder made it easy to add a banner on my site to let customers know I was staying open and:
- Taking online consultations
- Designing programs
- Coaching through online meetings
This has been helpful during the multiple closures of fitness facilities during COVID-19.
The email marketing tool is the next one I have to take advantage of because it provides information so you can track your open rate. This will help me understand how people are responding to my content, so I know better what my clients are looking for and how I can best serve their needs.
Do you have any advice for someone who’s just starting a business in your field?
Embrace your mistakes.
Don’t be afraid of mistakes because those are the experiences you learn from the most. If you never made a mistake, you wouldn’t troubleshoot how to correct it for the next time. You can’t always be perfect, that’s not how we evolve. Mistakes are meant to teach you something, so there’s no reason to be afraid of them.
Are there any mistakes you made that other entrepreneurs should try to avoid?
At the beginning, I had worked on my programs for my clients, but I didn’t spend enough time thinking about the consultation sales aspect of my job.
The first few consultations were a little rough and I fumbled through them, but there were learnings there. It inspired me to focus on the sales side of my business and not only on the services I offer. Commit to a learning process and you’ll get there.
Is there anything you wish you’d had when you were starting out?
Looking back, I wish I’d thought about looking for a business mentor. Someone who has already been through the experiences I was about to go through. It might have been helpful to have someone who could:
- Provide feedback on my ideas and goals for the business
- Help me navigate the industry and work through my challenges
When you start off without a view of what the future holds, it can look like the best opportunity one day and then very scary the next. A business mentor probably would have been good to make me realize that everything I was feeling was normal and I was on the right path. As it turns out, I got there and I am already further into my new career than I ever imagined.