Want to Create and Take a Fitness Business National? Ask TUA’s First Fitness Entrepreneur of the Year

Want to Create and Take a Fitness Business National? Ask Shay Hensley How

From her fight to regain movement after a fall out of an airplane, Shay Hensley created a fitness business about to go national its first year. Shay has so inspired us with her success story, we’ve named her TUA’s First Fitness Entrepreneur of the Year.

Here, she tells TUA.com her story.

AN IDEA IS BORN. WHAT IS FITNESS BOUND LIVING?

Fitness Bound Living in Harrisonburg, VA is a fitness studio I created and launched this year in an effort to help my clients reach their fitness goals and overcome challenges. I spent months working with a fitness business coach and two years brainstorming, networking nonstop and reading everything fitness related I could get my hands on, so the fact that my business has grown from zero clients to more than 140 clients in just a few short months is extremely gratifying.  I expect those numbers to change fast: LivingSocial.com will feature my boot camps in a week long story and introductory offer to 50,000 of its members starting the third week in January.

I didn’t launch my business until June, so imagine my delight! I did spend more than two years incubating the idea, however, and network constantly and do something solely focused on growing my business every day, so when strategic opportunities present themselves, I can grab them and run.

Instead of doing traditional outdoor boot camps, I leased a 900 square foot studio space – Shay Hensley, President, Fitness Bound Living.

I offer boot camps, training and nutrition plans at the studio I designed in Virginia, am launching a special boot camp in Phoenix and offer the same services online. In addition to the LivingSocial.com feature and FBL offer, a bridal shop is about to offer my services to soon-to-be-brides and bridesmaids, an idea I’m cloning and launching nationally online.

Today, I offer women’s Body Sculpt Boot Camps at the FBL studio, men’s and women’s personal training & online “remote” training using a smart phone app that links my remote client’s workouts back to me in real time. I also offer nutritional meal plans and have partnered with a company that ships meal plan packages right to a client’s door anywhere in the US, using only natural healthy foods and no preservatives. I’m a certified personal trainer and sports nutrition specialist, so clients get customized exercise and nutrition plans that meet their needs.  I’m also a body sculpt boot camp developer, which is a big piece of FBL’s core offerings. The Living Social promotion will offer boot camps starting the third week of January, in Virginia.

WHAT DROVE YOU TO WANT TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS?

Ever since I was a kid, I was a big dreamer … always thinking up new ideas and being creative on how to get out of going to school, because even at a young age, I wanted to be my own boss. I saw my dad work hard his whole life as a single father, raising my sister and me. My dream of a fitness business began when dad died of a massive and unexpected heart attack in 2002. In my mid 20’s, I was determined to be the healthiest woman I could be in life, so that I wouldn’t end up like him. I also dreamed of getting on stage as a figure competitor one day.

I was working as a flight attendant, and it was a chilly January morning in 2007, when my life changed in an instant. I fell from an aircraft down 16 feet of stairs onto the tarmac, and suffered a severe spinal injury, permanent nerve damage in my right leg and foot, and later, severe migraines. I found myself on a three- year journey of physical therapy and a changed life. How was I going to stay fit when I could barely move?  In that instant, I lost everything and knew I was going to have to find a lot of courage to fight my back, somehow, some way.

“Is this it?” I asked myself, still strung up in the traction harness. How was I ever going to reach my goals at this pace? In that moment, I decided I was not going to let others’ assessments limit my future.

After the accident, my sports rehab doctor told me that I would never have the same active life I once had, and that I should probably rethink the dream of competing in the NPC and owning a fitness business, since at that point, all I could handle was pool therapy. He said I needed to be “realistic.” I had reached 152lbs at 5’7 after my accident, since I couldn’t exercise like I used to. I was sedentary but not by choice.

Three times a week when I made the 1 ½ hour drive from north central Virginia, to the hospital at UVA, for therapy, I would ask my physical therapist if I was making progress, and if we could try something new … something more challenging.  I was reading anatomy books, and fitness training books, which were stirring up the sheer, raw willpower deep within me. I believe that was what essentially spurred my dramatic recovery – knowledge and my dreams. My goals and aspirations were still speaking to me, waiting to be realized.  

I remember being strung up in a traction harness in physical therapy one day, as I walked haltingly on the treadmill. “Is this it?” I asked myself, still strung up in the traction harness. How was I ever going to reach my goals at this pace? In that moment, I decided I was not going to let others’ assessments limit my future.

To make progress, I had two spinal surgeries in 2009. I now have titanium rods, screws and cadaver bone in my spine. I still have some pain with my nerve damage, and the occasional migraine, but you probably wouldn’t know, since I wear a smile most every day of my life, thankful for my recovery. That’s why they call me “The Pink Fighter.”

I read voraciously and started planning. I knew that since I had been through this, certainly there were others out there who had a desire to overcome a personal fitness challenge as well.

And then, my concept for my company Fitness Bound Living was born. It would allow me to deliver the kind of life transforming fitness I treasure to clients while owning my own business.

HOW DID YOU DESIGN AND LAUNCH FITNESS BOUND LIVING?

I worked with the local university’s Small Business Development Center to help me gain insight into how to start a business. I wanted more direction and craved insight and knowledge, so I hired CA-based fitness business coach Chris McCombs (kickbacklife.com). I would not be where I am today, growing this business, without his direction, inspiration and business coaching. I used mentors to learn how to build an email list, grass roots marketing, referral marketing and more.

I started with literally zero clients. “Build it and they will come” became my favorite mantra. Early on I learned that you could exchange services with other businesses. So, for example, I traded boot camp sessions for professional photographs of our boot camps, with professional photographer Christa Good, one of my clients in Harrisonburg, VA.

By June 2012 I was ready to launch. But instead of doing traditional outdoor style boot camps, I leased a 900 square foot studio space, installed commercial hardwood laminate flooring and 28’ of studio mirrors, bought about $4000 worth of basic equipment like kettle bells, dumbbells, stability balls, hurdles, speed ladders, jump ropes, warrior rope (easily my client’s favorite), barbells, agility dots, cones and hand built a 4’x8’ warrior platform. I started small, with very low overhead, and basically still run boot camps using the same equipment, with the addition of a couple tires, and a few other agility props.

What I am focused on now is my online training program, since there is growing demand for it.

I currently have clients in Virginia, DC, Maryland, North Carolina, Arizona, and California, who range from: stay at home moms, office workers, scientist, attorney, event planner, app/website designer, all the way to network marketers, teachers and everyone in between, at all levels of fitness.  Speaking of teachers, I was also asked by the local school board to teach my Body Sculpt Boot Camp to 91 teachers in November. I’m currently running a Jump Start Your Fitness program for 2013, a four- week boot camp program for the teachers every Monday and Wednesday afternoon.  I’m training for my own figure competition in 2013, so I’m right there with all my clients.

In 2013, FBL will start offering special outdoor boot camps in Phoenix, Arizona. I am also excited to announce that FBL is launching an amazing new program as part of the bridal rush that comes in January of each year. This program is designed for the bride to be and her bridal party. This will be available to both clients locally and nationally. After all, what bride doesn’t want to be fit when she says “I do?” I’ll be able to announce more on this exciting new endeavor in January.

Do I dream BIG? You bet I do! I’m The Pink Fighter, and I say: “GAME ON! Anything is possible!”

You can reach Shay at: email: FitnessBoundLiving@gmail.com, website: www.FitnessBoundLiving.com and facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FitnessBoundLiving