In today’s episode of Everything Bootcamp, my guest is Jessi Schlegal, from (for not much longer) Vancouver, Canada. Jessi will soon be moving – moving her home and her business – and that is what we chat about in this episode. Just how do you go about moving your fitness business from one community to another? How do you build up that community from scratch?
We also chat about what it is like to have employees during the pandemic and lockdowns; and how important it is to maintain client morale during this time.
- The importance of regular exercise for quality of life (3:13)
- The effects of the pandemic on a business with employees (4:27)
- Elevating client’s morale during the pandemic (10:16)
- Moving house and business in one hit (18:30)
- Rapid Fire Questions (25:28)
I’m a Sports Therapist, Personal Trainer and Group Class Instructor (BCRPA), trained and educated in Germany. Luckily, during my time in sports school, I had the opportunity to learn the physical and technical aspects of many activities like sailing, rock climbing, kayaking, nordic walking, yoga, pilates, dance and many more. This diverse background of movement patterns helps me to understand and connect the dots between everyday movement and potential risk of injury when training my clients.
After moving to Canada, I started having seasonal allergies and food intolerances and have investigated the topic ever since more closely. After many attempts to take medications unsuccessfully, the only thing that helped was changing my diet and coping with stress more effectively. Now, I would like to pass on the knowledge I’ve gained to help others feel better.
In order to broaden my scope of practice, I then finished a degree as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (CSNN) and completed my diploma as an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner (LOC) several years ago which gave me the chance to look more closely at the whole body when working with people. I also recently finished my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Certification which has significantly helped me in my own practice as well as working more holistically with clients.
When I am not researching and reading about the latest fitness trends, you can find me playing volleyball, running, hiking or skiing. I love to be outdoors in nature!
- Website: jessischlegel.ca
- Bootcamp Ideas author profile: Jessi Schlegel
- Instagram: @kylewood_bci
- Instagram: @fitnesslabyvr
- Facebook: Bootcamp Ideas
Kyle Wood: As group fitness business owners, or bootcamps, we end up building a community in one area. That’s part of what makes boot camps amazing as part of what makes them great. Is that we take people who live locally to us, we bring them together. We exercise together. And yeah, that is how a community is created.
So what happens when you need to move? When you need to go to a different location, you can’t take those clients with you. How do you start from scratch? That’s one of the things we talk about, on Everything Bootcamp today with my guest, we also talk about gyms, keeping your trainers, not just your clients morale up, but your trainers morale up.
And, lots of other stuff. I think you’re really going to enjoy it. And uh, here it is.
Kyle Wood: Hello, welcome back to everything bootcamp today. My guest is Jessi Schlegel. Jessi is based in Vancouver, Canada. Our first Canadian, on the show. She helps manage a small neighborhood gym and runs her own business Fitness VYR. She’s been a trainer for, we were just working out, about 15 years. And has a wide range of expertise in yoga, nutrition, and fitness.
Jessi, thanks for coming on the show.
Jessi Schlegel: Thanks for having me.
Kyle Wood: Yeah, it’s awesome to have you. So today, the way I’ve been enjoying kicking these calls off is to ask you a question. Casting your mind back, do you remember the first group fitness class you attended as a participant?
Jessi Schlegel: Oh, God. Yes. It was a long time ago and it was a step aerobics class and it was awful.
Kyle Wood: You didn’t like it?
Jessi Schlegel: I didn’t like it because I was already in sports school and we went through a lot of movement and stuff and I thought, oh, this is going to be easy. And I attended it. And after the warmup, I was pretty much out. Because the steps got so complex, I couldn’t follow. So that was a nice hit to my ego.
Kyle Wood: Yeah, like, I’ll be good at this.
You’re the first person, which I think must speak to a lot of going back, like 15, 20 years. Like what the common form of group fitness was. The other third person told me it was a step aerobic class. Happily, you’d be the second person who was like, ‘I really didn’t like it’. So, the other person, she had a background in dance, so she loved all the rhythmic stuff that was involved.
Jessi Schlegel: Yeah, that was never my favorite thing to do. And I think it was actually a Latin inspired step aerobic class.
Kyle Wood: Yeah. I used to do musical theater in my teens. And the one thing that like I always was like, just my sticking point was the dancing. Could sing, could act, but trying to in that big, like gangly teenage body as well, just, just way too much up here in my head.
Jessi Schlegel: Yeah. Same here. The in Sports School, the most difficult ones were the, all the dance-y things. Rhythmic gymnastic, dancy stuff. Um, ballet. I had to do ballet also. That was fun. So yeah, it got better over the years. Let’s put it that way.
Kyle Wood: . . Yeah. Yeah. And I found that as well. Like once I started exercising regularly. Like, I feel much more confident on my feet or on a dance floor now. Yeah, I think it, it just says that like fitness, regular exercise really does carry over to all these different areas of your life.
Jessi Schlegel: For sure. Yeah. It helps a lot. It just makes you feel like, it feel like you can pick up things quicker and more easily and just follow along a little bit faster. Cause you’ve done certain movements already at some point in your life.
Kyle Wood: Yeah, absolutely. Definitely. So one thing we’re sort of focusing on with these early podcasts of Everything Bootcamp is, because it’s such a big part of our lives, is the pandemic we’ve been in the last 18 months.
And so I’d like to take a step forward from your first aerobic class, but through to like the start of 2020. So, you running, managing this small neighborhood gym, running your own business. And I know from talking to you before that, that was especially the gym getting shut down was like an incredibly difficult time.
You had trainers other trainers other than yourself who, you know, you were concerned about. How did you, as, as like a manager navigate that? Like what was really important to you during such a difficult period?
Jessi Schlegel: Um, a few things. Like you’re trying to keep the business alive, and you’re also trying to keep the trainers that you, um, like our trainers are contractors.
So it’s a little bit different than if they were employees ’cause there was a lot of help out for employees when the pandemic started. But it’s a lot different for contractors. Um, there was a lot of uncertainty as where we could get help as a business and where the individual trainers could get help and where everything was going at that point.
And I think we also didn’t know at the time for how long everything would shut down. Cause there’s a huge difference whether Richard’s shutting down for two weeks or six months or, you know, that all has an impact on, on what you kind of want to make sure is taken care of, like we also have to pay rent and stuff.
And, um, so yeah, I know we didn’t know whether the clients would come back or could come back or possibly they could come back. So there was a lot of uncertainty and I think our objective was just to keep it going as best as we could. And we had to get quite creative because the physical location had to shut down for awhile.
And I think it was, huh, for classes a little worse than for personal training. I think we had more restrictions on teaching classes. Um, personal training was not as big of an issue, um, but we had to come up with a solution for that problem. And what we did at the time was we went online. So we switched everything.
Uh, where the two weeks were initially where everything was shut down. We pretty much used that to move everything online and come up with free classes first to even get people to notice that there is such a thing as online training. Back then it wasn’t, it wasn’t. Like that was only almost two years ago, but still, uh, it wasn’t a huge thing back then.
And so we just started random fit camp boot camp inspired classes, um, to get people used to the idea and have them try it out. And even for us to try out how the equipment works, what we have to be careful with, what works, what doesn’t work. And, um, yeah, it was quite, quite the journey, moving everything from our normal routine to a, something completely unknown.
Just so we could pretty much, what we did at that time is that most of our trainers kind of worked for free for a couple weeks because we just didn’t know how we were going to pay them. What was allowed, what wasn’t allowed. So we just pretty much sat down for two weeks and brainstormed and tried out different things.
And I think if it wasn’t for our trainers, we probably wouldn’t be here anymore as a gym. And their health and enthusiasm and willingness to try out new things.
Kyle Wood: Yeah. That aspect of team of like being in it together. So important that to, be able to see. I mean, it’d be easy to get indignant and be like, no, you have to pay me.
But being in it together on how can the business evolve? How can the business survive? And trusting that you will be looked after in the end. That that speaks volumes about the trust you had obviously already built with your trainers, that they were willing to do that.
Jessi Schlegel: Yeah, I think it helps that it is a small, smaller gym, and we only have about, oh, between 10 and 20 trainers.
So it’s not a huge team of people. And I think because they all kind of live in the neighborhood, they were all friends and, clients from the neighborhood and from around it really helps, um, get them engaged in the gym and interested in what we’re doing.
Kyle Wood: So, and for yourself, for your own business, did you have to kind of shift gears down with that as well for your own clients?
Jessi Schlegel: Yeah. Yeah. I pretty much did the same thing. Um, cause most of the clients that I train have their own apartment gym, so I would go to their apartment and train them there. But also the apartments were shutting down their gyms and everything.
So kind of the same thing. I switched most of it either to outdoors, luckily it was in the summer still when we were heading into the pandemic, so, um, it wasn’t as bad yet outside, but yeah. And luckily by September, October, when it gets a bit more rainy here, we had it figured out with online. So we switched most of it online, private, and at work, which was…
yeah, we needed those summer months to figure everything out.
Kyle Wood: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Bit of a, I guess it’s not really a blessing. The whole thing was very difficult, but yeah. So, I know talking to you that this kind of ended up being a bit of an introspective time for you. You like to read and think. So what, what came up for you personally during this time about like, sort of where you were heading with your fitness career?
Jessi Schlegel: Um, I was just thinking more about how I can, like how I’m helping people now, how can I help them better? You learn and you read a lot in, you’re always questioning. I find as a trainer, you’re always questioning yourself. Are you good enough? Do you have enough experience? Where can you improve? Well, I’m asking myself those questions.
Um, but it was interesting seeing what’s really difficult. Even what’s difficult for people and why they couldn’t exercise anymore, right? So for me, the objective was to find something, um, to highlight that fitness is important or should be important to people and finding a way to get that out there in the world.
Um, cause I sometimes find that people started shutting themselves out. Like they couldn’t go to the gyms anymore. Um, they might’ve not been as great going on long hikes or long walks or something. They just needed some guidance. And all of a sudden, all the gyms and everything was closed, right? So they stopped exercising and stopped, um, making healthy choices and healthy decisions.
Um, and I just saw that in a lot of people and they started gaining weight and they were sitting more on the couch and started having shoulder issues, back issues, all kinds of issues. And I just saw that the health of most people was going down and I just really wanted to make sure that everyone has some sort of access to a fitness class.
It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated, just a simple online class is better than doing nothing. So that was kind of the thought process that I went through, how to facilitate, um, fitness and fitness classes for most people. And yeah, the online helped a lot doing that. It’s a lot easier now to reach people at home.
Um, yeah. And they hopefully feel better being able to do something than not doing anything at all.
Kyle Wood: Yeah. It becomes a feedback loop, doesn’t it? Where the sedentary activities, feedback into like more, you know, and, and opposite that way as well. Like I’ve heard it described as like a, an upwards or a downward spiral.
So, you know, certain activities will lead you down spiral, but then certain activities, like it’s a positive feedback loop where they’ll lead you up. And the, yeah, the lockdown, the isolation from friends and family, the spending more time on computers and devices, you know, even that action of you being such a movement person, like even looking down at your phone, the tightness that creates in your neck has like a negative feedback loop. Compared to like, was that TED talk, Amy Cuddy’s one which talks about power poses. And that’s like, how can I take up as much space as possible and all your hormones and stuff change when you, when you just sit there and take up as much space as possible. And then now suddenly we’re on the couch, we’ve got our legs crossed, we’re looking down at our phone, we’re taking a small amount of space. Yeah. And it’s even that action, can be really challenging. So what was your plan of attack? So you ran the classes online, you still charge money for them?
Jessi Schlegel: Yeah, we had a good mix of some free intro classes and then our regular, um, normal classes on the schedule.
And, um, yeah, I think the schedule outline kind of stayed the same as it was before. And then throughout the pandemic, we had different regulations and we would allow, um, hybrid classes. So like five people could come to the gym in person, and then we would still run the class online at the same time.
So it was kind of our hybrid classes were a little challenging, but fun. Fun in the end. Cause you didn’t like, not only did you have everyone in person, you also had to make sure all their equipment was set up and the TV was working and the internet was working and we all know not everything works all the time.
So it was a little stressful at times, but still a very fun, fun experience overall.
Kyle Wood: And what did you find yourself personally focusing on during this time?
Jessi Schlegel: Not the things that I like.
I started being more concerned about the quality of my camera and their internet connection and cleaning the equipment and making sure everyone follows the rules. And that, for me, was like, a huge shift that I actually don’t get to do what I liked to do and what I was going to do, which is training people.
I become so much more. It becomes, uh, you’re kind of now a technician in a way or an internet person. Which I am not, or I wasn’t at that time.
Kyle Wood: Yeah. At conferences when they record them, that’s usually the first thing they outsource, you know? It’s like often they’ll get a sponsor if they can, they’ll get like, you know, Lenovo or Dell or something to sponsor it or Microsoft.
And they’ll send people in and they’ll handle all the tech stuff. You don’t have to worry about it.
Jessi Schlegel: I totally understand why now.
Kyle Wood: Yeah. It is true. Like even you’re talking about Zoom, I remember back when the pandemic hit, I’ve been using Zoom already a lot for various courses and things. And, and I was like, all right, if anyone doesn’t know what Zoom is, come jump on a call.
And I think I ran two calls and had like 300 trainers joining the calls over the two calls, just to see. And now, you know, we talk about Zooming someone it’s just part of our language, but yeah, back then it was such a steep learning curve. So you feel like now you’re able to spend more time again, as you described, the things that you’re good at and that you enjoy doing?
Jessi Schlegel: Yeah. I think everything is a learning curve. And once you get past the point where everything’s overwhelming and you’ve kind of, you can troubleshoot a little faster, um, it doesn’t become such a big thing anymore. So now I’m slowly able again, to focus on, oh, what are my participants actually doing in this class, rather than focusing on where the camera is going or whatever.
Yeah. It’s just slowly, it’s going back to normal.
Kyle Wood: Yeah. There’s something else we need to talk about Jesse. And that is that you’re moving. So was that something you planned to do before the pandemic hit?
Jessi Schlegel: Yes. We planned to do that before, but the pandemic slowed everything down.
Kyle Wood: Oh, actually did the opposite. I wondered if it sped up, but it’s actually had the opposite effect.
Jessi Schlegel: Actually, you’re right. Yes and no. That it sped up my chances of being able to work from anywhere also slowed down, um, the building process, cause we bought, um, a piece of land and we have to build everything there.
Kyle Wood: So tell us a little bit, if you’re comfortable, tell us a little bit about your project.
Jessi Schlegel: So our project was to, um, go a little bit back to nature and we wanted to own a piece of land. So we bought that piece of land on a lovely, tiny little island, um, off the coast. And our idea was to move there. I was going to build a little gym there where I could work out of and run workshops out of and do a lot of videos for courses and just live a bit of a more, oh, simpler life.
Easier. Not necessarily. And we started building, but then the pandemic hit and in Canada it was a huge deal. The wood prices went up. So everything was really expensive here, which slowed us down and then materials weren’t delivered. So that slowed us down. And you couldn’t travel because we still have to take, um, two ferries to get to our island.
And, um, at that point it was considered a different, um, health region. So for a while we were not allowed to cross from one health region to another health region, unless you have a construction site there. So we kind of always fell through the cracks with that, luckily and could go back and forth. But, um, yeah, it was quite challenging to actually get something done there.
And, um, yeah, so that took a little bit longer. But on the plus side from the start, I was able to teach there with help of my cell phone plan. So you can imagine me standing in the middle of nowhere in the woods with my cell phone, trying to teach a class, and my clients would hear the parts in the background.
I’m like, oh, sorry, dude. Noise cancellation. So, yeah. And then one day I remember there was a deer behind me while I was teaching a class. So those kinds of things happened. Um, yeah, that was fun.
Kyle Wood: Yeah. That’s exciting. I think that’s a dream people, even in the subgroup of people who are trainers, probably have. You know, we’re interested in fitness, we’re interested in moving. We usually like the outdoors that comes with it and the dream of buying some land and setting up, a small space. Do you have plans of having people come out, or will it be more like a hub for virtual content?
Jessi Schlegel: I would love to have people come out. Cause like the one thing I also learned during the pandemic is how disconnected we are from nature and how important nature is for our wellbeing and just being out there exactly.
When we were so bombarded with all the technology and all the new things. Um, one week out there would do wonders to my mental health and to my brain. And I really feel that people need to, um, get that kind of back into their lives, being outdoors and, and working in nature and being out there, um, it really does help with a lot of things.
So I I’d love to have smaller groups over, um, for workshops or weekends, um, and make it a bit more of a all ’round destination where you, um, have maybe a nature walk or you go to the beach and then you have a class and then you go to the garden and learn something about gardening and maybe work with our neighbors together, who’s um, she’s a lovely person. She does pottery and it kind of creates that own environment over there. There are so many lovely things to do. So it’s more like a destination weekend where you can do 5, 6, 7 different things. Or you’ll borrow a paddleboard one day and then you bike through the park the next day. And then you do a couple of classes while you’re there.
That kind of thing.
Kyle Wood: Yeah. A chance to reconnect, you know, I always find reconnecting with nature ends up connecting with myself and, reminding me what’s important. I think that’s the biggest thing. Nature reminds us that we’re actually just guests on this planet, in a way. Like I live near the water, I go look at the ocean just going for miles. And you’re like, ‘Yeah, okay. I’m actually a pretty small little thing. Maybe the problems that I’m stressing about are as big a deal as, as I’m making them out to be at the moment’.
Jessi Schlegel: Yeah. And you kind of slow down and you have to, like, one thing I had to learn is: you have to be patient. And when something’s not in the carts, you have to have a plan B and it’s okay to not know every single moment of the time what’s next. So like for example, we tried to get off island and you know, you might have heard of island time. Everything’s a little slower and people don’t usually run after the clock. Everything’s six o’clock. So we had those great plans to pick something up off island. We try to get ready and we realized that we had a nail in our tire.
So we had to fix that first. And you can have all the plans you want. If you have a flat tire, you have a flat tire. So then we realized we couldn’t fix it because we didn’t have the tools. So we had to find a neighbor who had the tools to then fix it, which then took another half hour. And so everything kind of snowballs and takes a lot longer than you think, and you kind of learn to be okay with that and seeing the positives in it and like, ‘Okay, well I didn’t make this ferry, but it was maybe good for whatever reason’.
And we spend more time here and got to know our neighbors because they’re equipment now. Right. So it makes you slow down and just appreciate each moment. And not judge right away, whether that was a good or a bad thing. It was just a thing or a moment.
Kyle Wood: Yeah. That’s such a good reminder. We’re always sort of making that choice between, I guess, convenience and doing things the slower way. Yeah, I’m the same. I often prefer to do things the slow way, much to the annoyance of other people at times. But, yeah, I also have a tendency to make things super efficient, but I can make things too efficient to the point where there’s no satisfaction.
All right. Are you ready for the rapid fire questions?
Jessi Schlegel: Sure.
Kyle Wood: Cool. So first question is: what are the top three things you do each week that you found help your business grow?
Jessi Schlegel: Um, I find, uh, the three T’s – teach talk and tell. Teaching means trying to educate the clients that I have and just explaining to them why I do certain things and what my plan is, where I want to go with them and then coordinate with them what their plan is. It’s just creates a little bit of bonding. I talk, which means, um, I try and stay connected. So if someone emails me or if someone has a comment on, on social media, I try and stay engaged with them to just make them feel like they’re important, which they are. Um, and I, I ask them to, to bring friends and tell other people about me if they like what I’m doing.
Um, so it kind of spreads the word and I’ve always found even in our little neighborhood, word of mouth really is the best advertisement. We have so many people who bring friends, um, family members, team members. Um, yeah, that’s what I do.
Kyle Wood: Awesome. Thanks. There’s a good tip – teach, talk, tell.
All right. Favorite song to work out to?
Jessi Schlegel: Oh yeah. Everything eighties. I’m known for my eighties playlists and, um, a lot of people tell me that I was born in the wrong decade.
Kyle Wood: Yeah. I really, like the fashion from the eighties, the music. Yeah, it just always gravitates me. Like I’ve always felt a pull towards it.
Jessi Schlegel: Yeah, my poor clients.
Kyle Wood: Well, I mean, you can definitely know eighties music when you hear it, but it felt certainly like a feeling of like individualism. You know, you look at these like ridiculous, theatrical, get ups that the bands would wear. The hairstyles.
Jessi Schlegel: Oh yeah. I think it also reminds you that you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously. Sometimes in classes, people get too serious about their workouts and they forget to have a little bit of fun and I’m like, ‘Okay, how can you not have fun when you have leg warmers, and a funny hairband?’ There’s no, no, no chance.
Kyle Wood: Yeah. They’ll always judge, the wedding DJ, or band on how much eighties music is in there. It’s got to have a high level. Get me dancing.
All right. Last question. Where would you like to head next with your business or in your fitness career?
Jessi Schlegel: Well clearly now that I’m expert in internet things and everything technical, I’d like to create a little bit more content for other trainers and other clients in form of courses or workshops.
Kyle Wood: Cool.
Jessi Schlegel: Um, yeah. I’m not sure if that’s the same for you, but in Canada you have to get, um, continuing education credits every year in order to keep your licenses. And I would like to just create a little bit more fun stuff for trainers. They don’t get too bored teaching those sessions,
Kyle Wood: Yes, eighties themed.
Jessi Schlegel: Obviously, yes. Without equipment.
Kyle Wood: That would be great. Yeah. I think, you know, online content can be dry. I try and add the element of connection, which is really big for me, cause I’m not like a super extroverted person. So that’s where I try and create a bit of a point of difference. But, definitely awesome to have someone like yourself who has such a wide breadth of knowledge as well, that you can draw on to, to be sharing that with the rest of us in the industry.
Jessi Schlegel: Yeah, I’m excited to do that.
Kyle Wood: All right, Jessi. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Thank you for your time.
So you’re not doing courses for trainers yet. Where can people follow you or keep up to date with you?
Jessi Schlegel: Um, you can check out everything new on my homepage, which is jesseschlegel.ca
That’s where I have all my news, all my updates.
Kyle Wood: Perfect. I’ll put that in the show notes. So if you’re listening to this on your phone, you just got to scroll down to find Jessie’s website and thanks again!
Jessi Schlegel: Thank you for having me.
Theresa Prior has a mission to bring Mums and women together in a safe and supportive environment that just so happens to have fun fitness sessions at it’s core. She has been running her own personal training business since 2013. Theresa helps her clients understand that all aspects of their health are equally important.