Sammie Kennedy never joined a sports team in high school, so at 22 when she embarked on a fitness makeover she faced some big hurdles. Here’s how she went from out of shape to starting a national fitness trend with her company Booty Camp Fitness.
4. You’ve said that hiring a personal trainer is your number one piece of advice for getting fit fast. What are some of your other tips for getting in shape quickly?
When I was training to compete, having a personal trainer worked well for me, but group training is an affordable option where you still get the benefits of a personal trainer’s expertise. Plus there’s the fun of being in a dynamic group environment charged with music and energy! Having someone lead your exercise routine is a great way to really push yourself. It keeps you accountable and slacking off isn’t an option! A trained professional can make sure that your routine is varied so that you get a full-body workout.
Also, just because you’ve started exercising doesn’t mean that you can now eat whatever you feel like – the saying ‘you are what you eat’ came from somewhere! Concentrate on getting fruits, veggies, lean proteins and lots of water. Be sure to avoid processed and refined foods. With all the marketing of ‘low-cal’, ‘no sugar’, and snack-packs that only have x amount of calories, it’s tricky to know what’s truly good for you and what’s just a quick-sell gimmick. Educating yourself on how to read food labels and actively shopping the perimeter of the grocery store will help you get healthy and fit.
5. What changes (if any) did you make to your diet?
I am naturally inclined to eat rich and sweet foods. I really enjoy my treats. The biggest change that I had to make to my diet is cleaning it up on a daily basis. Sticking to whole healthy foods (foods as close to their natural state) and cutting out the excess creams and fats. As a matter of fact, cutting out dairy almost altogether has really helped me personally to stay lean as dairy tends to bloat me.
Essentially I have learned to listen to my body about what foods it thrives on, and what foods give me the energy to exercise and compete. I stick to lots of veggies and lean proteins like chicken. I also make sure to get my whole grains (steel cut oats) with some fruit in the morning to help give me energy throughout the day. Vitamins and minerals are important to thrive so getting it in through your diet rather than supplements is key (i.e. fruits, veggies).
At the same time, if I completely deprive myself I’ll go totally bonkers so I allow myself one cheat day a week (until about 4-6 weeks before I compete) to have some sweets or some small treat like a vegan baked item.
6. How did you come up with the idea for Booty Camp Fitness?
During 2007, I ran a personal training company where I specialized in working with women who lived in condos. It was April and I was working out with one of my clients in the condo gym and just thought, ‘Wow, it’s so gorgeous outside right now, I’d love to take our workout to the park where we can get fit and enjoy the great weather at the same time.’ Since I had a packed training schedule (there weren’t enough hours in the day for me to see as many clients as I’d like!) I thought to take a group of ladies to Music Gardens Park in Toronto and run a boot-camp style workout. I put up a few posters in my neighbourhood and within 24 hours the session sold out. I posted another session and that sold out within 48 hours. There were no other women’s-only boot camps in the city so I knew I’d found a niche market and within three months I was hiring instructors!
7. How did you take your idea from just that to a full-fledged successful enterprise?
It really happened quite organically. I had started my own boot camp downtown for my own personal training clients and waiting list and it rapidly grew in popularity. Before I knew it and within only four months the demand for my camps had exceeded the time available in my schedule. The only natural solution for all these ladies that now wanted to get into the camp was to expand and begin training new instructors to provide the same services that I had begun to perfect. I essentially doubled in size each quarter for the next two years and enhanced the program regularly because the demand was just there. It really came down to meeting that demand and it’s been an absolutely thrilling ride.
8. What were some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome as an entrepreneur?
When I began as a new entrepreneur so there were a lot of instances where I had to get outside of my comfort zone and push through some challenging situations. It is very easy to allow fear to overcome logic as a new entrepreneur. For instance, when the cities began to charge us a lot of money to use the parks and we had to appear in court for various fines as we fought to be considered equals to the sports leagues as far as permit rates.
As a company grows and you expand your services there are always new challenges to face. I have had to learn to leave emotions out of business and think outside the box to find creative solutions to these various challenges. Learning to trust my instincts and always push forward was my biggest challenge as an entrepreneur and now I am tasked with teaching and passing this on to my immediate staff and licensees.
9. What advice would you give to someone either wanting to start their own fitness-based business or becoming a personal trainer?
It’s interesting when you start a fitness-based business; I got into it because I love interacting with clients and helping them achieve their goals. As Booty Camp grew though, I had to spend less time instructing and more time working on the business itself. While I am still heavily involved with program development I now get the rare opportunity to instruct but I’m not as in-the-field as I thought I would have been when I first started the company. So always remember there may not be the opportunity to be as hands-on once you start focusing from a business management perspective.
I would simply say that whatever you choose to do as a career, make sure that you are passionate about it. It is that passion and enthusiasm that will drive you to learn more, expand your horizons and find solutions to any challenge that may present itself and make you a great success.