Bryce Henson – CEO of Fit Body Boot Camp
Imagine you have made the leap and become your own boss. You started your business, built your empire and are doing well.
Then a colleague reaches out to you and asks you to forget all, or most, of that and run their show on a larger scale. Going back to being an employee. Would you do it?
Listen as Bryce Henson, the CEO of Fit Body Boot Camp details hi entrepreneurial journey and how he finds answers for the next steps to take in his life by keeping focused on his mission.
Forgetting about the business side of things, stepping away from our pride and making sure what you are doing is moving you to your ultimate goal, whatever that may be, is a huge lesson we can all learn from.
Visit Bryce at: https://brycehenson.com/
You have found Authentic Business Adventures, the business program that brings you the struggle, stories and triumph successes of business owners across the land. Downloadable audio episodes can be found in the podcast link. Fun to draw in customers.com, we are locally underwritten by the bank of Sun Prairie. My name is James Caterman. And today we are welcoming, preparing to learn from Bryce Henson, the chief executive officer of Fit Body Boot Camp. So Bryce, how are you doing today?
James I am doing fantastic. Thanks so much for having me on.
I’m excited to hear because we’re at the time of year where I feel like New Year’s resolutions maybe fell off a little bit for some people, and I suppose for a lot of it, that’s kind of your world. People always get that. I’m going to get in shape January 2 and then I don’t know, march, April rolls around. Maybe they’re just like, you know, the coach is cozy. So tell me, Fit Body Boot Camp for the people that don’t know, can you just tell us a little history? What is it? Yeah, totally.
So we are the fastest indoor fitness boot camp franchise. We’re based in North America and specifically Los Angeles. We have hundreds of locations throughout North America, primarily in the US. But also in Canada as well. And we really specialize in fitness and fat loss for the everyday person that just has a wife or a spouse and kids and busy with work. And that typically hasn’t made a huge fitness is a huge priority. Maybe they haven’t worked out ever or been since high school, but they know they need a change and they can come to our program. And really what we do is specialize is personal training in a group setting so we can get that one on one feel, but for a fraction of the cost of what it would cost a normal personal trainer. And that’s really what we specialize. And I guess, big picture to put a bonus, our mission is to inspire fitness and to change lives every day. And way more than a tagline, this is our life’s work and we’re super passionate about it because we have our work cut out for us with the obesity epidemic, with nearly 50% of our population statistically obese. So we’re here to serve. And that’s really a little bit about Fit Body Boot Camp.
Wow. Yeah. It’s crazy when you think that percentage, especially going through a pandemic where health and that kind of thing was center stage. Yeah, I feel like it’s kind of weird how the fitness I guess you could argue lifestyle or whatever you want to call it, where that would be I would consider that to be kind of frontline. Number one, a way to avoid getting sick is to be healthy, but they kind of like close the gyms. Fit was kind of one of those.
Wild and I mean, shoot, we could talk for hours on that I’m not going to go too deep. However, to that point, what I hope and really what I want to do today james and my mission is to change the conversation because I think what we saw is regulations and government probably with the best intentions, but coming down and really having a victim mentality approach. And really, at the end of the day, we need to change the conversation, empower ourselves, and realize we can do and we can take care of ourselves far more than we think we can. And it’s time to have some personal responsibility to take back control of our health and fitness. And it was really challenging, especially our industry. We’re getting people healthy and really healthy immune systems, fight viruses, and we faced a lot of challenges through the last few years. But the good news is that conversation is changing and again, passionate to continue to march in that way.
Yeah. Now, from your point of view, and this is probably going off the beaten path of business a little bit, but I feel like there’s places like yours around. They’re fun, you get to meet people, have a good time, they’re all in the same working out mentality. And there’s an enjoyment to that, at least from my end, there is. I wonder why aren’t more people into that, from your point of view?
Well, I mean, that’s why I’m here, right? To inspire people. But my job is to give a little kick in the booty to someone who’s interested, knows they need to change, but for whatever reason, hesitancy and concerned about taking that next step. But you’re right, James. What? We really kind of talk to our franchise partners and coaches. People come to us for the result. They typically need to lose weight and feel better and have better mobility change the nutrition, really get in a better positive environments. They come to us for a result, but they really stay for the community and the relationships. And that’s really the power of coaching. So to your point, when you haven’t been working out in a very long time and you’re nervous, you’re scared, but then you come into a very welcoming environment through coaching, both fitness and movement and also nutrition coaching. And then you get to meet the coaches and you get to build relationships with other clients. It really is kind of a very fun environment and that’s why people stay with us for the long term. So that’s a huge fundamental aspect of our program here at Fitbody.
Nice. So did you start Fitbody or did you?
I didn’t actually.
The story about how you got involved with them.
Yeah, well, I’ll actually give you the backstory. My origin story in terms of how he got involved in fitness. Before I do, I’ll answer a direct question. I am not the founder of Fit Body. My dear friend, business partner and mentor of mine named Beethros Coolian is the founder. But I am the CEO and I assumed the role back in 2021. But really before I even started as a franchise partner in 2012, I’ll actually give you the origin story and we were talking offline because you’re a guy from the Midwest and I’m a guy from the Midwest as well. And I’ll granted I’ve lived in California for about 20 years, but I grew up in the state of Michigan and nice little childhood. We know this to be true, the Midwesterners are great people, salt of the earth people, but I think one thing to be sure, not the fitness capital of the world. So when I grew up, no, Wisconsin, skinny, right, michigan is the same way. But growing up from the culture as this is granted, 30 years ago in the Midwest, but also too, my family comes from very humble beginnings for first World standards. So we used to run out of money before. We used to run out a month. And let’s face it, fast food and Taco Bell specifically is more affordable, at least in the front end. Certainly has long term consequences in the back end. But ultimately with my mom being a single mom of raising three kids, that was kind of our nutritional protocol for the better part of 15 years. And a fortuitous situation happened. Actually. I got an internship in Los Angeles, California that’s turned to a full time job and I was 21 years young, just graduated from school and moved to La. And I was excited to be in California. The palm trees, the beaches, all that California has to offer. But also when you’re 21 years young and you’re 3000 miles from home and you’re not fit, it could also be the plastic capital of the world. Oh, sure, I had a little bit more, a few more dark days than good the first year and a half or so living for those reasons and more. And really when you break it down, I just didn’t have the vibrancy, the energy, the confidence, the fitness in my life. But fortunately, good buddy of mine from the Midwest as well moved to Southern California and he was my fit fitness mentor. His name was Adam. I’ll tell you a little bit about him. He was not on the COVID of Men’s Health, but he could have been. He had the six pack ABS, the glistening muscles. All the girls loved him. And I looked up to that. So we ended up living together and I finally mustered up enough courage to say, adam, can you teach me a little bit about this fitness thing? And he turned to me, Bryce, and he’s dude, I thought you’d never ask. He said, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do this right. And I need 90 days of your commitment. You’re going to train what I want you to train. You’re going to eat what I want you to eat. And after that period of time, you can decide for yourself if you want to continue. That way you don’t waste your time, my time, because you saw how many buddies at college used to ask me how to get fit and how many actually stuck with it. Very few. So that was kind of my introduction to coaching and really what Adam did over the better part of two years, but hyper focused over six months. He introduced me to lifting weights, he introduced me to circuit training, he introduced me to clean nutrition. But most importantly, he introduced me to coaching and accountability. Because, James, and to all your audience, I would love to look you guys in the eye and say, I am so awesome. I would have done this by myself, but I can’t necessarily do that. So, thankfully, he took me under his wing. And it wasn’t easy being very humble. The first few weeks were absolutely challenging. I thought to myself, what I get myself into? I couldn’t sit from the toilet, my legs were so sore. But I put 1ft in front of the other and really, one week turned into two, two to three. And before you know it, really over a two year period, I said. But really hyper focus over six months. Six months is where I got my result. I dropped 20 pounds of body fat, put on 20 pounds of lean muscle, which is the aesthetically what I was looking for. But most importantly, James, and you know this to be true, fitness can change your life. So I had more energy, confidence, enthusiasm. I went from one of the least performing sales rep my company, all the way to the highest performing sales rep in my company. And that’s really what fitness gave me. And I’ll kind of open it up here for any follow up questions, but that was the foundation of what got me started in the industry and at least got me excited about it. And then we can talk a little bit about the business adventures here in a bit.
Yeah, it’s interesting you talk about fitness. I feel like a lot of people have that mentality that fitness is just that you can look good and they forget about the whole feeling good and how that snowballs into your confidence being better, and therefore you’re more successful in your job or business, whatever you’re doing. And life is just better because you’re throwing a couple iron weights around and having a good time, doing it, eating well. And just the success that you get from that goes way beyond just aesthetically or that you can lift heavy things kind of thing. Oh, my gosh, I can’t even remember the commercial, but it’s for a fitness club that was kind of I think they’re geared towards people buying the membership and not really doing anything.
Most of the industry, actually, they had.
This guy and he’s like, I lift things up and I put them down. And a buddy of mine was joking, like, ha, this buddy of mine is probably the better part of 150 pounds overweight. And I’m like, dude, I don’t know if you should be the one making fun of that guy because there’s success that just goes with it.
So it’s very interesting that you say that because I figured it wasn’t just me, but that’s cool.
No, I think it’s a great point. And even though I’m a passionate fitness business owner, I’m a passionate fitness guy. I always say, don’t get fit for fitness sake. It’s really about the foundation, what it provides you. It’s going to make you a better spouse, it’s going to make you a better parent, it’s going to make you a better boss or employer, a better sibling, better person in your community. So really, for me, fitness is just the foundation. It’s the catalyst in which you can build your whole life on and really add more value yourself, your family, your community. So for me, that’s the true value of fitness, is not to get fit so you can look yourself in the mirror. It’s to get fit so you have more energy, more enthusiasm, more confidence to really make a better path for your life.
Yeah, totally agree. Totally agree. I got a nine year old kid and I feel like I have to keep running just to maintain able to keep up with him.
Yeah, get it on you.
You have to. I don’t know. You have to. It’s fun. You go to a game and you can tell the kids that don’t have parents that play with them. Have you ever played catch with you or played tag with you or anything?
It’s wild. I’m going to get in my little soapbox here. But I talked about a stat from the very beginning. This is from the CDC. Nearly 50% of our adult population is statistically obese, which has a lot of complications, not just physically. Although when you’re obese, your body, your organs have to work harder just to keep you at a steady state. That’s why when we saw COVID, over 80% of the people that were hospitalized or had severe complications were obese because your body has to work harder and it’s not specifically COVID, it’s any virus in your way. So from a physicality perspective, but also from a mental perspective, depression and all the challenges that come with that. So it’s a very sad situation. But I guess my point and what I was circling back to, James, is the biggest concern right now is 20% of our children today are statistically obese. So you talk about, hey, 20%. So when you look at it and where is it? It’s not the child’s fault. The child is basically modeling what their parents are doing. So if their parents are not healthy and fit, if their parents are not active, it’s not playing with them, well then guess what? It just gets passed down. So for me, you really struck a chord because that’s really not even for our current population, which is so important, but it’s really the future generations to come.
Totally. Absolutely. Yeah. My goodness gracious. I would feel guilty as a parent if I just let my kid yeah, you feel like you have responsibility for that person. You brought them into the world to treat them, treat them well, help them contribute. Totally. Tell me, how did you become CEO of Fit Body Boot Camp?
Yeah, there we go. So I kind of gave you the origin story from the fitness perspective. Also, for me, when I was invigorated with my fitness transformation, like I said, I became a very successful in the sales industry. And I wasn’t actually thinking that I would ever go into fitness as a full time focus, but some guy walked up to me at the gym one time. This is about, probably about two years after first my initial transformation. And this story is about 2007. So at the time of this taping, I mean, this is 16 years ago, but I remember him walking up to me and saying, hey, I want to introduce myself. Been watching, lifting weights. How do you eat? And this light bulb went on like, wow, me like, oh shoot, I can maybe give this give back to fitness that was given to me. So I did the most logical thing to do is I enrolled myself in the National Academy of Sports Medicine, which is the gold standard in training. Then what I did is I updated my Facebook profile, the Personal Trainer, and I started receiving ads from this gentleman who we talked about earlier, the founder of Fitbit Boot Camp named Beethros Coolian. And Beethros was talking about how to launch a fitness business, how to get clients better results. So I was intrigued, so I kind of follow along his content. I ended up getting some coaching clients on the nights and weekends. But then in 2012, about two years after this, and I’m kind of giving a little hiatus here because I ended up going to South America for two years. I always wanted to live abroad and learn the language, so I did that. But when I came back in 2012, I started paying attention to Pedros’s content a little bit more, and he was talking about this thing called Fit Body Boot Camp. And at the time it was a licensee program, but in 2012, it was going through a transformation to become a franchise system. And I did all the diligence I possibly could. I talked to as many owners as I possibly could. There was only about ten or 15 at the time. This is over twelve years ago now. And as it turns out, I did the scariest thing, but also the most rewarding thing I possibly could do. And I invested my life savings in this little dream of business ownership through Fit Body by opening my first location in orange County, California. This is Disneyland. And that was the start. So for me, I actually started doing the brand as a franchise partner, as a gym owner, and then from 2012 to 2018 ended up scaling to a handful of locations. I brought my family in, became Fit, a family affair, my brother, my sister, my mom, my wife, Tatiana. And we scaled to many locations. I’m giving you the highlights. There was also a lot of low lights as well in terms of leadership and just all the challenges in business. And we can talk about those as well. But really for the first six years of my affiliation with the organization, I was on the franchise partner side, the gym ownership side, and that led us into about 2018 and our brand was really starting to grow in terms of growth, exponential growth. And our founder Pedros reached out to me because he knew at that point in time in order to take us to another level, he needed to have some boots on the ground operational experience that had from someone who’d been in the trenches. And I got the call, he made me his or maybe the offer to be his VP, which I accepted. And then despite battling through COVID, ended up becoming the CEO of 2021. As Pedros’s empire has expanded to other things, me being passionate about our mission, being really connected with our ownership, connected with our coaches, it just made sense for both of us. And that’s, I guess, how this kid from the Midwest that literally used to run out of money before he could run out of month, that used to eat Taco Bell as the staple of his diet, became a personal trainer, then a gym owner and then eventually a CEO of International Fitness brand, which is freaking wild to me to this day. My message to you and your audience is you are more capable than you think. Anything is possible with a little bit of hard work, determination and passion.
True story. It’s funny you mentioned Badros’s Name because I’ve watched his videos on coaching and stuff like that and I was never in the let me open up a fitness franchise kind of thing, or even fitness business, but just from the business aspect. He’s very good, has a lot of content to share. Oh yeah, just in consumer sales, marketing, all that jazz.
And that’s been his transformation. Actually similar to me, he started out kind of an overweight kid and had a transformation story of a fitness. He ended up opening many gyms, became a fitness business consultant, opened Fit Body Boot Camp, and he did that for he still owns the vast majority of the company. But in the last five years he’s really branched off to general business coaching and other programs as well. So he’s really evolved and that is his next step. But he started in the fitness space.
That’s awesome. Yeah, well, let me back up a step. When you first bought your franchise, were you married at the time?
Well, not technically, but I lived in South America. My wife’s from Brazil, and we lived together for two years, and I basically showed her this vision of moving to California and opened this fitness business, and she was on board, so she was with me. We weren’t technically married at the time, but to your point and I’m curious on where you want to take this, but she was definitely instrumental in terms of support and the guidance and just being in the trenches with me to get the business off the ground.
Yeah, a lot of times, I guess I hear from both ends, like, one, they had to tap dance a little bit with their spouse. Others spouse wasn’t involved or even in the picture at that time because buying a business like, you know, that’s a huge deal, or starting a business of any kind is a huge undertaking. Both time, money, resources, just mindset what you’re thinking about. Even if you’re not in the business physically, you’re laying in bed thinking about the business. Right. I guess when you’re first starting it, it’s to the point of all consuming.
And so a lot of times, if you’re in a relationship, either that’s going to be beneficial or that’s going to be a challenge. And so it’s always interesting to hear. I’ve heard from so many people, they’re like, I was getting divorced, moving across the country, having a kid, and opening a business in this six month stretch.
That’s a lot.
It’s funny because I’ll hear from people like that, that’s common. Maybe not all of those all at once, but many of those. And some of these are people that I’ve known for years. Like, I had no idea you were going through all that. Like the stars aligned where change is happening, and boom, they made the change. So it’s very cool and super awesome. You have a supportive spouse to help you through and probably become a part of it, I imagine.
Oh, to this day. I mean, she was instrumental in launching the other location. She’s an operational ninja. So it’s interesting. Our skill sets are very different. Our personalities are very different. But she also coaches as well. She’s a bit shy at first, a very different for me at the onset, but once you get to know her, she warms up, and she’s a sweetheart, so she’s done an incredible job creating client connections. But to your point, I think that’s a great Pandora’s box to open up. So kind of have to think back into 2012 in terms of that mindframe. And when we were coming to California, she was open to help. So I had that support that was so, so beneficial. And I think to your point, if you don’t have a family support, if you don’t have your spouse support, you really need to rethink that or at least kind of paint the vision and make sure even if they’re not going to support you in the day to day business, you need their moral support. Because let’s face it, running a business, I mean, I was just talking about the highs of the business. Right? But there’s a lot of lows. The city, the permitting, the challenges, the leadership, the inexperienced in leadership that I was at the time. So there was just a lot of challenges to overcome. Thankfully, she was always in my corner. But to your point, James, initially she wasn’t like, oh, I’m going to do this and we’re going to be business partners. The thought was, okay, we’re going to move to California, she’s going to spend the first six months kind of getting acquainted. She’s going to help me basically from a support perspective. If she likes the day to day operations, then we’re going to continue together. But if she doesn’t, that’s okay too. At least she’s helped from a foundational perspective. And then she can go on, do something else. And it just so happened the stars aligned. She really loved it. But really to that point, even if she didn’t stick with the business long term, I did have that moral support to begin with. And I think that’s so critical because without that, especially even in the later years, but even more so at the very foundational years, it’s so challenging that you need that support in your corner.
Yeah. Tough, very tough. Let me talk to you logistically about opening up this place. Your first one, how did you figure out where the location, I mean, La, I was just in La. I don’t know, a year or two years ago or whatever. I didn’t realize how big that is. A set out place.
So how do you figure out where are you going to put this place?
Well, and I think actually taking a step back, I’ll even answer the question, why decide to become a franchise partner? Because I think there’s some good list. Because really, I guess the answer is my franchise helped me with the data, the maps and all that. So for me though, taking a step back, why I chose a franchise system instead of going on my own? Well, as I kind of articulated, when I went to my own fitness transformation story, I wasn’t really thinking I was going to be a business owner or launch a fitness business. It just fitness had this magical instrumental change in my life. So I was inspired that way. And then also too, from a sales role perspective, professionally, I went from the least performing sales rep in the company all the way to the highest performing sales with the company. So I learned that skill set, which is a very valuable skill set, as your audience is aware, for any business owner to have the ability to sell and market. So I didn’t have the ability to market though I had the ability to sell. So I learned that skill set. So I was very confident, James, that the very beginning, that if I had a client come to me, a lead, I could convert them into a long term paying client. I also had confidence in myself. I could run sessions and be a fitness coach. But what I didn’t have confidence is the overall structure of the operation because I never did marketing before. I never did lead generation before my previous company, the lead generation was done for me. I just need to make that conversion. Well now as the business owner, you got to make the phone ring, then you got to convert the lead, then you got to run the operations, then you got to lead the team, then you got to run the HR and the finance. You got to do everything yourself. You got to find the location, you got to create the logistics. So for me, while I was confident in the skill set of salesmanship and then also coaching, I didn’t have a lot of confidence in those other aspects of the business. So to your point, kind of bring it full circle, why partner with the Body Boot Campus? They have a territory mapping system. They were able to provide a lot of support in terms of this area has a lot of great demographic for your particular business. They introduced me to a broker, so they provided a lot of support on that end. And because of that, I was able to, in a relatively short fashion, find a lease, negotiate great terms. Now also keep in mind, I think this is a great takeaway for your audience as well, because sometimes we get this analysis by paralysis, especially with the state of the economy and the recession and all that, it actually turned out to be the best. Many times companies, especially the ones who are aggressive, can actually grow in recessions. And for me, in 2012, this is still coming off the Great Recession.
People still have the scars they did.
And there was a lot of real estate open and available. Landlords were being very gracious in terms of tenant improvements and rate abetment and all that. So for me, the stars aligned fresh off the heels of the recession. Now fast forward a few years and it just got more challenging as the economy was heating up, which is a great thing in general, but ultimately it also provides some challenges as well for new franchise partners coming in now, we’re kind of on the back end of the cyclical. Things are opening up again and landlords are being more, I guess, gracious with tenant improvements and renobatements. So for us and for our brand, it’s a great time to kind of be involved and things kind of come full circle.
Yeah, it’s interesting how everything is cyclical, and I feel like there’s some people, I suppose younger, just because they haven’t necessarily experienced. All the cycles that we may have, they’re just like, oh, my gosh, this guy is falling. And we’re like, every ten years, this guy falls. It’s all right.
The economy’s got a clean house every once in a while. This is just how everything rolls, right?
Oh, it is, yeah.
Cool. So when you got the help, let me back up even one more step. What did you sell? I forgot to ask you that.
What were you selling so interesting? So I was selling really coaching. I was basically a headhunter recruiter, actually, would be the best way to describe it. But I used to run a career development program for college students. So the company I worked for had career development programs in eight major world cities. So New York and Los Angeles and Barcelona and Hong Kong. And I, as a student, actually, and that’s actually got my opportunity to come out to Los Angeles. I enrolled myself into this internship program. I got placed at a company called Shy Day, which is a big advertising agency that was the founder, the creative director, created the Energizer Bunny and the ipod commercials and the skittles commercials. A really awesome experience. That’s what put me to La. And I made a good impression on the owner of the company. And really, he offered me the opportunity to continue on and build out the Los Angeles program. So half of my job was recruiting students from different campuses into enroll in the program in Los Angeles, and the other half of my job was to take those students, say, a kid from Madison, Wisconsin, who’s had this big dreams to be a film and TV producer. I would enroll the student from Madison, Wisconsin, sell them an idea, the vision, the value of the program, and then I would take that student and place them at MTV or Fox or any of the production companies. So really, at the end of the day, you could say I was a career coach, but you could also, from my perspective, I was in the sales and persuasion business because I was making a match, selling the student, selling the company, and making that match.
Nice. It’s so interesting how many entrepreneurs came from or had a lot of sales experience. It’s almost a must.
Yeah, it’s a strong foundation.
Pre pandemic, I used to teach business planning classes for a nonprofit group that helps entrepreneurs or would be entrepreneurs. And I asked the students, I’m like, if I say the word salesperson, how do you feel? She’s like and I said, well, you’re all going to be salespeople if you got your own business, that’s just the name of the game. And they’re all like, no.
Yes, you will.
That’s the game. Right? If you want to make a sale, you got to be the one to make the sale.
It’s very interesting how the people that have that sales experience just understand there’s no’s there’s rejection there’s. Yeses. And even with the yes, you’re like, don’t get too excited. We got to keep going, right? You’re not done yet. Just keep james and it’s interesting how you just get more resilient as a salesperson. So when you start your business and you got to deal with some challenges, good times, bad times, they’re just times you just have fun and keep moving.
Good times, bad times, they’re just times. Keep moving. That is like, the quote of this conversation. I love that because you’re right. I mean, one salesmanship has this bad kind of stigma around Fit, but the end of the day, the economy moves because of sale. Like, the microphone, the camera you’re talking about all happen from a sale. So the economy is basically dependent on salesmanship and strong salesmanship at that. The other lesson that really that I want to hit home reinforce that I learned, that my salespeople learn as well, is the value of resiliency. At the end of the day, the stars don’t all line. You’re going to get hit in the face many times over. And it’s the ones as a salesmanship or the salespeople that don’t have strong resilience or don’t develop that strong resilience, that fluster. It’s the ones that can get hit in the face, get back up, and continue on. And that helps in a sales perspective, but also to your point in business ownership, like an entrepreneurship that’s just resiliency is absolutely needed in order to be successful.
Absolutely. Tell me, you start your first franchise, I imagine eventually you have to get employees.
So how did that go?
Well, James, these are incredible questions for me as I look back at this experience, like, okay, so at that point in time, I was confident in my salesmanship, I was confident my coaching. I was not confident in the marketing and the overall operation. So I link up with Fitbody. They’d be able to provide me that support. And for the first six months, the first three months, I trained every session till I was blue in the face. I was about to die. I made it through. I finally recruited my wife, Tatiana. She was there on the back end support, but again, she’s shy at first. Now she’s like a beast of a coach. I started asking her, like, in month two and three, hey, babe, can you help me just train maybe one or two days a week? And she was resistant. And finally, I kind of put up the white flag. I’m like, Babe, I need some help, literally. And so she’s like, all right, I’ll take one day. And she ended up doing an incredible job. But that all said to your point about hiring people. What I realized in the first, like, four or five months, I was like, oh, shoot. Our business is growing now. I need to bring people on. And so probably in the six month mark is when we first hire, we end up hiring two to three coaches because we grew at that point relatively quickly after the foundation was laid. But it was also James, a big rude awakening in my lack of leadership ability. So that was really a light that I had no idea that was shined upon me because I thought, okay, I’m a great fitness coach, I’m fired up, I’m excited. I can pour into people when I bring someone through, they’re just going to see me and they’re going to do the same thing wrong. The lack of training, the lack of preparation, the lack of strong leadership, the lack of strong communication. It was just a light that was shown in my face, and I realized, oh, wow, if I’m going to really grow this business, yes, I have to be a good salesperson. Yes. I have to learn marketing. Yes. I have to learn the operations and the finance and HR. But most importantly, to really scale my organization, I have to learn how to lead. And at that moment in time that was a really big AHA for me. And because of that I gained a big burning passion for the student, for becoming a student of leadership. And I’ve gained an incredible amount of leadership skills over the years. I still have to acquire a credible amount of leadership skills as we continue on, but for me that was kind of a pivotal moment when I started hiring coaches. As my business grew, I realized my job needs to change completely from the operator day to day to the leader and the visionary day to day if I’m really going to scale my business.
Yeah, totally. I am right there. Was right there. Same thing. I thought employees were going to be easy. They’re not. And yeah, I’ve been busting tail learning about leadership, but there’s every single day I’m learning something more, something that I didn’t even know, that I didn’t know. So it’s just interesting game, I guess as far as that goes. I know some people that have gyms and some of the stuff that they have gone through with hiring trainers and stuff like that. And I know every industry seems to have its own little employee challenges, whatever. I mean there’s senior care, has theirs massage. I’m working with a client that has some challenges that way. The personal fitness thing, I feel like there’s a lot of people that are like, yeah, I’m going to get into this and then they flake or whatever.
It is they do.
But I suppose that goes with everything. So how has your leadership, how has it evolved over the past? I mean we’re talking no, we’re talking nine years, ten years.
Dang, okay, that’s a while.
A lot of lessons here, I would say humbling myself. I just have learned a lot because I failed a lot. We talked about the resiliency aspect. Thankfully, if you ask my team and my list of franchise partners and tens of thousands of global clients. I would like to think they’ll tell you, hey, this guy’s a strong leader. But leadership is a skill. It’s a muscle. It’s something that you can develop. It’s not something factory installed. And I think that said, I have some instinctive leadership qualities like factory installed. One, I love people. People are a pain in the butt. That’s why they’re hard to lead. But ultimately, they’re awesome too, right? And I think for me, I have a deep love for people. I have a deep care for people. That was factory installed for me. Also learned a lot from my mother, who’s just like this amazing human. So for me, some of those kind of foundational ingredients that you need in order to lead were there. It’s kind of like, you can’t be a strong parent if you don’t really love your kids, right? You have to have a love and adoration for your kids that’s like, step number one in being a good parent. So for me, that was factory installed, but how to communicate, how to share a vision, how to get people excited about the mission that you’re going through, how to communicate and execute weekly meetings and making sure that your team is informed, making sure you get buy in. I’m actually going to tell you a really embarrassing story. The ego went up, flared up in my first leadership experience. But I remember about a year after launching the business, I realized, you know, what, the format or the build out of my studio, it’s great. But I wanted to switch my equipment room for my office room because I wanted a little bit more space to be able to connect with our clients and make them feel comfortable in the sales presentations. So at the end of the day, I’m the CEO of the business. I’m the owner of the business. I have every ability in, right? Okay. I pay the rent. I’ve taken all the risk to basically change the equipment room for the office room. Okay? But what I failed to do is actually communicate that vision to the team. So basically over the weekend, I decided to kind of make a change. And I was excited. I was ready to go. Well, on Monday morning, I come in, and one of my coaches was not too happy with the change. One, she liked the format in the old way, and then two, probably she felt a little hurt because I didn’t communicate with her and the team, and thankfully, I didn’t have an adverse reaction. But I just remember feeling my ego flare, like this conversation in the back of my mind, like, how dare you be upset? Like, who’s the boss here? Who’s the CEO? Who’s taking all the risk? Who’s making all the payroll and paying the rent? Now, thankfully, I didn’t come off that way, but these are my feelings in the moment. And then as I had that conversation and basically came to terms with the situation, what I realized is, yes, I had every right to make that change, but the approach need to be different. Really what I need to do is I need to communicate. Hey, team. This is my thought, this is my vision, this is what I’m planning to do. If you have any objections or concerns, please let me know. If not, off we go. Now, at the end of the day, she still could have had concerns, and she still could have voiced that concerns. And one, I could have taken the feedback and adjusted or two, I still had every right to continue moving forward the plan. But what I failed to do is ask for feedback, ask for buy in. And from a leadership perspective, you need to have your team empowered. They need to be able to feel heard even if they don’t actually agree with your decision. What I’ve learned to be true about leadership is your team. The vast majority of time is if they can tell that you care about them, if you have a strong track record or making strong decisions, they still will actually get on board with your vision and the direction you want to go if they feel heard. So for me, that was a really big learning lesson and one of many to develop my leadership ability.
Yeah. I have been there so many times where I feel like I’m moving. You’re just mind as an entrepreneur, you’re constantly just making decisions.
Considering the big picture. Go, go. So when you see people that are just like, let’s just think about this a bit, like, no, I’ve already thought about it. Right. On my way to work today, I thought about it like, this is in my head. We’re going.
I feel like there’s times where I feel like colonel Jessup and a few good Men where you’re just like, don’t question why we’re doing this. Right. The joke about it, parties, this whole speech, I’m like, oh, my gosh, there’s so many times when I feel like going on that little tirade.
And you just got to pull yourself back and be like, okay, let’s dial it down to a nine instead of a ten so that the rest of the crew that I actually want to do the work can catch up. Otherwise you can outrun them and they’re going to be lost. Right?
We are kindred spirits.
Yeah, it’s tough, but so oh, my gosh, you’re just like, I can’t step on this brake pedal any harder and I got catch up. Come on.
But that’s the challenge, right? And especially if your audience are interested just in business and entrepreneurship and leadership and really wanted to progress their business and financial life forward, you’re going to have to have teammates, you’re going to have to have employees, and you need to move fast. But you also need to be able to kind of take a step back, listen to your team, give feedback. And like I said, even if the decision would have been for me, after I collect, that feedback would have been the same. The act of basically putting that out there, getting feedback, and getting buy in exponentially helps. And I’ve taken that with me.
My leadership journey totally fair. It is so tough sometimes to have that empathy, I suppose, to be like either to show that you care or just assume they probably have some experience or have some feedback that I haven’t thought about totally that it’s worth exploring. I just got to be like, quick, tell me what you need and let’s go. That’s so funny. So when did you grow to the point that you decided to expand to another location or additional locations?
So I made that leap about 14 months after my first location. And there was a situation of circumstance. I was actually helping a family member. So that said, I opened prematurely way quicker than I should have. At the end of the day, was able to figure it out and was able to kind of get dialed in. And now that location is actually my flagship location. I’ve actually sold off the other few locations when Bedros offered me the VP role and now the CEO, because that’s my main focus, overseeing this ship of hundreds of locations. Now I still have one location to this day. That particular second location they’re referring to because it keeps me connected not only as a CEO of the brand, but also as a client of the brand, a coach of the brand, and owner of the brand. So we talked a little bit about that perspective. That’s huge. And that’s probably a big reason for the success I’ve had, because I can see the business in multiple areas. But really going back to the point, opened that second location 14 months, in hindsight, it was premature. And the reason I say that is all my systems, all my operations were not completely dialed in. And I think that’s a good message for entrepreneurships. Listening. Growth is good and it’s scaling to five locations after that second location, probably about twelve months after I launched my second location, is when really things started to come together in terms of the operations, the systems getting really dialed in. So I think growth is super important. But I also think there’s something to be said about really making sure before you grow and expand, you add more complexity to your business. Especially if you’re a business entrepreneur opening different locations or different territories, opening other office as an example. You really need to make sure that your core unit, your core business economics, your systems, your processes, your team, your leadership are dialed into the point. Because once you expand and you’re in a different geography, let’s face it, you can’t be at two places at once. Okay? So because of that, things suffer. So that’s probably a big learning lesson for me now. The good news is I figured it out. I put in more hours than I probably wanted to to kind of make sure that I could be a driving force. And because of that, I was able to overcome, learn a lot of lessons, and I’m better off for it. But I definitely had some bumps and bruises along the way.
Got you. All right. Yeah. It’s interesting that just to get everything dialed in, it is not as fast as we’d like it to be. I’m even learning now with some of our systems that have been in place for a while, that when you start poking around at them, you’re like, oh my gosh, I thought we had this dialed in five years ago. And either just the world has changed, the clients have changed, employees have changed, whatever. It’s not working now. And nobody necessarily knows that it’s not working. So I feel like it was the frog in the water with a boil kind of thing that you’re not like you have all these numbers, buttons, and switches that you got to pay attention to. Like, is this one working okay? And keep it’s like playing Whack a Mole, I imagine.
Well, I like this quote, you have to inspect what you expect. And for us, like business entrepreneurs, especially if we’re moving a lot fast, yeah, we might think things are moving and could they be moving more optimally and more efficiently. If you expectation that it’s going to happen that way, it’s not a bad idea to kind of take a look under the hood, inspect what you expect. So I think that’s a learning lesson. And then the other thing too, looking back, and I really am so proud of my franchise growth. I mean, we’re talking about the first location was in fall of 2012, the second location was January of 2014. I mean, we’re talking nine years ago at this point. So now franchise business partners who are coming to the table from a franchise support system, our systems, our operations, our support, our coaching is so much more dialed in than now. We’re seeing some owners launch within twelve months their second location, and they’re just absolutely crushing it. So there’s something to be said about that as well. But yeah, I want to kind of put a bow on that story.
Yeah. You know what, it’s interesting. I love that you still have the one place because I feel like one of the worst things that can happen is to have a coach that’s trying to coach you that does not have the experience or had the experience, but isn’t in the game now. Because things change. And when you have your ear to the ground there or have that experience constant, you can say, look, I’ve experienced this recently. Fit wasn’t like 35 years ago, I had the same thing, right kind of thing. I always joke that everyone should have a minimum wage job for like 4 hours a week just to understand what it’s like and remember that part of your life.
And just appreciate a dollar kind of thing.
Yeah. It’s a good mental framework, but just.
The being in there to coaching, but also, like, I’m in this game, I know exactly what’s going on because I’m living it or experiencing it, and I have people in there doing it.
Well, I think to that point, and there’s something to be said about if you really want to scale, if you really want to grow, you have to spend a lot of your time working on the business. As an entrepreneur, there’s no doubt about it. Like, from a visionary perspective, you need to be in the clouds looking ahead. But to your point, I think sometimes people hear that message and they think 100% of their job needs to be in the clouds looking to vision. And that’s not accurate either. You have to basically spend whatever amount of time it is in the weeds, in the trenches, understanding the day to day, the grunt work, if you will, the business, because that helps you as a leader understand what your people are going through and make better decisions. So I think it’s probably still a split depending on where you got in your business journey. I don’t think it’s a one size fit all. When you first starting out, you’re more in the weeds, and then eventually you kind of get more working on your business. But even for me at this point, now, I’m overseeing the brand, and a lot of my work is working on the business. To your point, I still have that one location. I still get a few workouts in. From a client perspective, I’m still checking with my team. I understand what the day to day looks like. So when I’m there, I’m working in the business. I’m seeing in the trenches, and that helps me work on the business. So you need both.
Yeah. Very cool. Tell me about your transition from I mean, you went from salesperson, entrepreneur, building it up, you’re super successful, everything’s going great. Then somebody comes along, even though it’s cool guy, he still is like, hey, you want a job? And I, as an entrepreneur, if someone offered me a job, I’d be like, yeah, no, I don’t care what you’re paying ain’t happening. Because being your own boss the freedom, right?
So tell me, where was your mindset when Pedros came up to you and was like, hey, you want a job? Were you like, no. Or you know what? For anyone else, I would say no. But for you, let’s have a conversation. Where are you at with that, James?
Man, I don’t think anyone’s asked me that question. And this is such a valuable question. It was actually two parts. At first, I was resistance to it. Like what you just said. You said was it this or that it was actually both at first. I was actually resistant to it. He gives me a hard time to this day. He’s like, Bryce, I’ve met with you for six months and you told me no four times. And he’s a great storyteller and a great salesman as well. So he likes to exaggerate. I do the same. Taking dose of my own medicine. That’s the game. But no, I didn’t say yes at first. As a hard charging entrepreneur, I had five locations at the time. I was looking to expand more. And to your point about having a job, it’s like, whoa, I just been on this entrepreneur tear. I’m not sure about that. So we ended up meeting actually it was three months. I never told him no. I just was like, in Discovery mode. I wasn’t sold the beginning, but we met at Starbucks. Starbucks probably a handful of times over those three months because as you would imagine, one, I was just learning about the position. I was discovering the position, I was hearing his vision for where he wanted to take Fit body. And then I was basically just asking a lot of questions just to make sure this was actually going to be something that I would be interested in. So to your point, after having the taste of entrepreneurship, I had a lot of hesitancies, but I also too realized that, okay, I’m passionate about fitness, I’m passionate about people, and yes, I’m doing great things in the trenches, and I’m super proud of my franchise partners for really impacting their communities. And I didn’t actually ever have this vision that I would become this VP and then the CEO and now a minority owner of the whole franchise. But really, Beethros, when we were kind of talking about it, I realized, you know what, if my big passion is to really make a mark, have a legacy, be a strong entrepreneur, I can wake a way bigger mark at the franchise or perspective and then eventually leading the brand. So for me, that was kind of the thing that really kind of was a spark. And also too, his name is Pedros, but we call him B. He’s just an awesome dude. So to the latter half of your point, I would have a hard time working not only with, but for probably anyone else. There’s probably like a very few percentage of entrepreneurs that I would have the appetite to do do. So Beedros is one. B is one of those. So because of that, it was kind of this opportunity, even though I wasn’t so thrilled initially until I kind of learned more and had more Discovery Mode, but I realized this opportunity was actually a huge opportunity. And also to the partner that I’m working with at that point, I’d known him for seven years in the trenches, we had a deep relationship, so it was a known commodity and that partnership specifically who B is really made the decision for me. Easy to say yes after three months of discovering, now after six months of telling him no. But if you ask him, that’s the story he’ll tell you.
Oh, that’s funny. That’s cool. I like it. Great question. Talk about the goal. Because I’m always asking my crew when they’re like, we got to do X, Y, or Z. I just back up a step, and I say, what’s the goal? Why are we doing this? Right. Because then we see, is it necessary? And if it is necessary, what are the steps to actually achieve the goal instead of just going through the process? So I love that you’re like, what is my goal? And then this will help me achieve that goal. So therefore, we’ll make a move.
You can reverse engineer kind of what you’re after. What problem are you trying to solve? Where do you want to get to? And then once you know that, then it’s easy to reverse engineer the process.
Much easier. Oh, my God.
Otherwise, you’re just all over the place.
Which I’ve been plenty of times in my life. In my younger days, I was guilty of that, but thankfully, after maturity and time, I really realized that, hey, I’m going places. I want to go places. I want to set that mark. And to your point, James, I can certainly tell you’re in the same pathway as me.
Yeah. I mean, it’s one of those things you just learned by failing so many times. One of those things. And we’ve certainly met people that don’t have that goal in mind, or they don’t have that purpose. Yeah, I guess, so to speak. Which, I mean, they’re drifting, and sometimes you can help them out, or sometimes they can help you out. But it’s interesting because, well, I have a little brother from big Brother’s Big Sister. He made a mistake. He’s in jail right now. So I visited him a couple of times, and I’m like, dude, you got the benefit of time here, and you got to figure out what your goal is when you get out, and then use this time so that you’re a better person when you get out, so you can achieve that goal. Whatever that goal is. I don’t care what it is, presuming.
It’s legal, ethical, moral, as long as.
We’Re good there, not ending up back in the clink or anything like that. It’s one of those, like, not everybody has a few years to just camp out and think or whatever it is you do in there. Right. So we’re all fighting for the benefit of time. You got it. And you have youth at the same time. 23 years old, whatever. So it’s one of those, like, dude, you got to figure this out. Find the goal, work backwards. You have time to enjoy it.
Good on you, man. It’s awesome.
Well, try. I feel like I let him down because I was. His big brother for a better part of a decade. Yeah, whatever. Life goes on. But Bryce, how can people find you?
I appreciate that. Live a podcast. That’s probably the best way to kind of stay in touch. It’s called the Fitness CEO podcast. So that’d be a great way to engage, especially since you have an awesome podcast here. Usually people who listen to podcasts want to be inspired and have other content. So that’s a great way. And then you can find me on social. I have a decent Instagram following. And LinkedIn and Facebook, which my handle is real. Bryce Henson. Not to be confused with fake Bryce Henson. So that’s where you can find me, my friend.
That’s awesome, bryce, I appreciate you being on the show. Can you tell us that podcast one more time? I’ll have to check that out.
Absolutely. Fitness CEO podcast. So that’s where you can find me. And James. This is awesome. I love your energy. You’ve done this a few times. It made it really easy for me. So appreciate your time today and I really appreciate what you’re doing as well.
You know, when I have a cool guest, it makes it easy. So I just ask a few questions. The easy job when I got awesome guests. I appreciate you being on the show.
This has been Authentic Business Adventures, the business program that brings you the struggle, stories and triumphant successes of business owners across the land. We are locally underwritten by the bank of Sun Prairie. If you’re listening to this on the web, you could do us a huge favor. Give us a big ol thumbs up, subscribe, and of course, and more importantly, share Fit with all of your crew, your entrepreneurs, your fitness ones, maybe the ones that need a little kick in the butt to get their fitness regimen going. And of course, comment below and let us know how life is going for you and your fitness and entrepreneurial journey. My name is James Kademan and Authentic Business Adventures is brought to you by Calls on Call, offering call answering and receptionist services to service businesses across the country on the web, at callsoncallcom. And of course, the Bold Business Book, a book for the entrepreneur and all of us. Available wherever find books are sold. We’d like to thank you, our wonderful listeners, as well as our guests. Bryce Henson, the chief executive officer as well as owner for franchise of Fit Body Boot Camp. So Bryce, can you tell us how to get a hold of you one more time?
Fit to co podcast. And then the real Bryce Henson. All Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn channels.
Awesome. I love it. Past episodes can be found morning noon tonight at the Podcast link phone at drawincustomerscom. Thank you for listening. We will see you next week. Want you to stay awesome. And if you do nothing else, enjoy your business.