In the fall of 2014, I was into my sixth year of coaching, owning and managing a gym and was on the verge of a serious burnout with something that I was deeply passionate about.
Amanda and I decided to take a much-needed break and visit my closest friend, whom I’ve known since second grade. The problem was, he lived in Hawaii.
While not a big deal for most people who chose a more mainstream path in life (i.e., a corporate job with vacation time and benefits), taking a two-week vacation while being a coach in the early days in Austin wasn’t the easiest thing to accomplish.
Not only were we not making money while out of town, but we were also spending a considerable amount. We needed to take a breather from our overcommitted schedules in Austin but knew we had to come home after resting and dig ourselves out of a financial hole.
We realized that the life of a fitness coach wasn’t financially sustainable and something had to change.
Most of our clients only saw the value in training at our fitness facility—without an educational infrastructure around lifestyle and nutrition. We were becoming disillusioned.
While in Hawaii we saw the road ahead. We decided that once back home, we would sell our fitness business and create a fitness experience that did not exist in Austin: a mission-based company that has the client’s best interest at heart and creates careers for professional coaches. A fitness business that is built to thrive, and one that reinvests in the client’s experience.
Amanda and I decided to take a leap of faith and spent our savings on the gamble. We decided we would be willing to take a three- to four-year setback in regard to our own lifestyle in order to invest in our dream.
I tell you this story because it is important to understand the genesis of Central Athlete. We saw a void in the fitness arena. We envisioned a fitness entity that integrated the values of client, coach and business owner and set out on our quest. Central Athlete was built on sacrifice, hard work and sheer passion.
Here’s what we have learned through this process:
Whether in regard to your own training or the creation of a truly fulfilling relationship, you can’t go hard for six weeks, then take two weeks off. Commitment to consistency is the foundation of success. Consistency trumps all.
If our coaching staff isn’t committed to continually developing themselves—becoming better mentors, communicators, educators and athletes—they are going to attract a similar flock. Our Central Athlete tribe embodies a “growth mindset” and our expectation is that our coaching staff continuously adopts this paradigm. It is imperative that the staff embodies the Central Athlete ethos so our clients can easily fall in suit.
You can’t teach work ethic and integrity in the workplace. Central Athlete is committed to hiring individuals that not only possess the necessary strength and conditioning accolades, but also dedication to set themselves apart from other fitness professionals.
Since our inception in 2015, Central Athlete has strived to deliver fitness with integrity in a manner that leads to long-term progress and supports a joyous, adventurous and fulfilling life. Supporting our clients in choosing behaviors that are aligned towards their deepest values is a core practice of our coaching staff. However, it would not be authentic if the Central Athlete staff did not uphold this, despite the level of complexity.
Starting a new business requires wearing many hats: from janitor to coach to business owner...the list goes on. Yet as a business scales, more specificity is warranted for the business to truly succeed. It simply isn’t sustainable for one or two principles to continue to do everything while maintaining the high level of quality we expect.
I am excited to announce that I am moving into a full-time coaching and education role—which is my passion—and hiring Shayna Dunitz as Chief Operating Officer. This change will allow me to focus entirely on coaching development and client progress both inside and outside the gym, while Shayna will run CA operations day-to-day. The entire Central Athlete staff is excited to welcome Shayna into a full-time position towards enhancing the Austin fitness scene.
Shayna comes to Central Athlete with five years of experience in the startup world helping to grow and scale organizations, most recently at 3 Day Startup as Director of Operations.
Not only has Shayna has been a Central Athlete client for the past three years, but also she has consistently embodied the Central Athlete ethos. She has a deep understanding of our model and the impact it can make in people’s lives. With her operational experience within a startup, we can think of no better person to whom to pass the torch. The addition of Shayna to the Central Athlete team means that there will be an even more intense focus on improving our coaches’ abilities and education. We are eager to reinvest in the client’s experience and to continue to fulfill our mission.
You can expect to hear more from Shayna when she officially begins, but feel free to reach out to either of us in the meantime if you have any questions.
Jesse O’Brien, Owner/Central Athlete