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The Free Gym Business Model + Investment Opportunity

This is somewhat off topic.

I have an idea for a Free Gym Business Model that I think has merit. Let me explain how it came about.

Yesterday while I was shopping in Canadian Tire I overheard this woman talking to customers from a display table where she was showing off a new product that got investment from the good folks on Dragons Den.

Meanwhile I have been playing with idea for years of a place similar to a gym called "The Workshop" where people could go to use power tools, welding equipment, etc - things that are too big to fit in their apartment or condo because they live in Downtown Toronto. For all intents and purposes it would be a workshop for people who like woodworking, sculpture, carpentry, welding, etc. It would follow the same basic business model as a gym - technicians instead of personal trainers, welding and carpentry classes instead of yoga and pilates, and people would pay a monthly fee to use the facilities just like you would at a gym.

Listening to the woman at Canadian Tire (who kept mentioning Dragons Den every so often, to the point it was annoying) I continued my shopping... meanwhile my brain was starting to work overtime as I thought of ways people could expand on the investment model. I must admit my thoughts were influenced by the recent Rob Ford Crackstarter campaign.

Amongst my ideas I came up with the concept of what I call "The Gym" - but unlike The Workshop idea, the focus of "The Gym" would be to make a workout place that is FREE to use.

Let me explain this concept.

#1. Don't hire any personal trainers. If personal trainers want to work there, fine. They are free to use the facilities just like they are free to use public parks.

#2. Use crowdfunding / crowdsourcing websites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter to raise the needed money to buy the building location, renovate it and buy all the exercise equipment.

#3. Part of the location is a protein bar - with 1 staff person who mixes protein shakes and sells them during peak hours of the day. The profits from the protein shake bar go towards buying new equipment, repairs, etc.

#4. Lots of natural lighting from skylights and windows. Cuts down on energy costs for lights.

#5. Equipment is designed to be durable and is basically bolted / welded to the ground so they cannot be stolen.

#6. Donation supported.

#7. Minimal janitorial staff.

#8. Energy drink machines. Powerade, Gatorade, etc.

#9. Showers and lockers are all coin operated.

#10. Buy stationary bicycle equipment and other resistance based exercise equipment that uses generators which feeds into a battery supply for the lights and air conditioning (which is set on low so it uses less energy).

Essentially you follow the premise of "less is more" to create a gym that is essentially free to use, but is donation supported and offers extra services like lockers, showers, protein shake bar, etc for a fee. Similar to how some libraries now have cafes in them so people can read a book while drinking a cappuccino.

When you think about that many gyms out there are charging people $70 to $100 per month (roughly $2.33 to $3.33 per day) and have hundreds of customers who are basically getting ripped off because gyms are overcharging for their services (and stealing from customer bank accounts / credit cards even when you cancel your membership) then the concept of a free gym starts to become a lot more appealing.

Even the YMCA in Toronto has a minimum fee of $47 per month depending on the location and the type of membership.

I should note that some recreation centres do have gyms already - but their hours are weird and not very convenient. And they do charge a fee for using their facilities. See for more details.

Now you might think "Hey, you said this was a business model?!"

Yes, I did call it that. The reason why is because I think a so-called free gym still has the potential to turn a profit. Especially if you are the personal trainer who gets the ball rolling, starts a Kickstarter campaign, buys the building, gets all the equipment, etc... and then the gym is just there. And you are the personal trainer who is there all the time, offering your services.

If worse comes to worse you start charging a $2 daily fee for people to use the building - It would still be better than the gyms who are overcharging people and making millions in profits because then people are only paying for the days they actually use the facilities.

Speaking for myself I am busy expanding my personal training business right now, so I am not going to be opening a free gym any time soon. But I wanted to write this idea down for the future in the case I ever want to open my "dojo". (I don't want to open a normal gym for the general public. I want a private dojo for personal training sessions where I can also teach archery, boxing, etc. The reason is because some clients feel more comfortable working out in a setting where other people cannot watch them exercising.)


Earlier today I created a new page on asking for investors in my personal training business. You can read about the details of how I am intending to do it, as I am using an unusual crowdfunding approach to getting investors. If you are familiar with Indiegogo or Kickstarter you might think this idea has merit.

You can read about my crowdfunding or "crowd shares" approach to investments by clicking investment opportunity. Feel free to post comments on the idea.

So far I already have three friends who have agreed to become my first investors. My goal is to reach $50,000 so I can expand my business.

Attaining the Beach Perfect Body using 6 Minute Cardio Sessions

How long can you exercise at your top speed before you need to stop and rest?

Maybe 5 or 6 minutes?

Aim for 6 minutes if you can.

Lets pretend that your goal is to get a "Beach Perfect Body" by shedding some unwanted fat around your middle. Spot training doesn't work losing fat (it will actually bulk up that area with added muscle) so your only real choice is cardio - running, jogging, swimming, cycling, etc.

So you really need to burn lots of calories doing cardio. But maybe you don't have a lot of time in your day (or at least that is the excuse you keep telling yourself).

It is true that 1 hour is only 4% of your day... and that 30 minutes is only 2% of your day... And 15 minutes is only 1% of your day.

But every percentage of your day that you spend exercising - especially at your top speed - boosts your metabolism, kickstarts the Afterburn Effect, releases adrenaline into your blood, and burns calories.

6 minutes is only 0.4% of your day. It is a TINY percentage of your daily activities. But imagine if you use those 6 minutes to do vigorous jumping jacks you will burn 60 calories* right there.

* calorie estimate based on a weight of 165 lbs.

Do that 6 minutes of every day for a month and you've lost 1,800 calories - a little over half a pound.

If you are in an hurry you have to realize that you are not going to get a "Beach Perfect Body" by doing only one 6 minute session of jumping jacks every day. But what if you did them 10 times per day, spaced out evenly? Three times in the morning, twice during your lunch break, twice when you get home, and three times between 7 and 9 PM.

Well then you'd lose "at least" 18,000 calories - a little over 5 pounds. I say "at least" because you might burn a lot more if you managed to kickstart the Afterburn Effect multiple times during the day.

The Afterburn Effect is a heightened metabolic state which causes your body to burn through fat in an hurry in order to replenish your body. It is often triggered following periods of intense exercise - preferably a period of at least 5 minutes during which time you raise your heart rate dramatically.

Which means doing 6 minute cardio sessions - intense bursts of exercise - multiple times per day can give you multiple Afterburn Effects which will really burn calories fast and leave you feeling invigorated and wanting to do more because you will be on a bit of an adrenaline high.

So lets pretend that every year you wanted to lose weight for the swimsuit season... say 15 pounds. Then hypothetically you could go jogging for an hour every day for 3 months and you would shed the weight. But jogging might not get your heart going fast enough to kickstart the Afterburn Effect, which is why you can actually get better results by using the same amount of time to do high intensity exercises like sprinting, vigorous jumping jacks, basically any kind of high intensity exercise.

The adrenaline combined with the Afterburn Effect will leave you feeling very energetic and after a few days of doing the exercises you will want to do them more often - and even look forward to them.

In which case you won't lack for motivation as you shed the pounds and aim to get that Beach Perfect Body.

The Dangers of "Skinny Fat"

Are you one of those people who only seem to gain weight around your middle while your arms and legs stay skinny looking?

Blame it on your genes. Research shows that thin people with fat paunches are at a higher risk of diabetes and cardiac disease than other people.

If you have skinny legs and a bit of a paunch but think that’s okay because your pot belly doesn’t really show with the baggy shirts and tops you wear, think again. You are prone to collecting fat around the abdominal area caused by a biochemical abnormality known as Metabolic Syndrome.

So, never mind the skinny legs because collecting fat around your abdomen is not a good sign as such fat is deadlier than subcutaneous fat which is distributed evenly beneath the skin. This is because increased belly flab means increased visceral fat found between the organs in the main torso. Visceral fat is more active and drains directly into the liver. Free fatty acids into the liver resist the action of insulin, a hormone that helps absorb the glucose from the blood stream. The end result is what causes diabetes.

Contracting diabetes leads to an elevated risk of a whole lot of other health problems including cardio-vascular diseases and kidney problems.

Skinny Fat Quotient

Worldwide, Body Mass Index or BMI is a commonly accepted measure of body health. A BMI of over 25 indicates that you are overweight or obese. But the "skinny fat" abnormality makes people more susceptible to diabetes even though their BMI is well within the international limit of 25. Therefore there is a need to more closely monitor people who have the skinny fat abnormality for diabetes - and some doctors are arguing that people with the skinny fat gene should be worried if their BMI is over 23 instead of 25 because of the greater risk of diabetes.

But we shouldn’t trust BMI alone to assess risk for diabetes. Instead doctors are encouraging patients with skinny fat to measure their weight using their waist circumference, measured in centimeters (cm). A measurement above 80 cm for women and 90 cm for men is a matter of grave concern.

Those people with a waist measurement above those numbers are more likely to have Metabolic Syndrome and a higher risk of cardiac problems than those who have normal subcutaneous fat under their skin.

Metabolic Syndrome symptoms and signs include low levels of HDL cholesterol (known as the good cholesterol), high triglyceride levels (a type of fat found in the blood), high blood pressure, diabetes and other cardio-vascular diseases.

Metabolic Syndrome effects young and old alike too. People with rich diets, low physical activity, spend all day working at a desk and dismiss a paunch as an aesthetic issue. But it’s more like a warning sign that they will get diabetes if they don't watch their weight.

Doctors and scientists recommend that people with "skinny fat" consider a change in diet to reduce saturated fats, a brisk walk for 45 minutes per day and a background check into your immediate family history of obesity or diabetes.

Culturally, we associate fat with prosperity and wealth, hence the term "Fat Cat". But those "Fat Cats" are developing insulin resistance and abdominal obesity at a young age because they are not exercising, dieting and watching their weight.


Last Friday (May 31st 2013) I may have saved a man's life who went into diabetic coma while on a TTC bus here in Toronto.

I was en route to pick up new arrows at Tent City in North York when I got on the 60 bus at Finch station and I noticed a young man sleeping on the bus. At first I thought he had just fallen asleep and didn't know he was at Finch station. I said something to him and he didn't respond. I shook him gently. I shook him roughly. No response.

I then notified the driver and he tried to wake the comatose man. We checked to see whether he was breathing. Still breathing. The driver called for paramedics and the bus went out of service.

Diabetic coma can be deadly. So hopefully he made a full recovery. I got on the next bus so I don't know how the story ended. I hope he turned out okay.

What scares me is what if I hadn't noticed him? When would someone have noticed the poor guy wasn't moving or responding?

Are personal trainers worth the expense?

Do I need a personal trainer? Are personal trainers worth the expense?

These are two commonly asked questions by people contemplating whether they should get a personal trainer - and whether it is worth the cost.

Well, ask yourself the following questions...

#1. Am I making definite progress at a speed I find satisfactory?

#2. Am I struggling to find the motivation to stick with my exercise and dietary goals?

#3. Do I need an external push to make more of an effort?

When in doubt talk to some people who have previously hired a personal trainer to help them make accelerated progress and ask about their impressions, whether they felt it was worth it, etc.

Why is first hand references better? Well, first of all they cannot be faked, whereas client testimonials on a website could be faked and misleading. You are asking someone you already know to give their honest opinion - and they will either say it was a waste of time and/or money, or they will talk about how awesome it was having a personal trainer.

And to be fair, some people don't need a personal trainer. So there is always going to be some people who say personal training is a waste of time and money - because for them, it is.

But for the people who difficulty finding the right rhythm with their exercise routine, are not challenging themselves enough, don't feel motivated, and need an extra push then hiring a personal trainer is totally worth the expense.

Thus even if you don't hire me as your personal trainer in Toronto, I still fully endorse hiring someone else if you are the type of person who needs to be challenged and motivated to try harder.

Keep trying as hard as you can. Every little bit helps!

June Exercise Motivation Quotes

"Exercising is more than just a workout. Its a way of life. Changing your lifestyle, and making it a permanent change by choosing exercises you enjoy doing, is the key to grabbing control of your health and making the most out of your life."
-Charles Moffat

"The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible."
-Arthur C. Clarke

"You cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind."
-Author Unknown

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit."

"Fortune favors the brave."
-Publius Terence

"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."
-Albert Einstein

"To know your limits is a state of self-delusion."
-Bill Purdin

"He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else."
-Benjamin Franklin

"When you are looking in the mirror, you are looking at the problem. But, remember, you are also looking at the solution."

"There is no satisfaction that can compare with looking back across the years and finding you've grown in self-control, judgment, generosity, and unselfishness."
-Ella Wheeler Wilcox

"Our central nervous system contains from 10 to 100 million cells, each one of which has a storage capacity equal to that of a large computer."
-Dr. Alexander Rich MIT Biophysicist

"The ultimate creative capacity of your brain may be, for all practical purposes, infinite."
-DRW Ross Adley - Brain Research Institute UCLA

"As long as you think you're green, you'll grow. As soon as you think you're ripe, you'll rot."
-Scott Horton

"The way life treats you is a merciless mirror image of your attitude toward life."

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