Client-centric thinking and a passion for health and fitness 

Samantha Williams, an award-winning health and fitness instructor from the beautiful Sunshine Coast hinterland town of Eumundi, has a very clear brand purpose that motivates her. Her mission is to provide a safe space for women, guiding them to achieve their health and fitness goals. She believes that when women are at their best, they can affect positive change in the world.

BOOM! ?

This brand purpose provided Sam with the motivation to continue to provide her group programs to her clients. So when the pandemic threatened her in-person health and fitness programs, she knew she had to move quickly. Knowing that maintaining a routine and being able to do so at home would be paramount for her clients, she sure did adapt quickly – within just 24 hours. 

Done is better than perfect

Sam had wanted to incorporate some form of online component to her health and fitness programs for some time, but it wasn’t until COVID-19 that she had the push she needed to make it happen. By keeping it simple and addressing the immediate needs of her clients, she’s been able to adapt to an online environment and provide continuity of her programs and community for her clients during isolation.

Sam’s is a story driven by her infectious passion for helping women, beyond *just* their health and fitness. She has some brilliant advice to share with other women in business looking to navigate this pandemic. I was seriously inspired by Sam and I hope you are too.

Watch the full interview here, or read on below.

 

 

Melissa:
Thank you so much for joining me today on my interview series for women pivoting in their business. Can you just start by giving us a bit of an introduction to yourself and your business?

Samantha:
Absolutely and thanks so much for having me, Melissa. I really appreciate it.  I’ve been a personal trainer since about 2004, but I’m also from a teaching background as well so sort of come in and out of both industries. I’m very, very grateful for that and very lucky as well. I think they cross over quite well in terms of skill set. 

I was really ready to do my own thing and to create something that I’d been wanting to create for quite some time, which was a supportive fitness community that supports families and parents, but women particularly have been quite drawn to it as well. I think they really enjoy that sense of community. I wanted to create a safe space where people could essentially be themselves, because feeling safe enables people to be able to do new things and get out of their comfort zone. I think that’s particularly important when you want to achieve health and fitness goals, which can be quite scary. So that’s essentially what I wanted to create and I do that through group fitness using a whole range of different programs.  I also work with children and have worked with disability groups as well. 

We started Eumundi Fitness about four years ago and it’s gradually evolved and grown. We also do online programs now to support clients and it’s not just in the Eumundi community, it’s spread a little bit further, which is very exciting. I even had a lady from an accountancy firm approach me who was wanting to support her team through isolation.  Some of the team are based over in the Philippines and she has someone down south, so we do weekly sessions with them, which has worked really well and I’ve really enjoyed that. 

Melissa:
Amazing, and has that online component just started as a result of COVID and having to change how you deliver your real programs?

Samantha:
It has, although I had originally wanted to do that but I was sort of dilly-dallying around, so it was actually the push that I needed to launch the business into that next phase, which was online.

I think it was a perfect time and people were already looking for that. I even had people approach me who I’d known from a long time ago; their gyms had closed and they were really needing that support, so the timing was interesting.  As I say, I’d wanted to do it anyway, but now I had the opportunity to do so and I had to do it quite quickly as well.  Within 24 hours I had to figure out how I was going to do it!  It’s funny how a lot of my clients have said to me, “Sam, I love the online component”, because now everybody can actually access the whole program, whereas, before, everyone was quite restricted by jobs and school, etc.  The online component gives it a whole new level.

I’m just finishing up a 21-day mindfulness program and now I’ve got people doing two programs online at once.  I think it gives people the opportunity to do things that they wouldn’t normally be able to do in that face to face arena.

Melissa:
Yeah, it almost takes away a couple of those barriers, not only in terms of location, but, like you were saying before, people feel like they’re in a safe environment. They are there in their own home, and they can dabble in a few different things, so that’s really cool.

In that 24 hour period where you were thinking “Oh, my God, we have to change everything”, what was going on in your mind at that point?  What was the trigger for you to say “okay, we’ve got to get this online now”.

Samantha:
I think the trigger was that I wanted to support my clients.  That’s the most important thing to me and it’s what they need, so I thought, “okay, how can I do this”.  I had some experience with Zoom and other platforms, so I just decided to go for it and I knew I’d have to learn very quickly. I’ve been doing it from my garage, so initially it was quiet and quite raw and my lovely friend has created a beautiful backdrop for me so it looks a little bit more professional.

So yes it was done quite quickly, but my priority was “how can I support my clients” and the feedback I received straight away was so affirming to me that I was doing the right thing.  Clients said it felt quite normal because I was there with them and they felt fully supported and were still getting face to face support, which they really appreciated.

 

 

Melissa:
I love that continuity, to not skip a beat with that is quite a feat, so my hat goes off to you for that, that’s awesome.

I’m going to assume you’ve had a bit of experience with Zoom, so you didn’t necessarily do any testing or anything and it’s kind of like building the plane on your way down! Is that how you’re looking at it?

Samantha:
Definitely, and I had to learn and record everything as well, which I had a few issues with.  The other concept, which people probably don’t think about me, is I’m not an aerobics instructor, I never will be.

You’re doing everything in reverse as well, for example, making sure I say it’s not my right, but it’s your left and that sort of thing. 

Now that I’ve got the recordings, the clients love it because they can go back and access them whenever they want to now. I’ve got a lady I’m training at the moment who’s from London, but she’s in Scotland at the moment.  There’s still an extreme lockdown over there and there’s obviously the time difference, but she can go on whenever she can to access the workout we did that morning.

I do think that there’s been so many other added benefits, even though I’ve had to figure it out as I’ve gone along and having that recording there has been amazing and clients have absolutely loved it.

Melissa:
How did you get the word out that you were doing it online? Obviously, you’ve got your existing client base, but for those people that have come to you from overseas, how are they finding out about you?

Samantha:
I think it would still be referrals.  People heard about it, but what I’ve had to do Melissa is get out of my comfort zone a little bit.  I work with a business mentor and she’s been great in helping me do that and making me put myself out there a lot more and that’s actually made the biggest difference. I think the old saying if people know, like and trust you, they’ll do business with you is true and my organic reach has just been amazing. I think that’s constantly evolving, and the biggest thing was making sure that I just put the word out there from my heart, showing people this is what I was doing to support them and if you want to be a part of it, I’m here.

I’m a mum and I know what it’s like and how hard it is right now. So initially what I did was launch a free seminar for mums and for parents, and we just talked about the benefits of creating a safe space for our families at this point in time.  My mum’s a child counsellor, so I interviewed her as part of it as well, asking how we can support our children and families and I think that got the ball rolling too.  I also do my own interview series as well and I like to think about how I can connect with people right now and support them? I think people do get the feeling of what you’re trying to do and then they want to be a part of that.  So I think the best way to go is just connecting with people and supporting people and it goes from there.

Melissa:
When you say putting yourself out there do you mean you’re putting your face on your social media platform more lately and getting on the videos and stuff? And that’s not something you were doing previously? 

Samantha:
I was, but not to that degree and I wasn’t really reaching out to people and saying “this is who I am, and this is how I can support you. 

Melissa:
I’m the same, exactly the same.  People maybe don’t even realise what I do as well and that split of the personas right? There’s the business side of you and then there’s the personal side.

Samantha:
Yes, and I think that’s what people really appreciated, they think “oh, actually, Sam is a real person, but she’s also got this service”, which can support me through this challenging time. So it’s been really positive.

Melissa:
That’s awesome.

How are you distributing the videos?  You said everyone can access them at any time to suit them? Are you housing them on YouTube or have you got a portal or something?

Samantha:
Yes, I’m still learning the ropes in terms of YouTube. I’ve had a few issues with my internet connection actually, so I’ve just created a client Dropbox link, which is very simple. We have a members page and basically, it’s highly interactive and they can access that at any time..

Melissa:
Isn’t that lovely! You don’t have to make anything too complicated. You’ve just got that need and you want to know how you can deliver it and keep it simple.

Samantha:
Yes and I think it’s because, initially, I had to do it so quickly too Melissa.

Melissa:
You don’t have a choice, you have to do it quickly! 

Samantha:
I thought “what’s the simplest way I can do this without being really expensive”, and I needed something that clients could use quickly as well. Eventually I’d love to have membership websites and things like that, but my priority is doing the classes right now, so I’ll learn that stuff later.

Melissa:
Yes you can fancy it up later, but you’re delivering the service to your clients now and they’re getting what they need, so that’s the ultimate goal.

Tell me what drives you.  Why do you do what you do?

Samantha:
That’s a really good question.

Melissa:
That wasn’t on the list of questions I sent you, ah-ha!

Samantha:
I love that question.

I think lots of things.  I have a lot of ‘whys’ personally for myself and I think the biggest thing for me as both a woman and a mum is that I feel very, very passionate about women creating a space for themselves where they are still themselves and not attached to these specific roles.  I think that’s so important and I love that. We get a little bit lost in everything, and we are natural nurturers and tend to put everyone else before ourselves and so I think that what I’ve created has just been a vehicle for women to do that. 

That’s how I see women grow, and I love seeing it. I’ve been on the same journey myself so I love guiding women to empower themselves, and showing them how to do it in their everyday life, by still being a mum and still working, but creating that space for themselves. That’s probably primarily what drives me to create that community.

I think the second part is that I believe women are very strong role models for their children, for our partners and, dare I say, other people in our lives.  I also think women are amazing at creating change and that by just leading those lives and making our health and fitness a priority, because that affects everything, we can really create change in our communities as well.

Melissa:
Oh I have so much love for this!!

 

 

Samantha:
I recently got that group instructor fitness award, which I’m so grateful for, and I think it’s an incredible launchpad, but I feel like there is so much more to me as a coach, which is what I see myself as.  Being able to create a vehicle for women to empower themselves is what our programs focus on and it’s my main driver and also to show my children that women can do this and they can be great instigators of change, while still valuing their own wellbeing.

Melissa:
Okay, so plug what’s going on right now.  Tell us what’s happening, because I feel like I need to sign up for this. You’re hitting all the right notes for me, and I’m sure for others as well.  How can people join your programs?

Samantha:
Absolutely. We have a complimentary group that you can first jump on board with Melissa and that gives you the opportunity to get a little bit of a taste of what it is we do.

There are free workouts on there too and I often put lots of different coaching tips and things like that on as well. 

Aside from that, I’m putting a lot of stuff on my Facebook group too. I’m always running programs and doing seminars and I’m running three different programs at the moment.  I personally think it’s beneficial to do the programs because I think you get more out of it rather than just jumping on the group fitness and wafting in and out. I think when you do one of my programs, you get the full gamut of everything we have to offer, plus the support as well.

We’ve just started a 20-day challenge, which is called the Fit and Finish Program and that’s just based on creating an exercise routine. Routine is really important in our lives for anything, as you probably know. 

I also have a website called Eumundi Fitness and I’m always sharing information there.

There’s also my Instagram account too where I’m constantly running challenges for people to join in with.

I’m also just about to do an online virtual team challenge, which is coming up in June.  Now that is a great motivator and anybody can do it because you can run or walk it, you can even cycle it, so then you’re basically doing some bodyweight exercises in amongst that challenge as well. Another cool thing about it is that you can do it anywhere. You just have that one day to do it, and you can even do it with a friend. You just have to tag yourself and take one photo at least to play, but that’s all.  My clients are using that as a bit of a challenge over the next four weeks so they have something to work towards as well. 

Melissa:
So many elements in there to connect to the community and encourage that motivation and sense of team rivalry as well. I love that you fit all of that into there.

Given all of this has happened in the last, I don’t know, five minutes, how does it make you feel about the future of your business? Has it expanded your opportunities and your mind about where you can take it? Or is it just giving you that kick that you needed to do what you were going to do anyway?

Samantha:
I’ll be really honest with you, at the beginning of the year, I was actually finding things really challenging. This is before this all happened and I was finding things incredibly exhausting. I love what I do, but I was feeling a bit stuck and couldn’t see any new opportunities. 

So oddly enough, when this happened and pushed me into that next zone, all I see now is possibility. I feel very excited and I feel like Eumundi Fitness can evolve into anything I want it to be.  As soon as I see a need, then I can create it and anything is possible.   

I’m very excited about the future and it’ll be a different model as we come to end the restrictions that’s for sure.

Melissa:
Do you have any advice for other women in business as they’re navigating all the things? How would you advise them to get through?

Samantha:
That’s a great question too actually, I’ve never been asked that one.

Melissa:
Ha, there you go. 

Samantha:
I appreciate it. I think three things that have really helped me are firstly, actually seeking support, that has been invaluable, although it takes time to find someone who you click with. My mentor is amazing, Kate Martin is her name and she’s been supporting me through this period because when it’s felt like a roller coaster, I’ve had someone in my industry to talk to.  She’s also a personal trainer.

Secondly, I think just take one step at a time. Don’t look too far ahead or get too overwhelmed and be in the present moment with your clients, just keep asking them what they need.

The other thing is looking after yourself big time.  Just just be gentle on yourself.  We’re doing everything for everybody else, but we also need to look after ourselves as well. 

Melissa:
Three very key things, thank you so much. 

Thank you so much, Samantha, this has been such an inspiring chat. I think it went a different direction to what I had imagined I’ve got to say, but in a good way and that was really powerful stuff. I think you’re doing an amazing job, so congratulations on your pivot, and continue the great things you’re doing and keep supporting your clients and the broader community.

Samantha:
Thank you so much for the chat. I really appreciate it. 

Sam stayed true to her brand purpose and her clients’ changing needs AND she was realistic about how she could successfully deliver her service quickly and effectively. By keeping it simple, she’s meeting her clients’ needs, not to mention those of many overseas who wouldn’t have previously been able to access her services. Her pivot has unlocked many exciting opportunities for her business model into the future. 

You can find out more about Sam’s group programs by visiting her website here, or following on Instagram or Facebook.

 

If you’re stuck on whether your idea for pivoting is right for your brand and business, the 50 Prompts For Pivoting workbook might help.

 

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