Today marks my two year anniversary from one of the most life changing conferences I have ever attended. Inspired by my friend and mentor, Jill Coleman, who kept encouraging me to attend Fitness Model International (FMI). As a graduate student, I kept putting it off, rationalizing that I didn't have the time or the money. Finally, I made the commitment to go, and figured why not? I owed it to myself to take steps to following my dreams (you owe it to yourself too :) ). By far was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
FMI provides up and coming fitness professionals with a chance to learn the industry from some of the best in industry such as Clark Bartram, Jill Coleman, Ian Lauer, and Emily Zaler. One of FMI's alums, NatalieEva Marie just made her WWE Debut on E's Total Divas. And not to mention the opportunity to work with some of the best photographers in the industry such as Natalie Minh, James Patrick, & Mike Byerly. The weekend provides an opportunity to ask questions, create relationships, and truly follow your dream. Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with founder Gary Augestine-Warren before this busy weekend and wanted to share my interview with you! Check out his insight on how to make your dreams in the fitness world become your reality.
KV: Gary, first and foremost thank you for your time! I have been fortunate to work with you over the past few years professionally but I would love to share with our readers a little bit more about yourself. Can you tell us about your personal journey reaching your potential relating to your health?
GAW: It's been quite the roller coaster ride since 2009. in '09 I was 300lbs and had a couple of emergency room trips that almost ended with a section of my large intestine removed. Fortunately, I was able to not lose anything and that became my catalyst for a better living.
In the next 2 years, I focused on better nutrition and when able, physical activity. I progressed my intensity as my body would allow for it. By early 2011, I had lost 115lbs the right way. No magic pill, potions, lotions, etc. It was good old fashion consistent work in the gym and kitchen. Reflection, adjustments, and consistency are the critical keys to your success in any endeavor in my opinion.
KV: As the founder of the Fitness and Sports Network, this obviously took risk and uncertainty to developing a new business. What inspired you to do this and why a fitness and sports company?
GAW: Since my high school sports days, I've been a huge sports fan. I played sports in high school and did it via intramurals in college. I learned how to dance while in college, so that was integrated into my work as well by the time I graduate the university.
My degree was founded in the fitness and sports world. Since 1993, I have worked in 3 university recreation/wellness centers, the private sector, and had been in the bodybuilding/fitness promotions world for 3 years prior to founding Fitness and Sports Network.
Though I went to school for essentially a exercise science position, I did not learn the business world until I went out into the "real world" in 1997. From there until 2006, I learned quite a bit about business and integrated it into what I love the most, fitness and sports endeavors.
Forming Fitness and Sports Network was a collective vision between Clark Bartram and myself. We originally started it as a business to conduct fitness shows but that wasn't our passion. Much like Sir Richard Branson, we saw something that could be improved on. Once we saw our ideas shot down by the status quo, we decided to effort it on our own. The original endeavor did evolve into what is now known as the Fitness and Sports Network or FAS-NET, production, FMI. From there the company became concentrated on what I like the most, either wellness related or sports related topics. The other endeavor, Sweat Is Free is my own wellness production that concentrates on the topics found in fitness and finance. It is still in development but soon to debut.
KV: Can you provide us with an example of one thing you do daily to continue your journey towards health? A successful business?
GAW: For both wellness and business, I always like to reflect. Specifically, I like to go back and look as to what worked and what didn't. By doing so, it allows for the proper adjustments to made so both can improve. Though done a little differently in each field, you're doing the same thing. In business, you're looking at metrics/logistics to monitor and adjust the state of your fiscal health. In physical health, if you're recording appicable statistics, (your wortkouts, meals, body measurements - waist, hips, etc), you can do the same thing for your body's overall improvement. In my opinion, the same principles are applicable to both worlds (business and health).
KV: As an FMI Alum, I quickly learned that attending the conference was a whole lot more than some awesome photos from talented photographers. Can you speak to the benefit of investing in your passion and why events like conferences, lectures, and seminars are important for achieving ultimate potential?
GAW: The first mistake I have seen time and time again (and I've been this world for a decade now) is not understanding the business end of the industry before diving into it. Yes, it is exciting to get photos. However, what did you sign prior to the shoot? Did you give the ability to make any money off the images for yourself away for all time? Many times that is the case for rookies/newbies.
If one wants to make a CAREER from this, there must be both an understanding of the industry and a business plan involved. One cannot simply, "wing it". You'll be the proverbial hampster running on the wheel if you choose that route. In other words, you will be putting a lot of effort into an endeavor and going nowhere with it.
To enter into this industry blindly, there will be unrealistic expectations with only disappointment to be found soon after. It should be a requirement to understand the industry you're getting into and then evaluate how deeply you want to be involved in it. It can take a lot of time, money, and effort to attain the goal(s) you may set for yourself. Is it worth the effort though?
These are the topics, (business applicable to wellness, sports, fitness professionals) we address at FAS-NET's FMI. Yes, we do shoot photography there. However, that should only be seen as a part of a marketing strategy. So to briefly summarize it in one sentence, we train aspiring health-fitness talent in order to qualify them for multiple employment opportunities.
KV: If you were to give one parting piece of advice to someone contemplating making a change to reach their own potential be it in health, career, or relationships, what would you say?
GAW: One of the wellness centers I worked at was the John Wooden Center at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). I will pass on what Coach Wooden to so many others during his lifetime. Short and simple, "Little things make big things happen.". Whether it be good or bad, this is applicable.
Decide to make a change for the better one day at a time with one action. Soon enough, you'll find all those little actions have turned into a great milestone you set out to accomplish. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Plan accordingly.
I would give anything to be in sunny California with Gary this weekend but you can bet I will be next fall and hopefully I will see you there too! Be sure to visit FMI online!
See you on Monday!