Nicole Avery; Monica Swan
Zone 3 Fitness
71 Route 1, Scarborough
Opened in: October 2011
Personal: Cousins; both single.
Nicole Avery, a certified personal trainer, has been involved in all manner of sports and fitness her whole life – running, weight training, triathlons. But like so many others, she’s battled her own weight problems over the years.
And, since opening Zone 3 Fitness in Scarborough with her cousin nearly two years ago, she’s not only helped others get fit and healthy, she’s also seen a marked difference herself, dropping 40 pounds.
Which has been a measure of her success: She can relate, because she’s been there.
Q What have you learned in your first two years in business?
A It’s all about the environment that’s been created at the gym. It’s very social, not a traditional gym where everybody has earbuds in and they’re doing their own thing. Members get to know each other, support each other, push each other. We see friendships forming, which is pretty neat. One member said, “This is the gym that made me fall in love with going to the gym.” I don’t think I expected the members to embrace that (atmosphere) like they did. Also, it’s more of a challenge than I would have expected just to let people know we’re here. Members are helping to get more people in, and we’re doing special events like yoga days, and getting people involved in races.
Q Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give an aspiring female entrepreneur?
A When putting together your business plan, even if you think you’ve been as cautious as you can be, go back and think a little harder. It’s much harder than you really expect it to be, much harder to hit that success point than you really expect it to be. Be prepared for the long hours and disappointments. Still, there’s some point every day where I go, “What a great day I’m having.” We took this crazy idea and have made it from scratch. It makes every day worth getting out of bed for.
Q What initially made you want to start this business, and gave you the confidence to do it?
A I had been in the corporate world for 20-some-odd years, and this had been floating in back of my head. Then I lost both my parents a few years apart. It made me realize there are no guarantees. You can’t just keep waiting, because the opportunity will pass. I thought: “I’m gonna take a chance, I’m gonna do this.”
Q What advice do you have for those looking to get fit, and stay fit, in their 40s and 50s?
A You just have to take that first step. Walk in the door. Just get over that hump of I can’t do that. We have people that are getting great results maybe for the first time in their lives, and are really getting them to see that they can do so much more than they really expected they could.
Q What keeps you motivated today?
A Absolutely the members. They make it fun. Hearing their stories and seeing them get healthier, even as hard as it is sometimes, is absolutely the highlight of every day for me.