How I Created A Thriving Fitness Business Through A Pandemic
Alex Boyce-Vienneau is the founder of Breakdown Fitness. Alex has trained a variety of clients from weight loss to prepping clients for physique shows. Alex discovered that getting clients ready for physique competitions was not something he was passionate about.
His main focus is to help beginners get started on their journey and keep them progressing through their life. He started working out at the age of 19 and got his training certificate at 22. At the age of 25, he spent many months in the hospital dealing with gut pain, rapid weight loss, and internal bleeding.
He eventually was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. Though Alex was a trainer for many years he didn’t start taking it quite as seriously until after he got out of the hospital and moved to Toronto. Alex then started to make the best out of every day and become the best version of himself.
Please tell us a little about yourself and what got you started?
Growing up I wanted to be a professional golfer. I broke course records when I was 16 years old, I was MVP of my golf team and very competitive whether I was playing in a tournament or playing with a stranger at my local golf club.
A couple of years out of high school I lost passion for golf and no longer wanted to play all day every day. I was a very skinny kid. When I was 19 I walked past a fitness magazine in a grocery store and decided I wanted to get in shape like the guy on the cover.
I started working out in my basement with 10-pound dumbbells and watching follow-along workouts on YouTube. After a couple of years of working out, I wanted to learn more so I decided to sign up for a personal training course and become a certified trainer.
When I joined a gym and took my fitness more seriously I started to see great results and many people would come to me for help and advice. Once I saw that I was able to help people I thought I could make a career out of it.
Where did the idea for Breakdown Fitness come from?
Honestly, it was not something that I took a long time to come up with. I decided on Breakdown Fitness because I mainly help beginners and as a training company we break everything down step by step to help our clients achieve great results.
Describe your experience in the industry?
I have now been a trainer for about 7 years. I used to think the more certifications someone has the better trainer they are, which is not the case at all. Even though I had all these certifications I didn’t know anything compared to a lot of trainers. I then took more time to learn by doing more movements and looking to people who were way ahead of me in the industry. I am not as knowledgeable as some, but I do the best that I can every day and continuously learn. There is a major difference between being qualified and being certified. From what I currently see, I think the industry is becoming further away from what fitness really is. Fitness is not about posting selfies, talking bad about others or quick fixes. Fitness is about lifting ourselves up and helping others as much as we can.
How do handle conflict or work with challenging clients?
It is not very often that I have a client that is hard to work with. Most clients usually do what I tell them in order for them to get results. If someone is challenging I will remind them why they started with me, what their goals are and that both of our time is valuable so let’s not waste it.
We are in this 100% or not at all! I have had a few clients challenge me with my knowledge and telling me what they have heard from friends or read online is different than what I will tell them to do. When this happens I have to tell them to stop wasting their time reading online articles and that they hired me for a reason.
So they either trust the process for at least 3 months so I can show them what we can do together or they move on, no one has ever moved on.
What were the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
As of now, the biggest business challenge I faced was opening a gym during the pandemic. I started Breakdown Fitness In early 2020 and I was mainly focused on mobile training. When the pandemic came I was no longer able to do mobile training because trainers were not allowed in public gyms with clients, so I decided I would open my own gym.
I opened the doors to the gym in November 2020 and was only able to stay open for 7 days until we went into another lockdown. I knew what I was getting into but I did not expect to be in a full lockdown for as long as we have been.
I transitioned my business to be strictly online and outdoor like many other gyms and that helped me create revenue and gain more exposure as many more people were looking to get healthier during these difficult times. Currently, the gym is not really being used. I am patiently waiting for the restrictions to be lifted so I can train clients in person again.
A personal challenge was when I was diagnosed with colitis in 2015. I was told there will be many things that I would not be able to do and how careful I would have to live my life. The first few months out of the hospital were quite tough but I started to take better care of myself and take myself to where I am now. I am nowhere even close to where I want to be, but I am very grateful to be here.
What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?
Before Breakdown Fitness I created a couple of other businesses but I was not patient enough with them and though that what I was doing would never work.
I wish I would have learned to be more patient when it came to growing a business. Growing a business takes lots of time and it does not happen overnight as many people think.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Every day is pretty much the same. I wake up every day Monday to Sunday between 4:50 AM – 5:15 AM. The first thing I do is drink water than coffee and read for about 20-30 minutes. I feel that reading helps me with getting my day started, it gets me thinking first thing in the morning and I learn something new from the books I read.
Most mornings I train clients from 7:00 AM until about 1:00 PM with short breaks in between. I used to have a daily journal to help me track my day until someone told me that in order to be successful you must repeat the same tasks over and over every day and get better with each task.
I usually exercise in the early afternoon to break my day and give me a boost of energy where most people would reach for coffee, I feel this helps me be more productive for the afternoon.
During the afternoon I will usually check my ad performance, get Instagram posts ready, create content and work on client programs. Most evenings I have clients and then I go to bed. Nothing too exciting or crazy!
What advice would you give your younger self?
The best advice I would give to my younger self is to not be so hard on yourself and not compare your life to others. When you are too hard on yourself it makes you feel down, then you become discouraged and feel as if you can’t do what you wanted to do. You have to believe in yourself!
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Being myself, sticking to what I know, and staying laser-focused on what I want my business to become. Many people in the fitness industry try to grow their business by not being who they are and they put on a fake persona to get people to like them.
I am not the most cheerful or ecstatic trainer around and I am aware of this. I am a coach/trainer, I am not a cheerleader. Many say I am a little “ too hardcore” or a “hard ass” which can be true, but it helps to see who is right for me from the start and who is not.
My business is to help people grow and I feel in order for people to grow we can’t be too easy on them or else they will not push themselves out of their comfort zone and just continue to be stuck where they are. No matter what business you are in you have to be yourself and do what you can with what you have.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
One book I would recommend is Master Your Emotions by Thibaut Meurissee. I really enjoyed the book. I think it was very good at explaining why we do certain things in life such as procrastinate, doubt ourselves, and even fear the unknown. No single book is going to help you become a better person, but you can learn a lot from books and there are always great takeaways.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Do not look around at what others are doing and compare your life to theirs. Focus on yourself and do what you can with the time that you have every day. You do not need to take big steps every day, but you do need to make sure to stay focused and have a clear goal in mind.
Where can our readers keep up-to-date with you?
Everyone can follow me on both my personal Instagram @boycevienneau, my business Instagram @breakdownfitness. And for those who are interested my website is www.breakdownfitness.com