This is a slightly more personal post than I would normally post on this blog but I wanted to share this with you all anyway as I think there are many people out there who can relate to this (especially anyone running a small business)…
When Run with Tina first started, it was a hobby. I wanted to share my passion for running/keeping fit with others and I wanted to show people how anyone could do it; that you didn’t need to be fit or slim and you certainly didn’t need to run a marathon to be called a runner; that you could enjoy the actual process of getting fit and learning to run, not just the end results.
I have always enjoyed helping people so when I realised the massive difference these classes made in people’s lives it was the most rewarding thing I had ever done and I really felt that I had found what I am meant to do in this life. As the word got around, my classes got very busy and I often had a waiting list of up to 20 people, which naturally led me to build Run with Tina as a business. This was much harder than I had envisaged. There was so much more work to be done than just hiring one of the numerous qualified fitness instructors who sent me their CVs and telling them to go off and lead some classes – turned out they couldn’t read my mind and do everything exactly as I had done so far (which was important, not because I’m so great, but because that’s what the company reputation was built on). Most of this, I learnt through the many mistakes I made. For example the reason why I now can tell within few minutes of meeting someone whether or not they’re the right instructor for the job is simply because I hired every wrong instructor possible. I have done the same with office staff and many, many other things! On a more personal level, at some point during all this, I had a baby (I don’t even remember at which point that happened but I know she’s now three), I went through a messy separation and consequently became a single mother. These have nothing to do with Run with Tina but they did take up a huge part of my time and energy and put a lot more financial pressure on me as well!
One thing I always swore was I would not let Run with Tina lose the personal touch that made it so popular in the beginning. I thought this was simple, I couldn’t let it happen. I would never focus on just filling classes. Yet, here I am, stressing about filling classes in the office every day. The growth in business, unfortunately, means that costs go up as well and that is why I started focusing on filling classes because filling them was the only way I could pay our instructors, admin people, rent etc. It has taken me a long time to realize that this happened but, sadly, it has and I was quite horrified and disappointed in myself to realize this. I’ve turned Run with Tina, my baby, that started out of my passion and empathy for my clients into yet another fitness business trying to fill classes to make ends meet. While there’s nothing wrong with this, we all have to make a living and the fitness industry is not an easy industry (is any industry easy?), what disappointed me was that I always believed in doing what you love, following your passion and not worrying about money because if you do what you love and do it from your heart, money will follow. I truly believe in this but I completely lost focus and stopped practicing it.
In the past month, I have re-discovered my love of running. Now the mornings are brighter, my alarm goes off at 6am and, believe it or not, I can’t wait to get out the door for a run, even though I feel dreadfully unfit. I love the freedom, the fresh air, watching the sunrise, feeling strong, being alone, the silence, saying hello to other early morning runners… Every morning, I find another reason to love running.
Now that I have fallen in love with running all over again, I also realize that I need to re-focus Run with Tina away from paying the bills (they’ll always get paid, anyway, one way or another) to why it started – my desire to help other women fall in love with running/exercise, showing them that they can do this, helping them improve their lives through this, de-stress, feel good about yourself, feel stronger, feel confident… Because doing that, even for just one person, is much more rewarding than filling ten classes.