Fitness And Fuel Know An Updated Site Is Critical To Powering Business

The Personal Training company Fitness and Fuel is a combination of a lot of things. At its core, the Marina Del Rey, California-based outfit is dedicated to the belief that good health and a happy lifestyle require the combination of exercise and good nutrition. But even more important, Fitness and Fuel is the combination of founders Whitney Cole and Byron Paidoussi’s joint passion for exercise and healthy living. The husband and wife team launched Fitness and Fuel in 2011.

We recently caught up with Paidoussi and Cole to learn more about their journey toward entrepreneurship, why passion is a key ingredient for business success, and the importance of a good website.


Question: How did you each get into a career in health and fitness?

Paidoussi: I’ve been an athlete my whole life. I played professional soccer for a few years. When I realized that wasn't going to be a full-time career, I wanted to stay in the sports and fitness field. I went to university and got a degree in exercise science and then a master’s degree in kinesiology. I've been in the personal training and fitness industry ever since.


Cole: I've always been an athlete as well and pushed pretty hard in it. But I come from a pretty conservative background…career options in my household were about as broad as doctor or lawyer. I never anticipated that personal training was a field that I could pursue and feed myself as well! Fitness was no doubt a passion, always something I pursued to keep myself fit, but not employment. I constantly had people comment in the gym, “You're so dedicated. You know what you're doing,” and ask me for fitness tips and recommendations. So I started just building up training certifications on the side to not only improve my workouts, but also build knowledge of Exercise Science, not just what had/had not worked for me historically in my own personal fitness journey.


Question: How did this become your full-time profession, Whitney?

Cole: While still working my 9-to-5 marketing job, I built up certifications and then started taking on clients outside the traditional work week. Again, I didn't see myself going full-time into it. It was just kind of a passion project. But seeing the transformations of my clients both physically and emotionally, wow, that’s massively rewarding to be a part of! Plus, I started making more money on the side than I was at a job that was increasingly less satisfying by comparison. That really was the tipping point. I’m the daughter of a small business owner. I think I do naturally have that entrepreneurial spirit, plus, my background in marketing, and MBA focused on marketing and entrepreneurship. Equipped with this combination of tools and passion made pursuing fitness full-time less intimidating, something in which I actually saw myself achieving success.


Question: How did you end up moving from Washington D.C. to California and starting a personal training business?

Cole: Honestly, I was cold! DC Winters are rough. I took a trip out to California and Hawaii to escape the cold late 2008. Bit of an eye-opener. I realized, “You know what, there’s more out there.” I just wanted to take the plunge and do something different.


Question: You two met in 2010 in Los Angeles. Byron, what were you doing before that?

Paidoussi: I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, where I got my education. I was working in the fitness industry in a couple of different capacities. I was a high school sports coach, as well as a personal trainer and athletic trainer at a major gym chain in Johannesburg. I was in L.A. in 2004 for a family vacation. A couple of mutual contacts put me in touch with a guy who was opening up a sports performance center in West L.A.  We got chatting, he was a South African as well, and he asked me, “If I get this up and running, would you be interested in coming on board and helping me run the sports performance side the business?” I said that if we can get the paperwork sorted, I’d love to be a part of it. I came out and helped launch the Velocity Sports Performance in West L.A. from the ground up, securing a site, design, build-out, all the way through to opening. I was there for a little over five years. It was a blast.


Question: What were some of your concerns when you started Fitness and Fuel?

Paidoussi: I was always nervous to go out on my own from a business standpoint because I really didn't have that much business know-how. I didn’t know how to build a website, I didn't know about marketing, business licenses, taxes etc. So it was great having someone with that kind of experience to help with that. And it was just nice to have a partner as well.


Question: How did you settle on Fitness and Fuel as the name?

Cole: was my old website. Fitness and Fuel was my blog on that site. So the name came from that. I just have always liked the yin and yang balance. You can't have one without the other. If you're going to completely ignore your nutrition, you're 100 percent unlikely to reach your fitness goals. Likewise, few can attain their ideal body solely through nutrition. We can’t sit on our butts all day in front of a computer, we need to work those muscles!


Question: Can you talk about the importance of having a good website?

Paidoussi: It’s critical, especially in the personal service industry. If you want to find out about our history, success stories, our achievements, our education, how we approach things, that’s there. If you want to see our philosophy, how we train clients that's there on a different page. If you want to see what our clients think of us, that's there on a different page. You want to see what our gym looks like, that's there as well. We have a list of services, and everything that you need is easily accessible with images, with text, with links to different things. It's a nice way to link everything together, so that people can bounce around there and find the information that they are looking for.

Cole: Yeah, ultimately, it’s making it easy for people to choose their own adventure and connect with us


Question: How has the site helped actually build your business?

Paidoussi: I’d estimate ninety percent of our clients find us via the web, by a search engine. If you move into a new city, and you want to find a personal trainer, you Google it.

Cole: Most people look at your website before they call you. So, you need a site that looks professional, is built on a functional platform, and hosted by company that guarantees uptimes. We like DreamHost and WordPress, but there are other options. Then, on the site itself, there have to be calls to action and such. It makes you credible. It makes you real. It’s not just a listing and then there's nothing else to be learned about this person. The website and having your information up to date is absolutely essential. It’s got to be fresh and justify that you legitimately are who you say you are, and you’re still doing what you’re good at.


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