I decided to move full time into fitness when I was pregnant. It was a ‘now or never’ moment to study to be a personal trainer and I qualified just after Isla was born - that was three years ago now. I had worked in media for about 14 years, in publishing, marketing, sales, PR and start up websites, and most recently with mamamia.com.au. When Isla was born I had a choice to go back into my media career with a fabulous, lucrative position, but I realised that if I didn’t take the chance to step away from corporate life when I just had Isla, I may never take the chance again. So I started my first business when Isla was born – she was four months old when I did my first class - and even though my earnings in the beginning were very small, it felt so good because it was my business, and my earnings.
My background was always entrepreneurial and I’ve had many little ventures along the way. I had my first small business when I was 18 and I always knew in my heart that I would work for myself but I didn’t quite know what field it would be in. I have had a lifelong passion for fitness and getting others fit and I grew up in a very sporty environment. I used to go to the gym all the time, I was into running, triathlons, marathons (I still am of course) – and I would sometimes spend two hours training in a day. Then along came Isla and as a new mum there’s no way I had the energy or the time to do that. About 8 weeks after Isla was born I started training again - I would do short spin cycle sessions when she went for a sleep. I understood the theory behind HIIT training (high intensity interval training) – it has become mega popular in the last few years with people understanding how efficient it is. It’s the smart way to train. You can get as much out of a 30 minute session because of the crazy rate you work out – it basically leaves your heart rate raised for 8, 12, 24 hours after your workout. The science behind ‘Tabata’ is amazing - the four minute workout (8 x 20 second intervals) - can give you the equivalent of a 30 minute run (it’s incredible and it’s true). So I started doing 30 minute sessions a day and even doing at home DVD’s like the ‘Insanity’ workout – and I noticed how quickly my fitness increased, it was crazy.
Originally the business was called The Fit Mum, but specialising in HIIT – in the short, sharp approach – I changed the name to The HIIT Mum. I started doing Metafit Body Weight Training ( I was the first coach to do these classes in Australia) as well as doing special classes like ‘Fit Mums Fridays’ (where you can bring along your kids and let them work out with you) to all sorts of different work out classes all based on a ‘no equipment’ approach. If a Mum is struggling to get to a class she knows she has learnt a fantastic repertoire of exercises that she can do at home – there’s no need to get to a gym – she can do a 20 minute body weight session at home. I love that I can tap into people who don’t want to go to the gym or can’t afford to go to a gym but they want to be able to work out in a friendly environment with their kids or with their kids joining in. We fit our classes around busy lifestyles – whether you are an early morning person, a day time person who needs to bring the kids along or if you prefer night time sessions, we have something that suits you. Kids even come along to the early morning classes – some parents figure that the kids are up anyway so they bring them along. The sessions are fun – but don’t get me wrong – they are hard. They’re the hardest 20 or 30 minutes of your day, and so rewarding. The classes are 20 minutes maximum of HIIT training – interval training that will give you the result of a much longer work out. That 30 minutes session is equivalent to a 90 minute steady state cardio workout, it’s the most efficient way to train. I look around my classes and see the incredible fitness levels everybody has – they didn’t start out that way but it’s insane how fast we get people fit.
The HIIT Mum is the overarching brand, and under that are the HIIT classes in and around Melbourne and The HIIT Factory - which is going to become a roll-out model, essentially setting up franchises for people to replicate our model. I have thousands of trainers who follow me and come to me for advice on how to get their classes as busy as ours (we sometimes train 200 people a day which is crazy!). There’s not really anyone else doing what we do.
The HIIT Factory specialises in body weight training across lots of different formats that haven’t been seen in Australia before. I went to America to study ‘Insanity’ and I was the first qualified instructor here in Australia– it’s massive in the UK and the US. It’s a very tough workout but very cool to do. I loved doing the DVDs (they’ve sold something like 20 million worldwide) so doing the Instructor program in LA was amazing. We love making the classes into a show – our trainers are like performers. Regardless of the size of the class, 5 or 50 or 100, we make everyone feel alive.
I think one of the strengths of what we do is that we’re really cost-effective. We have to have busy classes to make it work because we only charge $7 - $10 per class. I’d rather people come consistently, at least three times a week for a 30 minute session, than just being able to afford the time and money for one longer session. Come three times a week and you will have the results that you desire within a short space of time, and you’ll be the fittest you’ve ever been. Also, when I started The HIIT Mum, I decided to start sharing all the knowledge that I had online – so every week I would post a new workout of something you could do at home. We now have an amazing following of people who love my exercise tips.
We recently launched an amazing new initiative ‘PT IN MY POCKET™’ which is changing the way people work out. It is an audio driven fitness app giving you workouts which require no equipment or gym visits. The original music is incredible, like having your own personal trainer right there with you in the room, pushing you along with motivational and upbeat cues. It was the # 1 health and fitness app on Apple and Android within the first week of its launch!
Having Isla has been the best thing that ever happened to me, apart from becoming a mum, in a business sense. I never would have taken the risks that I have without her. I want her to know that during the times I’m not with her, that mummy loves her job. I love what I do so much, and she loves what I do as well. It’s not that I hated what I did previously – I enjoyed it and I was good at it, but I never thought ‘I cannot wait to go to work today’. Whereas Isla knows that if I’m not with her, I’m doing something that makes me happy. My family doesn’t live nearby, so my husband Gary and I have just found ways to make it work. When Isla was about eight months old she went into day care two days a week, having a great time playing with her pals and learning stuff. The rest of the time she’s with Gary or me or joining in the classes. It’s hard sometimes of course, we don’t get a lot of downtime, but I just love being with her and having her around me - even if I’m taking a class she’s in the background or she’s working out with us. She makes me feel happy. She’s does warm up sessions with me at the front of a class with 30 people, and most of the people who come to our classes are parents so they understand or they bring their kids along too.
I work around 100 hours a week. Running classes every day throughout the day is one thing, but it’s all the backend work that goes on behind the scenes that takes time, the projects I am working on outside the classes or the work I’m doing to drive people to the classes. Gary has been working in the business with me for over a year now – he takes classes as well as helping with the running of the business as a whole. I always imagined this business would be big – and it’s going to grow so much more in the next 12 to 18 months. It’s our future, and we have so many big plans. Lots of hard work and juggling – but we’ve never looked back. We’re on the cusp of making some really mega things happen - and we’re constantly working hard to make sure they all materialise. I totally live my business with passion and heart, and I love making a change in people’s lives.
To other mums wanting to start their own business – go for it! There are times when I question it all because we work so hard, but having my own business has turned my life around. Just make sure it’s your dream though, and not somebody else’s dream. If you set your mind to it, you’ll do it.
The HIIT Mum is all about help women and men on their fitness journey and showing you that it is possible to get fit fast using both short workout methods along with healthy eating. The HIIT Mum currently runs lots of 30 minute HIIT bodyweight circuit classes across Melbourne, and offers 1 on 1 and 1 on 2 personal training. Colette also posts weekly workouts (some video and some you can save on your phone and do any time) - ideal not just for busy mums and dads, but also the business traveller, or if you are away on holiday and want to maintain your fitness. The HIIT Mum encompasses Metafit Melbourne (www.facebook.com/MetafitMelbourne), The HIIT Factory and The HIIT Box – each aiming to inspire everyone to eat clean, train mean and have fun along the way.
Finding out what you really want to achieve with your business is so important to getting the results you want. Business Mamas can help you discover YOUR dream.
Copy: Melanie Quirk Photography: SomedaySomehowStudios
To find out how you can get get your business started and become the next Business Mama head to www.businessmamas.com.au