For the owner of Better Life Fitness in Rossland, work is about a passion for fitness and helping clients succeed
Ten years after starting Better Life Fitness in Rossland, B.C., Lori Craig is as passionate about helping her clients stay healthy as she ever has been. Craig opened the business after raising her three daughters. It wasn’t her first foray into entrepreneurship—she had previously owned an auto detailing shop as well as marketed a self-published children’s book called One Step at a Time. Better Life Fitness, however, came from her own dedication to fitness. After achieving her certifications and with the support and partnership of her husband, Craig began to put in the long hours of building a business from passion—an experience she continues to cherish as one of Kootenay Business magazine’s Top 10 Business People.
Are there personal traits that you think have contributed to your success as a business owner?
For me it’s thoughtfulness—caring for the people that come through the door—and respect. Those are sort of the top things, to me, that you need for a business like this.
What most drives and inspires you?
There are some people who just walk in the door and they don’t even know where to begin. Then, when all of a sudden you see them flourish and become confident and feel better, to me that is probably the best thing. That’s where I get so much out of it. I would just say the people who are here and are working really hard.
What life and work achievements are you most proud of?
One of my biggest life achievements has been raising three successful, beautiful daughters. I also find that an awesome relationship with my husband is one of the most important things. To have him by my side and helping but respecting and working as a team has been a big one for me. Also, successfully running a small business in the small community of Rossland. I feel my work ethic (has been an accomplishment)—getting up every day and putting my feet on the ground and feeling great. I can still do that and have the energy.
What has been your biggest obstacle?
I would probably say the biggest obstacle is keeping the memberships up and keeping people interested in the business. The quiet time is summer, and summers are getting longer into fall. I think that’s my toughest battle is keeping the business flowing when we do have our down times.
How do you address and overcome that challenge?
I offer good sales all the time—I always have a sale going. It’s important to get it out there. I use Facebook and obviously we have a great website. Word of mouth is really important because people let others know if they’re feeling great. Obviously, word of mouth is huge and when you know you’re doing a great job it’s okay to blow your horn once in a while to get people in here. I don’t have a huge budget for the advertising part, so I have to be pretty wise about that side of it.
What should people consider when they’re looking for a gym in their own community?
The first thing to consider if you’re really new is finding out initiation costs. Is there something that is hidden? Do you have to pay to even be a member? I think a lot of gyms do that and I don’t believe in it. I believe in offering the prices in the brochure with no sign up fees or that type of thing. I think it’s good to look for that.
Also, find somebody who is qualified, such as through BCRPA, which is the B.C. Recreation and Parks Association, to make sure that they do have their qualifications if you want to get into more of a training program. Basically, you want to find a safe place to be. When you walk in the door, you have to look around. Is this a really great place or is it a place that doesn't look good, or the equipment is broken down? You want to be in an atmosphere where it’s safe for you as well.
What are you most looking forward to with your future in the business and your industry?
I guess retirement, in a sense. This is not something I’m going to be running for another ten years. There will be a time when I’ll have to say goodbye to the business itself and let someone mentor and carry it on. For me, I’d call it a semi-retirement. I’d still be able to run my fitness classes—because I feel that I’m still very fit and capable of doing that—and possibly still even working within the company of Better Life Fitness. But I think there’s always an important time to think about an exit plan, too. When you’re getting into your fifties, you need to be able to plan for that.
How I feel about Better Life Fitness is that I get up every day and go to work because I love it. Sometimes it’s not always the financial part of it because you have your ups and downs with the seasons, but I feel we do a great job here because we take great care of the people. I’m extremely proud of it.