Michelle Blakely is a PFP contributor and industry speaker, but her primary focus is her award-winning women’s training studio in Chicago along her business, www.SeeJaneTrain.net, dedicated to solving business frustrations for independent women fitness professionals.
Here is how Michelle Blakely is raising the bar in our industry…
Certifications/qualifications: NSCA-CPT, Healthy Moms Specialty Certificate in Perinatal Fitness and Wellness, Total Control and Power Plate
Studio/Business Name: Blakely FIT Inc., Chicago, IL
In business since: 2003
Awards, Recognition, Industry Leadership:
Chicago Reader: Best of Chicago 2013 and 2012 Best Personal Trainer
Columnist/Contributor: PFP and Club Industry
Presenter: NSCA and non-fitness industry professional organizations
Go-to resource for: EatingWell, Good Housekeeping, Prevention.com and Oprah.com
What inspired you to start your business?
I was inspired to start my own business for two reasons: first, I calculated I could earn more money independently, second, I believed I could deliver solutions to individuals wanting to be fit and healthy. Logistically, I was commuting a great distance to work as an employee of a very large 24-hour gym and boldly decided to move to independent training with zero clients and little formal business training. It was definitely a very challenging transition but rewarding when I buckled down and learned all the business pieces I was missing.
What is one hard lesson you’ve learned in business you believe has been most valuable?
Just one? There are so many. If I had to pick it’s this: Listen, listen and listen. Time and again I find if I really listen to my clients and view myself and business as entities focused on problem solving, solutions are easy and clients are significantly more successful and loyal. As a businessperson, if I really listen to the advice available on being self-employed, I put myself at a distinct advantage. In listening to fellow experts, I am better equipped to identify if it’s a quality source of advice or not and then, I am better able to implement the great ideas because I been open to learning.
If I asked one of your clients why they choose Blakely FIT over other studios/gyms/trainers, what would they likely say?
I care about the whole training experience from their initial contact with Blakely FIT to exit as a client years later. And I sincerely care about every client. Additionally, I always put the individual client’s profile (goals, present state, history, preferences) at the forefront when training. Personal training is personal, I think there is little room for a cookie cutter application in personal training.
From one of her clients:
“There are a lot of personal trainers out there but finding a good one is difficult. I thought finding a great trainer who motivates you, inspires you, who truly cares and who you actually enjoy seeing at the crack of dawn was impossible–until I met Michelle at Blakely F.I.T.I worked out with four trainers before I met Michelle and she is leaps and bounds ahead of the pack. I’ve been with her for five years…starting from the post-wedding weight gain, to great shape, through all 40 weeks of pregnancy and then back to great shape and I’ve enjoyed every step of the way with her.Michelle takes a personal interest in your goals, health and life overall. She has a expert ability to tailor programs your goals, stage of life and even the kind of day you’re having. She doesn’t just go through the motions and you will never do the same thing as another client just did or that you did the day before.
If you’re looking for an excellent personal trainer to get you in the best shape of your life, Michelle is for you! A big woohoo!” -Kristin M.
Name one or two ways you are trying to raise the bar in the industry?
I am fervently trying to help personal trainers raise their level of professionalism and their understanding of ethical behavior. There is no single governing entity for personal trainers across the US and many former clients have been mistreated by trainers taking advantage of this autonomy. In addition, trainers holding themselves to higher professional standards (and there are many) are having to work twice as hard to prove themselves and undo the negative image some potential clients have of personal trainers as a whole. I speak, write and present on these topics. Educating trainers on the importance of professionalism and ethical behavior could have a huge impact on our place in the evolving healthcare industry.
Thank you Michelle for continuing to raise the bar in our industry!
Photo credits: Jeremy Lawson Photography