When you first meet Stuart Polwarth, it doesn’t take long to realize that he’s a special kind of person.
Stuart has always been into health and fitness, and even qualified as a national level runner in Australia in the 400 and 800 meters. He went away to University and then spent the next 20 years of his life helping people who suffer from mental health issues.
“I continued going to the gym and running to maintain my health and fitness. I’ve done that my whole life and I’ve always had an interest in the body and how we move and how to keep fit. With my previous career, I worked with patients who suffered from mental health issues by focusing on improving their physical health. I started monitoring and ensuring that our patients had regular doctor and dental visits, and looked to see if there was an indication that they could benefit from becoming more physically active.”
He started using physical activity as way to help improve the lives of people recovering from mental illness. Then in 2014, Stuart was asked to take a voluntary redundancy. He wasn’t sure what was next for his life when an idea came to him.
“When I decided to take a voluntary redundancy I didn’t really know what I was going to do. I had the opportunity to create something I had a passion for and something I enjoyed doing. It sort of came to me in a eureka moment when I was standing in my kitchen one night. I decided to qualify to be a personal trainer and start a business that was dedicated to helping people recovering from mental health issues.”
“Stuart loves that he gets to make a difference in his clients’ lives every day.”
Stuart committed to starting his own business and he immediately took action. He finished his previous job on a Thursday and the very next Monday he started his PT certification.
He spent four months qualifying as a PT, and by the time he was finished customers were already starting to come in. But Stuart realized pretty quickly that he wasn’t fully prepared to run his own business yet.
“It was scary. I’d never owned my own business before. When I started getting into it, I was a bit lost. I hadn’t been in the fitness industry before. I’d been in management and you develop a certain skill set in leadership and financial skills, but there was still a lot I didn’t know about owning and running my own business. I struggled with ‘Am I doing the right thing?’”
Stuart struggled with confidence and knew he needed help. He started searching the internet for anything and everything that could help him get his business and mindset straightened out. That’s when he found NPE.
He joined the ACCELERATOR™ program in 2015 and immediately realized he’d been going about things all wrong.
“When you’re studying to be a PT, they teach you about 10-session packages and that sort of thing. I joined ACCELERATOR™ and learned immediately that I needed to get away from that and straighten out my pricing and packaging. I moved to 3, 6, and 12-month packages.”
With the help of his NPE coach, Stuart was also able to conquer a lot of the confidence issues he was having. He began to realize how special what he was doing was and how big of an impact he was having on people’s lives.
“I began to understand the value of what I was offering people. I had 20 years mental health experience and I was doing great PT, and so the value of the service I was providing was incredible. I was bringing together physical fitness, nutrition, mental health experience, and the social interaction with the clients. All PT’s have that but when you’re working with people recovering from mental health issues, all those things priced individually would cost a hell of a lot more. I learned to respect the value in that.”
Stuart raised his rates from $75 for a 45-minute session to $150 for an hour training session. For the first 5 months of his business, Stuart’s monthly revenue hovered around $5K, and he started to recognize a problem.
“I was doing everything myself. I got up to about 15 clients and then I’d come home and do all the admin and all the business stuff. I had reached the maximum number of clients I felt comfortable working with so that put a hard limit on our growth. Even though I had a lot of referrals and clients waiting for service, I just couldn’t get to them.”
Stuart needed to build a team to support the business’ growth, but he wasn’t sure how to go about this. Working with his coach, Stuart brought on 2 part-time trainers and quickly doubled the number of clients they could work with.
“Stuart speaking at #MegaTraining2016 where he was recognized as the ‘Most Improved Fitness Business Owner’ in the Asia-Pacific region”
Throughout the next few months, Stuart brought on 2 more trainers and was able to hire his partner to run the IT side of the business.
Today, the business is crushing. They have had 43 clients and are averaging $27K per month. In August of 2016, Stuart has his best month ever, bringing in over $117K!
Stuart now has confidence in the business and himself as a leader, and he attributes a lot of that to the help he received from his coach.
“My coach has always been very supportive and helped me to believe in myself. Confronting those fears, you’ve just got to believe. I think the main thing was having those systems, especially with no fitness business experience in the past. You can kind of coast along when things are going well, but when you get those systems in place you’ve got something to fall back on.”
That confidence has recently been tested as Stuart has faced some incredibly daunting challenges. Because of the foundation he built and the systems he’s put into place, he’s been able to overcome them and continue to do amazing things.
“We’ve been reliant on government funding for our clients and the requirements have changed recently. We’ve been through a period where the health organization has been determining what funds are available and how they can be used. We’ve basically had no income for a few months, but we have had some confirmation that the funds will be coming through.”
“We’ve been able to continue working with clients even though they weren’t funded with the belief that funding would come through, and we couldn’t just drop them with nothing. They need things in place to support them. That’s having faith in your decisions, and that confidence is something that I’ve learned from NPE.“
Now a NPE Coaching PRO™ Program, Stuart is starting to see huge changes in his personal life thanks to all the success of his business.
“I’m not as stressed anymore. I’m not having to work into the evenings or on the weekends. I work from home and the trainers go out and work with the clients. It’s allowing me to get back into some interests I have and take better care of my health. I recently qualified as a Level 1 community athletics coach and have always had a passion for running. I’ve been able to pursue those a little more. Plus it’s nice to have the time to get out for dinner or a show.”
“Stuart and his partner Walter now have the freedom to travel all over the world.”
Stuart’s dream when he got started was to improve people’s lives in a way that hadn’t been done before, and now he’s living that dream every day.
“I was always dreaming big. My vision was and is to be able to improve the lives of people who have been marginalized and not traditionally had access to the type of services the general public see as accessible. I’ve seen the benefits of what we do for our clients. Just seeing a client reconnect with their body after they’ve been in their mind for so long is an amazing thing to watch.”