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A Fitness Entrepreneur’s Journey

“There were times when I wanted to just give up; times when I thought if all the effort was really going to be worth it in the end,” he said.
11 Jan 2020 14:35
A Fitness Entrepreneur’s Journey
Jordan Wendt (left) with his brother Christian.

Jordan Wendt remembers being the skinny kid in school.

He remembers getting teased for being less athletic and ‘not as big’ as his friends.

Wendt admits that the constant reminders got to him sometimes.

It made him feel left out as he struggled to fit into a group of friends climbing the ranks in rugby or winning medals on the athletics track.

He often found himself sitting on the sidelines feeling down and helpless.

The teasing may have been harmless banter between teenage friends at the time, but for Wendt, it represented a difficult start to high school life.

Then, in year 11, some nine years ago, the former Marist Brothers High School student decided it was time for a change.

He had had enough of the teasing and wanted it to stop.

That is where Wendt’s fitness journey began – the long and sometimes intimidating road to reaching peak physical condition.

He weighed around 60 kilograms with low muscle mass when he started training at 17-years-old.

Jordan Wendt at his gym on Domain Road, Suva.

Jordan Wendt at his gym on Domain Road, Suva.

PROGRESS

Wendt’s progress since then has been steady, with many experiments and dietary adjustments – and re-adjustments – in between.

But, as the 26-year-old points out, “it’s more about the destination than the journey.”

Fast forward to 2020, and Wendt is already approaching his goal weight of 95 kg nearly 10 years on from when he started.

He currently weighs 92 kgs of mostly muscle mass, marking quite a turnaround for the Suva lad.

“There were times when I wanted to just give up; times when I thought if all the effort was really going to be worth it in the end,” he said.

“And, to be honest, it really was worth it. Getting motivated to train every week is not an easy task but people should always remember why they started.”

As Wendt bulked up, not only did the teasing stop, but his friends started asking him for training advice, which he was more than happy to share.

Soon, as word spread and more and more people began coming to him for training tips, he decided to try personal training as a way of making a living.

This despite graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree specialising in environmental studies in 2018.

“In the first month, all I did was assist people who wanted to train. I used Instagram to reach out and offered my services for free,” he said.

“Then, in August, 2018, and with encouragement from my brother, mum and dad, I decided to start a personal training business from home.”

Wendt started with two clients but has steadily built that number to 25, with 12 that visit his gym-garage at home nearly every day.

The programmes on offer vary from fat loss to muscle building and general well-being depending on what the client is looking for.

In 1989, personal trainers were so popular in the United States that some were charging as much as US$200 (FJ$433.75) for half-an-hour of training.

Fiji is yet to see a similar boom.

But, with non-communicable diseases responsible for 80 percent of deaths in the country, personal trainers ought to become trendy here too.

CHALLENGES

Just like with most other businesses, Wendt, a self-described introvert, has faced several challenges along the way.

He says many people did not take him seriously at first, while others refused to spend money on personal trainers.

“Those same people were happy to spend hundreds of dollars at pubs every weekend but didn’t want to pay someone $20 a day to train them,” he said.

“That is a constant challenge. In Fiji, the culture of hiring personal trainers hasn’t caught on yet but there is a growing number who are taking fitness and healthy living seriously.”

There are only a handful of personal trainers in Fiji, with most usually operating from local gyms.

Building consistency is another big challenge, Wendt says.

Many of his clients leave after two to three months of training, never to return.

This means that he has to design training programmes that are sustainable to follow and meet the demands of his clients.

“My main goal is not just to train clients, but also help them make fitness and healthy living an important part of their lifestyles,” he said.

“It’s really about self-motivation. They can become inspired from what I have achieved but if they are backed into a corner and I’m not there how are they going to get themselves to do it.”

FUTURE

In growing the business, Wendt wants to bring personal training to the comfort of the client’s home through digital platforms.

He plans to harness the power of internet technology to create videos, podcasts and online coaching sessions, seeing it as a way to cut costs and deliver greater efficiency.

“That’s where I see my business going. I already do most of my marketing on Instagram, where I have more than 500 followers,” he said.

“I also want to expand gym and bring in more equipment but as one person, I have my limits so the main aim would be to digitise.”

Wendt has come a long way from the teased, skinny kid in high school to starting his own fitness business.

He was also asked to take part in a local bodybuilding competition along the way, an offer he declined.

Wendt credits most of his success to his mum, Debbie Singh, dad, Gabriel Wendt, brother, Christian, and sister, Kushil McPherson.

“I’d say the journey to here has been quite difficult but, more importantly, it has helped me discover a part of myself that I never knew existed,” he said.

Edited by Osea Bola

Feedback: sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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