Mel Tempest, the owner of Ballarat Body and Soul 24/7 Gym in Victoria, Australia, is as resilient as they come. Despite entering the fitness industry at age 36, battling health issues and facing adversity in opening her gym’s doors, Tempest and her club have seen tremendous success.
“We have just over 2,000 members and we’re celebrating our club’s 15th birthday,” said Tempest. Before 1999, however, it might have been difficult to convince her where she’d end up.
Ironically, Tempest said she “got into the fitness industry by accident.” 19 years ago, she left her job in real estate to care for a relative battling cancer, and soon after the relative passed away, became a member at her local health club.
Tempest then had a choice to return to her job or try something new. “I had to go back to work … but I really enjoyed going to the gym,” she said. “So I said, ‘I’ll go be a group fitness instructor,’ even though I had no idea what I was doing. I did the course and six months later, I got my first job as a circuit instructor.”
Her stint as an instructor was short-lived, however. After experiencing negative feedback from a manager about teaching Les Mills BODYJAM classes, Tempest decided it was time to open a gym of her own.
Over the span of three years, Tempest accumulated fitness equipment and worked on finding the right space. And after a “landlord changed his mind at the 11th hour” for the first building, Tempest opened her first gym in a local church.
Through persistence and delivering what the community wanted, Tempest was able to generate enough success to move into a bigger space, the building that houses Ballarat Body and Soul 24/7 today. “We’re now the proud owners of a building that’s around 1,700 square meters,” she said.
Despite being in a community with several other fitness options, Tempest’s club was able to separate itself from the pack with three key differentiators.
“We were one of the first three or four clubs in Australia to launch Myzone,” said Tempest. “I went with Myzone because it’s such a simple tool for the everyday member to use in their fitness journey. Then right about the same time, we launched Wexer, which allowed people to come into our club and train whenever they liked.”
Another game-changer for Ballarat Body and Soul 24/7 was an expansion of club hours. “We also were one of the first clubs to be open 24/7,” said Tempest. “So these three components — Myzone, Wexer and being open 24/7 — gave us the edge within our community.”
Embracing change and willingly adopting new technology are the ways Tempest has been able to stay ahead of the fitness game. “Don’t be afraid of change,” she said. “Of course, everybody isn’t going to love changes at first — that’s how we all are — but you have to think outside the box and challenge the status quo. If a new product comes on the market, have a good look at it and don’t go based on what other people tell you — find that information for yourself.”
Through thinking outside the box, being resilient and creating amazing experiences for her members, Tempest has fearlessly seized every opportunity and hurdled every obstacle. And she’s been thankful for every moment.
“I’ve not afraid to have a go at anything, because I can live with the worst possible scenario — so why not do it?” said Tempest. “I feel very privileged to have the opportunities I’ve had along the way, and I’m proud to have operated 15 years.”