Successful fitness entrepreneur talks passion, vision and flexibility

Liam Taylor made a significant career change in 2009, moving from personal trainer to CEO of Perth-based business Surge Fitness and becoming a respected business leader in the three years since. Before Taylor took the helm at Surge, the business was on the brink of insolvency but it now boasts an annual revenue of over $3 million and a membership of more than 3,000.

Taylor and his business partner had previous experience in personal training at large-scale fitness centres, but as the pair had no management experience or business expertise they opted to place experienced individuals in charge. Despite taking this prudent step, things didn’t initially turn out as Taylor and his partner had hoped.

“The culture of the business was against the values that we were trying to instil. There was zero engagement between staff and members; we had a high turnover of staff, a plummeting membership base and cashflow problems,” Taylor told Dynamic Business.

These complications led Taylor to take the reins and move from personal trainer to CEO. The rest, as they say, is history as Taylor dramatically turned the flailing business around. His attributes this success to one of his key beliefs – that to run a business you must be passionate about your role.

“Surge was created by my vision of being passionate not just about the fitness industry but changing lives,” Taylor said.

Taylor considers himself a very hands-on leader and part of this approach means ensuring his values are also instilled in the management group and staff.

Vision and flexibility key to success

Taylor said his vision for the Surge business was to create a centre that catered to all demographics. Having such clear vision and passion for the centre helped create a broad customer appeal for Surge, but Taylor warns a clear vision must be paired with a flexibility towards change. As the fitness industry continues to evolve, Taylor is adamant that rather than resenting the competition, it must change to meet customers expectations.  As a result, a 24/7 Surge facility is being built on a new site to meet these expectations.

“You have to be willing to adapt and change; the members that come to Surge will tell you that we change every year whilst keeping consistent with our values,” Taylor said.

As well as providing the ultimate fitness experience, Taylor is dedicated to creating a community-based organisation. The result of this is a number of community-based schemes, with Taylor having a particular passion for tackling childhood obesity. The club runs three free classes a week for children and also visit local schools.

“The goal for us is to ensure that the fitness industry has a future as the more kids that are involved in exercise today, the more adults are going to be involved in the future,” he said.

Taylor’s most shining trait is his passion for the fitness industry and his dedication to improving the business and inspiring his staff.

“The biggest thing for me is that when I took over the business I 100 percent believed in what I was trying to create and I believed that I could make a difference.”

Taylor’s belief in his business is so unwavering he said he would have no qualms in opening a Surge directly opposite a Fitness First – he doesn’t see the multi-national fitness chains as competition.

Taylor’s dedication and business smarts were recognised last month, when he was named a winner in Western Australia’s Top40Under40 award program.

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