Michelle Miller is the founder and CEO of MyFirstWorkout.Com (MM Fitness LLC) and has been a personal trainer and group exercise instructor in Tallahassee Florida for 20 years working with people of all different ages and fitness levels. She is a wife and mother of two boys ages 6 and 20 and my passion is children’s fitness.
01:19 minute mark:
Agile entrepreneur takeaway: The gaps that you see in your own life could be the springboard for your own business.
Michelle talks about her business which is about connecting children with their parents and caregivers with fitness via MyFrstWorkout.Com. She got the idea for her business while she was spending time with her fiver year old and when she checkout out competition, she couldn’t find any fitness products for children which are meaningful.
04:49 minute mark:
Agile entrepreneur takeaway: Your passion can show you different ways to build your business quickly.
Michelle talks about how she was able to design, procure, and brand her business from concept to launch in 6 months. Given that her business is about physical products, it has taken little longer but she was still able to do in a relatively short timeframe. Her launch and promotion went very well.
07:52 minute mark:
Agile entrepreneur takeaway: Expand your business into adjacent markets as opposed to finding totally new markets.
Michelle explains how she expanded her business to be mobile where she takes the fitness (equipment and all) to her clients workplaces, homes 9if needed), and how that expanded her business. She also caters to special population, pregnant women, and people with surgeries etc.
12:52 minute mark:
Agile entrepreneur takeaway: If you believe in your idea, give your 100% so you don’t regret later.
Michelle talks about how she used equity from their home to build her business. She also explains how she found her vendors in China. Michelle was serious about her business and invested $3,000 in getting the right domain and researched extensively on getting the right vendors.
17:39 minute mark:
Agile entrepreneur takeaway: Keep learning from your mistakes and make it a deliberate habit to journal so you can look back.
Michelle talks about some of the challenges she faced. First is the additional cost she incurred in warehousing her products much earlier than needed. Second is that there is some stigma associated with kids and weight training and Michelle needed to help overcome some of that resistance by educating.
21:29 minute mark:
Agile entrepreneur takeaway: Pricing is a very important aspect of the business. Keep iterating.
Michelle talks about the challenge of pricing her products right. She explains how she came up with a price based on how much competition is charging and how much more value her products are delivering over competition. She is still tweaking her pricing.
23:18 minute mark:
Agile entrepreneur takeaway: Keep learning from people who have gone ahead of you.Michelle gives advice based on her entrepreneurial experience. (1) Be patient (2) Networking is key (3) Surround yourself with who believe in you
Episode Transcript (Click to expand)
Ramesh: Hello everyone, welcome to the agile entrepreneur podcast. This is your host Ramesh Dontha. This podcast is about starting and building your own business with purpose, passion, perseverance and possibilities. Today our guest is Michelle Miller, who has a very unique business. So Michelle Miller is a personal trainer and group exercise instructor in Tallahassee Florida and then she's been operating, she's been doing that for last 20 years or so working with the people of all different ages and the different levels. She's a wife and a mother of two boys and her passion is children's fitness. So you will soon know how this passion translated into her business and her business name is www.myfirstworkout.com, operates under the company name MM Fitness LLC. Hi Michelle welcome.
Michelle: Hello Ramesh. I'm so thrilled to be here today with you and your listeners.
Ramesh: Thank you, thank you and so you have a very unique business, www.myfirstworkout.com. If you could tell us what this business is about.
Michelle: So my business is about connecting children with their parents, their caregivers, whoever is that adult in their life that is one of the most influential people in their lives and my first workout is about connecting them with those people and also with Fitness, which is just a huge part of life. It affects everything in your life. Your health and how you care for your body. Affects everything from you know children and their social relationships, how they feel about their body, academically in school and then later in life you know as they go on in their profession and just their quality life and my goal for these families is just better quality of life for them and that's what my first workout is about.
Ramesh: So when did you start your business?
Michelle: So I had the idea on March 18th of 2018. I was laying there with my six, he was five at the time my five-year-old son and my I do have a 20 year old and the time went so fast and I was such a young mother with my older son and I just wanted to do better and really be present and so the relationship I have with my six-year-old is just so special and we were laying there. It was a Sunday and we don't you know have a lot of family time. So I was just soaking up the minutes with him and my mind began to wander. You know I just was thinking about him and he's such a happy child, we're so connected. You know he can go out and do anything. He's just physically fit and I just started thinking of other families for some reason and other children in this world and I just was like you know what do those parents have? You know I am a fitness trainer; I know how to you know help him to be to be healthy and strong and this wonderful activity has joined us together. It's given us something that we can do to connect us. What do other people have if they're great at their jobs. They might be great you know doctors or lawyers or teachers or you know English, you know what do they have? And so I started on, I really started thinking about it and so much that I got out of bed and went to the internet and started googling. I went on Amazon and Walmart and Academy and I was shocked to find absolutely nothing that was pure quality physical training for children. It was such fluff and dumbed down exercise equipment and just programming bed was very belittling to these kids and so I just made it my mission, literally my brain just took off and I just was like I'm going to create a step by step program that will teach anybody of any skill level, you can have zero skill or you can actually be you know in Fitness and just not know what to do with your kids and I'm going to break it down and I'm going to make it so easy for them that they can do it together. And my first workout of all it came to be.
Ramesh: Okay so you started in 2018 and how long did it take for you to fully implement your program and then start the company?
Michelle: So unbelievably by December of that year I had my product fully put together sailing across the ocean and it hit Jacksonville in time for the Christmas holiday and so from March 18th to December, it was about December 18th we had logoed branded, we had custom-made pieces put in my kit. I had shot 12 posters; my program is 12 different programs. So I had children shoot 123 different exercises. We shot five videos or because my kit comes with the equipment and it comes with a programming to teach the parents and the children in both poster and video format. So we had done all that. We had events. We did Zulily, two events in Zulily by that time. We were in magazines, I went to Vegas in October and basically launched. This was a total hidden project up until October and went out to Vegas and just BAM! There I was and had an amazing response there from people just like wow! This is, we've never seen anything like this, and it was what? Nine months then, nine months.
Ramesh: Okay so is your program you sell these kids, or can you explain how this program works out? Let's say I have a six-year-old, what do I do?
Michelle: So www.myfirstworkout.com has the kits. I've got four different kits and they're divided into age groups. So age five seven I’ve got two different color versions. Kind of like boy, girl, but whatever it doesn't matter whatever colors you like, and it just comes with lighter weight. So I’ve got two- and three-pound dumbbells in there and a four-pound sand ball and then I’ve got two kids for the age eight to ten kids and that just comes with heavier weight. That's the only difference. The programming is the same. So you'd go on my website and you would if you have a six-year-old, you'd want the five to seven kit and say you've got also an eight-year-old and a ten-year-old, you wouldn't necessarily want to buy three kits. Because the programming is what makes the initial kid more expensive, you would just want to buy some extra weights. So I’ve got a store on there that you could buy next you know so for your eight-year-old you might want to buy them some three- and four-pound weights or something and we also are selling on Amazon right now. I've got all my 19 pieces; I’ve got four kits and then all the items you can buy individually on Amazon.
Ramesh: Excellent. So let's talk about you on your journey, right. So in March or so you got this idea. Prior to that did you have any business background.
Michelle: In 2007 I started MM fitness and LLC and that is my mobile personal training business and one day I was at the gym and three or four my clients didn't show up and I said I can't help these people if they don't come and get their workout in. What can I do to help these people? I want so much for them to get the full benefit. I don't want their money. I want them to be fit and so I said what can I do? And I said you know what I'm going to show up on their doorstep and then with everything they need and then they don't have an excuse. So that's what I did, and I started Michelle’s’ Mobile fitness, that's what MM stands for; Michelle 's mobile fitness and well economy was struggling. You know people value their body and their fitness. Particularly my age group, I train special populations. Which means everybody coming to fitness that has a little bit of an extra need. So whether that's children, you need to modify or pregnancy, women that are pre-pregnancy, going through pregnancy, after pregnancy, everybody surgeries. Whether it's back surgery, knee surgery, heart surgery, very deconditioned. Maybe you said maybe you exercise as a 20-year-old college kid and then you sat for the next 30 years and now you're 50, your blood works come back, and your cholesterol is up, your blood pressure and the doctor says you better start exercising. Well those people need to come to the gym. But they need to ease into it. You can't just start bench-pressing 300 pounds again. You know so I train special populations and I break down Fitness and I make fitness just easy for everybody and whether no matter what your issue is, you know everybody can do fitness and I just help them to learn you know where their body is and so I started the MM Fitness 2007 and it's been wonderful and I go to people.
Ramesh: So Michelle, so it looks like that's a pretty interesting. So what you've done is with the fitness, the MM Fitness First so you specialized it in a way you have your own very unique value proposition. One is, its mobile that you go to people's places. Number two, you also specialize with respect to, you customize your fitness to your customers depending on their situation. So is that how you build MM fitness to be uniquely differentiated by being mobile and then by customizing your fitness?
Michelle: Yes, no one was doing mobile fitness and there was a true need in the economy. We've moved as a, you know people are coming indoors and people are wanting the convenience and so at a time when trainers were struggling and the economy was struggling, I did very well. You know looking at what the need was and the same thing that is carried over into my first workout, because I’ve seen what Fitness does for people of all ages and it just inspires me to get the attention of these children so young and help them out by starting this habit early. Because you know what I hear from all my people that I train and in fact at eleven o'clock I'm going to train a group at Florida, Florida blue and they're all seniors and you know what they call me, Michelle I wish I had this when I was young and it just inspires me to keep advocating for children's fitness. Because I hear this from my clients and their condition of their bodies when they have not trained them, and they've neglected them their entire life. Every single one of them says to me, Michelle I just wish I had had this earlier; I wish I had known you earlier. And so it's carried over into this extreme vision and just passion I have to just go out there and just get the tension of these kids and their parents and just saying let's offset, everybody's going to struggle with something someday. Our bodies are not perfect, our environments are not perfect. But we can make this better for you. We can offset a lot of these different things just by good fitness. I'm not talking marathons and every day you know hitting it, I'm talking just good fitness. Let's just meet the fitness standards and that's my goal for these kids.
Ramesh: Michelle your passion definitely comes through very clearly, that's good. So let's talk a little bit about my first workout. So 10 months or so is a long time in starting a business to tell you the truth. I mean in in the sense the people go through lots of ups and downs, let me put it that way. All right so how was the 10-month journey? First let me start with financing, how did you finance your second business, my first workout?
Michelle: We had some a good amount of equity in her home and we were also planning on putting in a pool and a bunch of different renovations. So when I told my husband, he's been incredibly supportive, and you need a good support system. You can't do something like I’ve done, tried to build a major brand with no support and so he said, let's do this. And we took all that money that we had you know the equity in our home and the money we had set aside for renovations, in addition to our credit being extremely good, we used all that money to invest in a marketing company to really give us a great, you know we basically berthed, it was an idea. We had no tangible anything and so they gave us an amazing logo, branding. We've got all the materials to go out and to be able to show people what we have. That included ordering all the equipment, ordering the molds from China. I had an amazing man in China that I wound up you know after researching. How to deal with China, met him and so you know we got, I got all my product and so it was just you know being set up financial a little bit beforehand not knowing this was going to be in the works, but that's what it went. We had the money for that.
Ramesh: Okay, excellent. Actually it's fascinating this journey. So let me keep following through this. So now you financed it and then afterwards you said you researched and found these people in China you know they're not local. So I mean marketing I can understand. So you could find the local company and then you could research. But how did you go about finding a company that would manufacture these things for you and how were you able to bypass the trust factor?
Michelle: Yes, that was huge right in the beginning. You know some of the big decisions I had to make right in the beginning, one was my domain name for my first work out. Its $3,000 and prior to that everything I dealt with was like in the ten-dollar range. So it was kind of like are we in this or not?
Ramesh: I am sorry, why was it three thousand dollars? Did you buy it from somebody else
Michelle: I did, I had to buy it. It was already taken. So it was three, you know and so that was a big, that was one of my first decisions like how serious I about this am and so my first thing I just got done paying it off. They let me pay it off in installments of $250 over the year. So that was kind of cool. So I own that now but that was my first big decision. My second one was how do I go about getting my product. How do I get these materials, this kit and I of course started in the United States first and I always, I never thought I would be someone that would ever sell something? But if I did, in my back in my head I wanted it to be USA. But what I learned I can't even buy a dumbbell in the United States. These people that sell them in huge quantities, they still buy them from China. So it forced me to look overseas and so that was scary. Because I'm just a personal trainer. I don't a business, I don't have an MBA. I've never dealt with; you know I’ve been the only place I’ve been out of the country is Canada. You know because we live in New York. It was an hour you know away and so I researched, and I read blog after blog after blog and I put together a framework of what successful people, what the common denominators were. So I dealt with my person, he had those and the biggest thing that he had was he got back to me every, I am like that. When someone wants something for me, I get back to him right away and he, every single email you know, and we tell every single day. I actually miss him. Because I haven't, you know we used to talk every single day. We put this, built this kit and everything and I can't wait to be able to place my next order with him you know. But it was just the research and looking at what other people's successes were, and I made sure that my person had all those and he's been amazing and I'm so thankful for him.
Ramesh: Excellent. So far things are going well. You are able to finance it and you found the right manufacturing partner. So anything that you could think of that did not go well the way you expected it during this journey
Michelle: I would say you know it's hard to look back and regret. Because you just, you don't know at the time you have to do the best you have with what you have at the time. You know fast forwarding where I am when I went to Vegas, one of my biggest concerns was how am I going to do everything. I don't have the money right now to pay for a staff. So I'm doing a lot of them and wearing a lot of the hats and so I was most nervous about the kidding process and getting those out. I wanted to be a top of the line. When my customers order, I wanted them to get a kit and I wanted to be efficient and I wanted to be able to log everything. I ordered 2500 units right from the start and I was just nervous about how am I going to manage all that and so I met a face to face fulfillment company when I was in Vegas and they really you know talked a big talk and they're great guys you know. But I do regret at this point getting the warehouse so soon and I would not have done that again. But at the time I didn't know how quickly kits were going to be going out and again I want my customer, customer service is the most important thing to me and if anybody has any issues with anything, not happy, I want to be there and make it right or give them their money back whatever. So I do wish I had not done the warehouse so soon and I hired a really top-of-the-line marketing company, because I wanted these kids to have top-of-the-line. These kids don't have in my opinion they don't have a fitness company that is just focusing on kids. In my opinion kids are an afterthought. We'll throw some clothes out to you, we'll give you some cute little you know cute little exercises to do. But the kids are more than cute Ramesh. Kids, you would not believe the kids, they have done my entire program. Every hundred and twenty-three exercises. So it starts from my program one comes in the kit, it's 13 exercises and by the time you get to program 12 Ramesh, you're pretty much an advanced weight, you've learned weight training. You will walk into any class in any gym and know the exercises and if these kids weren't capable of doing it, then I wouldn't have my videos and my posters that are shot. They're young, these kids were amazing, and I last Wednesday went to an elementary school here in Tallahassee and I exercised 608 kids. Kids kindergarten through fifth grade every eight minutes. These kids from the minute big and small and happy kids and unhappy kids, you could see it all and I'm telling you, the minute we started that exercise, these kids’ faces lit up and they loved it and we just have to capture them early and that's the key and that's why I went with this marketing company. Because I wanted these kids to know that's how serious I am. We are going to bring you the best programming and the best exercise equipment, no more fluff. You all can do it and we just need to let your parents know it's that you can do it you know. Because there's a stigma around kids and weight training and that's some of the difficulty I’ve had as well is you know teaching people that children can absolutely do this.
Ramesh: Wow this is interesting. So now you've done the product, you've done the packaging and then to some extent you started the promotional aspects of it. How about the price? How did you end up deciding and what the right price is for your product?
Michelle: And that's something I still continue to struggle with. What I did was I went to Amazon and Walmart and I looked at the equipment they had comparable to what I had, and I put myself right in the middle, a little bit closer to Walmart. Higher than Walmart, but less than Amazon. And I added it all up and then I put a value on my programming. I said one, nobody else has programming like this, that is step they can go into the home. Well it's progressive, everybody else you've got, they might have a video, but that's it. Once you don't get videos, it doesn't take those moves and keep tweaking them make you better and better and better and so I just you know and I only have 2500 units and so I put it all together and I came up with my 109 and 119 and you know I still struggle is that too much. You know I don't want to make; I want my product to be for every child and so that's my goal is to get my prices to the point where you know it's accessible for everyone.
Ramesh: Okay so you're trying to balance between a profit and the value that you want to deliver to customers? Yeah that's yeah, I'm sure you'll find out as you progress. So that's good. As we come towards the tail end of the podcast, so let's talk about Michelle, I mean definitely you have a lot of Drive that comes through you know through this discussion and then you have a lot of passion. So you've been in the fitness industry for quite some time. So based on your journey, anything that you can share with the listeners. You’re is a product business as opposed to like an online business or something like that. So you have a very unique, you know a lot of unique things that you could share. What are the things that you could share with would-be entrepreneurs?
Michelle: You have to have an extreme amount of patience. I've had to learn patience and there's so many people that you're dealing with and I think when you're an entrepreneur you're pretty much usually a go-getter and you're right on top of things and not everybody's like that. There's so many people and so you know there's just, in life is life and I do feel like there's a bigger plan happening and timing is everything and so I’ve had to learn patience and when things don't go my way to just sit back and you know I’ve done the best I can and I'm just going to you know, but things happen when they're supposed to happen and so patience is key. A network of people is key. The support that I’ve had you know and I know some people I’ve realized you know I know other people that have started this journey, you know they've still been super successful and they don't have the support and I commend them. Because that's one thing no matter who I tell Ramesh, they just fall in love with my product, with my vision. They get goose bumps; they immediately go and start calling people and you know I feel blessed. Because that encourages me and you know, but I’ve had it pretty easy as far as the support and so I commend those people that, if you've got something that not everybody is jumping up and down, you know they may just not see it right now. And so you know you know you've got to have that gut feeling that and you got to believe and so people that encourage you affirms your belief. But also even if people don't, you know you still have to have that core belief that I know I'm on to something. I know you know. So those have been my two biggest things, patience and support and I guess just the faith aspect of it. You know just believing that there's you know when you're doing something good, that you're trying to help the world that you know that's going to come back around on you and you're going to get some help there and so I hope that helps somebody.
Ramesh: Definitely and in your case, I think I also see that you've already, because you're a fitness instructor you've been observing your market for quite some time. So you know your market and then the market viability aspect, is it a viable market or not? I think you're figuring it out as you go along. So that's something also is very very important. But excellent Michelle. I mean you're definitely I know very very passionate about what you're doing. I you know wish you the best of luck and yeah and Michelle thank you very much for coming. Michelle Miller with www.myfirstworkout.com.
26:03Michelle: Thank you Ramesh, I appreciate your time so much.