Meet Jim Ridley: here is a young ‘man in business’ who has literally used his muscle to raise thousands of dollars for charity.
Tell us about your family and your upbringing?
I grew up in a fairly regular Australian household near Barraba with 2 younger siblings. We lived out of town, so got up to the usual stuff kids do in the bush: catching yabbies, mustering stock, riding motorbikes. It was here in Armidale at UNE where I was studying commerce that I met my lovely wife, Jodie. We have been together for 15 years and married for 8.
We have a beautiful little girl who turns 4 this year. I am very family oriented and love nothing more than spending time with them.
What inspired you to become interested in physical fitness?
Having been around the industry for a while, you always seem to hear the answer “Oh, I’ve always been active”. Yes, at school I played footy, golf and cricket, but after school I began to stack on the weight. I did not really play sport for about 7 or 8 years.
Over that time, I went from a fairly lightweight teenager to a hefty twenty something. It was in 2003 that I saw a photo of myself that had been taken at New Year’s, and Jodie could not get her arms around me. I had gone from lightweight to quite a bit over the 100 kg mark.
Trying different ways to shed the weight and sometimes getting it completely wrong led me to study for my Cert 4 in fitness. In the end, I had dropped almost 30 kilos and I thought, “If I can do this, surely I can help others to do the same!”
What qualifications do you have?
Not fitness related, I hold a Bachelor of Commerce, and fitness wise I have a Certificate 3 and 4 in Fitness, I am registered with Physical Activity Australia and am a CrossFit level 1 certified trainer, and we have also recently gone from that to become a CrossFit affiliate.
I am also on my way to becoming accredited in the nationally recognised nutrition program Metabolic Precision, enabling us to actually help clients with full nutrition programs.
You run Gym Ridz Personal Training?
Gym Ridz came into existence in October 2009. It started out with me, a ute and some witches hats. But I was involved in a car accident in September 2010 that rendered my mobile business immobile for 6 weeks. It was then that I decided I needed a base. So I began looking for the perfect facility.
I was after something that I wished was around when I was trying to lose weight. I’ll admit I was embarrassed to step into a gym; I thought everyone there would stop and look at me when I walked in when I was at my heaviest. So I set about finding an area to set up as a private personal training studio.
In February 2011, we introduced women’s only bootcamps to the business, and I had to hire some more trainers. In April that year we moved into our studio; it began rather humbly, and we gradually added more equipment and resources as the budget allowed, so I have almost got it to where I want it.
We have also added a great team of people to the business over the last year. We have myself and Ali who work full-time in the business, with 3 others on a part-time basis. We do a lot of one on one private personal training, semi private or small group training, women’s only bootcamp and CrossFit classes.
We offer a full nutrition service as well. Ali is qualified to deliver meal plans, and I am currently undertaking a nutrition course, so that we can deliver everything that our clients need.
What’s popular at the moment?
The complete package. People don’t want to be running here, there and everywhere to get what they are after. When you have to go to your PT for training, somewhere else for your nutrition program, somewhere else for the nutrition products and then somewhere else for the work in between sessions, it can get hard to stay motivated. That is why we have invested so much into different workout styles, nutrition products and nutrition certifications.
It always bugged me that as a personal trainer I could not help our clients with their full nutrition programs; it actually requires more training than just the Cert 3 and 4 to deliver nutritional services, so I have made sure that we are able to add that into our services and offer the complete package.
Have you won any awards?
We are a member of a PT mastermind group that organises events like Push Ups For Charity. That is an international event, and we aim to raise money for Make a Wish Australia. In its first year we raised $19,750 here in Armidale alone, so we were crowned the Australian Push Ups For Charity champions for 2011.
We were also awarded runner up in the member of the year competition; it is based on growth, both business wise and personally and then is voted on by all members of the group. We even beat out a Sydney based business that has 3 studios and generates around $1.2 mill per year. So I was quite humbled to receive that award.
Tell us a client success story …
We have quite a few, but there are 2 that really stand out for me. One is a client who has been through so many ups and downs – even being involved in a serious accident. He still, after 2 years, has kept the weight off he lost and is continually setting himself new goals. The other is one of the women’s bootcampers, who has lost around 20 kg since April last year.
The amazing thing about both is how much their outlook has changed and now how positive both of them are about just about everything.
We have recently introduced CrossFit to our services, so we will be looking to build on its global popularity. It is getting such great results for our clients and in combination with our Metabolic Precision nutrition program, I know it will only get better.
So on from this, we will add some more trainers into the mix and keep developing the team we already have … so really, more big things are what’s next.