This month, we had the chance to sit down with Aaron De Jong, the owner of Movement108. Read on to learn more about how he grew his brand into what it is today.
What is Movement 108?
Movement108 is a space dedicated to opening people’s mind and experience through movement. We provide classes, personal training, hiking groups, workshops, goal setting workshops, dance classes and outdoor events. As trainers we design workouts with focused mobility warm ups followed by instructing new skills and old skills all around body weight, kettlebells and the TRX followed with the right cool downs for that day’s work. Ultimately it’s a space to move and feel better while getting to know a few people along the way.
Tell us a bit about your background.
The first thing I want to do is write all my qualifications… but that doesn’t really adequately paint a picture of who I am. I went to school to become a high school PE teacher and through a long road of working in schools, paying of student debt and trying to learn as much about myself as possible I found my way into personal training. In that time I’ve found the only integral way to coach people or show people how to do things is to live it and be able to do it myself. I’m constantly learning to forgive myself when I don’t know an answer or am out of my comfort zone.
What inspired you to open Movement 108?
An opportunity to create. I just felt stuck in the world of fitness that was focused on bicep curls and the aesthetics – which ultimately is a hollow experience. I wanted to create a space where people can learn to move better, get fitter and enjoy each others company along the way… creating a whole experience rather than a fragment of what I was experiencing in the fitness industry at the time.
How has the city inspired and influenced your business?
I first was influenced to open a studio when I saw other young people opening up spaces like the Distrikt and Tightclub around the city and started realizing that there is a need and want for something more. First off the proximity to mountains and ocean create an opportunity for a balanced active lifestyle. Vancouver is a laid back place and I knew I didn’t want to be the gym that saw its regulars 6 times a week. Our whole focus is that you can come in, get strong, feel good in your ability to move then go tackle your next challenge or activity that is outdoors. All forms of training should serve a purpose and ours is to get people confidently out in the environment that surrounds us.
What do you find most challenging about being an entrepreneur? What is the most rewarding?
The two biggest challenges I’ve experienced are fear and comparison. When I’ve fallen into a fear based mentality in my time operating Movement108 ideas stop flowing, I can get paralyzed with the perceived financial burden, or I’ll question what it is we’re offering. When I’m comparing to other business it’s always in the thought of ‘what we’re not doing’ and I never win in that mind set.
The most rewarding experiences have been in the exact opposite. When I am openly thinking and creating, the team and myself at the studio literally feel we can do anything. When we turn away from comparison we are rooted in the strength of our relationships and community that have formed due to the consistent practice we bring into the studio.
What have you found to be the most successful marketing tactic to build the brand.
Power of relationships and following that up with visual consistency. The two things I think I’ve really focused on that have helped are building relationships with those that are in the walls of the studio and knowing they are the voice of our product. We have a great relationship with lululemon and that comes from interpersonal connection. That alongside with visual consistency on our web and social campaigns provide consistency in feeling and experience. In the ‘traditional’ marketing sense I really have no clue about how to throw stuff out there.
How do you build buzz/stand out amongst the many fitness studios in the city?
We specialize in something that has a hard style (kettlebells) and make it approachable and fun. I think our focus on form and smaller class sizes has made us a bit different from the traditional ‘fill it to the brim’ mentality of classes where form and function of the workout can get lost. We also build events outside of our class schedule to let people know we’re not all about the lifting.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.
What’s next for Movement 108?
We’ve got a big online experience that we’ve started drumming up and excited to share later this year. We’re always keeping our eyes open for new territory, new trainers and new ideas – but mostly just enjoying the summer – our 2 year party was June 2016 and our hiking pursuits that are coming up with the beautiful weather.
Where can people sign up for a class?
www.movement108.com/when – and the first one’s free!