Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Cody Sipe, Co-Founder and Vice President of Functional Aging Institute, located in Searcy, AR, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

The Functional Aging Institute (FAI) educates and empowers health and fitness professionals around the world on how to create safe and effective exercise programs for older adults based on the most current scientific evidence and trains and mentors entrepreneurs on how to build a successful training or coaching business serving older adults. Most of our customers are personal trainers working in fitness clubs and gyms, but we also serve professionals in healthcare and senior residential living communities. FAI has become one of the leading education providers and authorities on senior fitness with distributors in Europe, China, Southeast Asia, Taiwan, Australia, and Mexico.

Tell us about yourself

When I was younger, I had a very negative view of older adults due to several experiences I had with them, leading me to believe that growing old meant being sick, frail, and senile. However, when I started my master's degree, I began working with older adults who were healthy, vibrant, smart, funny, and a joy to be around. This led me to pursue a career that would allow me to help older adults experience the latter through a healthy lifestyle and, especially, regular exercise. This led me to pursue a Ph.D. in Health and Kinesiology, opening a fitness center targeting the older demographic and co-founding the Functional Aging Institute with my business partner Dan Ritchie, Ph.D. My motivation is knowing that my work is helping transform the lives of older adults around the world so that they are able to keep doing the things that they love doing as late in life as possible.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment is creating the Functional Aging Specialist Certification (FAS), which has helped tens of thousands of health and fitness professionals around the world become more effective with their work with their older clients. The FAS is a mixture of evidence-based recommendations and strategies, innovative "new" concepts, and decades of practical experience working with a diverse range of older adults in numerous types of fitness-related settings.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

It takes a lot of time, effort, energy, and sacrifice to start and scale a business. The hardest thing is finding the right balance between work success and personal/family success. There are times when both are demanding your attention at the same time, and sometimes tough decisions need to be made on which you will choose at the moment. This can often lead to guilt and self-doubt, which can quickly undermine your efforts. The sooner you can find balance and create clear boundaries, the better.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Find a mentor and a tribe to become a part of. There is NO need for anyone to go it alone or to reinvent the wheel. Take advantage of the expertise that coaches and mentors can provide. By investing in a good coach, you will be investing in yourself and in your future and will save a significant amount of time, energy, and money in the long run.
  2. Give, give and give some more. Don't just think about how others could help your business but think about how you can help others' businesses. By providing quality assistance to others, you will become known, valued, and respected. Give even to those who have no capabilities of helping you, and you will find that it will come back to you ten-fold.
  3. Take imperfect action. It is important to plan your business strategy but don't wait until everything is perfect before you take action. Action creates momentum, reveals opportunities, and solves a lot of problems. If you are waiting until your plan or product is "perfect," you will wait forever and lose valuable time and opportunity.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

FAI is a business founded on our academic and professional expertise, which requires many years of post-graduate education. However, this is only one path to starting a business. Anything that you feel you have advanced knowledge and expertise in (even if it is merely a recreational pursuit or hobby) can be turned into a business opportunity.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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