Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Megan Williamson, Owner of Ocean Rehab and Fitness, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Ocean Rehab and Fitness’ mission is to bridge the gap between rehab and fitness, making exercise inclusive for everyone no matter what their limitations may be. In-person sessions are offered in the beautiful city of Vancouver, BC, as well as online across the globe. We also offer education to other fitness professionals on fitness inclusion and the fundamentals of working with clients who have physical disabilities.
Tell us about yourself
My love and interest in human movement began young. I grew up on Vancouver Island as a classically trained competitive dancer, which eventually led me in teaching my own classes at the age of 14. Aiming to pursue my career as a choreographer, I enrolled at the University of California at Irvine and completed my BA in Dance. After graduating from UC Irvine, I leveraged my professional dance training to transition into the extremely competitive fitness industry in Los Angeles, where I gained seven years of experience at Equinox. Having worked with clients from 13 to 82 years old, although I was primarily focused on those who were middle-aged or post-surgery/injury. Arthritis, osteoarthritis, and Cerebral Palsy were some common challenges for the clients I was working with on a weekly basis.
When I moved to Vancouver in 2014 to study Kinesiology at UBC, I ended up connecting with ICORD’s Physical Activity Research Center (PARC) through one of my professors. This was one of the most pivotal moments in my career because it led me to where I am now! Through volunteering at PARC, I was able to assist participants with their fitness programs and educate myself further on adaptive exercise.
I am very proud to be an active member of the adaptive fitness community and can be found running adapted boot camps, training events for Spinal Cord Injury BC, and dance classes through BC Wheelchair Basketball. I also create a one-on-one customized sports programs for adaptive athletes who are training in sports like wheelchair rugby, floorball, and wheelchair basketball. I love putting my energy towards creating more fitness accessibility, such as teaming up with the cities of Greater Vancouver to help teach Inclusive Fitness Training to their parks and recreation staff.
My most recent venture has been the creation of the course Breaking Barriers: fundamentals of training clients with physical disabilities, which is a course providing other fitness professionals with awareness and skills to successfully coach those with physical disabilities.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Recently my biggest achievement was not only to stay afloat during the COVID pandemic for two years, but we flourished. Pivoting much of our business to online platforms has amazingly helped to break down accessibility barriers so that our team of coaches can reach more people who have disabilities that might be isolated due to health concerns.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Since I work from home a lot of the time now, I find it challenging to transition into times where there is no work present. Protecting my weekends to have time with friends and loved ones is key to avoiding burnout. I also make sure that when I take holidays, my phone goes on airplane mode. It's hard because I love what I do, but I do understand the benefits of having breaks for the mind and body. This is something I am constantly working on!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Get help- don't try and do everything yourself, especially if you want to be successful. Whether it means finding a business coach, a mentor, or seeing a counselor, if it's a specific task that you aren't good at or enjoy, I truly believe in hiring out.
- Surround yourself with people that believe in you- starting a business can be scary. Get rid of the naysayers in your life because they will only drag you down. Find the cheerleaders and the ones that believe in you. When you have tough days, these people will be key players to fall back on for support and encouragement.
- Have a vision- remember why you are creating your business. Keep true to your vision. Protect your time. You will get pulled in a lot of directions, but at the end of the day, if it isn't helping you support your vision, then it's a 'NO.'
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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