Business owner Jonathon Petrohilos distinctly remembers the day he heard he was coming last on the leaderboard at a national bootcamp convention. It was the last time he was in that position.
“By the next year’s convention, I was coming first,” Jono said. “I worked hard to upskill. I read every book, listened to every podcast, attended every convention and event I could. By the end of the year, I’d grown my franchise, and was retaining 100 per cent of my clients.”
Jono originally went into fitness after school because he enjoyed it. While studying a degree in exercise physiology at university, he also did a Certificate III at FIAFitnation.
“One of my friends (who was a top student) studied his Cert III and IV at FIA, and he got a job immediately as a PT at Fitness First. At the time, Fitness First was easily the biggest franchise in Sydney,” Jono explained. “I thought if this guy chose FIA and recommended it and got a job immediately after his course, they must be good at what they do! So, I enrolled.”
“I think one of the biggest fitness industry myths to bust is that you don’t need to be a pro athlete or a supermodel to succeed,” Jono said. “If I can do it, anyone can! I started out working at a community centre, teaching classes and training clients. It was OK, but it wasn’t fulfilling, and when I got the opportunity to try the bootcamp franchise, I went for it.”
After turning his bootcamp business around, Jono realised he could help other PTs do the same. “I started by combining all the information that I learnt into a course for Personal Trainers. With my business partner Travis Mattern, we got it accredited. We just kept building the business from there.”
The business, Fitness Education Online, is now Australia’s top online fitness Continuing Education Course provider. It owns the largest Facebook Group in Australia for fitness professionals, with over 12,000 community members. This year, Jono won the Australian Fitness Awards Fitness Educator of the Year 2020.
“I remember one of the questions during my Cert III at FIA was something like, ‘you’re working at a gym, and a piece of equipment is broken, and a member complains. How do you handle it? I responded by saying I’d acknowledge it and let them know we would get it fixed. My lecturer said, ‘that’s OK, but what more could you do?’ I have never forgotten it because it changed my way of thinking. The lecturer suggested showing the member an alternative exercise. Of course, you can do the minimum, but there’s always a way you can add greater value.”
It’s a lesson that Jono still uses in business and life. During COVID-19, he created online courses, such as Zoom for PTs, to help fitness professionals adapt and thrive.