Tell us about yourselves.
We were both born in Alberta. Shayne is from Calgary and I, Christine, am from Leduc. In 2014 we were inspired to share our love of fitness with others by starting a small studio in our home. This allowed us to welcome people into our lives and foster a community of passionate and like-minded individuals. It also gave us the opportunity to focus on what’s really important: people, their journeys, and their results.
When (outside of sports) were you first introduced to the fitness industry?
Christine: I started working at Planet Fitness in Leduc at 19, doing front-desk and fitness sales. The trainers started teaching me more about nutrition and how to train my body.
Shayne: I started lifting weights during my early teens at the Trico Centre in south Calgary and met a lifeguard who was into bodybuilding. My friends and I started working out in the weight room toward building muscle. I started personal training in 2008 at Gold’s Gym in Calgary’s Eau Claire, and I’ve worked in the fitness industry since.
You are fitness professionals, personal trainers, and gym owners in Calgary. What inspired you to follow these paths?
We have both been fitness enthusiasts and athletes for most of our lives. Before working in the industry, we both worked in other fields and spent evenings and weekends working out. When you have passion for health and fitness, it’s only natural that your thoughts eventually turn to it as a career. Working in fitness is very rewarding. You can see how much impact it can have on someone’s life, providing long-term health benefits that go with being fit.
Why did you first start Jensen Fitness?
Many large facilities focus on a general membership and offer personal training as a bit of an afterthought. Jensen Fitness is a client-experience focused private personal training facility, so our level of client care is superior to a gym that focuses its attention elsewhere. We don’t offer open membership, which means all of our clients are personal training clients. That allows us to focus on the training experience, on goal-setting, and particularly on client progess. We find that a very large percentage of our clients not only reach their goals quickly, but they also set new goals and achieve more than they thought possible.
How many hours do you typically work per week in/on your business?
Sixty-plus. We wake up at 6 a.m. and train ourselves first, then our day starts with our “A tasks” (the most important). We do Sunday morning strategy sessions to set us up for success for the week ahead. We are very focused on the client experience and spend much of our time talking to them and making sure they’re getting the service they’re looking for and reaching their goals.
Is owning and running a gym different from what you imagined? How?
For many years we dreamed of having our own training space. You imagine what it feels like to unlock the front door in the morning and turn the lights on. How does it feel to crush a hard morning workout on your own equipment in your own gym space? The truth is that this career is so much more rewarding and the depth of the client relationships, life-changing experiences, and daily client interactions give us more happiness than we ever imagined. We are truly grateful to have the opportunity to impact so many lives. Sharing our community with other like-minded individuals and having the chance to connect with so many amazing people is truly living our dream. We wouldn’t trade it for anything.
What’s the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn?
One lesson we have learned as business owners is that you can’t sweat the small stuff. It’s a time-waster to worry about things that you can’t control and, with so many moving parts, it’s better to let the little stuff go and focus on the important things: Are my clients happy and seeing results? Are we providing the very best client experience?
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Changing people’s lives and being able to provide a supportive community for our clients. It’s very rewarding to watch the client improve and change from their very first session. One thing we love most about working in this industry are the relationships we create. It feels like we get to hang out with our friends every day. The close relationships we have with our members is definitely one of our favourite things about having our own facility.
How do you stay consistent with your fitness and strive to assist others with theirs? Have you ever wanted to give up? If so, what kept you going?
We are fortunate that the motivation to stay fit comes naturally for us. One of the most challenging times affecting motivation and consistency is during times of injury. When you are dealing with a limiting factor like injury, it’s important to focus on your goals and on treating the injury with care so you don’t do more damage. When we are at our weakest, we are truly able to look deep inside ourselves and find our driving force. I think what keeps us going during challenging times is our commitment to our goals.
Being in the fitness industry, do you feel constant pressure to maintain a specific body image? If so, how do you deal with the pressure?
Working in the industry means looking the part and practising what you preach. We don’t feel pressure to maintain a specific body image, as our industry is our lifestyle—so it comes natural to look the part.
What would you say to someone who wants to transition to a more healthy and fit lifestyle, but doesn’t know where to start?
The first step would be to hire a personal trainer you feel comfortable with. A personal trainer will help guide you through the necessary steps to achieving your health and fitness goals. It’s important to find someone you connect with. The relationship between client and trainer is important—it is much easier to follow a plan when trust is part of the training equation. There is so much information on the Internet about nutrition and training, that trusting the advice of one coach is much easier than trying to sift through it all.
What’s one fitness trend you wish would go away?
All fitness trends are helpful to driving the industry forward. Every trend in physical training helps to give variety and to motivate more people to make fitness a lifestyle. Many trends and fad diets are based around calorie restriction, helping to drive awareness toward macronutrient tracking. There is a focus right now on ketogenic diets. Keto diets are based around carbohydrate elimination, which puts the body into a state of ketosis—it tells the body that burning fat is the preference over carbohydrates for fuel. There are many different ways to feed and exercise the body. We feel that the more we try, the more we learn, and the more awareness we drive toward health.
For many couples, it is difficult to imagine running a business together. How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?
One technique we use to maintain a balance between work and personal lives is to move on whenever we have a disagreement. There is not enough time to fight when there is much to do. So we try to keep things pretty light and we’ve learned to let go very quickly. We also try to book date nights and schedule time to connect with each other away from the office. It’s important to tell each other that they’re appreciated. You have to find small ways to separate your personal and business relationships. In the end, however, there is nothing better than having someone you completely trust as your business partner. A working relationship can definitely be challenging, but it also has some very unique benefits. We are both growing and developing as business owners and entrepreneurs and, because we have the opportunity to grow together and face challenges together, our relationship is much stronger than you can image.