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5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry

October 1, 2021

Learn more in this interview with our Apple Valley owner and Authority Magazine.

Flexibility — The world and business are constantly changing which requires quick thinking and flexibility to adapt. Being able to change and adapt and being open to new things has helped us to stay current and be at the front edge of changes in society and our community.

The global health and wellness market is worth more than 1.5 trillion dollars. So many people are looking to improve their physical, mental, and emotional wellness. At the same time, so many people are needed to help provide these services. What does it take to create a highly successful career in the health and wellness industry?

In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry” we are talking to health and wellness professionals who can share insights and stories from their experiences.

In this particular interview, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Eric Black.

Eric graduated from Michigan Technological University with a Mechanical Engineering degree. He has spent most of his career in management in the steel and shingle industry. The decision to start a health and wellness business also came with a career change to a sales engineer that allowed the time to focus on the new business. In the spring of 2021 Eric opened the first Volofit franchise in Apple Valley, Minnesota. When Eric is not working, he spends time with his wife and two kids traveling, running, and enjoying the Minnesota outdoors.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you grew up?

I spent a large portion of my childhood outdoors. Between sports, Boy Scouts, and roaming the neighborhood looking for adventure I was always active. I started track and cross country in middle school as a way to make friends at a new school. The friends I made got me into downhill skiing so in high school I did Cross Country, skiing and track for a couple of years then CC and two seasons of Track (indoor and outdoor). When I wasn’t running, I was hiking, climbing and camping with scouts or my Dad. In college I got into paddling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. I have always felt a need and desire to be active, find adventure, and explore.

Even as a teenager I wanted to own my own business. I was surrounded by business owners including my parents. My dad and I would break down different businesses we saw as we went places and we would theorize around what it would take to start them, who the clients were, and how they made money.

Although starting a business was always a dream, I ended up creating a professional career as a mechanical engineer and spent most of my career in heavy industry (Steel and Shingle manufacturing). Around the time I made the decision to open my own Volofit Studio, I left manufacturing and moved to an inside sale position, where I still work as my “day job” while pursuing my health and wellness dream.

Was there a particular person or event that inspired you to live a wellness-focused lifestyle? Can you tell us about your main motivation to go all in?

The one event that comes to mind is when my dad had his first heart attack. I was in college and got “the call” from my mom. Up until that point I had always believed my dad to be a strong, healthy person and he was but earlier in his life that had not been the case. The heart attack was the first sign that the damage done in that time would plague him for the rest of his life and it gave me a wakeup call that being fit and having wellness were not the same.

I always knew I wanted to own a business but always had fears and questions I couldn’t answer on my own. The franchise model gave me the framework and industry experts to answer the questions and help solve the problems that created my fears. It gave me the best of both worlds; freedom as a small business owner and the support of a team I would otherwise not have access to.

Most people with a wellbeing centered lifestyle have a “go-to” activity, exercise, beverage, or food that is part of their routine. What is yours and can you tell us how it helps you?

As a family, we love to travel and spend time outdoors. My “go-to” fitness activity is running and participating in Tough Mudder events from the normal weekend races up to the 24hr World’s Toughest Mudder. I am always looking for the next challenge, physically and mentally, the Tough Mudder events allow me to reach new fitness levels, which is what attracted me to the Volofit workout. Volofit provides a fully balanced workout while keeping your mind engaged and your whole body challenged. The group fitness setup creates an unmatched community bond when being challenged together. At Volofit Apple Valley, the community is beyond what I could have hoped for, and I continue to motivate others to be a part of what we are building.

To live a wellness-focused life is one thing, but how did it become your career? How did it all start?

The road to making something wellness focused a career was a long one. After college I got back into running and doing some road racing. It lit the spark again but did not have the adventure. In 2011 I found Obstacle Course Racing and was instantly hooked. Mud, fire, cold water, and best of all, camaraderie. Fast forward several years, two jobs, and two kids later I stumbled on group fitness and specifically what would become Volofit. It was a new world for me but it checked all the boxes including that camaraderie I had found doing OCR events. Again, I was hooked.

Can you share a story about the biggest challenges you faced when you were first starting? How did you resolve that? What are the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

I would say we are not the typical health & wellness franchisees; my wife and I had no previous industry experience beyond my crazy passion for Tough Mudder. We didn’t plan to leave our day jobs and we were doing this all with two kids under the age of 6. Since then, we have gone through COVID, a re-branding, and weathering a process that has taken almost 3 years instead of the typical 12–18 months.

COVID has been our biggest challenge. It started with massive delays in closing loans and finalizing details with our landlord about our new studio space. Those delays pushed us into early winter build-out and the start of pre-sale, while simultaneously we were on state lockdown and snow was on the horizon. We had to completely re-think and re-build how we were going to sell memberships. The standard model went out the window and we had to lean into digital outreach and finding B2B opportunities. Our offer changed from “sign up and pay your first month” to “sign up now and don’t pay until we open”. This helped us sell but created a cash flow problem. A county grant and additional personal investment along with some concessions from our landlord and federal legislation allowed us to keep things going. A great team and a lot of hard work kept us moving forward to where we are today.

Can you share with us how the work you are doing is helping to make a bigger impact in the world? Can you share a story that illustrates that?

We are creating a community that is centered around fitness. We are welcoming people of all fitness levels and backgrounds into the studio at the same time and giving all of them a fitness experience that is challenging and empowering at all fitness levels. We are giving people a fitness experience that is never boring and they LOVE IT.

There are lots of members that we have helped to advance their fitness journey and they are not shy about sharing their success and those things make me smile every day but the biggest indication for me that we are really making an impact came over the summer when I convinced several members to sign up for a Tough Mudder. After the event one of the members told me that she would never have signed up or finished if it had not been for Volofit. She said she signed up because she knew she was strong because of all the work she had put in at the studio. If we are helping people to feel empowered to do hard things outside of the studio, I know we are making an impact in the world.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

As a studio we have been developing a fitness assessment program for our members. The members get to sit down with a coach and discuss their fitness journey and goals The coaches will help them to build their goals into a plan and help them measure their success. In the short time the program has been live it has helped many members focus their energy and start to knock out milestones toward their larger fitness goals.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Perseverance — Starting a business is a long and difficult process. Having the mindset to always keep pushing forward has been the one of the most valuable traits. Between COVID and the normal realities of being a first-time small business owner there were lots of challenges to push through and being undeterred by those challenges has helped to lead us to where we are.

Flexibility — The world and business are constantly changing which requires quick thinking and flexibility to adapt. Being able to change and adapt and being open to new things has helped us to stay current and be at the front edge of changes in society and our community.

Trust — I could not have built our business on my own which means I had to rely on other people to help me reach my goals. In doing that I had to put a lot of faith and trust in certain people. My staff, the corporate franchise team, our vendors, and suppliers all hold keys to our success. I choose them carefully and show them I trust them to make good decisions for the business. Sometimes it does not work and trust is broken but I have to offer it to the next person otherwise I will be doing everything myself and that is certain to cause failure.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. Wellness is an incredibly broad topic. How would you define the term “Wellness”? Can you explain what you mean?

I would say wellness is the combination of physical, mental, and emotional health. All three are related but each is very different. Wellness is the point where they meet and a person feels in balance. By balance I mean that too much focus in any one or two areas means another area is neglected. The neglected area will hold a person back from being fully well.

As an expert, this might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Can you please share a few reasons with our readers about why focusing on our wellness should be a priority in our lives?

To start, I am no expert, and to be honest starting and building a wellness business has thrown my own wellness balance off more than once. That said, the times of unbalance help to prove how important wellness is and how the wellness goal can change over time.

For me working towards and having some level of wellness opens doors and allows me to do things I otherwise would not be able to do. (ie. Start a business, run for 24hrs, help raise a family) Finding what make you feel well and working on those things helps all aspects of life and I find makes me happier, more productive, and more helpful to the people around me.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increasingly growing understanding of the necessity for companies to be mindful of the wellness of their employees. For the sake of inspiring others, can you share steps or initiatives that companies have taken to help improve or optimize their employees’ mental and physical wellness?

We are dedicated to making each member who steps into our studio feel comfortable, motivated, and safe, especially during these times. Prior to our doors opening in April 2021, I invested in a UV-C air filtration to provide the cleanest air, trained my staff on equipment cleaning requirements after each class, and encouraged overall daily cleanliness in the studio. We continue to follow local guidelines to ensure the safest environment for our members and staff but still allowing them to come together as a community to meet their goals.

As a company that is dedicated to the wellness of our members, we also strive to help our employees create balance and have wellness in their own lives. Flexible schedules, staff events and gatherings, and working to maintain an open and positive environment in the studio are things we have done to help our staff stay at the top of their game and be examples of wellness.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.

Strategic Partnerships — Utilizing partnerships that are available to you. Volofit provides franchisees the opportunity to tap into Tough Mudder’s multi-million-person customer database to build brand awareness for Volofit and drive membership leads. This partnership has provided a unique opportunity for me to build a successful member base before our doors even open.

Do Your Homework — Understand costs. Talk to existing franchisees of the brands you are considering. Do the local market research. There is no such thing as having too much information. Finally, trust the impressions you get from the people you interact with. That relationship must be a good one for the franchise to be successful.

Hire a Great Team — I knew pretty early on in the process that I was going to need people with skills that I didn’t have. I went out and built a team of great people who are passionate about fitness and are exceptional at what they do. Without those people, we would not have gotten to where we are.

Know your audience — When I did my research on who I thought our members would be I looked at a lot of different sources but it all cooked down to numbers/demographics not real people. It was not until I started to engage with people in our community that I really understood who our members were going to be.

Celebrate small victories — Building a successful career and/or business is a huge task that is built on many small steps and hurdles. When one of those steps is complete or you make it over a hurdle, celebrate it. I cannot take credit for this one. I am always looking at what is next. My wife has pushed me and our team to be in the moment and when we get a win to embrace it before moving on to the next task.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would promote the most wellness to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

This is a big question. One thing that pops to mind is building programs to teach families about healthy eating habits and how to make good meal choices. Kids learn from their parents about what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat, etc. If kids and families learn how to make healthy choices, even in busy, hectic lives, they are more likely to do it as adults with their own kids. This is not a new idea and programs do exist but they have yet to gain traction with a wide audience.

We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Joe DeSena, the CEO and founder of Spartan Race, is a person I would love to sit down and chat with. He is a boundary pusher and a person that seems to shrug the system norms and is not afraid to give wings to seemingly crazy ideas. I have always admired that way of thinking (not being that way myself) and would appreciate the opportunity to understand how his ‘go big’ mentality is infused into his business.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

Original story can be found on