Lisa Clayton, Turning a Personal Passion into a Thriving Business

An interview with Lisa Clayton, Founder and Director of UFIT Bootcamps.

How would a gorgeous mum of three run a thriving business, stay fit and motivate other people to do the same? We asked Lisa Clayton how she does it. Sitting down with her one sunny Singapore afternoon, we were a bit in awe. Dressed in vibrant red, she was easy to spot and didn’t look one bit like the self-confessed addict of being “hot and sweaty” that she claimed to be. 

Lisa has a passion for helping people get fit and stay fit. While many a couch potato (like myself) would run in fear from a word like “bootcamp”, a person like Lisa actually makes you feel like you can do it. I think the key to her success is the fact that she can remain down to earth and speak to anyone about getting fit but in a non-confronting and non-judgemental kind of way. It is clear to see that Lisa will be (if she’s not already) one of the leading key opinion leaders in the health, wellness and fitness industry in Singapore. Follow her on Instagram @lisaclayton77 for some great shots of what she does best and how to live a balanced life. 

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Ordinary People were lucky to score a bit of time with this busy multi-tasker to ask her some questions. Thanks for speaking to us, Lisa!

How did you get into fitness to start with?

My resume in the fitness industry looks like this: I was Junior School Sports Captain, swam for Queensland (Australia), played tennis competitively and that all stopped around the age of 14. I then kicked around doing all the usual school sports of athletics, basketball and netball, but it wasn’t until after school and when I joined William Blue Hotel School for an International Hotel Management diploma that I joined a gym and made a commitment to go each morning before work. It was the part of my day that I looked most forward to. The classes I liked were for “hyper” girls, lots of energy by the instructors and sometimes I couldn’t stop the urge to mimic a Body Pump routine when “Edge of Glory” came on. Let’s just say exercise really gave me a buzz!

Sounds like the makings of a fitness instructor, right? Not so fast. I worked as a model, a nanny and an advertising executive. I just really enjoyed the fact that exercise gave me focus and some form of routine through crazy work hours. I found it the most relaxing part of my day. When I moved to Singapore (nine years ago), it was lucky for me that my two best friends shared the same common interest. We would run 20km on a Saturday just for fun and entered all the fun runs and triathlons we could. I wasn’t working so exercise really filled a void. I then thought, why don’t I do more of this and share my love for it with others? I actually enjoyed it, so why couldn’t I help others to enjoy it also?

I got certified as a personal trainer that year and didn’t look back.

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How do you find the time to be a mum, an entrepreneur and the person who can motivate so many people to get moving and be fit and active?

Entrepreneurship, living and breathing wellness, just like motherhood, is not a 9-5 job. Be kind to yourself and be honest with others. Make time for you and that’s where I find so much pure joy with exercise, writing and simply doing things that take me away from any feeling of grind. If something is a priority you can work it out. If all else fails, your best weapon is a sense of humor. Enjoy your mum/entrepreneur life, wear the title proudly. 

Tell us a bit about UFIT and what sorts of programs it offers.

Our journey started seven years ago as a Bootcamp business offering unique group training sessions around Singapore. UFIT has since expanded significantly under the joined forces of former England Rugby International, James Forrester and myself, OZFIT founder and now Wendy Riddell, Co Director and Director of Nutrition. 

UFIT launched its 5,000 sq ft flagship training studio on Amoy Street in 2011, bringing together personal training, nutritional advice, physiotherapy and injury rehabilitation under one roof. We wanted to give UFIT members a top class training experience. Delivering proven results at Amoy Street paved the way for UFIT to open two CrossFit boxes and another training studio at One North. All launched with resounding success. We now do overseas fitness retreats, run corporate wellness programs and extensive one-on-one and group nutrition programmes. We also run programmes for children.

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With the partnership, UFIT is now the biggest and most attended Bootcamp business in Singapore with well over 1,400 active members living by our philosophy of getting Fitter, Leaner and Stronger in more than 70 sessions every week. Even as we expand, UFIT will continue to deliver personalised, science-driven results with a passionate team dedicated to living a healthier, happier lifestyle. 

What’s coming up for UFIT? I heard you do a retreat once or twice a year. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

Yes! My CHICKFITREAT in Bali has been a huge success and I’ll be running our 5th one in March 6-9 next year (2017), spots are available!  They are filled with so many amazing moments of fitness, sunset, sweat, smiles, surf, shopping, silliness, swans and sundowners. Blow off the cobwebs, holiday with a purpose and do things you wouldn’t on your own and feel like you deserve it.

What’s coming up for you? I can see you becoming a bit of a personality in this area, are there any talks or shows we can look forward to from you?

I’m getting lots of new opportunities now, back in modeling, TV presenting auditions and lots of ambassador work. I absolutely love writing and I find so much joy and creativity when writing about things I enjoy while influencing people to feel better about themselves or know where to go and how to find it. I’m so grateful for the Singapore audience and community, having been such a huge part of encouraging me to do more things and connect with people. The UFIT team is so great and we are so established that I can take a step back and focus on a few other things and new lines of business. 

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What  is the best advice you could give to people like me who would like to get into fitness but are finding it hard to get motivated?

Anyone can have a hard time making exercise part of their routine. But throw kids into the mix, demanding jobs, etc. and it can almost feel impossible. That combination is emotionally and physically draining, ahhh…  which leads to little motivation.

It’s easy to put exercise on your “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” list, but fitness is too important to keep on the back burner. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Become an early bird. 

Willpower isn’t an unlimited resource, the more you use it throughout the day, the less you have left at night to force yourself to go to the gym. That’s why some people get in their workouts in the morning, when their drive is at its maximum level.

That’s not the only reason to become a morning person. If you wait until later in the day, it’s a lot likelier that things will pop up and get in the way of working out.  That way you can wake up, work out and get on with your day knowing that you’ve already done something for yourself that day.

Get other people involved. 

Find a friend who likes the same things you do, or whom you think can motivate you and schedule it with them. It provides accountability. You won’t want to let the other person down by not showing up to exercise. Plus, chatting with a friend makes working out more enjoyable!

Set smaller goals. Most of the time, people don’t work out because it seems like an intimidating, daunting task. But you don’t have to spend an hour at the gym to be active, there are lots of little ways to make everyday activities and chores just a little harder. And it’s so much easier to fit ten minutes of movement into your day every few hours than to find a larger chunk of time in your schedule.

Keep equipment front and center. Sometimes a simple thing like putting your workout gear in your living room can be key to feeling more motivated.

Out of sight, out of mind is true, but so is the opposite.  Put things like resistance bands or your sneakers in a visible place, and you’ll get that extra nudge to actually use them. Every time you see them, you’ll get reminded.

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Is there anything you’d like to tell someone who is interested in starting a business or working in the fitness industry?

Getting your foot in the fitness door takes more than a ponytail and a love of running. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Specialization is valuable

If you want to teach a specific type of class such as yoga, spinning or pilates, the list of certifying organizations, as well as amount of money, time, and talent needed goes on. But specializing is worth it, a generic certification rarely cuts it anymore.

To decide what to specialize in, ask yourself what you’re passionate about. I knew for me, it was outdoor group training and not one-to-one. I learned this after my first year of personal training so then I focussed on all the group training certificates I could find.  Don’t do just one cert that covers everything, it will be impossible to find one anyway. Picking a few that have your attention will give you a better result. Besides, often what you think something will be, will be different so you need to have something to fall back on.

Relationships matter

Connections matter for success. It’s about relationships and networking and who you know. It’s also about being real. Are you able to connect with people? Command a room? Are you self-aware? You have to know who you are to be an authentic teacher. For personal trainers, making and keeping connections is a part of the job. It’s like working in sales.

I also think it’s important to have a mentor (or several). Find teachers or trainers you admire, take their classes, observe their cues and ask questions about their routines. You can always learn something from every class you take. Just because you’re a teacher doesn’t mean you can stop being a student.

Do it because you love it

There are alot of seemingly great perks to working in the fitness industry. No more gym fees! Get paid to get ripped! Wear sweats to work! But none of these should be the reason why you want a job in this field. Do it because it’s fun, and do it because you enjoy leading others in a workout.

Thank you so much for sharing your story and advice with us, Lisa.

For more information:

www.ufitbootcamps.com.sg

Facebook:  UFITBOOTCAMPS
Instagram: ufitbootcampssg and lisaclayton77

UFIT is Singapore’s largest independant fitness provider, home to personal training, UFIT Bootcamps, Crossfit, nutrition to rehabilitation and recovery at the UFIT Clinic. UFIT strives to inspire and guide its community of members to realise levels of fitness and confidence beyond what could be possible on their own. Join an infection, fun-loving community in Singapore with over 70 sessions a week at 12 amazing outdoor locations.

All images by Marceau Photography.

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