David Liston combined three things he loves to create his dream job: teaching, fitness, and family. He made the cross-country move to the sunshine state and now calls the Rose Bowl Stadium his office, holding classes and teaching others how to achieve their fitness goals, all while running the business alongside his wife. He still can’t believe he gets to call this “work,” but he can tell you how he did it.
Talentedly: What did life look like before Stadium Fitness?
Dave Liston: I graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1994 with a degree in History and Education. After Graduation I taught 7th grade Social Studies for a year. Although I enjoyed it very much, I decided to move to California. I got certified as a strength and conditioning coach and worked for a fitness company, owned by my brother, called TRU Fitness as a personal trainer in Pasadena, California. A few years later I branched out on my own. After training for 12 years, I wanted to test my skills as an entrepreneur. I was looking for a way to help more people than I was doing with personal training. I was also trying to find a way to secure a better financial future for my family. In May of 2009, my wife and I created Stadium Fitness. We hold group exercise classes inside the Rose Bowl.
TLY: What has been the hardest part of starting Stadium Fitness?
DL: Stadium Fitness had its first class on May 18th, 2009. It was amazing. Exercising on the field of the Rose Bowl, running the stairs, doing abs in the locker room. I couldn’t believe this is where I was working. I thought wow…I’m going to get tons of clients!
This is where I learned about Marketing.
Just because you have a great idea and an amazing location, didn’t mean people were just going to show up. Looking back, having 4-6 people per class was probably a good thing as this was the first time in my career I was teaching groups of people and the experience paid off as classes began to grow over the next few months–after we did a ton of marketing!
TLY: What about the most rewarding?
DL: My wife and I love Stadium Fitness. It’s so rewarding helping people get healthy and achieve their fitness goals. We love the friendships we’ve created. After almost 6 years, we still can’t believe we get to work there! I’m also very lucky to have an amazing wife who’s also my business partner.
TLY: When did you first think you could turn working out into a full-fledged career?
DL: After a few years I realized that this is something I really want to make a career out of and several years later we started two more fitness businesses. First was a Yoga Studio and the other was a business that does group exercise classes for children with special needs called Brain Body 360.
TLY: What advice would you give yourself the day you graduated from UMASS?
DL: We truly enjoy going to work everyday and love the businesses we’ve built. If I could go back and give myself advice when I was in college, it would be do what you love, work hard, make mistakes, and enjoy the ride.
TLY: What is the biggest misconception about “leadership”?
DL: Biggest misconception about leadership? You’re a born leader. I don’t believe you’re born a leader. Leadership comes in many forms, mostly through experience, and making a lot of mistakes along the way. Find great mentors, ask a lot of questions, build quality relationships, listen to your employees, treat people the way you want to be treated. Those are the traits of great leaders!
TLY: What are the most important overlaps between fitness training and career training?
DL: Fitness and career training are very similar. If you go to a gym, run stadium stairs, or do yoga several times a week you will see results. The same can be said about career training. The more energy and effort you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it.
TLY: Quote or mantra to live by?
DL: Work mantra is build relationships, have a strong work ethic, and always try to be better than the day before.
Life mantra is live for today.
Lydia Loizides is serial entrepreneur, technology provocateur and relentless challenger of the status quo. She spends her days as Founder & CEO of Talentedly, a technology company on a mission to help people grow from good to great at work (technology + people = amazing results). The rest of her waking moments are spent running, reading, learning, and trying to prove that the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42. You can follow Lydia @lydiaNYC @GetTalentedly, on LinkedIn and the Huffington Post.