It does not take one long to recognize how insanely smart fitness talent and business
owner Teri Simmons-Crenshaw is. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with Teri on several occasions and have always been impressed by her tenacity and drive to succeed in her professional life. In this interview we talk about the development of both her modeling as well as her business and how she markets each.
You can also jump over to The Pro Exposure podcast website to hear a previous interview I did with her there.
I am very proud to have the opportunity to feature Teri this month and hope you enjoy her helpful responses belo.
James Patrick: When did you start with personal training?
Teri Simmons-Crenshaw: I started working as a personal trainer when my son was a toddler; that was about 16 years ago. I had completed my degree in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, ACE and NSCA CSCS and was working as a group fitness instructor at a local health club. A client came up to me after class one day and said, “You are really graceful for a big girl…” I’m not even kidding! That is a direct quote. She followed it with “Do you do anything besides aerobics to stay in shape?” Soon after that I began training her. She was my first personal training client.
JP: What got you into fitness?
TSC: Strength training was a part of my life from early on. My dad competed in both powerlifting and bodybuilding and there was always an exercise/weight room in our house. I was a multi-sport athlete growing up. I played volleyball, basketball, soccer and ran track. Health and fitness has always been my passion so I pursued a degree that would give me the knowledge base in nutrition and kinesiology to teach wellness. I knew I wanted to be on the preventative side of the health industry and personal training was a great fit for this.
JP: Tell me about the launch of your personal training company.
TSC: After working for a health club, I moved on to owning a studio and then a health club in my hometown of Cheyenne, WY. When we moved to AZ I began again as a trainer and then Fitness Director. I have always been an entrepreneur at heart and knew the corporate fitness track wasn’t for me. I developed my current program about 4 years ago and created my business, Dancer Body Fitness LLC at the same time.
JP: Could you discuss a little about what you went through to register and trademark your company?
TSC: I registered my business as an LLC by finding the forms and filing information on the AZ Secretary of State’s website. I filed articles of organization to create the LLC followed by applying for an employer’s identification number and a Trade name registration for my company name, program and logo.
JP: Early on, what were some of the things you did to differentiate your company from others?
TSC: The program itself was differentiated both by format and by demographic. Attitude: by Dancer Body Fitness is a program for females in the average age range of 25-45. It is dance based fitness and has a trademarked “strengthen, lengthen and define” format. An additional early differentiation was to market the program as not only a results-oriented exercise and nutrition program but also as a community of like-minded women. I foster a close-knit group feel somewhat like a sorority in the program. We are very active in community events like charity 5K’s, mud and obstacle course races. I market my business through focusing on the “experience” of the program and these events: Fun, active, supportive women who are enjoying a fitness lifestyle. The marketing focus is always on how women are supporting other women, being fit and having fun.
JP: At what point did you decide to integrate modeling into your routine?
TSC: I began fitness modeling as the “leg model” for a dance studio ad about 5 years ago. Once I was exposed to more of what the industry had to offer I began to create a portfolio. Fitness modeling has always served a specific purpose in my business. It is about capturing the right images to help define my brand. I am a fitness model in addition to being a business owner. Most of the shoots I have done have been initiated with a specific goal in mind for what I need to promote my business.
JP: What was your first photo shoot like?
TSC: I was nervous at first but found that it was much like being on stage in competition. I enjoy being on stage and being in front of the camera. I have had the pleasure of working with some phenomenal photographers who were very helpful with posing and direction.
JP: You hire photographers for both your portfolio as well as your company. What process do you go through to select the right service providers for your needs?
TSC: There are a few things that are elemental in my selection for both: I always review the photographer’s work to see if he/she has a style that connects with my brand. I will ask other models about their experiences in shooting with a photographer as well. In addition, I contact the photographer to get a feel for their personality and professionalism.
JP: How do you leverage being on camera to promote your business or vice versa?
TSC: Having images that I can use for my print material, business cards and social media has been a big part of promoting my business. Photos can be used in many ways to freshen a campaign or evoke a new feel on a page or website. The experience of being in front of a camera is also valuable for creating promotional videos and video workouts.
JP: What do you enjoy most about what you do, whether as a model or as a trainer?
TSC: I aspire to INSPIRE! If I can inspire even one person to change his or her life in a positive way either through adopting a healthy lifestyle or believing in their ability to change, then I have accomplished my goal. That is the best feeling and the most enjoyable part of what I do.
JP: What are some of your current strategies when it comes to marketing your company as well as your brand as a model?
TSC: Social media marketing has been a big part of my marketing and it will continue to be. I use social media as a platform for promoting the accomplishments of my clients. It is a “look book” for capturing the fun, sassy-feel that is an integral part of my brand. I represent my company as well as my brand as a model. In doing so, it is important that I always look the part and walk the talk. Blogging, speaking and writing a book are all on the horizon as well as a marketing campaign that I will be launching in the next month involving my brand Ambassadors, business to business referrals… and Pinterest!
JP: You’ve used some video campaigns from a mutual connection of ours. What ways have you implemented video into your marketing efforts?
TSC: Yes! Max Anderson did a fantastic promo video for my Attitude program. I featured it on my blog and on my social media pages as a way to visually describe my program. I will be posting mini workouts beginning in May as a way to promote my full series of video workouts that will launch mid-month.
JP: You now essentially run a click-and-mortar business having an online presence as well as an actual studio. How does this shift your marketing efforts?
TSC: That is such a clever term: Click-and-mortar and so relevant to the bi-fold effort that must be made with marketing. More effort in marketing is required to make sure that both the physical studio and online business are well promoted, and more essentially, understood. It is especially so in a service industry. Marketing in a way that the public can understand that they can purchase a service online, in the form of a video or live-streaming class membership is my next challenge.
JP: What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned that you can share with others looking to develop their own training company – or even to others looking to grow their career as a talent?
TSC: Learning to truly differentiate yourself in a creative way that is beyond just maximizing or improving on what has already been done is a challenge but it is well worth the effort. Identify what makes you unique as a business or as a talent. Capitalize on your gifts and find new ways to market yourself through “out of the box” thinking. Here are a few of the best lessons any entrepreneur should learn and embrace:
1 – Once you decide to do something, make sure you see the end result in your mind. You may not be able to control all of the elements of how you get there, but knowing your destination is key.
2 – If you fail at something do it quickly and move on. Figuring out how not to do something is important… but learn from it quickly and improve on your effort or change your strategy.
3 – Ask questions, find a mentor… keep learning and growing. Nothing is static. Expect change and be adaptable.
To learn more about Teri and her business, please visit her website at www.DancerBodyFit.tv, LIKE her Facebook Page at www.Facebook.com/DancerBodyFitness and follow her on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/Dancerbodyfit