Pursuit of Happiness
Q&A with Russell Midlam
Russ Midlam knew early on he had both the passion and the skill to help people all over Central Ohio attain their fitness goals. Having played football at Ohio Northern University for four years and then professionally in an Arena league for a few years, Midlam had the insider knowledge of a professional athlete to turn his love for the sport into a career helping others with an insider’s edge.
So, once his professional football career ended, he and his wife, Amanda—and their now three children—made Columbus their home and took his knowledge to the next level first as a trainer, and then using that experience to open his own gym, Pursuit Fitness Center, in Upper Arlington. Midlam is now positioned to continue to support others on their journey to health and to impact people for years to come. Read what he has to say about how he got to this point in his career.
Pursuit Fitness Center
3. Describe your business:
We are a 24-hour, semi-private fitness center specializing in personal training and around-the-clock fitness. We offer a limited amount of memberships to provide our valued members and clients a stress-free environment where they can come in, workout, and continue their days without the hassles of overcrowding and other distractions. Whether new to working out or are an experienced fitness veteran, we have everything one needs to reach their fitness goals!
4. Everyone in business has that moment when they know this is what they’re supposed to do. When and what was yours?
My background is in sports so I was always around the gym environment, which I loved.
I always dreamed of having my own gym(s) where I could serve people through health, fitness and athletics. Early on as a personal trainer, I had a couple of different clients that had some amazing life changes through my program and to know I had a small part in someone else’s transformation was such an awesome feeling. From those experiences, I knew the fitness industry is where I wanted to be long term.
5. What were the first five action steps you took to turn your dream into a reality?
- Several years before opening my first gym I began intentionally studying successful gym owners. Some I worked for and some from a distance.
- I began to build a client base trying to make a positive name for myself as a personal trainer in the local communities.
- Through another business opportunity, I was able to build myself financially as well as sharpen my leadership and organizational skills that would prepare me for gym ownership.
- When the opportunity arose, I took my vision, combined with a lot of detailed research, and put it to paper with a business plan and gave it life.
- The biggest step was to take the LEAP and go for it!!!
6. When did you know you had something special that people loved?
I think when we had so many people help get Pursuit off the ground and help us grow through word of mouth. One of our members is the one who found our location. Another client of mine supported us financially. We had other clients and members spreading the word about Pursuit Fitness and what we were doing.
It was so humbling to know that people not only believed in me but what we were doing as a positive light in the community.
7. What current company or entrepreneur do you admire?
I have been blessed to associate with some amazing entrepreneurs from around the country. I try to learn from everyone in some capacity but the company and entrepreneurs I have learned the most from and still do to this day is Leadership Team Development. A tremendous system of high character entrepreneurs that are some of the best at developing leaders and building successful teams.
8. What are your plans for future growth?
We are in the process of opening a 2nd location in the Dublin area! We will be moving into a new build and multipurpose facility anchored by an up and coming company, Ninja Generations. We are excited about the possibilities of reaching more people and impacting another community. Currently, the facility is on track to be finished around the first of the year.
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9. What are the top five things you keep on your desk?
There is nothing fancy with my office so I do not think I even have 5 things on my desk, to be honest. haha. I think I have some pictures that my kids colored on my desk, a notepad and that is about it. Those are there as my reminder to keep a proper perspective of what is most important.
I am a believer that you don’t build a business sitting behind a desk. So, I never wanted to make my office and desk appealing or comfortable to me. Especially building a fitness company I try to be out associating with people and setting an example of an active healthy lifestyle. I make time daily to sit at my desk in silence to just think and jot down thoughts on my notepad. That is about the only time I am there.
10. Behind every entrepreneur are people who helped them get where they are and continue to support them: who are your people?
My wife is first and foremost. She gave me the green light and freedom to “go for it” right after giving birth to our 3rd child in less than three years!!! It was a lot on her I know but she not only supports me but helps build our business as well. There have been a couple of people I worked with early on that I learned so much from about this industry and still apply a lot of what I learned from those experiences with me today.
I previously referenced a few people that helped us get the business off the ground which I am forever thankful for. Lastly, the backbone is the amazing clients and members that come thru our doors every day that choose and trust Pursuit Fitness to accomplish their own personal goals. Without them, Pursuit Fitness does not exist, and we would not be getting ready to celebrate our 4 year anniversary in business. Even through a shutdown and pandemic, so many have stuck with and supported us.
11. What challenges did you face or continue to face while making your dream your reality?
Some of the biggest things early on was being open to try, fail and adjust, finding the right staff to bring in and represent my business the way I want and learning different ways to market and promote the business. I think probably a lot of similar things most business owners come across. Currently, trying to overcome the blow of being forced to shut down for multiple months while still having to pay all your bills was/is the toughest challenge. There are still some people fearful (and maybe rightfully so) to return to the gym. The cool thing is we have people coming in ranging in age from 17-80 and to receive praises from them on how happy they are to be back and how safe they feel because the precautions we have made is very encouraging. Between the limited memberships, distanced equipment, barriers and state of the art air purification system we really feel we have set up a great environment to safely return to the gym.
The future is very bright and we are so excited for the years to come!!
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