Bedros Keuilian | Crain's Philadelphia

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Bedros Keuilian


Since it was founded in 2010, Fit Body Boot Camp has grown to include more than 400 personal training franchises across the United States. 

The Mistake: 

I first really achieved a mental and physical transformation in my life as an overweight kid in high school. My sole motivation for working out in the school gym was losing weight so I could have enough confidence to ask a certain girl out to the senior prom. I never did end up asking her out, but the changes it made in me mentally, emotionally, even spiritually, were tremendous and I realized I had found my path. My mission was going to be to help others who are grossly overweight become better versions of themselves.  

After high school I slowly built a career as a personal trainer, supplemented by doing things like working as a fry cook at Disneyland and as a bouncer to make ends meet. Meanwhile, with the advice of one of my training clients, I started thinking about how I could translate my personal training into a business model with recurring revenues—something that would eventually lead to me owning multiple gyms and a lot of other great and fantastic things. This was a whole new vertical of me developing: I was becoming an entrepreneur.  

But for whatever reason, whether it was fear of failing or something else, with every business idea I’ve ever had I’ve never taken action on them until years and years later. The biggest example is the Fit Body Boot Camps. I first had the idea for indoor, group-training boot camps in 2004. It occurred to me then to ask why as personal trainers we’re willing to invest in the equipment and the gym space for one-on-one sessions with individual clients, but we’re afraid to do this in a group setting, in a way that could generate regular revenue. 

To show the inaction I had in me, even though I was a successful consultant to personal trainers and had sold my multiple gyms, didn’t act on establishing the brand and the concept until 2010, after the recession had made the business climate much, much more difficult. I put if off for something like six years, when I could have been making a difference in people’s lives that whole time.  

I know that if I have an idea, I trust my gut.

The Lesson: 

The biggest lesson I learned from procrastinating on good ideas is to live in a higher state of urgency and to use the “speed of implementation” ethic. Since then, when a good idea comes to me, my motto is, “act now, figure it out later.” Speed of implementation is key and I live in a state of urgency. By urgency, I don’t mean panic or paranoia, but in a state of healthy urgency where I know that if I have an idea, I trust my gut. I can look back at my history and say, “Man, when most of my ideas have come to fruition they’ve been great.”  

When I think of all the years I put them off, it’s not just about all the money I could have been making but didn’t, it was the people in my community that I could have served. I think of all the fitness professionals out there who, like me, were forced to work at two or three other side jobs who could have started the Fit Body Boot Camp model sooner. And of course people in communities around the country who now have boot camps within a few blocks of them who could have had them sooner as an alternative to paying $600 a month to a personal trainer.   

Follow Bedros Keuilian on Twitter at @BedrosKeuilian.

Photo courtesy of Fit Body Boot Camp.

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