Lessons from a Thriving Power Couple, With Ryan and Kelly Unger of Epic Health and Fitness
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Downtime and an escape from work. We have often found that we focus so much on the business that we don’t get enough time to focus on ourselves and each other so we have to make conscious efforts to work on ourselves both as individuals and as spouses. It is very easy to get caught up in work because it’s such a huge part of our daily lives, but you cannot pour from an empty cup and our marriage and family comes first.
As a part of our series about lessons from Thriving Power Couples, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ryan and Kelly Unger.
Kelly and Ryan Unger are certified personal trainers and Co-founders of the franchise, Epic Health and Fitness.
Epic Health and Fitness is a new (and improved) breed in the Gym, Health and Fitness Clubs industry. Their goal is to change people’s view on fitness, so that it becomes part of who they are and their lifestyle. Kelly and Ryan have worked as trainers for years and turned their passion into a business.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you two to your respective career paths?
We both have athletic backgrounds and played various sports growing up and into college. Ryan quickly moved up the ladder in the gym industry, starting out as a personal trainer and becoming district manager for another company. Kelly has a master’s degree in mental health and an interest in helping people feel their best overall. Kelly was always a Zumba instructor and into group fitness classes until Ryan educated her on the importance of weight training and how it can truly change the body. Ryan felt he lost his connection to helping people when working in a big box gym, so he decided to create his own gym business. We moved from Tampa to Spring Hill, FL and worked on opening our first location.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you two got married?
The most interesting thing that has happened to us since we got married is building our businesses. We were dating when we started the process, soon after engaged and about six months after opening our first location, we got married. The businesses have given us many common goals and has as allowed us to spend more time together than if we had separate full-time jobs. This was helpful for us during quarantine when most people were getting sick of each other because they were stuck in the house together and not used to it. We found ways to stay busy like continuing to work on our business plan, working out in our gyms, and preparing to get right back to work upon reopening.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The best thing about being a husband-and-wife team working together is the checks and balances that we have in place to prevent mistakes. We aren’t perfect by any means, but we have been fortunate enough to avoid any serious mistakes so far. One slightly entertaining mistake that we did run into was an order of shirts we made for our bodybuilding team. The company that puts our logos on our apparel ordered children’s sizes rather than adult sizes. Needless to say, the huge bodybuilders trying to make sense of their tiny shirts once we handed them out was quite laughable. The shirt company fixed their error in time for the show, and no one had to wear the tiny kids’ shirts to their show!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think our company stands out because of our small business/family-oriented feel, the positive and encouraging environment in our gyms, extremely unique equipment, and the fact that we cater to a wide variety of people and goals. We don’t push high numbers of memberships because we prefer quality over quantity, and we attract dedicated and loyal customers by being dedicated and loyal business owners. We are highly involved in our members’ goals and invested in their success. We provide the right equipment, staff, and environment to really help people get results they want.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are franchising our gyms! I think if we keep the same mindset of wanting to help people, it will continue to have a great impact in every community that Epic is lucky enough to be a part of. We are also incorporating the InBody570 medical grade body composition analyzing scans at each location, which really helps members track their progress and results!
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
- Be humble and kind to everyone.
- Work hard.
- Don’t expect handouts.
- There WILL be obstacles, but stay calm and try to find another way.
- Don’t focus on just the money, but have another motivating factor for your success and the money will come.
How do you define “Leadership”?
Being a leader involves doing what needs to be done, being right in the trenches with your employees and being an example in all situations. Leading by example encourages and inspires your employees to be there best for your customers/clients.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Kelly’s grandfather, Jack MacAllister, US West CEO, was a businessman and taught her valuable lessons about finances, business, and most importantly, being a kind and caring person no matter what your position is.
Ryan’s grandmother, Nancy Apter, an elementary school teacher instilled a value in continuing education and hard work in Ryan throughout his life and supported him throughout his business ventures and life changes, while encouraging him to follow his dreams.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Yes, we hope so! That was always something very important to us — to have a positive impact in our community. We set up boxes for donations three different times per year, including Toys for Tots, donations to local humane society and animal shelters, and donations to a local women’s shelter. We also work with the local Special Olympics Powerlifting team to help train the athletes and we sponsor and host events throughout the year for their competitions. Additionally, we just focus our business plan and our efforts on genuinely helping people! We truly want each member to actually reach their goals in our gyms — no matter what that goal may be!
What are the “5 Things You Need To Thrive As A Couple”? Please share a story or example for each.
1 — Communication is most important for any marriage, but even more so when you’re also business partners together too.
2 — Be on the same page about your expectations and define your roles to function effectively, both at home and at work. This clears up any confusion or miscommunications and makes things run smoothly in all areas of your lives.
3 — Don’t forget to continue to appreciate each other — you’re each other’s favorite people- at work and at home. Continue to be kind to each other and express gratitude for the little things you do for each other that often get overlooked. Over time, the initial spark can weaken, or you get used to each other, but put in the work to ensure that spark stays lit.
4 — Downtime and an escape from work. We have often found that we focus so much on the business that we don’t get enough time to focus on ourselves and each other so we have to make conscious efforts to work on ourselves both as individuals and as spouses. It is very easy to get caught up in work because it’s such a huge part of our daily lives, but you cannot pour from an empty cup and our marriage and family comes first.
5 — Enjoy yourself! Running a business that you have a passion for is crucial and learning to have fun throughout the process helps you to give your best effort daily. When you truly love what you do, it shows in your work and your clients can see and feel it in the atmosphere of your business.
You are people of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
We opened our gym to do exactly that! We wanted to be a way for our communities to live happier and healthier lives. We decided by offering a higher quality, hands on, progress-oriented approach, we could inspire and help the greatest number of people to reach their health and fitness goals. Once we neared the limit of our abilities at our first location, we opened a second. Once we maxed that out, we decided to start a franchising business so that we can help others like us open thriving gyms in their communities.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” This quote stands out to entrepreneurs specifically because most people are so afraid to take a leap of faith and start their own business or follow their dreams. The truth is that if you never try you can never truly know the success you may achieve, and we have been fortunate enough to take well calculated shots and the risks we’ve taken have paid off. Taking the shot doesn’t mean doing it all just to win but with patience, practice, and the right intention you can make more shots than you miss and really make a huge impact.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
Jim Carrey because he emphasizes having a positive mindset, doing good in the world, and success is not just found in money, but in genuinely being a good person. He also reminds us that even when times are tough or stressful, laughter can be the best medicine.
How can our readers follow your work online?
We have a website for our gym that shows our different locations, which will hopefully be growing soon! We also have social media (Instagram and Facebook), as well as LinkedIn. Ryan has also done a Podcast recently and we hope to be on more soon. www.epichealthandfitness.com,
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.