From Hobby to Business: Michael Shaw and MT Fitness 876
Michael Shaw is self-taught fitness and active lifestyle coach. His interest in health and fitness began in early childhood. As a boy, Michael was inspired to be active by his older brothers and their friends who spent most days running before going off to play basketball or football. His lifelong passion to be active later turned into his business, MT Fitness 876.
Today, Michael shares his journey from directionless youth to entrepreneur.
What made you take fitness more seriously and make a career out of it?
I started taking my exercise routine more seriously when I was at a low point in my life. I was lost without direction. The situation was so bad that my family and friends were very concerned about my future. Fitness, basketball and comforting words from my friends became my escape. I started working out every day, and I often invited my friends to come over and we would exercise for hours. We achieved some serious results.
Following this, a friend asked me to help her get into better shape and I agreed to do so. After a few sessions, she was impressed and began to plant the idea that I should charge my friends to get help them get in shape. At first, I was iffy about the idea of charging money to do something that I have crazy passion for. But then I kept thinking about this idea of earning from my passion and then I said, why the heck not? And here I am now.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your company?
Great customer service will provide for a better business. If clients are happy with the service received, whether it is the routines themselves, or daily communication, they will boast about it to their friends. And these will in turn spark interest and interest as we know can lead to great things. The importance of maintaining excellent customer service is the biggest lesson I have learned so far.
What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
Presently, I am fascinated by CrossFit competitions and obstacle courses. I think it’s mad cool to be able to put the body under so much stress doing multiple exercise related activities in one sitting while have a fun time doing so. This fascination has led me to incorporate cross training into my routines as a fun way of avoiding or breaking plateau. This is a state of little or no growth or progress in weight loss or muscle development.
What have been your biggest challenges to date, and how have you addressed them?
My greatest challenge to date has been promoting fitness through the development of basketball tournaments for students at primary schools. This is another passion project that I am steadily working on. I have been promoting the tournaments in two schools and hope to expand to others in Kingston and St Andrew soon.
Besides MT Fitness 876, you have also coordinated youth basketball tournament, share what you hope to accomplish with this?
I have coordinated a mini basketball tournament between Emanuel Christian Academy and St. Hugh’s Preparatory School.
The sporting culture in Jamaica has promoted and fostered the development of football, track and field, cricket, and netball for children at primary level education institutions, and there really has been very little focus on other sport activities. I hope that these tournaments can help promote basketball at this level.
Who inspires you the most?
My sister Dahlia inspires me the most. Her focus is laser like and she possesses the ability to motivate anyone.
What advice would you give to young Jamaican entrepreneurs?
My advice to young Jamaican entrepreneurs is in four key parts. First, research to find out if the world is willing to pay you for what you are passionate about, this is vital if you are moving from a hobby into a business. Second, never be afraid to try new things no matter how silly it may seem. Third, don’t shy away from criticism, this feedback can always be useful and will help you to improve. And, fourth, don’t be afraid or be defeated by failure, it will be your greatest teacher, just keep trying.
Where do you see yourself and MT Fitness 876 in five years?
In five years, the hope is to open a MT Fitness 876 sporting facility. I hope to continue to host fitness and active lifestyle development programmes. And I also want to establish the home for the MT Fitness 876 Basketball Academy.
To connect with Michael, follow MT Fitness 876 on Instagram @mtfitness876