Fitness is about more than simply exercise for fitness enthusiast, trainer and Get Fit With Smith founder Lavardo Smith. For the local entrepreneur, fitness is an art of expression and lifestyle which he over the past several years has transformed into a movement, a business and ultimately a family affair.
The movement he says began in earnest after the birth of their daughter and his wife’s desire to lose weight. “I would take her on the beach to workout. Although our core focus is not weight loss rather fitness, when people saw us working out together and how she went from a size 14 suit to a size 8 that peeked a lot of persons interest. My wife and I started with just three people on the beach.”
The business officially launched in 2013 and outgrew its first location within the first year with 200 active clients. Today, the Smiths have 400 active clients, with over 600 having passed through their gym in the heart of Carmichael Road, ‘City 2000’ in the past year.
Like many entrepreneurs Smith, an ex-marine with an inclination for athletics, along his wife Rookmin, a former banker, left steady jobs to go all in on the fitness business. In fact, they credit it with having saved their marriage.
“We used fitness to strengthen our relationship. We were literally on the verge of divorce. Working out together helped to solidify our bond, it opened the door for communication; to help us understand each other, our strengths and weaknesses. Fitness was and still is therapeutic,” says Rookmin.
Get Fit With Smith offers more than just a work out the couple says. “Nothing is scripted; it’s a memorable experience that can’t be explained. The work out comes from my head to the gym floor,” says Mr Smith.
He adds: “What sets us apart is we’re not just a regular gym. In no given day would any of our clients say they did the same workout. In one class you can do high intensity cardio aerobics, military boot camp, and weight training. You’re not going to get that experience anywhere. There’s always an element of surprise.”
“We also do corporate fitness and athletic training. We welcome everyone. We have created wellness initiatives for many of our corporate clients and on an ongoing basis we offer personal training for persons who may not want to be in a class setting. Our youngest client is our daughter who is six and our eldest is 72 with a number of pre-existing conditions. The atmosphere is very welcoming and focused. We have beginners, intermediate and advanced. We also provide modifications to the workout if we see that persons are not able to keep up with the pace, the key is to keep moving”
Mr Smith stresses that one must have a vision and passion but pursue that vision with a purpose consistently. “There is no testimony without a test. A lot of people become discouraged because while their eye is on the end goal they don’t focus on the process to get there,” he says.
One of his goals is to create a foundation to assist local athletes who may not have the financial resources to go to college. “I know what it was like being in that position and not have the money or anyone backing me to go off to college. I want to afford others the opportunity that was not given to me,” says Smith.
Mr Smith sees fitness as a way of expressing himself and hopes that his story can help to inspire others. “I want people to see that they can make it, they don’t need to make excuses or take on a victim mentality. I am the result of my mother being raped. I wasn’t aborted and I’m here today for the purpose I was created for, never mind the vehicle used to get me here! No one should use the excuse that they didn’t have a father or mother or money or support. I’m still holding my head with the support of my wife, family and others who continuously support me especially Aliv Telecommunications who saw the wisdom and necessity in what I am offering our Bahamian people. Neither of us were born wealthy.” I do not regret every experience I ever had in my life. It has prepared for the man I am today.’
The Smiths urge aspiring and budding entrepreneurs to invest in their passion; get started with what’s right before you; remain consistent; work hard and believe in yourself. “What people say to you and about you is not a factor its what you say to yourself. Constantly keep your mind sharp in your craft, ever evolving. Always listen to persons who can motivate and inspire you in a positive direction. I invested in my passion and my vision. I had to remain consistent and work hard to get where I am, getting up 3 am every morning to work out,” says Mr Smith. “Hard work will pay off in the end”.