Building a Family and a Business

“It’s hard to think of myself as a young entrepreneur, I’ve been doing it so long,” says Mrs. Lee Randell. She and her husband, Mr. Lee Randell, bought Peak Fitness in 2001 and have run the gym together ever since.

When they bought the business, Mrs. Lee was just 23 years old and they were starting their family at the very same time.

The couple had managed the gym when it was in its downtown location. It burned down in the summer of 1999, on their son’s first birthday.

They bought Peak Fitness, rebuilt it in its Riverdale location and re-opened in 2001. At that time, their son Victor was two and a half years old and their baby, Ivory, was just eight months old.

The kids, now almost 8 and 10 years old, have grown up in the gym. Ivory had slept in Mr. Lee’s coat while they worked and now the kids come to the gym after school. “Everyone knows them,” says Mrs. Lee. “It’s a small community over here,” noting that everyone looks out for the kids.

And the kids work out with their parents in the gym. “It’s easy to adapt for the kids. We give them things without weights, put them on the balls and the Bosu [a stability ball used for exercise]. They love it.”

Nurturing two kids and a business is an ongoing challenge. “It’s hard,” emphasizes Lee repeatedly, always with a gentle smile. She loves a challenge.

The couple divide their responsibilities in a way that makes things flow well.

“We learned over time that we’re good at different things,” says Mrs. Lee. She likes to work directly with members as a personal trainer. Mr. Lee likes to handle the business end of things as well as direct client service.

They also divide their shifts. “I learned to like mornings,” says Mrs. Lee. She starts working at Peak Fitness at 5:00 in the morning. At mid-afternoon, she picks the kids up from school. Mr. Lee gets the kids to school in the morning and works late.

For the couple, the priority is the kids first: “We’re a team that way. We see each other Saturday night. Saturday night is mandatory date night,” says Mrs. Lee. “We have amazing in-laws who look after the kids.”

Mrs. Lee has achieved her early goal of making her personal training work flourish as a full-time occupation within Peak Fitness.

Just as the couple were re-opening Peak Fitness, Mrs. Lee took on a personal transformation that also transformed her approach to personal training.

She had gained weight with her second pregnancy and she felt out of shape. “I was depressed and in a downward cycle.”

She was an experienced personal trainer herself, with all the knowledge she needed. But even trainers need a trainer sometimes. She went to another Peak Fitness trainer for help and motivation.

One way that she keeps their members motivated is her philosophy, which all staff at Peak Fitness share: “Treat people like you’re the best part of their day.”

Lee’s success motivates her members, who want to see her continue competing. But family comes first and the competitions take her away from family activities too much. “I promised my family I would take a year off of competition.”

With 15 staff, including instructors, and over 1,000 members of the gym, Mrs. Lee says, “This is a huge business and a big struggle. Even cleaning is a big deal.

“We have the best members,” says Lee. “We keep going because we don’t want to let them down. They appreciate what we’re doing for them, and we appreciate that they’re here.”

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