ProVida Fitness: A Story of Patience, Determination, and Leading by Example
Among many other attributes, being an entrepreneur requires flexibility, willingness to adjust, a relentless work ethic and a non-wavering determination to turn a vision into a reality. In January of 2012, a new gym came to the city of Elkhart. Not a nation chain gym but a local gym, not a gym with the sole purpose of running up its membership numbers but a gym whose core focus was to build community. In January of 2012, Sergio Seminario took the first steps toward creating what is now known as ProVida Fitness, a gym established in Elkhart, Indiana.
As many of the other entrepreneurs that we’ve highlighted throughout this series, in the beginning stages, Seminario balanced a full-time job while trying to make his dreams a reality. During our time speaking with Sergio, he told us that ever since he was in high school, he had an immense passion for fitness. “More so than just a passion for fitness, I had a passion for helping others” Sergio told us. Immediately after graduating high school, Sergio got a job at a local gym as an assistant. During this time, Sergio was not yet a personal trainer but members of the gym would still approach him with questions and he was happy to answer to the best of his ability.
“This is what truly made me happy”, he said, “to be able to help others and to see the smile on their faces when they started seeing results based on the help that I had provided them with. There is no greater sense of satisfaction than helping others and that’s what made me fall in love with fitness”.
Sergio told us that he worked at this local gym for about one year before he decided to pursue another opportunity. When Seminario was 19 years old, he became aware of a new local gym that had opened in the city, Richie’s Fitness Center. Sergio was made aware of an opening at Richie’s for a personal trainer. Being intrigued by the locally owned and operated aspect that Richie’s brought to the community, Seminario decided to apply but not to just be a personal trainer, he had another idea in mind.
“My parents always taught my siblings and I that no matter what we do, confidence is a tremendous factor for success and so when I walked into Richie’s I presented myself with just that”.
As Sergio told us, he walked into Richie’s and the conversation went something like this:
Sergio: “Hello sir, my name is Sergio Seminario and I am here to apply for the general manger position”
Richie (gym owner): “We have a personal trainer position open but not a general manager position open, sorry son”
Sergio: “I’m aware that you don’t have an opening for a general manager position but I believe I had the skills to be a great one. I have a vision for this gym, and if given the opportunity, I know I can make it a reality”
That day, Sergio Seminario walked out of Richie’s Fitness Center, not only with the job of general manager that he had just created for himself but also with an immense sense of confidence and optimism for that career in fitness that laid ahead of him. This short story about Seminario’s beginnings brought with it a very powerful insight; as someone who aspires to be an entrepreneur, it is not a bad thing to work for someone initially as this allows you to learn an immense amount not only about the particular industry you’re getting into but also allows you to learn a great deal about yourself. “I feel very fortunate have had Richie as my mentor during the five years I spent working with him”, Sergio told us. “Having someone by my side who showed me the ropes during my early career was invaluable, I was just a kid with a dream and Richie (my mentor) helped mold me into a man with vision and purpose”.
Practicality and resourcefulness are two other great attributes of aspiring entrepreneurs and two that Sergio always possessed. Working alongside Richie and learning from him was one of the most practical things Sergio could have done in the early stages of his career. Not only that but during his time at Richie’s, Sergio started buying used workout equipment, refurbishing the equipment and then flipping it. This allowed him to not only make extra money that would later go toward the development of his dream but it also helped him start to require assets and resources (the gym equipment), which he would also later use to build his dream.
After five years at Richie’s Fitness Center, the gym that had helped mold Sergio into the young professional he was was about to shut down its operations. Following the gym’s closing, Seminario found another fulltime job, which would allow him to continue building capital for when the time came to really take strides toward his vision. In January of 2012, Seminario signed the lease on a building in Elkhart, Indiana. The building needed a bit of work before it could be opened to the public and so in between January and August (the month that ProVida Fitness officially opened its doors to the public), Sergio was working another job full time and also working on the development of his dream full time.
“I remember I would utilize my lunch breaks from my other job to meet clients at the gym, train them, and head back to work. The more I did this, the more I realized being at the gym full time is what I wanted to do, what I needed to do”.
For about eight months, Sergio would make time to train clients during his lunch breaks and then train more clients after his normal work hours at his previous job. “I had to build my clientele, I had to get my name out there and build my reputation and this was the only way to do it, there were no shortcuts, I just had to put in the work”, Sergio told us. In August of 2012, ProVida Fitness is officially open to the public, and for about another year, Sergio balanced a full-time job and running his own business.
“There came a time when I decided I couldn’t balance both, I did not want to, I needed to go all in on my passion if I really wanted to make my dream come true”
Sergio told us that leaving his previous job for good was actually an easy choice. “When I really put things into perspective, it was either making decent consistent money and being miserable or taking a chance on myself with the ultimate reward of being happy and fulfilled”.
Seminario has been operating his gym for 5 years now and the growth that ProVida Fitness has seen within those five years has been phenomenal. “I believe the biggest reason for the growth of our gym is the culture around it. When you become a member at ProVida fitness, you don’t become just another number in our balance sheet, you become a part of a family”. Sergio explained that his relentless passion for building a community rather than building up his numbers is what he believes has brought success to his company.
“Building trust is a big part of being a business owner and I believe the best way to build trust is to lead by example which is what I always strive to do”.
Reflecting back on his early beginnings, much before he even developed a passion for fitness, Sergio reminisced on the lessons he got from his father. “When I was young, I would spend a lot of time with my father. My father is a natural businessman so he was always occupied doing this thing, ‘being his own boss’, as his called it”. Though Seminario was young, he observed a trend while spending time with his father, the relentless businessman who always told his children they should strive to work for themselves, “the harder he worked, the more rewards he would reap”. Seminario noticed that when working with oneself, we are the factor that controls everything; there are no predetermined boundaries nor limits other than the ones we set for ourselves and Sergio loved that.
“I greatly admire my father for the sense of optimism that he always possessed and passed on to us, his children. He truly made us believe that we are in control of our own future and I credit a lot of my success to that mentality that was instilled upon me from a young age by my father”.
When we examine many entrepreneurs they are all unique but many times they share traits, characteristics, and even mindsets. When we asked Seminario what he believed were pillars of his success thus far he said “patience, determination, and practicing what I preach”. Breaking that down, Sergio showcased patience as he did not rush into trying to make his dream a reality, he put himself in positions that would allow him to acquire the necessary skills and he surrounded himself with people who believed in him and were willing to help mold him. He displayed determination by never losing sight of his vision. “There were many setbacks”, Sergio mentioned, “but no person who wants to build something for themselves will accomplish that without a relentless sense of determination”. Lastly, especially for the industry in which Sergio participates, it is incredibly important for him to practice what he preaches, “talking the talk and walking the walk”, as he mentioned. The trust that Sergio has developed with his clients can be highly credited to this and there is no doubt that his future success will also be built on the back of this core belief.
We wrapped our time with Seminario asking him if there was anything he’d do differently along the way if his journey was starting all over again. “Not at all”, he stated, “every setback, every bump in the road has made me into who I am today and I would not change that for anything”. Lastly, we ended the interview discussing Sergio’s definition of success and he left us with the following words:
“I define success by legacy. I want to make an impact in people’s lives, I want to build something that will sustain for many generations after me, I want to build something for my children and above all I want to be remembered”.
With those powerful words, we wrap up this entrepreneurship story of Sergio Seminario, a Peru native who along with his family has created his own version of the American dream. We truly hope you’re enjoying these stories and hope that there might some key takeaways from each which you can apply to your own story or you can at least relate with. Till the next one, my friends.
Address: 1100 Clarinet Blvd. Elkhart, IN 46516
The Latino Entrepreneur Story Writing Project is sponsored by the Center for Intercultural and International Education at Goshen College.