ONE-ON-ONE WITH ANGEL BAJANA
August 15, 2019
Angel Bajana is the founder and co-owner of Elev8tion Fitness in Miami, FL, and is also an active bodybuilding competitor and a partner in Gymleco USA, a Swedish gym equipment company making its way into the U.S. market. After working in real estate and finance, 10 years ago he decided to follow his true passion in fitness and helping people achieve their health goals. While he did not originally plan to build gyms, learn about equipment or even compete at a national level, his work ethic and perseverance led him to his current position in the fitness industry. Elev8tion Fitness plans to open in South Beach later this year and Gymleco is hosting a major part of the training experience.
It sounds like 2019 has been a big year for you. Tell us what you have achieved so far this year.
This has been a year of huge developments for Elev8tion Fitness, with its expansion into a 10,000-plus-square-foot space in January and more so with the additional location on South Beach opening late 2019. On a competitive level I have won several classes qualifying me to compete on a national stage in bodybuilding with the NPC (see sidebar on page 9).
What about with Gymleco USA?
I have partnered with Gymleco USA to help introduce them into the U.S. market as a leading gym equipment brand. This year is dressed in overalls and full of work for us and we couldn’t be more excited.
How did you end up in such a position in the fitness business?
After working different angles in the gym industry, from training staff to sales to management for a variety of well-known and profitable gyms, I was able to learn and apply much of the experience I acquired to help others with their facilities and how to build a profitable fitness club and brand. As I have built different facilities I used my training background to strategically choose equipment and lay them out accordingly to offer a smooth and efficient workout/training experience for members and trainers.
Your posts seem to focus on much more than simply exercise/working out. How do you explain your philosophy on the effort it takes to be as healthy and fit as you can be?
It is a day-by-day process — don’t expect to look or feel a certain way in a specific period of time, but plan for it and execute your nutritional habits and workout routines on a daily basis. I simply recommend that people trust and enjoy the process. I apply this to work and my personal life and have only achieved daily results. We may fall off track every now and then; however, it is not the end of the world and we can always pick up where we left of the following day or next set of hours. You choose.
How can health clubs and trainers benefit from and adopt some of your philosophies?
The largest benefit to all this is the positive impact we have on others directly or indirectly. Hold yourself accountable at all times and create a realistic goal for yourself. The daily work you put in does not go unnoticed and it is such a satisfying feeling when someone else is motivated and actually did something positive for himself or herself because of your decision to better yourself and/or your business.
So how would you characterize the state of the fitness business in the United States in 2019?
The fitness business in the United States has taken off tremendously with the introduction of different avenues of fitness that target a variety of people. I feel more and more people are now aware of their physical health and look for education via online or social media to better themselves. There is a plethora of information out there now and there is not one answer you won’t be able to Google or see a YouTube video about. There is no excuse tied to lack of information and that is key here in the United States.
Do you see any significant weaknesses?
One of the major weaknesses is the saturation of people in the U.S. trying to make a quick buck selling a specific product or workout program that may or may not help others. I wish there was a way to have some sort of quality control, but time will tell.
With that in mind, what are some of the unique challenges the industry faces?
As I mentioned, a specific challenge is the amount of people or companies that do not have the education or experience to guide others. Unfortunately, social media has played a huge role in allowing these individuals or companies to offer cookie-cutter programs, equipment and/or nutritional products, such as weight loss supplements that have a one-size-fits-all approach to reach the masses.
Is there a way to overcome this?
With time people will have more knowledge and information available. I strongly believe then they will look for the tailored and a more personal experience in what they choose.
How important is social media to what you do and to what fitness clubs are trying to accomplish? What kind of investment does it take to have a significant social media presence?
Social media is extremely important and such a great way to share your fitness experience with the world via pictures and videos. There is not much of an investment when you can use your phone or a digital recording device to capture the details or special attributes you have to offer. You have the opportunity to showcase why you are different and what makes you special.
What advice would you give to the typical club owner or trainer on how to be better – and make more money – in the fitness business?
My one and only piece of advice is to offer a product and service that helps others feel good and to realistically reach their fitness goals. Be honest and ethical about what you practice and there is no reason why your business will not skyrocket. People will talk and organic growth is the best growth.
Finally, in what direction do you see the fitness business in the U.S. headed in 2020 and beyond? Where are the growth opportunities and how do we take advantage of them?
It is all about the personal experience and service offered. At Elev8tion Fitness, members are not just checked in, they are greeted and offered a completely different workout and lifestyle experience from the equipment, environment and amenities offered to cater to their health and well-being.
Taking it to the Next Level…
Late last month Angel Bajana competed at a National NPC show and earned his PRO status with the IFBB Professional League as a Classic Physique competitor. Now as a professional he will be bringing a bigger, better and leaner package in the next one or two years when he competes again.
What do you have planned for FIBO USA?
I have planned to be a part of the FIBO USA experience as many times as possible as a gym owner, athlete and gym equipment company. FIBO USA is and will be one of the most recognized fitness events held, as it has already done well in Germany.
What role do you see FIBO USA playing in the U.S. fitness business?
I cannot wait for FIBO USA in Miami. I feel the U.S. is missing this type of fitness experience that caters to not only the clothing or supplement brands, but to people like myself who work and participate in different areas of the industry. It will bring people together that would not necessarily have the opportunity to meet until an event like this.