If it weren’t for a devastating wrestling injury, Ben Boudro wouldn’t be where he is today – and he’s very thankful for that.
Ben is a pretty inspiring guy with a great story. He is the proud owner of Xceleration Fitness, a boot camp program that was born out of a pretty lofty goal – nothing short of changing people’s lives every single day. Not a bad goal, if I do say so myself. And he’s definitely putting the effort in – the Xceleration Fitness community puts a lot of muscle behind all kinds of events designed to help local causes. Ben’s biggest muscle may actually be his heart!
Ben agreed to take some time out of his busy schedule of saving the world, and answered a few questions for me. See what he had to say below!
Tell us about your business in as much detail as you can. What is it that you do and who are your customers?
Xceleration Fitness is a community. Through our extensive knowledge and love for exercise and nutrition, we take people in and show them how to live a healthier, stronger, and more energetic lifestyle. Xceleration is about much more than just weight loss and having a better body. It’s all about helping other people.
As we have grown in number, so has the amount of outreach help we provide to our surrounding neighborhoods. We are the type of fitness facility that makes you feel like family. If you have a flat tire on the road and need help, we are the ones who drop everything and come help. That positivity is contagious and is beaming within our doors not just from the staff but from the clients as well.
We are a fitness facility that offers:
- Boot Camps (45-55 minute sessions of 25 adults, men & women, focusing on every aspect of fitness)
- Semi-Private (1-hour sessions of 4-6 adults focusing on strength and individualized fitness plans)
- Athlete Training (1-hour sessions of 10 middle school and high school athletes focusing on speed, strength, and all aspects of sports)
- Nutrition Counseling (individualized 1-on-1 meetings where we provide eating plans that go with busy lifestyles)
Our customers include busy moms and dads, college and professional athletes, and middle and high school athletes. About 75% of our clientele is made up of women aged 30-45 years old.
What made you choose this path? Is it a family legacy or are you a pioneer? Did you go to school for it or are you learning as you go?
As corny as it sounds, this career chose me.
I can seriously remember being in 5th grade running my 2.5-mile dirt road block 3 times per week and timing myself. I wrote my first exercise program for my cousin when I was in 8th grade. (He still has is it, haha.)
This is not a family legacy; I am the first to pioneer this idea into a business. However, this whole thing started because of my family. I’m the youngest of four very athletic brothers and two very healthy parents. My brothers and I grew up in a farm town and were active every second of the day. Working outside, bailing hay, riding bikes, and playing every sport possible – we always lived a healthy lifestyle.
We all excelled exceptionally well in wrestling. My wrestling career landed me a walk-on spot on the varsity wrestling team at Michigan State University. The hard work and passion for challenging myself led me from being a walk-on scrub to being named the captain of the team during my senior campaign.
Everything was great during my senior season until exactly two weeks before the first competition. In a practice, I suffered a severe concussion that put me in a spot where I couldn’t read, write, or put together sentences for several days. I bounced back and competed well that year but was not able to complete the season after I suffered two more concussions in just two months. The doctor told me that I could never wrestle again.
That setback was tough but it led me to where I am now.
The strength coach at MSU demanded that I still attend practices, especially the lifts. My presence as a captain was needed for the team. I was pissed to hear this and refused at first, but my conscience wouldn’t let me sulk. I showed up and was gifted with the responsibility of coming up with the workouts for the team. Boom! I fell in love.
Fast forward: I stuck around and got my master’s degree in Kinesiology. I became certified as a collegiate strength coach, strength and conditioning specialist, and a personal trainer. I was on the path to becoming a college strength coach. In grad school, I worked over 1000 hours as a college strength coach without earning a single penny. To make money so that I could eat and live, I worked simultaneously as a personal trainer at a nearby gym in Okemos, MI. I got pretty good at personal training and went back and forth between the two career paths.
Luckily, after graduating with my Master’s degree I was not offered a single job by any of the universities in America. I say that because I sent my resume to every single Division I school. Another blessing. Late in the summer of 2012, I was offered a position in Tennessee as a sports performance director for a Velocity Sports Performance center in Bristol, TN. My wife and I packed up and lived there for about a year until I was offered the position at Xceleration Sports where I am now.
I’m now in a position where I truly feel like I can change people’s lives. I truly and deeply believe that and I am damn lucky to be in the position I am in.
They say that to be successful you have to be passionate, so share what drives you every day? Why do you love what you do?
I get to wake up every day and impact a person’s life. There is so much stress in this world – jobs, kids, setbacks, etc. My gym provides hundreds of people a chance to have one hour that is dedicated completely to themselves. We have helped people get off medications, drop weight, drop body fat, and in some instances literally turn their outlook on life completely around.
I’m passionate because this is my duty. God gave me unique talents and it just so happens that those talents can help make people better. It’s my duty and responsibility to use my talents to the fullest extent, to constantly sharpen them, and to let them grow.
When I leave this earth I want to know that I made a difference in millions of people’s lives. That is why I do what I do.
Has it been smooth sailing or have you overcome adversity to get where you are?
I think you can see from my story in question #2 that no – it was not a smooth sail. I’m a firm believer that in order to grow you need to have obstacles. On the wall in my office, I have a piece of paper taped up that reads: “The obstacle is the way.”
As an entrepreneur, you are going to have obstacles. It’s never easy and obstacles are always there, but if you can take a look at each obstacle and learn as much as you can from it, you will just continue to grow and continue to succeed.
We all know that crazy happens. What’s the wildest thing that’s happened on the job?
I held a workout for a member in our community who was battling Sarcoma Cancer. I marketed the hell out of it and tried to fill up the event so that we could raise money. I had 4 people RSVP that they would be there.
On the day of the event, I was pretty disappointed in myself for not getting more people to sign up. Then the event started.
10 people showed up, then 20, then 40. Before I knew it, there were over 100 people inside the facility – all there for this guy who was battling cancer! We raised so much money and that was when I learned how powerful this community was.
What do you do with your time off? Are you familiar with that concept?
Family. Being in my position as an owner I could literally work 24 hours per day. That tends to pull me away from my family at times. I thank God every day for having my wife, who is so understanding and supportive, so when I get home I am 100% with my family. We take my son to playgrounds, take the dog to the dog park, go out to eat, and try to give my son as many experiences as he can handle.
When I get some “me time” I love to do woodworking, house projects, or anything that allows my mind to just wander off while building something awesome.
This is the age of the social network. How important is social media to your business and how do you make it work?
It’s pretty important. I’d say 90% of our growth is due to social media.
We make it work because we all pitch in. I have employees in college and even high school, so they keep me in tune with the social media world. I myself am constantly sharpening my skills with Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, you name it. It’s constantly changing and I love the challenge. It’s fun!
How are you involved in your community?
Community is everything. My clientele at Xceleration Fitness loves helping out people in our community.
In just this past month, we had a workout for a member in our community who is suffering from a life-threatening lung disease. We rallied together and held a 1-hour workout that was Halloween-themed for families. In one hour we raised over $1300 for this person. We barely had to market this before the session filled up.
In addition, we have held workouts on public beaches for the Wounded Warriors (Over $500 in an hour.) We’ve held workouts for veteran’s suicide, which turned out to be the biggest gathering ever for the Veterans WOD Suicide Foundation
We always pick a family in need for the holidays that we can spoil. This year we will be adopting 3! Candy drives for the soldiers, cancer workouts for victims – you name it, and we will do it!
This is the most important part of my business for me. We have over 400 clients and, with some organization, we can seriously help impact our community.
What does supporting local mean to you?
It means a ton. As the community grows, we all grow. Jobs are made and the economy gets better. We have a community full of hard-working people and it’s important that we as a company highlight those people. We often have events at the gym where local companies bring their goods and help spread their name to our clients.
What does the future look like for you and your business?
The future looks very bright for us. In 2014, we had zero multiple-month clients. As of today, we are over 300 and growing fast. Our goal is to expand our company throughout metro Detroit and grow from there. The more people we can influence to live happier, healthier lifestyles, the better.
Do you have any advice for aspiring business owners just starting out?
Mirror success, evolve immediately, and use your resources.
Starting out, I had the mindset of “I know how to do this, I know fitness.” It wasn’t until I researched the successful people in my profession that I truly started to grow. Learn from others’ mistakes, make connections, and be willing to change your views from time to time.
Read books, study people in your profession, and see what they do.
Lastly, my advice would be to learn that the more you give, the more you get. The sooner we all learn that, the sooner the world will be a better place to live.