When people question Ron Betta about his company’s unique website name, he has a perfectly practical explanation: “I tell them there’s no dot-com because our website went on a diet and lost it.”
What makes that retort especially fitting is that it also helps folks remember the business he’s in. Betta, a personal trainer, is the owner of Art of Fitness, an exercise studio in Orlando, Fla. When he started the company last year, he was determined to set it apart in every way he could-;including coming up with a non-traditional URL. “Artoffitness.com wasn’t available, but there were other conventional options that I could have used, like ‘dot-net.' But I didn’t want any of those,” says Betta. Instead, he lunged for Artof.fitness because, he says, “I wanted our website to be both unique and simple.”
Betta’s appreciation for simplicity took shape during his previous and much different career: as an assistant production manager at Walt Disney Feature Animation. There he contributed to such films as Lilo and Stitch and Beauty and the Beast, and saw firsthand the benefits of streamlining and simplifying characters so that they could be drawn more efficiently. “I was struck by how well that approach worked,” he says.
A second inspiration came when Betta relocated briefly to San Francisco. While commuting by subway one day, he noticed that the happiest-seeming fellow passenger was the only one not wearing a shirt and tie. Instead, he sported a hat emblazoned with the words “Personal Trainer.” “He was sitting there in comfortable clothes, very fit and smiling,” says Betta. “I yearned for that.” Soon he was using his train trips to study all things fitness, with the goal of becoming a Certified Personal Trainer.
Once he earned that qualification, he began working as a trainer, jumping from one big fitness chain to another. In 2014 “I was working at a company that didn't provide benefits and also cut people's pay without even telling them about it. Yet they pushed me to get as many people into the gym as possible. The job was all about the sale and not about the relationship I had with clients."
In fact, Betta put a premium on good client relations, and that emphasis paid off in July 2014, when he began to notify them that he was looking for space where he could house his own studio. One client offered to give-;not loan-;him the funds to start his new business. To differentiate himself from his competitors he decided to leverage his interest in art, and Art of Fitness was born. He also turned to his former colleagues in the film world for help-;one, for example, designed the company's logo.
Referring to Art of Fitness as a studio rather than a gym is part of Betta’s effort to make clients “feel warm and welcome. I want it to be an artistic place where people are creating new bodies, not just a place where they are being pushed to sweat and to get exhausted,” he says. “I want my clients to see themselves as works of art.”
Betta also wants his studio to feel "accessible to the average person.” On his Artof.fitness website, the before-and-after photos are of real people, not supermodels. To make the website not just informational but interactive, he built in e-commerce functionality that enables customers to both schedule sessions and pay for them.
Betta, who had initially considered naming his studio Ron Betta Fitness, has found other ways to market his own personal brand: in addition to publishing two books he has also appeared as a trainer on TV’s “The Biggest Loser.” For the man behind Artof.fitness, the entrepreneurial routine seems to be, well, working out.
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