Profile: Jill Bingham and Warren White

Jill Bingham and Warren White

What were you doing before you became involved with Jetts (E.g – working in a different industry, travelling, semi – retired)?

Chef – Jill.

Boat mechanic – Warren.

We met when we were doing our PT courses at the Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF) in Maroochydore.

Why did you choose to open a Jetts club?

We were both PTs at another gym. We put so much effort into looking after members when it was of no benefit to us so we thought we’d open our own club. Plus we realised we weren’t making as much money as we would have liked and it was frustrating working in someone else’s club. We did think about a PT studio but the overheads put us off. We did a lot of research. It was approximately six months from finding the right site to opening the club.

How has becoming a business owner changed your lifestyle?

It has changed our lives so much! In the beginning, we opened Jetts Peregian to work in it. Warren ended up managing the gym and Jill worked with the members in personal training. We’ve got an amazing culture in our Peregian club. That has stayed in the club because we’re constantly in there.

Jetts is a very flexible business and while as a business owner you don’t have to be in the gym that much, we loved it and are very engaged with both of our clubs. It’s very flexible as we can choose what we do and when we do it. For us, it means we work a lot of weekends but then don’t work as much during the week. Our work life balance is great.

How have your previous skills benefited you with the opening of this Jetts club?

Warren was already a business owner prior to starting with Jetts, so that helped with running the business side of things. However, the fact that we were both fully qualified Personal Trainers really helped us because we had insights into the industry, how gyms function and more importantly what members really need. We knew that we would need two smith machines in our club and knew what sized club we wanted. We could step in and do orientations for members and then work with them on their goals and focus areas through personal training. Even down to the cleanliness of our clubs, we knew what we didn’t want our club to look like.

Do you own the business with anyone else and how do you manage the roles? Are any of your family members involved with the Jetts you operate?

Jill – “We manage the roles very easily. We both have such different skill sets. We work with our strengths. Warren is great with book work. I am a lot more creative, which is why I love doing all of the marketing and community events. Sometimes we overlap – we both employ the team members and both look after the team.”

Warren – “Even when dealing with the team, Jill is very caring and takes the more nurturing side of things.”

Why did you choose this area to open your club in this location?

Jetts Peregian was our first club. We wanted something that was close to home and Peregian was really at that stage the closest practical location for us. We already knew about a site which was a great location in the Peregian Springs shopping centre. Really easy driving distance. It always was our plan to have more than one. We knew that we could develop it. We thought that from Peregian, we could expand North or South. There weren’t many more clubs on the coast.

Is this the first club you will be opening? No.

Do you give or participate in community activities? How do you raise your brands profile in the community?

Yes. We have won the Jetts Make a Difference in the Community Award at our annual Conference three years in a row now. A big part of what we have done has been generated by just getting to know our members and the community really well and then supporting them where we can.

The Zoo Run is our baby – we loved doing that event. We raised over $20,000 for the Wildlife Hospital last year.

We have done the Cystic Fibrosis 65k event three years in a row – it’s just getting bigger and bigger. We raised $27,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation this year, which just came about through a member we’ve gotten to know really well. This year, we had every treadmill, bike and rower going in both clubs to raise the money. It’s grown so much over the past three years.

Additionally, through the Jetts Coolum Classic we raised money for the Nippers Surf Club.

One of the families in the area are all members of our gym and their daughter has multiple sclerosis. Unfortunately one week, she and her father were both diagnosed with cancer. We helped raised $4K and held a community fun day at the club to raise the money. They were able to use that money to buy a wheelchair accessible van, which is great. We’ve given them all free memberships obviously. Plus our personal trainers have given them a 10 pack of PT sessions, which will really help.

We’re coming up with another event at the moment to raise money for a young boy in the community who has a brain tumour. We haven’t picked a charity yet but we want to do a walk from our Coolum club to the beach.

All of these events are always more about the charity or the cause – it’s not about the clubs. We just want to help out.

What’s been your biggest personal success so far?

Winning the three Make a Difference in the Community Awards because it’s what we love. We get such a kick out of this. Yes, it helps with branding but we love the warm and fuzzy feeling we get out of doing it.

We get so much back from the community when doing them. Events and community activities are a lot of work but we love doing it. We have managed to create a great team and surround ourselves with a great team.

A three month membership doesn’t cost us anything to give away but they get something out of it.  

What, if anything, surprised you about Jetts?

The growth and how well it’s growing. They’re always constantly improving things. Jetts are great because they will admit if they didn’t do something so well, and then they’ll fix it. The Senior Management team will always admit that they make mistakes – we all do but to hear them admit that they’re human is great. From when we started in 2009, with Brendon Levenson who founded the company and Claire Attard, who has now taken Jetts to New Zealand; to the growth and development in the last year and half with Martin Oliver, CEO, and Elaine Jobson, GM of Australia has been phenomenal. Plus the annual Jetts conference gets more and more exciting each year because you can see the changes. We’ve been every year and wouldn’t miss it.

Do you have any special talents away from the club or professional life?

Warren is a professional outrigger racer and a Marine mechanic or Outboard motor technician.

Jill is a fully qualified chef. “I still love my cooking.”

What obstacles have you had to overcome to start your business? How did you do it? What strategies did you develop to overcome them?

Warren – “Time is money – biggest obstacle. We both had previous challenges that left us short of money. That was the biggest hurdle. Jetts was such a new concept at the time. There were only 30 clubs across Australia when we first opened. We were number 31.”

Jill – “At one stage after we’d opened, Peregian just hit a plateau and we were really struggling. Alan Myers, one of the Senior Management Team Managers, told us we really needed to get out in the community. From there, we started doing community events and the club then just kept growing.”

Warren – “Alan told Jill that she needed to become the mayor of her community and she became the prime minister”.  

What are your growth plans for the next two to three years?

We have some big plans in the pipeline. We have a few things on the go at the moment. It looks like it will be more Jetts clubs. We would really like to open another Jetts club. We’d like to open an established club that is struggling and turn it around.

The way we’re planning at the moment, it could potentially be another two or three clubs. We don’t want to go too far because we are both so hands on. You have to be engaged and hands on, particularly if you want to turn the club around.

What goals are you hoping to achieve this year?

We have already achieved our goals this year – well, we’re saying that after winning the Jetts Make a Difference in the Community Award again.

Jill did a photoshoot to celebrate her 50th birthday.

Jill – It’s fantastic because I felt so empowered – I got so many complements. It was a very positive experience.

What does Jetts mean to you?

Jill – Depends in what way. Initially, I would say support. In owning a gym, that support we get from Jetts is great.

Warren – It’s a way of life we’ve discovered. It’s what we do.

Is there anything about you or that you know a journalist might find interesting for a local community story?

Jill – I’ve lost 40 kgs since I was younger. I am fitter now at 50 years of age than I have ever been in my life.

Warren does the outriggers.

Warren – I love it and I am really proud of it. I race in the 6 man outrigger canoes. It takes me to a lot of places. It’s only new – I started 12months ago with the Noosa outrigger club. I had a great first year and won some medals. It’s a great way for us both to get away. We went to Sydney Harbour to race recently. That was hard to concentrate because there was so much scenery to look at. I initially got into it because Jill’s dad was an Olympic Outrigger.