Phil Black: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Phil Black was never satisfied with his gym experience – even when he was a member at four different facilities – so he opened Blackout Fitness to create the most complete and effective fitness facility in Montreal…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
I opened Blackout Fitness with the goal of creating the most complete and effective fitness facility in Montreal. Our business is to build a community centered around a healthy lifestyle and to develop and cultivate a culture that promotes all around well-being. Most people don’t go to a gym, and of the ones that do, the vast majority dread the experience but people do want to be healthy. Blackout Fitness focuses on building micro communities within the gym so that people look forward to their workout as opposed to looking for an excuse to not do it. We push people into getting educated on all facets of well-being so they can get fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle, without needing a personal trainer five times a week. This is what makes us different from typical gyms. At the end of the day all businesses are people; unlike other gyms, we realize that, so our staff try harder. We have a client-centered approach – everyone who joins has our cell phone numbers and e-mails, we answer until midnight and sometimes later, we go out of our way every day, take people grocery shopping and lend our members books to make sure everyone feels like they aren’t a member of this gym but rather a citizen that makes up the community that is “Blackout Fitness.”

Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
I started Blackout because of several reasons. The first of which is I think that most people are completely lost when it comes to what is required to be healthy and it is actually very simple; I want to give the masses the means and the resources to be the best they can be, whatever their commitment level is. The other worth noting is that ever since I started going to commercial gyms at the age of 15, I was never satisfied with the experience. At one point I was a member at four different gyms and I thought to myself, “Why not just make my own and do it right?” Most gyms either don’t have a lot of the right equipment, below par staff or a layout that leaves much to be desired. I just wanted to give people everything I thought was missing.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of my day-to-day is interacting with the people that come in and brainstorming with my staff. We have amazing people that come through our doors every day and getting to feed off their energy and seeing their enthusiasm first-hand always puts things in perspective for me. Life, just like running a business, is all about people, and I get to meet and get to know some pretty great ones because of Blackout Fitness.?The most challenging part of my day is trying to make everyone happy. The customer is always right but sometimes customers want different things and you can only deliver one at a time. A great example is temperature; some people like it warm in the gym, others like the air crisp and chilled. I can’t provide everyone with exactly what they want, although we try.


Where do you see your business going in five years?
I see Blackout Fitness growing from a single destination gym to a corporate franchise. I hate to set expectations, but realistically having four or five gyms in greater Montreal is a distinct possibility, and with a little luck we can get into Ontario and even British Columbia in this time frame. I think we’ll be the fastest growing gym chain by year seven.

What does success look like to you?
Success to me is just another word for happiness. What makes me happy is waking up in the morning wanting to get to work as quickly as possible, and having passion and love for what I do, especially when that entails helping others. Equally important is having great family ties. My sister married recently and I can say without hesitation that to date it was the most successful/happiest day of my life.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
The official opening of my first gym on February 1st, 2013.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Make sure you have passion for what you do. Your career will consume the majority of your waking hours for the foreseeable future, so don’t go chase a paycheck. My father always told me: “Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.” There are certain parts of every job or career that are less than ideal, but love the core of what you do. I don’t think I could give a better piece of advice than my old man has given me.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I support the Jewish General Hospital, the CHUM, and the Chabbad Lifeline Addiction Center. Giving back is the most important part of receiving. Being in the health industry, I like supporting hospitals because if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. Supporting the JGH and CHUM is a natural fit for what Blackout Fitness is all about. The Chabbad Lifeline Addiction Center is also a great cause. They help victims of addiction, many times children who grew up without the advantage of having amazing parents like most of us have. You can buy a ticket for their yearly raffle at our facility!

What is Notable to you?
The Dalai Lama says that our primary purpose in life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them. I think people who live and aspire to that are notable.

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How do you keep active, energetic, and vibrant?
All my regulars at the gym, watching everyone give their all on a daily basis, keeps me pretty energized. It’s motivating to see people work hard and feed off each other’s efforts. When the gym is quiet or I’m feeling especially tired, I work out.