“We both were unsuccessful in our job search and also couldn’t even land on our dream jobs. We did do a few part time jobs but most never felt right,” said Florence. “I came back to PNG and couldn’t find a job in my field. I tried for two years but was unsuccessful so I told myself that I should probably pursue my second dream as a fitness instructor and gym owner,” added Darius. Their job search began after Darius returned to Papua New Guinea (PNG) after completing his pilot training and graduating with his pilot license and after Florence graduated with her Bachelor in Arts at University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG).
JOB HUNTERS BECOME GYM OWNERS IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA.
By Michelle AUAMOROMORO | The PNG Bulletin.
DARIUS and Florence Moaina were full of hope to get a job in their respective fields after they completed their tertiary education. They both started their education journey at Port Moresby International School (POMIS) before Darius went on to train to be a pilot at New Zealand and Florence went on to study at the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG). The job search began after Darius returned to Papua New Guinea (PNG) after completing his pilot training and graduating with his pilot license and after Florence graduated with her Bachelor in Arts at University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) where she majored in political science and minored in public policy management.
“We both were unsuccessful in our job search and also couldn’t even land on our dream jobs. We did do a few part time jobs but most never felt right,” said Florence.
“I came back to PNG and couldn’t find a job in my field. I tried for two years but was unsuccessful so I told myself that I should probably pursue my second dream as a fitness instructor and gym owner,” added Darius.
Having the same passion for going to the gym, Darius and Florence decided to start and run a gym.
“It all made sense at that time because we were both athletes and gym goers,” said Florence.
It was while pursuing their passion for going to the gym that Darius and Florence met.
“We started dating and then we got married,” said Darius.
“While still competing in our respective sporting codes and dating, we attained our qualifications- Darius was certified as a Personal Trainer and I was certified as a Strength and Conditioning Coach and also as a Zumba Instructor,” added Florence.
Having obtained these qualifications, the couple, who both come from East New Britain (ENB) province established East Street Fitness on January 31, 2017.
“It started from looking for a job. Right now, after you graduate from university you have so much hope that you would get a job but then you wait and wait and wait but you don’t get that job. That is when you use your initiative and with your family’s support you are motivated to take a different path. If it wasn’t for my family’s support and Darius’ support, I wouldn’t have gotten into starting a business and being a SME owner,” said Florence.
When East Street Fitness opened for business, one client walked in through the door; just one client.
“That very first personal training in here would be my highlight. It made me so happy to see one person interested and coming in to work out; I was over the moon,” said Darius.
As time went on, the couple were running two classes in a week and having about 6 to 10 clients.
“The number of clients coming in dropped sometimes but we continued on because we were doing it for those people who were joining us for the classes,” said Florence.
Like many business owners, Darius and Florence were faced with challenges, especially in terms of finance. But they were motivated to continue running their business when they saw the successful outcomes that what they were doing had on their clients.
“We’re very proud when we see our clients feel happy about where they are, how they work out and when they had lost weight; seeing those outweighs the challenges that we face,” said Darius.
“It has been challenging at times but we kept pushing through and that is why we are here today; we continued to pursue it and we sustained it for the last four years,” added Florence.
Darius and Florence started off as what Florence called ‘two men operation’. They thought just the two of them would be able to continue to run the business but it turned out that they needed help.
“Recruiting helps; we’ve seen it. You cannot run a business by yourself; you need specialty employees as well. Finding the right people made it so much easier for us,” said Darius.
“Recruiting is really important for our business and for the people in our communities too because by recruiting we are providing employment opportunities, especially for the young people. We want to drive the next generation to learn from us, go out there to start their own businesses, and do better and be better,” added Florence.
East Street Fitness currently has five permanent staff, including Darius and Florence. The couple hopes to employ more people in the future after they achieve their goal of opening more 24-hour gyms in Port Moresby and branching out to Lae and to their home province, ENB.
“It’s a working progress right now but we definitely want to expand in the future,” said Florence.
Darius, 29, and Florence, 27, still hope to go back to their respective fields of profession.
“I still have an interest in aviation,” said Darius.
“I really want to be a diplomat one day; I said that since like a long time ago. But right now, fitness is driving us to be better people. We want to pursue our own careers in the future but for now it has actually been a pretty good experience as entrepreneurs. Like they say: ‘there’s always a reason for everything’,” said Florence.
From East Street Fitness, the couple are now building their own clothing brand, ‘East Street Fit Wear’. They produce and sell merchandizes and they plan to do other things too like selling food in the near future.
“In PNG, we are looking for new ideas to develop our country so if you are a young person who is motivated and driven, and want to go out there and pursue something bigger than the job that you have been waiting for all this time, you can start with what you know and what you are skilled with.
Everyone is born with a gift, a talent and a skill. If you are struggling to find a motivation to do something, why don’t you start with something that you’re good at?” said Florence.
With just having one client on the first day after their opening, East Street Fitness now has about six personal training clients in a day and then they have the walk-in clients. The couple also visits their clients at their homes upon request; they are mobile and that is what ‘Street’ in their business name signifies.
“If you know you want to do something and you’ve got an idea on what to do, all you have to do is act on it. It doesn’t matter how you act on it; just that small step can go so far, even if it takes you a month or a year. Keep acting on that initial step and you can end up with a gym or with personal training certificates like we did,” said Darius.