Startup Story: Redefining Your Lifestyle in the Present Tense

Jason Harrison of Present Tense Fitness LLC
Jason Harrison and his wife, Susan, found startup success helping clients reshape their lives through Present Tense Fitness, LLC in Dayton, OH.
Jason Harrison and his wife, Susan, found startup success helping clients reshape their lives through Present Tense Fitness, LLC in Dayton, OH.

While working as a personal trainer for a commercial gym, Jason Harrison grew dissatisfied with the minimal progress he saw in his clients due to the rules that were enforced upon him. So in January of 2014, he formally established Present Tense Fitness, LLC so he could remove the limitations placed on him and give his clients the tools they need to reach their maximum potential. Harrison does business out of his home office in Dayton, Ohio, alongside his wife and business partner, Susan.

“I’m a fitness and lifestyle coach. My background is in personal training, and what I noticed in the last few years is that I started having more success with my clients when I started coaching them on things outside of the gym. With Present Tense Fitness, I take a 360 approach to people’s fitness, in which the strength component is only part of it, along with sleep, nutrition, and stress management. I have a roster of coaching clients and a roster of personal training clients, and sometimes they overlap,” he explains of his business model.

It was during his time working in a gym that Harrison discovered that both he and the gym’s personal training clients weren’t maxing out at their full potential.

“You’re not going to change someone’s body in the 2 or 3 hours you see them a week. Their lifestyles have to change when you’re not there the rest of the week. They need to learn how to use the tools they need to manage their own lives. My job is to teach them how to not need me,” he says.

Present Tense Fitness LLCAccording to Harrison, the keys to his success are authenticity and pragmatism. He strives to work within the confines of his clients’ boundaries and never advocate for anything unless he believes in its effectiveness. The unique set of challenges brought to him by each client means there’s never a dull day. This is what Harrison loves most about small business ownership.

“I am a naturally curious person. I find it endlessly fascinating to work with people from different professions, and I’ve formed some lasting friendships with my clients. I’m a natural introvert, so this gives me an excuse to get to know people. There’s no better feeling than when someone tells me they’ve been dealing with weight issues their entire lives and I’ve helped them overcome that. It’s a rush that I think is awesome,” he enthuses.

The husband-and-wife duo started the business in Maryland, but now that they’re located in Dayton, Ohio, competition is a bit more fierce. Harrison has what he calls a “garage band approach” to building his client base.

“Nationally, there is limitless competition. My hope is that I’ll have my local clients and eventually have a national presence as well,” he says.

Currently, the client base of Present Tense Fitness consists mostly of women in their late 20s to late 40s. Harrison hopes to bring more men on board to puncture that “know-it-all male mentality” when it comes to hitting the gym. The small business has a website – www.presenttensefitness.com – as well as pages on Facebook and Twitter.

Challenges in the Startup Phase

The biggest challenge Harrison faced in the startup stages of small business ownership was deciphering what kind of niche he wanted to carve out for himself. He knew fitness and lifestyle was his objective, but had to find out through trial and error how he was going to communicate his message and materialize his vision.

“At first, I thought I would start a blog, but the Internet is oversaturated with blogs. I had to figure out what my public persona would be, and live that with confidence. Early on, my wife and I decided to just be ourselves publicly. You aren’t going to win everyone over, but you want to be who you are authentically and build around that. It’s a scary thing because no one knows who you are,” he admits.

Tips for Personal Trainers

For those looking to achieve success in the field of lifestyle coaching and personal training, Harrison offers the following advice.

“Look outside of just fitness for inspiration. Take your inspiration from a lot of different places. If you look at fitness blogs and profiles, you see a lot of uniformity. There are a million people out there calling themselves fitness experts. It seems like all it takes to be a fitness expert is to take a sexy Instagram shot. If you want to be different, you have to think differently. All that hocus pocus is just disingenuous,” he explains.

Experience as a 1-800Accountant Client

Jason and Susan Harrison of Present Tense Fitness, LLC are satisfied clients of 1-800Accountant. They’re receiving assistance in the form of tax preparation.

“We’ve been really happy. In fact, we should do a better job of taking advantage of the services,” he says.

Photo credit: The photograph included in this blog post was provided by Present Tense Fitness, LLC via chelsearochelle.com and is used with permission. The logo was provided by Present Tense Fitness, LLC and is also used with permission.

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