Oscar Smith has a lifelong dedication to fitness as a lifestyle. Oscar has personally mastered multiple disciplines to develop a specialized training system for total body transformation. His fitness services are offered at his chic Tribeca personal training gym, O-D Studio. His level of experience and expertise has made him one of the most sought-out trainers in NYC.
With athletic experiences on his high school football and track and field teams, Smith went on to major in physical education and minor in business, and receive his master’s degree in kinesiology and biomechanics. During college, he also became a level, two all-around gymnast. With over 25 years of experience, Oscar’s notable accomplishments range in scope. Oscar is a Certified Personal Trainer [ISSA-International Sports and Science Association], Certified Flexibility Technician, Gymnastics Coach [USGF- United States Federation of Gymnastics], Kinesiology and Biomechanics Specialist (movement of the muscles and tendons), Senior Ocean Lifeguard and Ocean Rescuer (diver), USLA Competitor [United States Lifesaving Association], six-time tri-athlete (30-mile bike ride, six-mile run, one-mile swim), and a New York City Marathon participant. He was also a grade 3 ocean beach lifeguard and member of the lifeguard completion team, travelling to compete in worldwide events.
Smith started his personal training gym, O-D Studio in 2003 before anyone knew what a personal training gym was. He had a simple vision: to create somewhere where people could work out with a one-on-one trainer, where people didn’t pay for the use of a building, but for the use of a trainer. What he didn’t realize in creating his vision is that his gym would come to attract celebrities, because they could work out without the prying eyes of the public. O-D Studio has since attracted celebrities that include: Katharine McPhee, Tom Brady, Rosario Dawson, Val Kilmer, and many others.
Smith is the author of the book Natural Strength, which focuses on how readers can overcome their weight loss plateaus, and also encourages readers to reconnect with their inner child and try different things to have fun working out again. He also has a YouTube show, S.W.E.A.T., which explores the latest trends in working out, from aerial silks to trampoline workouts to underwater spin.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Oscar to discuss his journey as an entrepreneur and here’s what went down:
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?
I do a P.R push in the summer to set myself for fall (usually the summer months are very slow in the gym business). Mostly word of mouth and myself going out in the neighborhood and talking to other businesses and owners. I m very old school.
What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?
I use Instagram to keep people updated on what I am doing and my studio. I never ever in my experience with social media get a lot of clients from a post. I would get always get someone trying to sell me something or the promise of how they can get me, clients.
What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?
The ads on social media and paid platforms may have worked years ago but now they are all a waste of time and money.
What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?
My go-to tactic is also back to the basics. Flyers or a mailer once a year, or walk and speak to all the other local owners. But I mostly get all my clientele via word of mouth. Once I established my studio and what I do, people brag and speak about you to everyone (this is free advertising and really the best way to bring attention to your brand or service).
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
This is what really works and what makes me stand out from all the other gyms – my attention to detail (cleaning and maintaining my gym personally). The personal attention to my clients with getting the results and reaching above and beyond their fitness goals.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
I really did not have to make any. I always plan ahead for anything that may impact my business. And as I stated, the summer is slow so I plan for that and take a break. Then come back in September it’s back to work.
What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?
I made a lot of them. But my number one advice based on experience is, do not buy all your equipment – lease it instead. Also, do not pay people upfront, stay on top of your billing and if you have to be aggressive to get your money then do so. Set up a savings account and a fund for things that might go wrong and have at least 2 to 3 months saved for floating the business… And I can go on and on.
What new business would you love to start?
I plan on living on the coast and opening a coffee shop (in 3 years once I’m done with the gym and my lease).
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
I would fire all my staff and really focus on the gym more. Oh, and dump my girlfriend at the time.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
A self-made billionaire client once said to me, “It’s your gym so you should know everything going on in your business.” Once he said that to me I knew I needed to step it up and spend more time focus on the gym and my goals.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Do your homework and research. Listen to other people who are experts (not your friends) and know you are going to make mistakes and learn from them. As the saying goes, “if you have a start-up you want to fail fast.”