Ryan is a local entrepreneur and young professional, born and raised in Brockville, who sought out his Masters in Kinesiology before returning to the area to set up his own business, RD Athletics Therapy & Training. He is a registered Kinesiologist, Massage Therapist, and Certified Exercise Physiologist with the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology. After starting his PhD at the University of Waterloo he realized that he “preferred working with clients versus doing research on petri dishes.” After living in Ottawa, St. Catharines, Waterloo, and Red Deer, Alberta, Ryan returned to Brockville and in 2014 participated in the first round of the Starter Company program with the Leeds Grenville Small Business Enterprise Centre. Through that program he got his business, RD Athletics Therapy & Training up and running.
“Although when I was younger and thought I wanted to live in the bigger cities, dealing with city commutes, higher costs of living and generally more hustle and bustle in larger city centers made me realize how much I missed Brockville.
The beautiful waterfront, low cost of living, family close by and also great proximity to the large cities in Ontario (Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston) it is a no brainer for a place to settle down to have a family.”
- Ryan Darling
We met up with Ryan to ask him a few questions about his experience living and establishing a business here in Brockville, Ontario:
1. Can you provide a brief overview of your company and what you do
RD Athletics – Therapy & Training provides manual therapy, rehabilitation and semi-private personal training services. We strive to educate and empower our clients to independently manage their pain/injuries and physical health and truly take ownership of their role in keeping their body moving and feeling good. I have recently added 2 yoga instructors to offer this complementary service, as well as one of whom is certified and assists in supervising the semi-private training services.
2. Tell us a bit about how your business came to be and the path you took to get where you are today
During my B.Sc. I began to take on personal training clients, and continued to train both individuals and group clients ranging from Olympic Weightlifting to geriatrics. Through all of my employment in health and fitness facilities I always felt the way that services were provided were more about profits than truly helping the clients and involving them in the process. This is what drove my desire to open my own facility: to offer the services of rehabilitation and training to truly help clients obtain the best possible outcomes and involve them in the process as much as possible.
3. How long have you been in business for?
I am currently in my 4th year of business operations. I incorporated in July of 2017 and plan to add other therapists and trainers over the next 3 to 5 years of the business.
4. What do you like most about working for your own company?
As an employee, I never felt as though I could use my knowledge and skill set to its fullest potential. Emphasis on quantity over quality left much to be desired for both clients and employees. I believe being able to use the approach and skill set I feel best suits each client gives me the best job satisfaction. Each client is different, and each therapist has their own way of working. As I expand, I plan to bring on therapists that have their own unique approaches, and give them the freedom to use their unique skill sets to assist in helping with the mission of the business and increase its ability to help more people.
5. How did you know that Brockville would be a good fit for your business?
After being able to be involved with varsity teams, a variety of health and rehabilitation facilities I felt there was a market for a business to operate differently from the others in the area in that same market. In this day and time, individuals are becoming ever more interested in their personal health and the motivated ones want to learn how to play an active role in that process. Those are the clients I go after, motivated individuals who understand that regardless of whether it is fitness or rehabbing an injury, their role in the process is the primary one. Symptom management is not our goal, but rather to determine the causes of the issues in the first place so we can fix them at their root cause.
6. What is something most people don’t know about your industry?
I think to be honest the general population feels like training needs to be really complicated and also super intense. Individuals coming to me for rehabilitation who have never been taught how to fix the issues with self-guided home exercise programs feel extremely empowered when they see the results of some very basic drills at home on a daily basis. Continually changing work outs every time someone is working with a trainer is simply a way to entertain and not a way to actually get results. I’m not afraid to implement a training regimen that I know will produce results for fear that the client will eventually not need me. I’d rather focus on what the client needs in order to fix the root of their symptoms.
7. Do you offer any new or unique products or services?
I have a system called NuCalm, which is a proprietary technology that can manage stress at the level of the brain. It is extremely effective, and can be used for a large variety of conditions such as anxiety, sleep issues, recovery from physical training, and a variety of other issues.
8. What is next for your company?
My goals are to bring on a similarly-minded chiropractor, physical therapist, other trainers and ideally even a family doctor to be able to offer a truly multidisciplinary approach to the local population’s health and fitness needs. In addition, I plan to move to a larger facility with proper sound separations to allow for current services to occur simultaneously.
9. What do you like to do when you are not at work?
I am very into training and also road cycling. Both of which sometimes still occur in the gym. Being a bit of a gym rat at heart, luckily my business is my passion and therefore I tend to spend a lot of my spare time doing activities in the facility. I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and her daughter, and soon to be our little boy expected in October of 2018.
10. What is your favourite part about living and working in Brockville?
I think I really enjoy the closeness of everything, the quick ability to get around and see my family so easily. In terms of work, I love being able to help a wide range of clients from high-schoolers looking to optimize their sport performance to older individuals just trying to maintain an active lifestyle to keep their quality of life high into later years.
11. What do you think the biggest misconception is about living in Brockville?
I think a lot of people, myself included previously, think there isn’t much to do. The reality is there is plenty to keep busy with in a wide range of activities and interests. Not to mention, the proximity to larger cities like Ottawa and Kingston being less than an hour away mean that more or less any type of activity is not far.
The ability to visit the cities when needed, but enjoy the less busy more relaxed vibe of Brockville during the week is something I never want to give up. Life is short, I can’t imagine spending an hour or more a day on my way to and from work.
12. What would you say is the “best kept secret” about Brockville?
I think in general the water front is amazing. It is second to none and just a beautiful aspect of the city and what it has to offer.
13. What would you tell other young professionals who are considering moving to Brockville?
I think Brockville has a lot of opportunity for young, ambitious professionals and entrepreneurs compared to larger cities. Less competition, lower costs of doing business and a generally more laid back lifestyle - it really can’t be beat. I think with technology continuing to advance the abilities of individuals to work from a distance makes Brockville even better.
14. What advice would you give to other would-be entrepreneurs?
I think the biggest thing is to make sure whatever you’re trying to start up in terms of a business is something you are passionate about. From my experience, I just can’t imagine being able to maintain the drive and work ethic I needed to have to be successful if it wasn’t something I both enjoyed and truly believed in. Also, and likely far more important, is making use of mentors. I didn’t do this early on in my business but since getting other business owners involved with my ideas I have really gained a better perspective. Those people don’t need to be in your field either; my primary mentors are involved in trades, and other professionals such as dentistry and law. The more different the business, sometimes the better their different perspective can help you see things you wouldn’t on your own.
Find out more about Ryan and his business on the RD Athletics website
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