What does a fitness studio have to do with a podcast for property people? Well, fitness (and fitness businesses in particular) require a certain mindset. It’s one of dogged determination, and a drive to succeed. But success doesn’t come without balance. It’s why I’ve always maintained that to be successful in anything (property, business, and more) you need to keep the WHOLE you moving in the right direction. That’s your Wealth, Health, Opportunity, Love, and Evolution. 

That’s why I invited two inspiring business owners and athletes to my podcast. Not only are they hugely successful in business, Sam and Bella of Crossfit Movida are incredibly nice people! I hope you enjoy this episode of Small Talk Big Ideas.

About Sam Laing and Bella Vallejo

Sam Laing and Bella Vallejo are the founders of the Sunshine Coast’s leading fitness studio, Crossfit Movida. They’ve created a tight-knit community of coaches and members who are there to cheer you on. They say you’ll find more than just friends, you’ll find family. And their growing members and super-fans can attest to that.

Fitness was something that never came natural to Sam Laing. He found his passion for fitness during his service in the Australian Army. He has been involved in CrossFit for over 7 years. Sam is on a continual journey to become a better version of himself everyday and strives to bring that out of everyone he trains.

Isabella (Bella) Vallejo strives to bring the best out of herself and test her physical and mental abilities through competitive training. Isabella has a real passion for helping people achieve their goals and improve their way of life. Isabella is also a competitive CrossFitter, she conquered all at the 2015 CrossFit Games under 17’s taking top spot on the podium.


Announcer  (00:03):

Thanks for joining us for the small talk big ideas podcast, a podcast to enrich your soul, where we have conversations with inspiring people about all things property, business and life. And now, the host of Small Talk, Big Ideas, Ian Ugarte.

Ian Ugarte (00:24):

Today on Small Talk, Big Ideas, we have Isabella Vallejo and Sam Laing from Movida CrossFit gym. A gym that I started going to about four months ago. A really nice family aspect to what they do and I really love who they are. Great little message from where she came from, especially Isabella, going through some point of some issues as an 11 year old to actually end up in the open championships and winning under 16-17 CrossFit championships in the world.

Enjoy today’s podcast with Sam and Isabella, and as always you can follow us on all the social media channels. And we’ll see you at the end of this amazing podcast. All right. So Bella Vallejo and Sam Laing. Is that how you say it? Vallejo?

Isabella Vallejo (01:08):

Yes. Vallejo.

Ian Ugarte (01:09):

What did they call you at school?

Isabella Vallejo (01:10):


Ian Ugarte (01:11):


Isabella Vallejo (01:13):

Bella Vagella.

Ian Ugarte (01:14):

There’s got to be another name that people call you. You own a box?

Sam Laing (01:22):

Mm. A box.

Ian Ugarte (01:24):

I’d never heard of a box until I started with you guys. Do you want to explain what a box is?

Isabella Vallejo (01:28):

It’s definitely CrossFit slang. You can explain it if you like.

Sam Laing (01:31):

The box. So it’s just another way of saying our own CrossFit gym, because we’re pretty much boxed in.

Ian Ugarte (01:38):

Because you’re boxed in.

Sam Laing (01:39):

Yeah. Isn’t that how it works?

Isabella Vallejo (01:41):

I don’t know, really. It’s just always been a CrossFit thing, like the box.

Ian Ugarte (01:46):

[crosstalk 00:01:46] been different from the beginning.

Isabella Vallejo (01:47):


Sam Laing (01:48):

Yeah. I think that’s with some of the strategic advantages, puts them apart from the rest.

Ian Ugarte (01:53):

Yeah. Right. So let’s start way back. Where are you born, Sam?

Sam Laing (01:59):


Ian Ugarte (02:00):

In Melbourne?

Sam Laing (02:01):

Mm (affirmative).

Ian Ugarte (02:02):

When did you move up here?

Sam Laing (02:04):

Jeez. Sunshine Coast?

Ian Ugarte (02:07):

Yeah. Or when did you move out of Melbourne?

Sam Laing (02:09):

Moved out of Melbourne. So I moved out when I was 18.

Ian Ugarte (02:11):

So you grew up there?

Sam Laing (02:12):


Ian Ugarte (02:12):

And went to school there?

Sam Laing (02:13):


Ian Ugarte (02:14):

Public school?

Sam Laing (02:15):


Ian Ugarte (02:15):

Private school.

Sam Laing (02:15):

Mm (affirmative).

Ian Ugarte (02:16):

I can tell.

Sam Laing (02:18):

Didn’t pay off, but…

Ian Ugarte (02:20):

Same, same. Did you know what you wanted to do?

Sam Laing (02:25):

I thought I was going be a journalist.

Ian Ugarte (02:25):

A journalist?

Sam Laing (02:27):

Thank God I didn’t do that.

Ian Ugarte (02:28):


Sam Laing (02:28):

I don’t know. I always liked English. I always liked writing.

Ian Ugarte (02:34):

What we call England, hey?

Sam Laing (02:35):


Ian Ugarte (02:38):

I’m very good at England. And then moved out at 18. Where was your first port of call?

Sam Laing (02:44):

Joined the army.

Ian Ugarte (02:46):


Sam Laing (02:46):

The military.

Ian Ugarte (02:48):

In what role?

Sam Laing (02:48):

A cavalry. Cavalry.

Ian Ugarte (02:48):


Sam Laing (02:52):


Ian Ugarte (02:52):


Sam Laing (02:53):

Just call it cav. Armored vehicles.

Ian Ugarte (02:56):

Yeah. And how long in there?

Sam Laing (02:57):

Seven years.

Ian Ugarte (02:59):

And why’d you get out?

Sam Laing (03:01):

So I actually found CrossFit ironically. About a year before I got out, I found CrossFit. Well, I’ve been doing CrossFit, but then an opportunity came up for me to coach. So we did a coach [inaudible 00:03:14] program with My Gym Australia, and fell in love with that. So decided to give the army the flick.

Ian Ugarte (03:21):

Were you stationed in only one spot for the seven years?

Sam Laing (03:23):

No. No. So I did Enoggera, which is in Brissie. And then I did Albury- Wodonga, so Latchford Barracks down there. So they were my two postings.

Ian Ugarte (03:33):

So you got out because there was another opportunity, not because you didn’t like it?

Sam Laing (03:36):

Well, I didn’t like it and there was another opportunity.

Ian Ugarte (03:39):

Always works out. Bella, Isabella, you grew up local on the Sunshine Coast?

Isabella Vallejo (03:47):

Grew up. Yeah.

Ian Ugarte (03:48):

And went to the local school?

Isabella Vallejo (03:50):

Yeah, the local. Yeah. Woombye and Nambour.

Ian Ugarte (03:51):

You went to Woombye and then Nambour?

Isabella Vallejo (03:52):


Ian Ugarte (03:56):

You’re from a Mexican family?

Isabella Vallejo (03:58):

That’s right.

Ian Ugarte (04:00):

Your mom is Aussie?

Isabella Vallejo (04:03):

Yes, she’s Aussie.

Ian Ugarte (04:03):

And your dad reminds me of my dad so much just the way he looks and how he talks as well, and sense of humor. So your dad’s a Mexican restaurant guy?

Isabella Vallejo (04:17):

Yes. Mexican food, restaurant events, all that stuff.

Ian Ugarte (04:20):

Right. You were telling me the other day that your whole school life, childhood was going from school to the restaurant.

Isabella Vallejo (04:27):

100%. That’s it.

Ian Ugarte (04:29):

And worked?

Isabella Vallejo (04:30):

Yeah. Every weekend.

Ian Ugarte (04:30):

Did you stay there until closing time and then went home?

Isabella Vallejo (04:33):


Ian Ugarte (04:33):

What times during the week was closing time?

Isabella Vallejo (04:37):

Well, when there was the restaurant, it was as soon as we finished school, straight to the restaurant and I don’t even remember, I’d just fall asleep in the lounge while people were in the restaurant.

Ian Ugarte (04:46):

But you were working first. What would he get you to do?

Isabella Vallejo (04:49):

Well, when I was really, really little, I wasn’t working, but then when I got to eight, I started working and he’d asked me to go and take people’s orders and I’d just go and give them the docket book to write their own order and then bring it back.

Ian Ugarte (05:06):

As long as they didn’t… like, “Can you just pay now.”

Isabella Vallejo (05:09):

Yeah, pretty much. I was like, “Tips?”

Ian Ugarte (05:13):

So you left school year 10, year 12?

Isabella Vallejo (05:17):

12, yeah. Finished at 12.

Ian Ugarte (05:20):

And did you know what you want to do or you were already into CrossFit?

Isabella Vallejo (05:23):

I was into CrossFit by then, but I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew maybe a physio, maybe something to do with sport. So I started uni for physio, but then the year that I started uni, I made it to the CrossFit Games. I was like, oh, give uni a flick.

Ian Ugarte (05:42):

Well, let’s go back a step then. So you got into CrossFit because you found a box that you were happy with and then had the opportunity to coach. And that was in Brisbane or in Albury?

Sam Laing (05:53):

So I started in Brissie in 2012, CrossFit and then found coaching in 2016, pretty sure.

Ian Ugarte (06:02):

And that was where?

Sam Laing (06:04):

That was in Albury–Wodonga.

Ian Ugarte (06:06):

And so how did you end up here with CrossFit?

Sam Laing (06:08):

So when I got out of the military, I just got a bit jaded with the area, because Albury–Wodonga, country town.

Ian Ugarte (06:16):

It’s Albury–Wodonga.

Sam Laing (06:17):

You know what I mean, bro. So obviously I knew Brissie, because I had a stint there for about five years. So I moved up just knowing what I know. And then an opportunity came up. I knew someone who knew someone who knew the coach.

Ian Ugarte (06:33):

I know a few people that know someone that knows someone else too.

Sam Laing (06:36):

Feel those ones.

Ian Ugarte (06:37):

Thousands of people like that. So they knew a coach and where were they?

Sam Laing (06:42):

They were at City 4051 CrossFit.

Ian Ugarte (06:44):

Which is where?

Sam Laing (06:45):

In… Where are they again?

Isabella Vallejo (06:48):

Newstead. No.

Sam Laing (06:49):


Ian Ugarte (06:50):

In Brissie.

Sam Laing (06:50):


Isabella Vallejo (06:52):


Ian Ugarte (06:52):

Audley. In Brissie. [crosstalk 00:06:53]. Right. Okay. So then back to you. How did you get into CrossFit?

Isabella Vallejo (07:00):

Dad had some staff who worked for him, obviously, and they did CrossFit. I had a bit of a problem with exercise, doing that myself. And so they wanted to-

Ian Ugarte (07:14):

So you can’t just say, “I had a bit of a problem.” We really want to know what that problem was.

Isabella Vallejo (07:17):

I had anorexia when I was younger.

Ian Ugarte (07:21):

What age, roughly?

Isabella Vallejo (07:22):

I was 11.

Ian Ugarte (07:23):


Isabella Vallejo (07:23):


Ian Ugarte (07:24):

And was it that you stopped eating or you exercised too much?

Isabella Vallejo (07:24):


Ian Ugarte (07:31):

Obviously fit and healthy now, and there’s obviously a trail we’ll go through to get to that point. But what was the thought process back then and what was going through your mind? Can you go back and say what was going through your mind and why you went down that path?

Isabella Vallejo (07:45):

I think it was just I was always the chubbier sister. And Fran, my sister, she was the prima ballerina and I was always at these dance rehearsals and stuff. And I was just the sweaty fringe, chubby little girl in the background running around.

Ian Ugarte (07:59):

Were you or was it just-

Isabella Vallejo (08:00):

I was chubby. I wasn’t fat, I was just chubby, and I loved food. I’ve always offered. And I think that was just the time when I think mom had just said, “You’re getting fat,” or something and it just flipped a switch.

Ian Ugarte (08:13):

It’s amazing, isn’t it?

Isabella Vallejo (08:14):

Yeah. It was one word. And then the next day, stopped eating.

Ian Ugarte (08:19):

Because one of my daughters went through bulimia and there’s that whole process of where did the thought process come from? And really it was effect from me, because I love food and I won’t say I body shame people, but certainly in a place where I’ve always been concerned about my own body shape and whatever. So what was the fix?

Isabella Vallejo (08:43):

CrossFit. I did all my exercise secretly. I had to hide it because my parents would stop me from exercising. So I’d do it in weird places or if I’d be alone I’d do as much as I could or stuff like that.

Ian Ugarte (09:00):

I’m just trying to picture… I’ve got a 12 year old. I could not picture her going out and doing extra exercise to not put on weight. So what would you do, squats or…

Isabella Vallejo (09:16):

Yeah, I did thousands of star jumps and squat jumps and sit ups and pushups. I did 1,000 netball shots every day because I played netball as well. I just had an obsession about numbers. If I did it one day, I’d have to do it every other day. And you couldn’t stop at 900. It had to be 1,000. Or I’d run or I’d whatever, skip and did that stuff.

Ian Ugarte (09:42):

Okay. So you get into CrossFit, your dad was involved with that too?

Isabella Vallejo (09:44):

Yeah. So we went and trialed it together because dad wanted to do it with me to make sure we were doing something together. I didn’t like it the first time. So we did a wee trial, and then by the last session I was like, “I’ll give it a go,” and then slowly and slowly I realized it was fun, it was different, and that I actually needed energy to do things. And so I started eating more and realizing what my body could do. And that’s how it just changed my life, my whole perspective on exercise.

Ian Ugarte (10:16):

So the education part of CrossFit is not just a single, we’re just going to do exercise and jump as high and run as fast. It’s a nutrition based thing as well?

Isabella Vallejo (10:25):

100%. Yeah. It’s the best program, I think for anyone, especially teens because it shows you what your body can do and not what your body looks like. It doesn’t matter what your body looks like.

Ian Ugarte (10:35):

All right. So you go on and you mentioned that you got to a point of CrossFit Games. Had you met him yet?

Isabella Vallejo (10:43):


Ian Ugarte (10:43):

Good. So how does CrossFit Games work?

Isabella Vallejo (10:48):

So basically every year, there’s the CrossFit open, which you just compete in. And after the five weeks, if you come top whatever, you make it to the next stage, and then if you go and do that and if you become top whatever, you make it to the next stage and the CrossFit Games, like the Olympians kind of thing. That’s in America. And then you compete against everyone else worldwide to come first, obviously.

Ian Ugarte (11:16):

So you made it to the CrossFit Games?

Isabella Vallejo (11:18):

Yeah, when I was 17.

Ian Ugarte (11:20):

For age or open?

Isabella Vallejo (11:22):

For age. I was in the 16 to 17 year old category.

Ian Ugarte (11:25):

And so you won Australia?

Isabella Vallejo (11:29):

After the open, I came seventh worldwide, to then go on to the games where I competed and came first.

Ian Ugarte (11:35):

So first four age in…

Isabella Vallejo (11:35):

16 to 17.

Ian Ugarte (11:39):

16 to 17 in the world games?

Isabella Vallejo (11:41):


Ian Ugarte (11:42):

That’s a good effort.

Isabella Vallejo (11:44):

Yeah. It was pretty surreal feeling.

Ian Ugarte (11:46):

How did it feel?

Isabella Vallejo (11:48):

It was really weird like I said. I think it’s the journey, the lead up that’s more than anything. Once you stand there, it’s like, “Oh, is that it?” I don’t know. It’s a bit of a, “Hmm.” I don’t know. You can’t really-

Ian Ugarte (12:01):

I think a few people say that about, you’ve always got this goal about buying the Lamborghini and of the Ferrari. And you sit in and you go, “Eh.” [crosstalk 00:12:11].

Isabella Vallejo (12:01):

Yeah, exactly.

Ian Ugarte (12:10):

“I’ll go back to my Barina now.” Okay. So you win that. Where do you meet?

Isabella Vallejo (12:17):

So after that I decided I want to try and win the open category now, or go to the CrossFit Games open category. So I was going to reach out of my own CrossFit gym and go and train with the elite. At the time it was Kara Webb and she was in Brisbane with her coach, Brian. I had a few sponsors that linked with them. So they found me a job to coach in Brisbane if I went and trained with them. Kara Webb was number two in the world or something like that. So I moved. I just packed up everything in a suitcase and that weekend just left in my car. And then started working. I had three jobs to try and support myself and everything and trained every day and stuff. And Sam was coaching there where I went to go and coach. So that’s how we met.

Ian Ugarte (13:09):

So first time you met her, what did you think?

Sam Laing (13:15):

First time I met her, I just saw her in these tight booty shorts.

Ian Ugarte (13:20):

But did you think, “That’s my future girlfriend?”

Sam Laing (13:27):

Not at the time, no. I just saw with what’s there, and as you think what’s under the hood? But then after that I went away for four weeks. I went on holiday, so I didn’t really think much of it.

Ian Ugarte (13:41):

So you came back and so where did it really start?

Sam Laing (13:47):

We just trained and stuff and do the whole thing like train together, do a few workouts here and there. I think then she said, “Do you want to get ice cream?” One day and I’m like-

Ian Ugarte (13:57):

She said that?

Sam Laing (13:57):

Yeah. I’m like, “Fuck yeah. I love ice cream.” And then we went and got ice cream and I was like, “All right, cool. This is nice.” And then-

Ian Ugarte (14:08):


Sam Laing (14:08):

Progressed from there.

Ian Ugarte (14:10):

Conversation started.

Sam Laing (14:10):


Ian Ugarte (14:11):

Okay. So you’re now working together there. How long ago was that when you first met?

Isabella Vallejo (14:16):


Sam Laing (14:17):

Yeah, 2016.

Ian Ugarte (14:18):

So five years ago?

Sam Laing (14:20):

Mm (affirmative).

Ian Ugarte (14:21):

All right. So how do you progress to coming back to the Sunshine Coast?

Isabella Vallejo (14:25):

Well, Sam always had the goal of opening his own gym. That was his main thing after coaching. And dad really wanted to open a gym, mainly a place for me to train because he’s the proudest dad kind of thing, always wants you to reach your full potential. And he had kept buying all this equipment. He’s like, “I’m going to open a home gym at home or I’m going to open a gym.” He was going to offer a gym. It was going to happen.

Ian Ugarte (14:50):

Mexican restaurant with a gym out the back.

Isabella Vallejo (14:52):

Yeah, that was literally it. And he’s like, “If I open a gym, will you come and coach with me?” And I was like, “Oh, I don’t want to leave back to Sunshine Coast. I just met Sam and Sam’s in Brisbane.” And then I was like, “Well, what if Sam coaches too at the gym?” And then we put it all together and decided to go and all open it together.

Ian Ugarte (15:12):

So you decide that you’re going to open a gym. Fran’s into CrossFit at the time as well?

Isabella Vallejo (15:18):

Fran started CrossFit on and off since we first started in 2013, because she was full-time dancer, when she was on holiday, she’d come and train with us and that’s it. So she’s always touched on it, but never done it full time.

Ian Ugarte (15:34):

What sort of dancing did she do?

Isabella Vallejo (15:36):

She did everything, but she specialized more in commercial jazz and that kind of stuff.

Ian Ugarte (15:42):

My 12 year old just loves dancing. She’s doing the aerial stuff at the moment too. Okay. So you start scouting out. Do you go with a business plan, or do you just go looking for somewhere?

Sam Laing (15:56):

Oh, vague plan.

Ian Ugarte (15:58):

Vague plane?

Sam Laing (15:59):


Ian Ugarte (15:59):

What does that mean?

Isabella Vallejo (15:59):

I don’t know. We had-

Sam Laing (16:03):

It was a rough idea of what we need and what to get.

Ian Ugarte (16:06):

So you put together how much it costs and where to buy the equipment?

Isabella Vallejo (16:09):

Yeah. Well, dad had already bought pretty much everything.

Ian Ugarte (16:12):


Isabella Vallejo (16:13):

He just kept buying stuff.

Ian Ugarte (16:14):

So everything that I’m using in there, other than a few racks and a few things like that is what he bought?

Isabella Vallejo (16:20):

Most of it, but there’s a lot now that over the few years we’ve bought more of. But he had bought a lot of it already. So that was kind of a good thing.

Ian Ugarte (16:30):

How many places did you look at before you settled on the place you’re in now?

Sam Laing (16:33):

That was our…

Isabella Vallejo (16:35):

Third or fourth.

Sam Laing (16:36):

That was our fourth.

Isabella Vallejo (16:37):


Sam Laing (16:37):

Which I’m glad we did.

Ian Ugarte (16:40):


Sam Laing (16:40):

Because I think the first one had a bit of just some undesirable mezzanines and stuff. And then the second one was the wrong zoning. Third one there was a bit of stuff going on. So I think going through that, we found the right place.

Ian Ugarte (16:56):

So did you know about… because obviously this is a part property podcast. I drag people in thinking it’s about property, but I’m more interested in people’s lives. So did you know about zonings? Did you know where you had to be or was it just a learning experience?

Sam Laing (17:10):

A little bit. It was a bit of sort of-

Isabella Vallejo (17:11):

A bit of both.

Ian Ugarte (17:14):

Okay. So you’ve ended up in this. So who fronted at all? Did you have savings? Dad no doubt had some.

Isabella Vallejo (17:21):

Yeah. I had the least saving, but I think we all just had our savings and just chucked it in and it was enough kind of thing [crosstalk 00:17:32].

Ian Ugarte (17:31):

You’ve both got pretty supportive parents.

Isabella Vallejo (17:35):


Ian Ugarte (17:35):

Your parents up here?

Sam Laing (17:36):

No. Victoria.

Ian Ugarte (17:38):

Was that your dad at the open the other week?

Sam Laing (17:40):

Yeah, that was him.

Ian Ugarte (17:41):

So he was just up for a little while?

Sam Laing (17:41):


Ian Ugarte (17:42):

Okay. So you opened the gym. Did you know how many members you needed to be able to break even?

Isabella Vallejo (17:49):

No. We didn’t do that calculation.

Sam Laing (17:50):

No. We didn’t calculate any of that stuff.

Ian Ugarte (17:53):

It was fingers crossed and go for it.

Isabella Vallejo (17:54):

I had coached for about a couple of years before I moved to Brisbane. I’d coached on the Sunny Coast. And everyone on the Sunny Coast knew me from my fundraiser and all that kind of stuff. So I had a bit of people who knew me as well, who we were hoping-

Ian Ugarte (18:08):

That would probably come along.

Sam Laing (18:10):

I think we opened with 10 because of the people she knew.

Ian Ugarte (18:16):

Oh. So before you even opened you had 10 without advertising or marketing?

Sam Laing (18:17):

Yeah, as soon as we put it on Instagram, new gym, watch this space. They were all Bella’s friends that she coached previously. So that was good.

Ian Ugarte (18:26):

Okay. So then on opening day, did you market before opening day?

Isabella Vallejo (18:31):

Yeah, we did.

Sam Laing (18:32):

Just Instagram. Yeah.

Ian Ugarte (18:34):

And how many turned up on that day?

Sam Laing (18:35):

What did we have, like 50?

Isabella Vallejo (18:37):

At open day we had 50 people come.

Ian Ugarte (18:40):

Good. That’s a good start, which leads to you’re part of a fitness coaching group?

Sam Laing (18:49):


Ian Ugarte (18:50):

Tell us about that.

Sam Laing (18:51):

So they’re MGM, More Gym Members. So pretty much they help you with the marketing side of things, the sales side of things, systems, scaling.

Ian Ugarte (19:02):

So with marketing, even placement of ads and…

Sam Laing (19:05):

Yeah. They take all care of… They just run me past the drafts and say, “Do you like this?” I’ll give them my 2 cents, “I want to run a 13 week transformation and whatnot.” And then to put all together, do the landing pages. Get it out there.

Ian Ugarte (19:18):

Just won an award, amount of people coming through.

Sam Laing (19:22):

Yeah. They were running 100K in 90 days.

Ian Ugarte (19:26):


Sam Laing (19:28):


Ian Ugarte (19:28):

In revenue?

Sam Laing (19:31):

In sales. In contract value as well. So that was their bridging program. And yeah, we went through that. Smashed it out of the park and now we’re on the road to moon dollars. So that’s the next one is the million dollar gym.

Ian Ugarte (19:47):

Can you do $1 million dollars in that gym?

Sam Laing (19:48):

Yeah. We can do it.

Ian Ugarte (19:50):

More hours during the day though. Just more layers.

Isabella Vallejo (19:52):

More layers, yeah.

Sam Laing (19:53):

We need to create some more layers.

Ian Ugarte (19:55):

What does that mean?

Sam Laing (19:56):

So we’ve got to max out our group training, our PT, nutrition.

Isabella Vallejo (19:56):

Recovery room.

Sam Laing (20:00):

Recovery, and then we’ll look at it online-

Isabella Vallejo (20:03):


Sam Laing (20:03):

… as another branch off. Kids, maybe bootcamps. So we’ll just create multiple layers, make it look like a super box.

Ian Ugarte (20:09):

There’s certainly a level of business for kids, especially with what you went through.

Isabella Vallejo (20:16):

100%, yeah.

Ian Ugarte (20:18):

Being able to teach-

Isabella Vallejo (20:19):

I’d love to do teens as well. The first year opening, we did kids program and it was full on. It was me and dad. We had 20 kids.

Sam Laing (20:28):

It was hectic.

Isabella Vallejo (20:29):

I was exhausted. I was just like, “I’m done.” So after we did a year of it and then the next year I was like, “I need help. I can’t take all the group classes, all the PTs and the kids.” So I’m hoping with Kel and with new trainers, we can start to bring it back in again.

Ian Ugarte (20:49):

You’ve got how many trainers now? Is it six trainers?

Isabella Vallejo (20:49):


Sam Laing (20:54):


Ian Ugarte (20:54):

And occasionally you had another guy come in-

Isabella Vallejo (20:58):

Yeah. Dylan and every now and then.

Ian Ugarte (21:00):

… that jumps in now and then when he needs to.

Isabella Vallejo (21:01):


Ian Ugarte (21:03):

All obviously qualified.

Isabella Vallejo (21:04):


Ian Ugarte (21:05):

What’s the minimum of a qualification you need to be able to do what you do?

Sam Laing (21:11):

So cert three. Obviously group training as well. And your CrossFit level one as well. So there you go.

Ian Ugarte (21:18):

Because I owned half of F45, there wasn’t much to that, hey?

Isabella Vallejo (21:25):


Ian Ugarte (21:25):

Three of us just walk around. They needed the cert three, but that was it. They didn’t really have to know much about anything. It took a long time to just get a half decent trainer to come in.

Isabella Vallejo (21:38):

Before we let them coach, we also did a 12-week CDP course, which I made up, and Kel and Fran took them through twice a week, every single week for 12 weeks. And that was our add on because we felt they needed that before. Not just finishing that cert or that cert, you need experience and real life stuff. And then they can jump in after that.

Ian Ugarte (22:05):

Any plans to buy because renting is not the greatest thing in the world?

Sam Laing (22:09):

Yes, actually.

Ian Ugarte (22:11):

Would you like to buy the one you’re in or you would look for somewhere else?

Isabella Vallejo (22:14):

I like the one we’re in.

Sam Laing (22:14):

We like the one we’re in.

Ian Ugarte (22:14):

You spoken to him already?

Sam Laing (22:16):


Ian Ugarte (22:17):

Lock it in, dude, because what you want to do is you may not be able to buy it now, but if you can lock it in now with the opportunity to buy it in two or three years time. So what’s the lease on it, three by three or something?

Sam Laing (22:27):

Yeah, three by three options.

Ian Ugarte (22:29):

When’s that up? When’s the three up?

Sam Laing (22:31):

Oh, the first out of three?

Ian Ugarte (22:33):


Sam Laing (22:34):


Ian Ugarte (22:34):

Must be soon.

Sam Laing (22:35):

Another year. Probably a year.

Ian Ugarte (22:37):

You’ve been going for three years, haven’t you?

Isabella Vallejo (22:38):

Yeah, but we did that-

Sam Laing (22:47):

We renegotiated before, because the initial was three, wasn’t it?

Isabella Vallejo (22:48):

I can’t remember.

Sam Laing (22:48):

Yeah. Initial was three and we renegotiated before three. So I think we’ve got another two years on our first option.

Ian Ugarte (22:52):

Right. So you renegotiated because it was going well?

Sam Laing (22:54):


Isabella Vallejo (22:56):


Ian Ugarte (22:56):

Good. All right. So property wise, you live in a property at the moment, which is your parents’?

Sam Laing (23:04):


Ian Ugarte (23:06):

It’s an interesting property because that doesn’t normally happen. Because it’s in a strata complex, you got the ability to build more on your property.

Sam Laing (23:15):

Yeah. We can build on top.

Ian Ugarte (23:18):

And you’ve got views as well?

Isabella Vallejo (23:19):

Mm (affirmative).

Sam Laing (23:20):

Yeah. We have the river.

Ian Ugarte (23:21):

It’s really unusual. It’s a great forward planning strategy from a developer to say, “I’ll sell you this thing. By the way, I’ve just drawn an imaginary floor on top and you can do whatever you want with it.” Quite a few people taken it up, next door neighbors and stuff?

Sam Laing (23:37):

Oh, the whole complex that’s pretty much got all top level.

Ian Ugarte (23:40):

Except you.

Sam Laing (23:41):

Except us.

Isabella Vallejo (23:42):

Yeah, except us.

Ian Ugarte (23:45):

All right. You love each other?

Sam Laing (23:46):

Of course.

Ian Ugarte (23:48):

Are you getting married?

Isabella Vallejo (23:49):


Sam Laing (23:50):


Ian Ugarte (23:50):

Who proposed?

Sam Laing (23:52):


Ian Ugarte (23:52):

Are we allowed to know how you did it?

Isabella Vallejo (23:56):

Yeah, it’s so romantic.

Sam Laing (23:58):

You know me. You’re going to be blown away. Well, all right.

Ian Ugarte (24:03):

It’s like, “Hey, Shazza.”

Isabella Vallejo (24:05):


Sam Laing (24:06):

Well, pretty much. She pretty much roped me into it.

Isabella Vallejo (24:06):

I did not.

Sam Laing (24:11):

She was looking at some rings online. She’s like, “Look at these rings. They’re good price and stuff.” She’s like, “When are you going to…” I’m like, “All right, buy it. I’ll pay for it. It’s fine.”

Ian Ugarte (24:21):

So that was it?

Isabella Vallejo (24:23):

And I was like, “What, really?” I was like, “Really, in front of me?”

Sam Laing (24:25):

I like, “Yeah, you can buy it. It’s fine.” And then when it arrived, she’s “Like, can I just look at it?” I’m like, “Yeah, you can have a look.” I’m like, “Do you just want it?”

Isabella Vallejo (24:37):

And then I was like, “What does it mean though?”

Sam Laing (24:38):

Like, “What does it mean?” I’m like, “You want to get married?” And she’s like, “Yeah, okay.” So I’m like, “All right.”

Ian Ugarte (24:45):

Oh, I love it.

Isabella Vallejo (24:47):

Yeah. Pretty much.

Ian Ugarte (24:48):

Would you relive that moment?

Sam Laing (24:49):


Ian Ugarte (24:50):

What would you have done instead?

Sam Laing (24:58):

I probably would’ve planned it out a bit more, but it was a spontaneous moment. You know the ones that you don’t really plan, and you just like, “Okay, well I’ll just go with this.” But obviously if there’s a bit more intent behind it and I’d plan it out a bit more.

Ian Ugarte (25:09):

So how’d you feel when that happened?

Isabella Vallejo (25:10):

I was a bit confused at the start, but then obviously I was super happy after. I was like, “Eh, whatever.”

Ian Ugarte (25:16):

How many times did you go, “Are you serious?”

Isabella Vallejo (25:18):

Yeah. I think three times. I was like, “Really? Aren’t you going to ask me something?”

Ian Ugarte (25:25):

“Let’s get married.” That’s not far off what I did.

Sam Laing (25:29):

Tell me.

Ian Ugarte (25:30):

So we’re sitting in our first home and it’s 23rd of December. We’d known each other for a year. And looking out, we lived on the river, on the Hawkesbury. Boat access so you had to get in a boat to get home.

Isabella Vallejo (25:53):

That’s cool.

Ian Ugarte (25:55):

And so Christine came from a Bible fundamentalist, Christian family and my family are Catholics. And she was living in sin. Her father said she was living in sin. So we said, “Well, let’s get married. What’s the earliest opportunity?” And we picked Australia Day and you have to meet one day before with your celebrant. And that was Christmas day it ended up being and longer story between that. But we basically said, “Well, we better do it,” and it was done.

Isabella Vallejo (26:25):

Oh, wow.

Ian Ugarte (26:25):

That was it. But we did have a good wedding. We had a surprise wedding. People turned up at our place. We picked them up on house boats. They dropped onto the shore for a house warming party and we walked out on the pontoon and got married, cost us $1000.

Isabella Vallejo (26:25):

That’s so cool.

Ian Ugarte (26:41):

Best wedding ever. You’d want to own property, buy property, residential?

Sam Laing (26:49):

Yeah. I think that’d be the… Bella wants that sort of stuff.

Ian Ugarte (26:55):

You want to live local?

Isabella Vallejo (26:56):

Yeah. I’d like to have my own house. [crosstalk 00:26:58]. I would like to be near the beach. I like the area we’re in.

Ian Ugarte (27:01):

So you like beach?

Isabella Vallejo (27:02):


Ian Ugarte (27:02):

So it wouldn’t be farming or wouldn’t be acreage like this?

Isabella Vallejo (27:04):


Ian Ugarte (27:05):

You like the beach?

Isabella Vallejo (27:06):

I like to have [crosstalk 00:27:08].

Ian Ugarte (27:07):

You don’t like being in the water though.

Isabella Vallejo (27:09):

I love the water.

Ian Ugarte (27:10):

What about the sharks?

Isabella Vallejo (27:12):

Just when I swim and I can’t see the sharks.

Ian Ugarte (27:17):

When you can’t see the sharks.

Isabella Vallejo (27:18):

It’s more the rocks. I’d rather… no, I wouldn’t naturally, but it’s the rocks.

Ian Ugarte (27:22):

It’s the rocks?

Isabella Vallejo (27:22):

Yeah. I don’t like touching or standing on rocks.

Ian Ugarte (27:29):

I don’t know, these Mexicans.

Isabella Vallejo (27:31):

Clear water in Mexico. You don’t have that problem.

Ian Ugarte (27:33):

I know. One of the girls I taught who was actually my understudy, she was supposed to lighten up my load and she’s gone and she’s living the life on the income that she’s earned from over here. It’s pretty good.

Isabella Vallejo (27:44):

Oh, wow.

Ian Ugarte (27:46):

Okay. So you said you want to take the business to a mill?

Sam Laing (27:51):


Ian Ugarte (27:51):

In revenue? Have you got a timeline on that?

Sam Laing (27:55):

Probably 12 to 24 months.

Ian Ugarte (27:59):

That’s a big kick. And so have you got to plan on it?

Sam Laing (28:04):

Yeah, we do. We do got a plan.

Ian Ugarte (28:07):

I like it.

Sam Laing (28:08):

Yeah. Go for it.

Ian Ugarte (28:09):

I reckon if you can get it to that, then purchasing would be easy. Have you calculated your profit EBIT on that?

Sam Laing (28:17):

Yeah. For the profit margins?

Ian Ugarte (28:20):


Sam Laing (28:20):


Ian Ugarte (28:20):

So you’ve got all that. Awesome. I know you started this without a business plan and just through it and let’s hope and it goes, but it sounds like you’re well underway to be able to put a good structure behind your business now.

Sam Laing (28:32):


Isabella Vallejo (28:32):

Yeah, 100%.

Sam Laing (28:33):

We sort of molded it as we went.

Ian Ugarte (28:36):

How’d you go with COVID?

Sam Laing (28:37):

Initially a bit of a hit. I think everyone freaked out and went into damage control. So we took a bit of a hit. I think we took about a 30% hit in revenue and stuff like that. But people morphed online and just did their thing and we got through it. It wasn’t fantastic.

Ian Ugarte (28:52):

So you do online stuff?

Sam Laing (28:53):

Yeah, we do.

Isabella Vallejo (28:53):


Sam Laing (28:54):

But it’s a different-

Ian Ugarte (28:55):

I noticed you then set up the… because you couldn’t train inside. So you set up something outside.

Isabella Vallejo (29:00):


Sam Laing (29:00):

We initially did an outdoor thing under a gazebo for the two days they allowed us. And then-

Isabella Vallejo (29:06):

Two weeks.

Sam Laing (29:06):

Two weeks initially.

Isabella Vallejo (29:07):

It was two or three weeks, outdoor training only.

Ian Ugarte (29:10):

For two days a week or…

Sam Laing (29:12):

When they announced the lockdown, we said, “All right, let’s go outside.” Then they said, “All right, you can’t go outside.” So then when we came back I think it was outdoors for two weeks before we went back inside.

Ian Ugarte (29:23):

But it built up pretty quick after the 30% drop?

Sam Laing (29:26):

Yeah. After that, when we were allowed to officially open, it’s just like floodgates. Everyone’s like gyms, gyms, gyms. So from then on it was good. It was good.

Ian Ugarte (29:35):

I’d only been there, I don’t know, four months or so. And I still love my food. I could six pack it, but…

Isabella Vallejo (29:46):

You what?

Ian Ugarte (29:46):

I just love my food.

Isabella Vallejo (29:48):

So do we. That’s the reason why we do it. Mine all started with food.

Ian Ugarte (29:51):

Well, I used to run marathons so I could eat. That was what it came down to, but I’m not running marathons anymore. I love being part of the gym and it takes a lot for me to gel into something. And I do like hacking your Facebook page and-

Isabella Vallejo (30:08):

It’s pretty funny.

Ian Ugarte (30:08):

… making excuses for not turning [crosstalk 00:30:10].

Sam Laing (30:10):


Ian Ugarte (30:10):

Yeah, hijacking. Making excuses for not turning up. I reckon I don’t know what my favorite is. Probably the aliens, Kel and…

Isabella Vallejo (30:18):

I don’t understand-

Sam Laing (30:22):

I can’t comprehend how you come up with it.

Isabella Vallejo (30:22):

Exactly. I was-

Sam Laing (30:23):

I’m just like mind’s blown. How do you come up with this?

Isabella Vallejo (30:26):

Why are they aliens? I’m so confused.

Ian Ugarte (30:28):

Well, they weren’t there that week and I got abducted by aliens. So clearly, they’re lizards on earth and they went back. So [crosstalk 00:30:36].

Sam Laing (30:35):

The show when you asked me about that possum post, I looked at it in the morning and I was like, “What the fuck is going on here?”

Isabella Vallejo (30:43):

I was so confused.

Sam Laing (30:44):

I’m just like, “I’m putting my phone down. This is for 10AM.”

Ian Ugarte (30:46):

I was latching onto the 29 chocolates from the Easter egg hunt that got [crosstalk 00:30:49].

Isabella Vallejo (30:48):

Yeah. I was laughing. That was funny.

Ian Ugarte (30:50):

Imagine some possum eating your nose and just freaked out for the rest of the night.

Isabella Vallejo (30:53):

Oh my goodness.

Ian Ugarte (30:54):

I’d be on mushrooms.

Sam Laing (30:55):

Yeah. I understood later.

Ian Ugarte (30:58):

When I slowed down to look at it, I understood. What are some of the stories, what are the things you’ve seen people change, that when they came in, I just went in a good space?

Isabella Vallejo (31:12):


Sam Laing (31:16):

It’s just become part of everyday life. So initially they use the training, but they realized that they can’t complete the day without it. It’s just become a pillar of their every day. Now it’s a lost old thing, which I think is the most beautiful thing.

Isabella Vallejo (31:30):

I think definitely seeing gym and nutrition and stuff become a part of something that just happens every day is a massive thing. And seeing some of the members develop that is so good.

Ian Ugarte (31:46):

You still want to do something in opens?

Isabella Vallejo (31:49):

I had a bit of an injury for a few years, and that took me out of competing, and I still tried to compete. When I made it to the next stage, I’d be injured. And it just wasn’t fun. It was, but it wasn’t. And at the end of the day, I don’t like being in pain and the whole idea of CrossFit is to be fit and healthy. So I think when my body is able to do everything and I’m healthy, then that’s perfect opportunity to compete. But for now, you just take it day by day.

Ian Ugarte (32:28):

We did onlines. I put my first one in and I had 20 minutes to put my second one in and just forgot.

Isabella Vallejo (32:38):

That was a lot of commitment too.

Ian Ugarte (32:40):

How did you go in that?

Isabella Vallejo (32:41):

So there was four workouts. It was three plus the end one. I did really well in the first three. And then the last one was a weightlifting one. So that pulled me down the leaderboard.

Ian Ugarte (32:52):

Oh, that’s a good point because with CrossFit I keep on having this argument with Joel. 22 and a half kilo of whatever those things are.

Isabella Vallejo (32:59):


Ian Ugarte (33:01):

And so Joel has to lift the same weight and Joel’s going, “Yeah. But when I do chin-ups, I’d have to lift more weight than you do.” But I go, “Yeah, but your muscles are bigger.” But I do understand that when you get to the gymnastics component and stuff-

Isabella Vallejo (33:13):

Yeah. The burpees?

Ian Ugarte (33:13):

Yeah. Where I can do burpees like crazy and handstand walks and stuff where that’s much harder for someone that’s bigger.

Isabella Vallejo (33:22):

That’s the beauty of CrossFit. And that’s why I love CrossFit because your body shape influences your strength and weaknesses as well. And everyone has a strength and weakness. You don’t get to choose what it is. You just come in and figure out what it is.

Ian Ugarte (33:37):

On those weaknesses, can you strengthen them to the point of someone… If someone comes in with a strong squat ability, am I going to be able to get to that position if I’m not good at squats, as good as them?

Isabella Vallejo (33:51):

100%. I’ve switched my strength and weaknesses completely flipped around. When I first started and when I made to the games, I was so strong. I was just lifting so much weight. Could barely do a muscle up though because I was bad at gymnastics. Now I’m coming top whatever in the gymnastics element and my lifting has gone back down. So you can switch them around if you work hard on them.

Ian Ugarte (34:17):

Okay. So goals are business to a mill, buy the property that you’re working out of, the factory, and then your own home as well?

Isabella Vallejo (34:31):

Pretty much the goals.

Sam Laing (34:32):

Yeah, sounds good.

Ian Ugarte (34:32):


Isabella Vallejo (34:33):

Yeah. I’m allowed one kid.

Ian Ugarte (34:36):

One? I’ve got some advice for you. After the one if you only want one, don’t do anything about it. Just use the Catholic method of contraception. Just withdrawal at the right time. It doesn’t work though. Billy Connolly says that was never going to work for him, Catholic contraception, because at the point of ejaculation there was no force on earth that was going to make his ass go backwards.

Isabella Vallejo (35:10):

Oh my God.

Ian Ugarte (35:11):

He said that on stage, I’m only repeating it. What would be your message to someone who’s now turned the corner and is thinking, “I need to do some exercise.” Why CrossFit?

Sam Laing (35:22):

Why CrossFit? I just think it’s a different approach. I understand a lot of people that come through the doors are intimidated, but I think just be rest assured that you’re joining not just a gym, you’re joining a community, a family, support network that regardless of where you are, man, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to worry about starting or where you’re at. You just got to start. Start with one foot, and then you look back in three months and you realize, “Shit. I’m a lot more capable than I thought I was. So I just take the first step.

Ian Ugarte (35:57):


Isabella Vallejo (35:59):

I’d probably say CrossFit because it’s fun and it’s completely different. I don’t think you ever know what it’s going to be like until you do it. And it can become something you can do for the rest of your life, doesn’t matter what age. So it’s not something you’re going to get bored of, sick of, conquer and then be like, “What’s next?” It’s just the sky’s the limit and you can just keep going.

Ian Ugarte (36:23):

Because you write all the programs for the gym and it’s always different.

Isabella Vallejo (36:29):

It’s always different.

Ian Ugarte (36:30):

I hate squats and lunges. Sometimes I wonder.

Sam Laing (36:33):

I didn’t recognize. I thought you loved it.

Ian Ugarte (36:35):

I love it. Thanks for coming in today. I just want to tell you that it’s not often that I bring someone in outside of property. And the reason I wanted to bring you two in is because you are making a difference to me and my team. You’ve got four of my talent out of this office that’s in that gym and started with John, Bianca and Josh back here. So I just wanted to thank you for coming in. Thank you for being part of my life and what I do on a daily basis.

Isabella Vallejo (37:05):

Oh, thanks Ian.

Sam Laing (37:05):

A pleasure. Thank you.

Isabella Vallejo (37:06):

Yeah, it’s a pleasure.

Ian Ugarte (37:06):

All right. Awesome. There you go. Isabella and Sam whose wedding I’ll be emceeing in a few months time. If you’re on the Sunshine Coast and you want to go into a box that’s the box to go to. CrossFit Movida is what they’re called. I really enjoy being there. If you are just visiting the Sunshine Coast, they’ll have you on a daily basis as well. As always, I’ve really enjoyed today and I’ve really enjoyed you having the ability to listen to what we do. Join us on all the social media channels. And then we’ll see you in the next podcast for Small Talk, Big Ideas.

Announcer (37:42):

Thanks for tuning in to the Small Talk, Big Ideas podcast. We hope we’ve succeeded in our goal to inspire and challenge you, and we look forward to catching you on the next episode of Small Talk, Big Ideas with Ian Ugarte.

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