One Year In: Shayan Vaghayenegar is “Living the Dream” in North Vancouver

On December 3rd, 2018 Shayan Vaghayenegar abandoned what he knew—personal training and group classes—and opened OPEX North Shore in North Vancouver, British Columbia.

One year later, Vaghayenegar is only more sure of his decision to go the OPEX route. 

When he opened his doors, he had 28 clients. In the last 12 months, this number has increased to 55. Each of them pays somewhere between CA$299 to $379 per month.

Vaghayenegar also has two other coaches, who are in the process of building their own book of clients. His goal is to increase his gym’s client base to 100 in the next year.

Though he’s not yet where he intends to be in the future, Vaghayenegar has embraced the long-term road to success, a road he’s confident navigating because he has OPEX in his corner. 

From coach and client development processes, to the ins and outs of running the business, OPEX has helped him in every way, he explained.

“And even things like marketing and social media. (OPEX) provides me with a lot of material I can use, so it saves me a lot of time because I don’t have to create it myself. I just tweak it to match my brand,” he said. 

He added: “And the monthly calls with OPEX gym owners around the world—we share notes and talk about what’s working and what’s not working—are really helpful. Lately, we have been talking about optimizing SEO. Without those conversations, I probably would have had to hire someone to help me with it.”

The Mastermind seminar Vaghayenegar attended in the fall at OPEX HQ in Scottsdale, Arizona was also particularly useful, he said. He was put into a group with two other OPEX owners—Mike Walerius from OPEX St. Louis Central and Jonathan Stuart of OPEX Mount Sinai—both of whom he has kept in touch with on a regular basis since the Mastermind.

“We get on monthly calls, where we compare notes. It helps keep each other accountable,” he said. 

Beyond the business side of things, Vaghayenegar is adamant the OPEX model is also what’s best for the client and the coach. 

For the client: “The biggest thing is how they have become more consistent with their workouts. …(And) during the lifestyle consults, I’m able to chat about what’s going on outside the gym. …They are much better served now,” he said.

And for his coaches: “I’m confident knowing my system keeps my coaches happy schedule-wise, and they’re getting paid fairly. And then it’s up to them to build their business and become as successful as they can,” he said. 

Though his coaches still have a ways to go, Vaghayenegar knows they will eventually earn a professional wage without burning out working 40-plus on-floor hours each week. This simply isn’t the case if you’re getting paid an hourly wage to coach a group class or personal train. 

“And in this system, coaches can even go away on vacation and still get paid,” he said. 

After one year in business, he said he’s way further along than many other small gym owners he knows, many of whom found themselves in the red because the underestimated business costs.

“As a business owner, there are always lots of hidden costs—little things here and there that add up when it comes to opening a business—so having a model like OPEX has gotten me a thousand steps ahead because I was ready for it,” he said. 

Vaghayenegar added: “I always tell people I’m living the dream.”

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