Dalton Ard was working as a personal trainer at Fitness Together in Birmingham, AL, when one of the owners asked if he had ever considered opening his own business. The owner observed many of the same entrepreneurial traits in Dalton that he himself possessed and asked Dalton if he would like to purchase that Fitness Together franchise. The owner was in the process of opening another facility.
Dalton started mulling over this idea and decided that he would like to open a business. He was introduced to the CrossFit program in July 2008 where he fell in love with the new found “sport of fitness”. By February 2009, he signed up for and completed his first CrossFit competition. After years of experience in personal training, Dalton attended the CrossFit Level 1 Certification training course in February 2009. He knew that the gym he opened would be a CrossFit licensed facility. Although he was living in Birmingham, he decided to locate the business in Auburn, AL. He spoke with representatives from CrossFit and started the process to secure a licensing agreement. At that time, there were only ten CrossFit licensed businesses in Alabama. Decisions on the concept and the location were made so what next? He needed capital and a business plan.
One of his trainees directed him to a consultant with the Alabama Small Business Development Center (ASBDC) Network program. The consultant informed him about the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Express Loan Program. Dalton had worked on his business plan and, together with the consultant, the plan was completed along with the loan application and required documentation for the SBA Express Loan. Dalton was approved for a $50,000 loan and the consultant assisted in completing all loan closing documentation. He opened CrossFit on the Plains in 2010. The business is thriving and Dalton continues to explore outreach opportunities to promote fitness. Today, is one of the few CrossFit Level 3 Certified Trainers in Alabama.
Dalton has implemented CrossFit classes for Auburn University where students learn the basics of CrossFit and are taught the foundations of the training method. The program provides the students with a Physical Education (PE) credit for Auburn University. Teaching the CrossFit PE class at Auburn University is an amazing opportunity to have a life-changing impact on young people at such a pivotal time in their lives. Dalton says, “We have literally watched hundreds of college students fall in love with being fit and healthy.” “Several of our PE students have even gone on to work in the fitness industry, and are having a positive influence on many lives.”
There are now close to one hundred CrossFit licensed facilities in Alabama with three of those being located in Auburn. Affiliating with CrossFit and starting his own business were good decisions for Dalton. Purchasing an existing business would have required more capital which is sometimes difficult to secure for a young entrepreneur. Dalton has never looked back and says, “The ASBDC Network program is a valuable resource for entrepreneurs and I would recommend enlisting their assistance.”
Dalton is proud to have passed the six year mark of owning a small business. He has learned a great deal in these years and his advice for entrepreneurs is as follows:
- Find something you are passionate about to build your business around, and spread that passion to others everyday by showing that you care about them and the service you are providing.
- Start small if needed, and allow the business to grow as your abilities to run an efficient operation become greater.
- Surround yourself with driven, hard-working, people that care about doing a great job.
- Set yourself up to turn a profit within the first year if possible. Don’t put yourself in a hole of debt that you feel you’ll never climb out of.
Dalton states, “My goal is to inspire others to live a healthy and active lifestyle and have a positive influence on their future.” “Commitment to fitness and proper nutrition changes the lives of clients by promoting good health and a positive self-image.”
Dalton’s background includes playing basketball at the University of Montevallo where he obtained his BS in Kinesiology with a concentration in Health Promotion. He played collegiate basketball at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville and Montevallo. Dalton coached high school basketball from 2005-2006. He has been a personal trainer since 2006 and has been a CrossFit athlete since 2008. He received his CrossFit Level 1 Certification in 2009 and Level 2 Certification in 2014. Dalton also holds CrossFit Certifications in Weightlifting and Nutrition (with Robb Wolf). He is married to Kelly Ard and is the proud father of a one year old son, Aplin. The family resides in Auburn, AL.