Welcome to Emirates Woman’s weekly series ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and businesswomen both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths that led them to where they are now; what their daily routines look like; the advice they’d give to those starting out; and the hurdles they’ve had to overcome.
This week we chat with the founder of the UAE-based fitness studio MOTION – Amélie Hua. Her entrepreneurial journey is far from an overnight success, with several hiccups and hurdles throughout the process. This boutique fitness studio ensures each class is different with a dedicated space to unwind from technology.
Emirates Woman sat down with Amélie to find out more about what initially brought her to Dubai and the inspiration behind opening MOTION.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Mathematics. I find it really satisfying to solve problems.
What was your first job?
I’ve been working since the age of 14 years old. My first student job was in a videocassette and DVD rental shop, however, my first real job was in private equity.
What inspired you to go into the fitness space?
To be honest, I am not really into sports, I just play tennis. Five years ago, I was in a really bad moment in my life and tried my hand at this indoor cycling concept in Paris, with some motivational coaches. It helped me get through that challenging phase in my life. I couldn’t comprehend how a workout helped me so much mentally and I told myself if I like this, everyone will. So, I decided to look into this field and build the same concept in Dubai.
What eventually brought you to Dubai?
Life. There were a series of personal events in the process. Upon arrival, I immediately loved this city, so I decided to stay here. It’s really exciting for an entrepreneur like me to live in Dubai because there are so many opportunities, in so many different domains.
Can you talk us through what inspired you to launch MOTION?
A few years ago, when I was living in Paris, I had a fixed fitness routine, however, when I moved to Dubai, I couldn’t find something quite similar. I felt there was a huge market of people looking for a boutique space, that’s both accessible and intimate with a nice community, especially in Dubai where everything can be so extravagant. We wanted to create a strong experience that revisits the classic spin. Our focus was to shift it from a performance-oriented class to become a real lifestyle concept where people can connect. The mentalities are changing and the need to feel good is becoming more prominent than rather just looking good.
Who are your main clients?
We have mainly Emirati clients between 20 and 35 years old, but also a lot of expats, especially people who are familiar with the concept from New York, Paris or London. We have a really particular clientele, completely different from other fitness centers, looking for this more exclusive and unique boutique space.
What are the key elements of your role?
I have a hard time delegating things, so I contribute to all the domains of Motion. My role varies from finance, coding, brand collaborations, shootings, social media, and accounting to marketing or human resources, while also training and coaching. Our manager, Chloe and my incredible team help me a lot, but I would say that my main role is to get the ideas and the team is making them happen.
Talk us through your daily routine
Intense. I wake up at 5am, as I usually teach a class at 7am. Then I jump through the day from one task to another and I am always trying to have lunch with clients, dinners are reserved for my husband and friends. I always try to balance my work with my social life, I think it’s really important.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?
Having enough passion for what you do in order to go all-in 100 percent and not give up on the first challenges. Things will never go the way you have planned it, so always be ready to reinvent yourself at all times. That is why knowing all the facets of your business and being able to touch every single domain around it helps a lot when you have important decisions to make.
Embracing the unknown, accepting that failure is all part of any new journey, is also what I would tell someone who wants to start something new. We have this amazing and magical power to rebuild and faster than you think, so don’t forget about it, you will always find a way to make it happen.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Focus on one thing and do it well. I have seen so many entrepreneurs failing, including myself, because they want to launch too many things at the same time. What I’ve learned in my entrepreneurship journey is to focus on one product first, make it work, and then add on other things. It’s better to be the best in something than mediocre in everything.
And what is the worst?
That’s hard. Maybe “follow your heart”, I’ve been betrayed many times by people from work for the past few years. So I would say, it’s better to follow your intuition. Your intuition is always right.
What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
One of my biggest challenges was to keep going with MOTION when both our contractor and our PRO stole our money. We had to launch a project with a place not finished and with no money anymore. We started doing classes with no AC, no showers – literally in the construction site, taking just a small amount of money from the clients. This is how we started and it worked. Again, this “focus on one thing and do it well” worked. We wanted to come out with the best classes and then rest followed.
What are your goals for 2022?
Personal or professional? For MOTION we want to open in France and in Saudi Arabia. Personal, maybe trying to balance more the private life and the professional life.
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