The Game Changers

Ken TelferThe Covid-19 crisis saw the entire fitness industry shut down pretty much overnight in March this year and while the need for us to keep moving and exercise hasn’t changed, the way in which we could exercise has. What are providers doing to survive until the restrictions are relaxed?

Understanding the size of the impact

According to recent studies conducted into the Australian Gyms and Fitness centres1 and personal trainers2, the fitness industry is worth around $3.5billion and employs around 30,000 people. Of these around 9,000 are self-employed Personal Trainers or fitness instructors. It is also reported that around 30 percent of Australians have a gym membership – although it is not clear how many use their membership on a regular basis.

The fitness industry has grown by around 5percent since 2014 and there are a number of trends leading this growth. The growth, however, is expected to stall over the next 5 years because of increased competition unless the industry continues to drive change in relation to how it delivers services and target customers.

Canberra Martial ArtsWith gyms, fitness centres and health clubs classified as restricted activities and forced to close on the 23rd March, the fitness industry was forced to adapt or shut up shop completely. Many have embraced online and app-based training and are not only surviving, but embracing new avenues for growth that they will retain once restrictions have lifted.

One such business owner is Tom Adam the founder and chief instructor at Canberra Martial Arts. Based in Phillip, the club still has over 300 members and was providing over 40 face-to-face classes per week for ages 3 to over 60. Canberra Martial Arts teaches HapKiDo, TaeKwonDo, Kumdo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and Taekyun as well as Women’s Self Defense courses, early morning bootcamps, and cardio boxing. Tom is forging a new path, embracing online training and in the process is appealing to a whole new group of families.

Shannon PicklesWho would have thought that escape rooms would become a global phenomenon? But there has been a steady growth in the number of rooms around the globe. For the uninitiated, an escape is a physical adventure game.

stuart omeoLet’s face it the words innovation and mobility aids are rarely used in the same sentence. 
Sure, we now have motorised scooters and improved safety features. However, anyone who has had to navigate or assist someone using a mobility aid can relate to the bulkiness, heaviness and general inflexibility that describes a majority of mobility aids available today. Furthermore, the general premise of the wheelchair has hardly had any innovation since it was first invented in 1783.  

MichelleLovi headshot300200Michelle Lovi, founder of Odyssey Books always wanted to have a portable business.

“My goal from the very beginning was to have a business that I could do from anywhere,” says Michelle, who started her business in Canberra and moved to New Zealand in 2018 on a 12-month trial.

“I wanted to be able to work from home as an independent business so that I could travel and live anywhere.

TracyRyanCamera smlPhoto by: Tracy Ryan PhotographyThe diverse nature of Australia's landscape provides us with an abundance of spectacular natural attractions all over the country. When it comes to capturing the beauty of Australia’s landscapes, Tracy Ryan is one of the best. An award-winning landscape and nature photographer, Tracy first fell in love with photography when she went back to finish her Arts degree after raising her 5 kids.

“I decided that once the kids were all at school I would go and finish my degree online,” says Tracy.

“One of the main theory units I had to do involved electives, and one that I chose was photography. I thought, ‘Photography is easy, I’ve had a camera for ages, I’ll give that a go!’ And from that I found out I really loved doing it.”

ST Siobhan smlWhen you hear the words divorce or separation, what comes to mind? Marriage breakdown; a fight for custody; court battle. Lots of negativity, right? While the total number of divorces in Australia has been declining, for those considering a break-up it doesn’t have to be a stressful process. In fact, according to Siobhan Mullins from family law firm Separate Together, more and more couples are separating with minimal conflict involved.

“When it comes to separation, people have become more sophisticated in terms of what they want and need.”

Having practiced in family law for the past 6 years, Siobhan has seen a dramatic change in the needs of separating couples and believes this shift is getting lost in the traditional law firm structure.

VRwoman2Most of us experience some level of stress and anxiety in our lives, ranging from relatively mild to extremely severe and debilitating. The 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing showed that almost half of Australia’s total population (45.5%) experienced a mental disorder at some point in their lifetime. Anxiety disorders are the most common, for example general stress at work, relationship issues, fears and phobias, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Unfortunately, technology innovation in mental health has been slower to take-off than technology in general healthcare as it faces a number of challenges around intervening in human behaviour. A local Canberra company however, is using cutting edge technology to treat anxiety disorders.

Lorinda smlLorinda Wyatt, the new Managing Director of Zoo Group in Canberra, knows how to take the ‘mess’ out of ‘message’. She has seen marketing from every perspective – creative, client and even media buying, giving her a 360-degree view that ensures clients get their message across and ideas deliver on both creative and business goals.

Originally from South Africa, Lorinda fell into advertising by accident and loved it. After studying marketing she landed her first job in an ad agency as an account executive working on brands like Lancôme.

RRITemployeeWe spoke to James Falzon from Capital Easy Finance & Leasing about how they stumbled on a new service that benefits both their clients and communities in some of the poorest parts of the world.

Capital Easy Finance & Leasing was started 16 years ago to help organisations develop flexible leasing programs for purchasing IT and business equipment.

As part of this, the company developed a complete end to end process whereby it acquired equipment, financed equipment, and at the end of its life collected, sanitised information from the then user and disposed of it.

MilesJakeman CitadelMiles Jakeman returned to Canberra in December 2000 for family reasons and, unable to find a job, he says 'he started a business by default'. Miles' vision for Citadel was set from day one and while the challenges of today are quite different from when he first started, his commitment and enthusiasm hasn't wavered.

We recently spoke to Miles about starting, growing and listing a business in Canberra and about his plans for the future.

Miles joined the military straight from school and was employed as an Intelligence officer for 13 years providing geostrategic advice on threat and global issues impacting on Australia.

December 2014 ParlimentIn days gone by, employers saw flexible working arrangement as a cost to the business.

Today, clever businesses are reinventing the way they work by adopting telework and working remotely.

We spoke to a successful Canberra-based small business that is thriving because of its remote, distributed work style. Jo Scard is the Principal of Australia's first virtual and flexible communications and government engagement agency, Fifty Acres.

peter davison1Who hasn't heard of PayPal - one of the world's largest internet payment set ups? It was acquired by eBay for a staggering $1.5 billion in 2002.

PayPal proved that a little imagination and a lot of out of the box thinking would take the world of transacting to a whole new level. 

But did you know that one of the early supporters of PayPal is Australian, in fact lives locally?


Amber Standley 2Game changers are those visionaries who change the status quo, shift our thinking and disrupt whole industries.

Canberra is home to a number of people across government, academia and business that are changing the way we think and understand the world.

We caught up with Amber Standley, whose business APositive is changing the way we experience advertising, digital content and interact with data.