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Adala Bolto had no idea that her own weight loss would spark a fitness empire set to be worth millions.
The 41-year-old, who is the owner of the “bad*ss” all-female boutique gym, Zadi, developed the chain after making her first move in the industry 17 years ago.
She was training at her local Fernwood gym at the time when she glanced over to the women at the front desk and decided she wanted a job in fitness.
Ms Bolto, who was on maternity leave at the time, said she hired a personal trainer and joined a gym after having gone from a “vibrant” size eight, 23-year-old to a “size 14 tired mummy”.
“I had both of my girls quite young and in the space of three years had gained almost 15kg by the time my second born was five months old,” Ms Bolto said.
While she enjoyed motherhood, she felt her personal life was spiralling out of control and said she needed to make a lifestyle change.
“I did not like my body at all,” Ms Bolto told news.com.au.
“I would avoid shopping for clothes because I couldn’t wear outfits I loved and I felt like I was not comfortable pulling off the looks that I loved pulling off pre-children.
“I stuck to awfully boring tees and casual denims and absolutely hated the idea of wearing a bikini.
“I was determined to get back to sexy me and so I joined a gym and trained with a personal trainer two times a week, then added three group HIIT classes, in strength and boxing.”
She also shifted her diet to include more lean cut foods and got rid of any “unnecessary calories”.
“I started to take more care of my nutrition mainly by becoming more mindful with my food portions,” she said.
“It’s a simple energy in – energy out while maintaining a calorie deficit.
“But I also knew that simply turning to a class or a session up won’t work, so when I train I give it everything I’ve got.”
After feeling strong and more confident in herself, Ms Bolto decided to get a job in the fitness industry, starting as a membership consultant.
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She decided to get her certificate in personal training and became a qualified group fitness instructor for several years. She then bought herself an existing Fernwood franchise before more recently creating Zadi – a strength and HIIT-based gym.
The studio isn’t like a traditional gym environment, which Ms Bolto said many of her clients didn’t like.
Instead, it’s got a nightclub vibe with a focus on “getting s**t done”.
“Nobody was catering to a market for just women,” she said.
Ms Bolto said she kept a close eye on what was going on in the fitness industry and saw a huge opportunity for a studio targeted at millennial women.
In 2017, she pitched the concept to Fernwood chief executive Diana Williams, who agreed to back her – and nine months later Zadi was born, with a studio opening in Sydney’s Surry Hills, followed by Neutral Bay and Breakfast Point.
Today, 15 new studio locations have been secured across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – and while Ms Bolto couldn’t disclose revenue, she said the brand is set to make millions after quickly becoming the latest fitness craze for women.
“Zadi represents everything I’m passionate about, everything I love and everything I stand for,” Ms Bolto said.
“And as a bi-product, it has become what I have always dreamt it would be, strong, sexy, empowering and no bulls**t.”
Ms Bolto said her personal experience has been a constant reminder that commitment and persistence are key to making absolutely anything happen.
“I don’t believe in limits, I truly believe that we have the power to live a life we love but we must have the will to get s**t done,” she said.
“This has now become Zadi’s tag line.”
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Originally published as Gym idea sparks huge female fitness craze