Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dibs Barisic Sprem, Founder of Dibs Fitness, located in Montreal, QC, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Dibs Fitness provides LGBTQIA+ inclusive, fun-fuelled, body-neutral personal training, group fitness, e-courses, and virtual coaching services. I'm also an adaptive coach, which means I have done training to accommodate people with physical and cognitive disabilities. Most recently, I've launched a line of t-shirts with unconventional fitness slogans.

My customers are mainly people who are gender diverse or those who feel like they aren't welcome or accommodated in the mainstream fitness world. I help people preparing or recovering from various surgeries and people who need to maintain strength post-injury.

Tell us about yourself

As someone who felt excluded and misunderstood for so long, it was important for me to help others who felt the same. I have ADHD, and I'm disabled. It's extremely joyful to see people gain confidence, reduce pain, and become stronger under my guidance.

Helping a woman get off of her blood pressure medication was an awesome achievement, and hearing when clients tell me that they have been pain-free for weeks at a time. The thing I'm most proud of is when I launched my first online program for people recovering or preparing for top surgery. That was a world first!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Like many body workers, physical therapists, and similar professionals know, it's hard to make a living when you're working under someone else's roof. I started my training career back in Sydney, Australia (where I am from) and worked at a boutique studio that was paying the employees a quarter of what the clients were being charged. I was working from 5 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., with a long lunch break in between. It wasn't sustainable for my mental health or my relationships.

I had a small social media following of fewer than 1,000 people when I decided to start my own business about five months before moving to Montreal. When I arrived in Canada, I had to work a hospitality job on the side while I figured out the industry in a new city. I had just quit my hospitality job to go full-time on my business when the pandemic hit. I didn't qualify for any financial assistance, so I had to make it work or start eating into my savings.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

I've overcome not having any days off. I used to work all the time and had bad boundaries when it came to booking appointments because I was afraid of losing work. Now I'm stricter with my work hours and try to refer out when I can't take someone on.

I'm still trying to overcome marketing strategies. For the first two years of my business, I did free social media content and relied on a lot of word of mouth. Now I am transitioning from services to products too, and it's a new playing field.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Always be yourself and be honest to your customer's faces and in your online content.
  2. Find a gap in your industry where people are being left behind, and then learn more about how you could help those people.
  3. Meeting people where they are. I used to be brainwashed by diet culture and then swung heavily in the opposite direction. Now I'm at a sweet spot in the middle where I can help people who have aesthetic goals if that is what they feel good about and help create goals around other health markers, like strength, resting heart rate, and sports-specific skills.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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