“Looking back at my 30-year-old self, I probably was exceptionally ambitious”.

Cindy Kempton is the owner of Life and Soul and F45 Training in Karratha, Broome, Port Hedland, Derby, Darwin and Leederville. Life and Soul’s vision is to provide people with the opportunity to Feel fit and healthy is not just about for today, but for the rest of your life, both mentally and physically.

Cindy grew up on a Dairy Farm in the Albany region. After travelling a lot in her 20’s, she returned home to the farm for a year. Cindy had always been passionate about health and fitness, and when her father suggested that she should buy a fitness club.

In 2005, The fitness industry in Western Australia was starting to gain pace, and Cindy could see the potential. At the time, there were three different clubs for sale in Busselton, Port Headland and Karratha. Visiting all the clubs, Cindy ultimately made the decision, “Karratha is where I could feel a real vibe and soul and somewhere that I could call home for a while”.

Mid 2005 packing up her car, dog, and her essential belongings, she drove from Albany to Karratha. Arriving in the heat, she took over the business, rebranded it ‘Life + Soul’. “I spent a lovely couple of years in Karratha, building the brand, culture and community”. Admitting that this time allowed Cindy to understand herself from a business point of view. “I really wanted to know what this was going to be in my sense of a journey, and if anyone in 2005 had told me that this is what I thought was going to happen, I would never have thought I would have been such great opportunities”. 

A few years after the success of Karratha, Cindy had met her husband when an opportunity in Broome came along. “We literally jumped in the car to drive to Broome, and I hadn’t even been there before”. Looking at the Gym, they knew they were up for the challenge and could make it happen! Rebranding it again to ‘Life + Soul’, another opportunity occurred in Derby, then Port Headland. An opportunity arose to develop F45 Training in all towns – and they took it. Over the 16 years, Cindy says, “Karratha is really the core that allowed us to take those risks and opportunities to continue the expansion of ‘Life and Soul and F45 Training ’”. 

Cindy was sure that the business would be successful. “I didn’t have any fear or hesitation”. I didn’t think twice about the fact that I knew no one and had nowhere to live. Admitting that she slept on the floor of the crèche for three months when she got to Karratha as they were going through a mining boom and rental pricing was upwards of $1000/week. Cindy was self-assured that this was the moment that was going to lead her on the journey she was supposed to go on. “I am so passionate about fitness and what it brings to people’s lives”, and Cindy knew it was the industry she was going to be in. Reflecting upon her times, Cindy states, “Looking back at my 30 year old self, I probably was exceptionally ambitious”. Taking her a long time to accept this, Cindy said she looks at it positively and doesn’t let outside opinions get to her. “If I hadn’t been that ambitious person, prepared to take risks and spread the love of fitness, perhaps we wouldn’t have been able to do what we have accomplished in the North West”. 

Fitness and Wellness have become part of most regional people’s lives in the last few years, and ‘Life and Soul’ has played an integral part in this development for the North West. The Northwest in 2006 was an exciting time because of the mining boom, although Cindy didn’t realise that it was going as well as it was. “The people of the north are exceptionally unique because they don’t choose to live in these towns” Most people residing in these towns are bought here by their jobs through mining companies. Cindy knew that she could create this unique community to give people a place of belonging. “After spending 12 months in Karratha, many people had looked after me, and I am so thankful for that” Hoping that Life and Soul can provide the same feeling of belonging for each of her gyms within their region.

Cindy has always been passionate about community building. “We always knew we were building this community”. It is also vital to Cindy that the team behind Life and Soul believe in the mission as much as she does to help cultivate this network and build upon those community values. “We have exceptionally good people working with us”. Cindy has 14 senior management staff and over 150-160 staff spread across the Northwest and Perth. Cindy is proud to have a significant retention rate for her team “You must have the right people that can manage people in these isolated communities, and have systems and processes in place”. Cindy and her husband spend a lot of time travelling, visiting all their sites, and staying hands-on in the business. “We believe the way to keep people connected is consistent communication”.

Talking to Cindy about Leadership, she says, “You might not have a clear vision, to begin with, but the way you communicate and present yourself will let others know that there is an end goal”. Another essential aspect also mentioned by Cindy is to have a good demeanour and a consistent way to present yourself. Confidence is also another critical element highlighted by Cindy, stating, “Even though on the inside it might be all imploding and you are not sure what the next step is”.  Bringing your people together and providing them with a safe working environment will build trust and faith within your relationship working together. Knowing that they aren’t always going to get things right every time Cindy encourages her team ‘to have a go’ – everything can be fixed!

As a regional woman, Cindy’s advice to start a business is “You have to REALLY love the product”. Going on to state, by loving your product, the 15-hour days won’t matter, and the challenges won’t matter, including that you will cut through the noise and start to develop a product that will be better. “Make sure that you love what you do and be passionate about it”. Work ethic is also something Cindy does not talk about lightly, and sometimes the reality is working long days and hours to get to where you want to go. As a child, Cindy believes that she learnt that there are no hard problems and focuses on finding solutions. “Business is hard, but if you are busy focusing on the solution, then wonderful things can happen”.