A fat kid’s tale of starting a fitness startup

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Growing Up Chunky

Growing up I was always the fat kid or big boned as I liked to put it. I had horrible eating habits, I pretty much ate fast food or frozen food for 80 percent of my meals. Being the youngest of four, I was a spoiled little kid who ate whatever he wanted. Ironically, even though I was a fat kid I absolutely loved sports and was active, I just ate too much.

During the summers, I would go for a few weeks and visit my older brother who is also a co-founder (Joe) that lived-in Dallas at the time. I loved seeing my brother since I didn’t get to see him much (I lived in Houston), but I absolutely hated the contents of his fridge and pantry. Nothing but healthy food. He once told me to heat up some cauliflower rice, I remember thinking “What the f**k is cauliflower rice?”.

The First Awakening, If I didn’t lose weight I would get diabetes

My bad eating habits continued until I was around 14 when my doctor pretty much told me If I didn’t stop eating garbage and started working out more I was going to get diabetes. At first I was like this guy is crazy I’m 14 how am I going to have diabetes. It didn’t hit me until I had to start checking my blood sugar daily that I was like damn this is real. I need to change this before it gets worse. That day I completely changed everything. I was motivated and I was on a mission to get fit. I started working out like crazy, 3 to 4 time a day. I had multiple sports practices throughout the day and in the evening, I would either be doing personal training, HIIT training at local studio or visiting a local boxing gym. I cut carbs completely from my diet and followed a nutrition guide religiously, which allow me to shed 60 pounds in 3 months. I was addicted and honestly felt like a completely new person.

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Through high school I worked out 5 times a week and continued my good eating habits. My freshman year of college however, I overdid the freshman 15 and decided to go with freshman 20 instead. I took notice and quickly lost this weight by eating better and working out more. I remained at a constant weight until my junior year in college. That was the year my dad was in a work accident and lost his job so I took up a part time job to support myself. At the same time I also started developing software for a startup while being enrolled full-time at UT. Between my job and the startup I was working around 50–60 hours on top of my rigorous workload from school. Roughly six months later my dad was diagnosed with cancer and it hit me extremely hard; between working, school and my dad, I became extremely stressed. It was too much for me to juggle and I lost sight of healthy eating habits and of working out. Before I realized it, I gained a lot of weight very quickly. Finding time to eat became a mission leading me to eat out a lot at odd times.

Me now, little chunkier but still sexy.

Me now, little chunkier but still sexy.

Why I’m Building FeverFit — Transitioning to a healthy lifestyle Again.

I kept telling myself I’ll just start next week, I’ve lost it before and I can do it again. That went on for about 8 months until I decided to do something about it. As a student, I HATED working out at Gregory (the University gym), I thought it sucked. It was always packed and I would get tired of doing the same thing repeatedly. I knew I would be much more motivated doing workouts that didn’t feel robotic. I tried looking up local studios and boxing gyms but there’s so many in Austin that it was hard for me to get started. I’ve always been someone who cares more about being surrounded by people who will motivate me to reach my goals than being at a massive facility with free towels.

I’m helping build FeverFit because I want to make it easy for others to find the perfect studio for them to stay motivated. I’m adventurous and I enjoy trying new things. I’ve always wanted to try Yoga and Pilates, but there are so many studios in Austin I’m left asking “Which is the right fit for me?” I tried ClassPass but it sucked. My curiosity for new workouts was extinguished when I discovered that almost every class I wanted to try was overbooked. I also don’t want a limited membership; I want to go where I want, whenever I want. If I want to pay as I go I want to have that option available to me. On the other hand, if I love a studio and I want to commit to a membership I want to have that option as well. Plus, I want to support local businesses, and I’ve found that, much like Groupon, Classpass financially screws studios over.

Where I’m at Now

Living a healthy lifestyle when starting a company can be difficult, especially when it seems that you ALWAYS have something that urgently needs to be finished. For the past two months, I’ve been eating MUCH healthier and working out at least 4 times a week, I’ve lost around ~12 pounds. I’ve realized that having a healthy balance not only makes my work more enjoyable, I’m also more motivated in short and long-term goals. My current goal is to lose 30 pounds in the next 4–5 months. I’ll be posting my experiences as I discover new studios, how I’m doing on my goal, and what I’ve been up to generally. Follow me as I begin a new fitness journey and document our successes and failures as we build FeverFit.

Mark Ruvalcaba