Norbert D’souza is a well-known name in the field of Fitness in Goa. Norbert who started his gym career around 18 years ago from the backyard of the Neomi’s Salon situated in Miramar is today running the India’s Largest Gym facility in Ocean Park which is spread across the 36000 soft. area. Not many people reach to the height Norbert has achieved today, especially in the field of the gym which is still in the initial stage in the state of Goa. The Journey to this success was not easy for Norbert but yet he achieved the tremendous amount of success in this field. Today Norbert runs more than half a dozens of the gym across the state of Goa and in this story I will take you through the role coaster ride of the journey to his success.
I remember meeting Norbert first time nearly two decades ago at that time he was running a gym in the backyard of Neomi’s Salon. Of course, he did not own that gym as it belonged to Neomi but Norbert was the soul of that gym. Everybody who went to workout at that gym then, including me, it was only for the Norbert. He has that magic touch in him since then.
According to me besides being passionate about the bodybuilding and fitness Norbert was always a highly ambitious person. He would never get satisfied with an average as he always strived for the best. The Journey of Norbert at Neomis ended soon and he set up his own gym at Dona Paula in the year 2008 from there his real journey of self-determination and success began. According to Norbert, he is the banker by profession but his heart was always in the fitness and bodybuilding. “I was always passionate about the fitness. Though I was a banker by profession but I had taken weight training as a hobby to built my own self. I worked for 15 years at the bank before resigning from there in 2008,” he said.
“The opportunity came to me in the form of training instructor at Neomis and I started to handle both the things simultaneously, my job at the bank was in the morning and I used to train the people in the evening at the gym. Slowly, It started to becoming rewarding and I started getting more positive feedbacks from the people,” said Norbert. Norbert was aware that this is the goodwill business and people he helped will always recommend him to more and this become one of the success mantras of Norbert’s progress. “I always helped people in achieving their fitness Goals and that is one of the secrets of my success in this field,” he said.
Norbert spent around 7 years at Neomis gym helping hundreds of people from across the state of Goa. But as the days started passing the workload at the gym started growing and that was the time Norbert realised that it’s time to choose between his profession and passion. “There was a point in time where I had to choose whether to go ahead with the banking profession and move up the ladder and choose this field I took as my hobby which became my passion. So I chose where my heart was,” he said. He gave up his profession for his passion “I resigned in 2008 and went into this fitness studio. That was the time when Norbert’s Fitness Studio was born”, he added.
Following your passion is not a joke. Many times you have to face the criticism of family and friends. Something similar happened with Norbert too. According to Norbert, when he resigned from the Bank job lot of people called him a fool as he had given up the well-secured job where he would have started receiving the life long pension if he had to stick to it for few more years. But Norbert is not just another common man but he had the instinct of becoming enterprising and was always driven by the passion and he has proved that today by setting up the gymnasium facility in Goa which is spread across the 36000 soft. making it India’s biggest gym.
“I had resigned from the well-secured job to go into the field which was very unpredictable and where age factor was of a prime importance. They also started questioning me ‘till what age I am going to run this business?’ If I had to continue in the bank for another 5 years I would have got a pension for life long,” Norbert revealed. He gave up his secure career and pursued his passion. After starting the Caranzalem facility in 2008 Norbert devoted himself completely into the gym. Soon his business started booming and he went for his first expansion at the Caranzalem facility making it Goa’s biggest gym facility then.
The starting of Caranzalem facility changed the scenario completely and Norbert’s Fitness Studio became the brand. People started pouring in from all over the Goa. “Soon I realised that people are coming from Margao, Vasco, Ponda, Porvorim and Mapusa. Effectively from all over the Goa. Then I started doing little bit of a research to find out as what percentage of people coming from each area and realised that major chunk of crowd coming in from Porvorim as it was the nearest place to Panaji,” he said adding that, “I started searching for the place in Porvorim and soon identified one where I Setup my second studio. It was the first outlet outside the Panaji based facility and it was also my first step towards growing out of my comfort zone.”
Having two outlets in Goa was a very good sign of progress for Norbert but the task was not that easy at all. The fitness industry has just started coming up then in Goa. A lot of people who followed the footsteps of Norbert had also started setting up the gym by then. But Norbert had no option of looking back. “Initially it was very difficult to handle two outlets. I began to shuffle between both the branches. One thing I must say that it is very difficult to get the people in a place like Goa because fitness is not looked up as a career but as a hobby. And in this field, it’s not like you become a trainer and you start making money, No matter how much qualified you are you have to build that name then only people feel confidence in your training,” he said.
Norbert is considered to be the pioneer of gym culture in Goa. He started this trend when the gymming was not taken seriously by the people. Everybody felt that gym is meant for the bodybuilders but Norbert prove this logic wrong by introducing the fitness for everyone. From 11-year-old kids to 65-year grandpas have started joining Norbert’s gym for the fitness. According to Norbert, he introduced the first gym in Goa with treadmills and weights. “In fact, I was the one to start gym culture in Goa in the year 1999. It was the first private Gym which had treadmills as well as the weights.”
After setting up the Porvorim outlet Norbert had set up the benchmark and he started getting the offers from the other cities in Goa to open the gym. Norbert by now had already established his brand in the state of Goa and for the people of Goa gym became the synonyms with Norbert. “Following the Porvorim outlet setup I received the offer from Vasco to set up the gym. At that point of time I had no investment capacity to set up there on my own and hence I tied up with Bandekars (Mr. Nana Bandekar) this later lead to an idea of setting up gyms across the state of Goa,” said Norbert.
Meanwhile, during this period Norbert developed a good rapport with the gym equipment suppliers. “Mr. Rajesh Rai of Jerai Fitness had offered me the helping hand. He said that his support will always be there for the gym setup anywhere in Goa. That resulted in the two more gym setups, one in Mapusa and another at Margao. Besides the above, I also have outlets at Gasper Dias Club in Miramar and Bogmolo Beach Resorts,” he said.
Once Norbert achieved the goal of setting up the gym in all the major cities of Goa he started working on the ideas of making the gymming more interesting. According to Norbert sticking to the old system does not give good results in a long run. “My dream was always a GYM but now I was planning to add more to it as the gymming culture had started becoming monotonous and people wanted more. I realised that they are looking out for more forms of fitness and here I decided to put everything under one umbrella by introducing the new gymming culture at Norbert’s Fitness Studio at Ocean Park in Dona Paula. I was expert only in my field (GYM) and had no idea of another form of fitness. So I started contacting the experts in Goa from various other fields like Zumba Trainer, Kickboxing Trainer and so on,” said Norbert.
Norbert’s journey which was started as a hobby in fitness made him a fitness trainer which later became his profession livelihood and now he is an entrepreneur who is providing the employment to hundreds of unemployed youth in Goa. “The whole idea behind this concept was to bring all the fitness experts in Goa under one umbrella and that is Norbert’s Fitness Studio. I contacted every expert and told them to work for me independently. I wanted them to create their own brand under my umbrella. Now I am getting many offers but I am not taking up since according to me in this field one cannot make big money wherein the big castles or bungalows can be built. It is driven by passion and for 17 years I am so comfortable in this field if sometimes I fall, I exactly know how to get up. For example, if tomorrow my instructors are not there I can work without them. Even today I work like a worker. I start my day at 6:30 in the morning at work till late night. I try to live in each branch with the help of technology,” said Norbert.
According to Norbert the management has never been a challenge in front of him since he has an experience of more than 15 years in the administrative section of SBI which is helping him now. Norbert also feels that in today’s world one has to become an all-rounder. “I am very alert, if I have some work I immediately get it done and that has been my plus point. I feel that administrative experience did not go waste. At the end of this month, we are going to put up GYM at Ponda. Now my next step is that I want to replicate this kind of (Dona Paula) concepts everywhere I have the GYM setup. I’ll take up a small place and create a studio and link it with a GYM, Yoga, Zumba etc, where people can utilize GYM as well as other facilities,” he said.
When Norbert left the stable job and started the gym he had no one by his side. It was one man decision. “I spoke to myself a lot of time. I decided that this is what I wanted to do, either I fall or rise I was stuck to my decision. Maybe I am successful today is because I had that fear what will people say if I fail. That pressure made me work hard. I stopped telling people as they all were just discouraging. My mom was crying when I came home with the letter. If I had failed everybody would have pointed out but today they are looking up to me,” he said with pride.
Presently Norbert is thinking of making his base stronger in Goa and set up more places like Dona Paula facilities across the state. He does not have any plans of going out of Goa to set up the gym at the moment. According to Norbert the secret of his success lies in his consistency and discipline and he feels that this discipline came into him from his workout habit. “I do workouts regularly without fail. Monday to Saturday I compulsorily put 2 hours session every day. It creates a will power to be focused in life and you become a disciplined person. In the past 17 years I have never taken a break, and sometimes I also work even on Sundays. I am workaholic kind of a person. People are addicted to parties and hanging out but I am addicted to my work and workout’s, I cannot think anything beyond this. Work is worship for me. Sometimes I don’t eat my lunch or dinner but I continuously work and when I am at work I sacrifice almost everything. When you are focused and hard working nobody can come into your way.” says Norbert.
In the due course of time, Norbert has built a system that really works for him. “I created a proper system. I have continuously focused on putting this system straight and I have never compromised on my principles of running the business. I have always kept it disciplined. When something goes wrong I personally talk to people and apologize to them. Running a GYM business is not only opening the shutters and closing it down, it’s beyond that. On Saturday night we work full night to maintain the machinery. Other GYM’s where they are just opening the shutters and closing, the machinery can survive only for 3 years. But the way I look after my machinery I last for more than 10 years and that is my main USP. If there is any crack on my machinery or some sound is coming I get it fixed up the same day.”
According to Norbert, the industry is just growing at the moment “I am at the right place at the right time. This industry is going to go long way. It’s a growing industry. In Goa 30-40% of people are coming to GYM,” he said adding that, “Everybody has a dream and goal in their mind. They need to have the road map and work towards it. If you don’t have that discipline and determination to follow your goal you can’t succeed. You need to have that will power and focus on working towards your Goal. And if you are just sitting with you goal saying I have this dream nothing is really going to happen. I dreamt of my work, I created my roadmap, I started working on it and I reached to my destination,” he concluded with these words. Norbert’s journey to his success has set the benchmark in the gym culture of Goa and it will be the guiding star for much more to come in the time.