Roadside Live |16 min read

Serving Your Community and Living Your Core Values [VIDEO]


Imagine this:

You’ve been working toward opening your dream business for 10+ years. You’ve been in full swing together with your business partners to develop a solid business plan. You’ve articulated your mission and core values. You’ve had your new logo designed and have kicked off your marketing efforts. You’ve checked all the boxes you need to check to start a successful business. You sign the lease for your new facility… and then:

The world shuts down due to a pandemic.

The very real scenario described above happened to Mike Dragovich, Co-Founder and Lead Fitness Coach of … This text opens a new tab …Pure Elite Fitness. In this video, he shares:

  • The challenges he and his partners faced early in 2020 and how they reacted to those developments
  • What they’ve done to build and serve their community (online and offline)
  • How their core values influence their decisions and goals
  • And more!


Whitney: Hi everyone, and welcome to Roadside Live. I am honored to welcome our guest today: Mike Dragovich from Pure Elite Fitness. Mike is the Co-Founder and Coaching Director there and has been in the fitness industry for more than a decade. And he is also my coach and I’m honored to call him my friend. So Mike, welcome. We’re so happy to have you.

Mike: Hey guys. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

Whitney: Thanks for joining us. Well, before we dive into our topic, which is a really, really good one. Um, could you tell us a little bit about your background and why you’re so passionate about building your community?

Mike: Definitely. So I started out, I mean my whole life, I was an overweight kid, myself. I played a lot of sports. One thing I definitely learned after my sports career was cut short due to injuries, one thing I learned was finding my outlet, and I realized that my outlet was truly just helping people and understanding how to help them, what they need help with, and if I can actually do that.

So like many people, I started out back in 2009, 2008 – started out as a trainer, worked my way up through a few different companies, Bally’s, LA Fitness, and even had a gym previously before this where I just learned the degree that we help people in the fitness industry can definitely get better.

There’s a lot of lack of actually understanding your clients and what they need help with. So that’s where my passion came from where I saw it. It’s not where it could be. And there’s definitely a big empty hole that can be filled by just honestly pushing forward and changing what the standard is in the fitness industry.

Whitney: Absolutely. Well, with that, let’s go back to the evolution of Pure Elite Fitness, back to early 2020. You and your partners signed the lease on this huge facility, which we can see behind you. When was that? February 2020?

Mike: It was literally February 1st. So we closed in January and we got the keys in February.

Whitney: Wow. And then the world completely changed.

Mike: Yup. And then we had a big ol’ smack in the face.

Whitney: Sure. A lot of the people who are watching right now can completely relate to that. You had done everything that you could possibly do to be prepared. I know that because we talked about it a lot. You were ready to break ground on construction. You had a really solid business plan. And then, you know, you’re ready to bring this movement to life, really. And then everything shuts down, which a lot of different businesses went through. So what went through your mind at that time?

Mike: Well, of course, once you looked through the smokescreen of, you know, is this what we should be doing right now? Is this the right time? And it goes back to the old saying, the best time was 10 years ago. The second best time is now. So no matter what was really happening, it was just understanding that even with a pandemic, no matter how bad things got, at the end of the day, we’ve been working for this a long time now.

This has been a dream of ours, a personal dream of mine for the last 10 years. It’s understanding that, okay, why are we getting into this? What are our core values? And we did do our homework and we knew that we were ready. It involved reframing our mindset as well.

The very first thing we did was sit down: Okay, we’re here to help people. That was the whole point of this company. How can we help people during their biggest time in need of help? Right? And that’s not saying just personally training people or opening up a gym. How can we actually help people and understand what they’re going through?

Whether it’s a psychological thing or an emotional thing, a mental thing, physical thing – because we understood that right now, health is going to be the biggest concern during this pandemic. How can we stay healthy, and work on our immune systems, but also, how can we handle staying indoors for a whole year straight?

No one knew how long this would be. Some people thought it’d be six months. Some people thought it’d be longer. So that was definitely a matter of us taking the time. We sat our whole team down right away and we talked about how can we reframe and help other people during this time with whatever we can do because that’s what we stand for, especially with our core values. Now, how can we be honest, how can we be responsible, be curious, be a friend, be respectful, be a leader, be elite, and be inspirational? Take those and apply them to everyone that we possibly can.

We sat our whole team down right away and talked about how we can help other people because that’s what we stand for, especially with our core values.

Whitney: Yeah, absolutely. And I know your core values have played a big role in a lot of the decisions and a lot of the pivoting that you and your team have taken.

So what actions did you and the team take at that point to help individuals deal with not only the uncertainty but also help improve their health despite being stuck inside?

Mike: So it was a matter of understanding at different points in time, especially during this pandemic, you want to really apply different things.

So it’s whether to engage more with more people and get through to them and understand that we’re here to actually truly help them, whether it was through educational information or entertaining, anything that’s engaging and motivating. What we really did was take a step back and try and understand what could everyone be going through?

You know, you’re at home, you’re alone. A lot of people are getting laid off from work. So we really figured, if everyone’s going to be motivating, it might not be the best step forward. You still want to do that a little bit, but motivating someone and getting someone emotionally engaged even more might not be the best thing, especially if they’re scared during this time.

So we really focused on, especially at the beginning, focusing on the more entertaining side. How can we pull people out of this mentally and trigger something that would help them work through this? So they’re not constantly thinking about it, you’re going to hear it all the time on the news, everything you looked at left and right was pulling you in mentally, emotionally, and just wearing a lot of people down. So what we did was use our networks and clients that I built relationships with for years.

We partnered up with … This text opens a new tab …Magnificent Mutts and Meows. So they’re a dog adoption agency and they run out of Hillside, Chicago and we’ve been working with them.

How can we help people? What about dog adoptions, right? It’s an entertaining way to get you out of what’s happening right now in the real world; it helps you focus on something else. A dog is a great emotional support tool, which has been used for years. So we just tried to understand what was truly happening with each person. And that helped a lot.

Even with our marketing, the way we engage on social media, we’re focused a lot more on the entertaining side right now because we’re in the middle of the pandemic.

Whitney: And those events that you did with Magnificent Mutts – those were successful, right? Lots of adoptions.

Mike: We adopted out 22 dogs in the first day. We’ve been supporting them the whole time. We make sure that we engage with them on social media. We post about dogs that need help and need homes, we even babysit some of the dogs now and then too.

Whitney: I mean, it’s pretty fun to have the dogs around, too. So what benefits have you seen, Mike, from serving your community? What are some of the benefits that you’ve seen?

Mike: I think the biggest benefit that we’ve seen is helping people bring back the hope of a bright light at the end of this tunnel. Use this time like there’s a silver lining with everything that’s happening right now.

You get to step up to prove who you really are as a company, as a personal brand. You get to live and show your core values to people that are in a time of need. It’s given us the opportunity, for those who’ve been getting laid off from their job, we are trying to take in more trainers. We’re doing free classes. We’re doing whatever we can to help people pull themselves out of a situation at home. Depression and anxiety are at an all-time high right now. If you start battling with yourself, that’s something we’re trying to pull you out of, so you can really move forward. If you can pull forward in one of the hardest times we’ll probably live in as human beings, everything else after this is going to come a lot easier.

You get to step up to prove who you really are as a company, as a personal brand. You get to live your core values for people in a time of need.

Whitney: In addition to building up your local community –  you’re located physically in Arlington Heights, Illinois, which is just outside of Chicago – in addition to serving your local community, I know you have taken steps to really build a very strong community online too. How has that benefited you personally and professionally?

Mike: It’s given us a bigger platform in all honesty. That’s how we’re looking at it and that’s what we’re trying to use it for. It’s a platform to help even more networks and smaller businesses, people personally; we’re making sure that we’re engaging as much as we possibly can to help them any way that we can.

Using our platform, we’ve been able to reach a lot more than just Arlington Heights. We’re definitely reaching a lot more people on virtual training. We’ve been doing that as well and we do it at a very affordable rate so that we can actually help people, and we’ve been doing this with other businesses as well.

I know we’re considered a startup, but it’s something that we’re not new to. Even during the whole pandemic, the very first thing we wanted to make sure of was that we’re helping people grow during this time and not be stagnant and be left behind. So we’re helping clients lose weight and get better jobs, or get a raise in their jobs or things of that nature, so that they can see that if you can work through this time, after everything, the bright light at the end of the tunnel, now you can take that to another level as well.

Whitney: And we’ve had a lot of conversations about this over time. Personal confession, Mike and I train virtually, over Zoom, and I like to dive deep into these topics sometimes just to try and distract Mike from how many sets I’ve actually completed.

Mike: And that works too, just cause I get so engaged with it.

Whitney: But really, we’ve had a lot of conversations about mindset and how that plays such an important role in not only fitness and personal development, but mindset is really key in business and in marketing too. Can you speak a little bit to that and how your mindset has shifted even just within the last year?

Mike: Oh, definitely. I’m a big believer that once you start going down an avenue and you start seeing things in a different way, it almost seems like new doors open that really have been there the whole time. Reframing your mindset that, ‘I’m focused on helping people.’ So when I’m scrolling through social media, trying to engage more, I see more ways that I can help people than I could before.

And one thing we’ve been doing especially is reframing our clients’ mindsets, helping them see the hope and light of the fact that during this time we have been gifted the time of time; that’s something we didn’t have before. Everyone’s super busy, whether they’re at their jobs, or even just a mindset of being constantly on the run. Now, we’ve been gifted the time of time. So being able to have more time to work on yourself and really reframing the mindset of, hey, during this pandemic, I need to come out and not be left behind.

Even for myself personally. One thing we talked about during this pandemic – I wanted to learn more and more about marketing and how we can market ourselves and talk about ourselves, even building our personal brand and speak about our story, what we do, and how we can help more people. And by doing that, we’ve been able to help a lot more communities.

So we’ve been doing different things to pivot now.

Telling our story, what we do, and how we can help more people… by doing that, we’ve been able to help a lot more communities.

The reality is that we are a small business and we just started right before the pandemic. So our one thing was, how can we help more people in the community? We started helping skateboarders and renting out space because especially in the winter, they don’t have a space to escape. We understood their needs; that’s their outlet like we use working out, they use skating. It’s the same thing with wrestling. A lot of people aren’t aware that the high schools are not holding the state series this year. So one thing we want to do is help the high school kids. I hold that kind of near and dear personally. My career ended with an injury, but seeing some of these kids, they’re missing out on an opportunity to grow into the person that they can be, by something they can’t control at all. So we’ve been helping out. We have wrestling mats here where they can come to practice.

Whitney: And I understand you’re going to be doing self-defense classes too.

Mike: Correct. And there’s a whole reason behind that as well. It’s not just for self-defense, but the empowerment of being enabled to understand and learn that physically, you can take control and that your life is in your own hands.

Whitney: We’ve talked a little bit about what you’ve done to support your community over this past year and really throughout your career in fitness over the last 10 years. What are some of your future plans for supporting your community?

Mike: So future plans. This is a little bit exclusive, something we’re working on currently. We’ll be holding a small business event in our facility because we’ve had to pivot and we weren’t able to completely build out, but we’ve built up a lot of traction so we’ll be doing a small business event. It’s called Support You. We’ll be bringing in 15 to 20 different small businesses. We’ll be blasting it out on social media and helping them create content so they can build traction and get the support from the community that they deserve. Especially restaurants, there’s not enough traffic coming in through there. They have a lot of open space and they’re not getting enough clients in the doors, so we want to make sure we can help build them up with that. And even on the social media side, we’ll be helping them post videos, post content, how to engage more with the community, and things like that.

Whitney: I love that. So for any small businesses in the area that want to get involved, … This text opens a new tab …follow Pure Elite on social media and learn more about that upcoming event.

I also understand that you have a special offer available for everyone watching today. What’s that?

Mike: We do. Our whole purpose behind Pure Elite is to help people get the tools that they need in order to succeed in life, not just in fitness and health, but in whatever they want to accomplish so they can live the life that they know they deserve and they’ve earned. So we’re offering anyone out there a free trial for the first two sessions.

Come try us out. What we’ll do is go through the full program. We really sit down and take time and we actually onboard all of our clients. So it means that we take the time to break down the long-term and short-term goals, not just physically and health-wise. What do you want to accomplish in life? Who do you want to be? What does that look like? Why is that your goal? And then we help really sit down and reverse engineer the action steps and what you can do to get there.

Sign up for two free online coaching sessions with a Pure Elite Coach … This text opens a new tab …here.

Whitney: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for that offer. I put the link in the comments for anyone who’s interested in and remember, this is not limited to the local area. Anyone can take advantage of these two free sessions with a Pure Elite coach and the onboarding that Mike just described.

Thank you so much, Mike. I really appreciate you coming on with us today and talking about community, and we would love to have you again in the future.

Mike: I appreciate you guys; I’d love to come back.

Whitney: Goodbye, everybody. Have a great afternoon.

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