Gerald Tan, co-founder of The Yummy Bros , is a walking book of experiences. At 17, the decision to take up the Sport & Wellness Management course changed the path of his life. His journey with fitness and entrepreneurship spans years; and it was through a failed business that he realised not to stray from his love of all-things-fitness.
When the online media publication struggled for 3 years and eventually came to a closure; Gerald had run out of money and couldn’t pay both his staff nor rent. With little to no salary for 2 years, his self-esteem and mental health took a toll. He wasn’t able to both provide for my family and build a financially-stable future with his then-girlfriend (now wife!)
Today, Gerald is an advocate for customising meals and workout spaces to fit all types of personalities and habits.
Congratulations on turning your love for fitness into a business and your livelihood! Tell us about your fitness-entrepreneurial journey.
I was approached by a gym buddy of mine in 2017 who expressed interest in exploring problems gym-goers like ourselves faced, and in time we started Yummy Bros. Asian cuisines as inspiration, customisable so that people who choose portions that would meet their fitness goals and satisfy their taste preferences, and also convenient by having them delivered straight to their offices & homes.
Around the same time, I was having lunch with my ex-boss, Damian, who shared with me that he always wanted to hit the gym but finds the traditional big gyms too intimidating to go to. I agreed that it can be very frightening for beginners who are trying to get started because of all the muscular and strong people around. That was how he came up with the idea for The Gym Pod, which to me is like an access key for people to the world of fitness. The privacy that our Gym Pods provide is PERFECT for beginners.
I am very fortunate to have awesome peers who put everything they have into these ventures – both the Yummy Bros (Anson, Ben, Raymond) and Gym Pod (Damian, Lucius, Peter) teams. I have learnt so much from them and grown as a person because of this experience with them.
Prior to your business endeavours, how did you get started with fitness?
As a kid, I’ve always been very into sports and athletics. I wasn’t a bright student and I didn’t have very good grades. I just loved playing basketball and exercising all day, which was chaotic, especially for my parents!
The Pods are also scheduled to be cleaned regularly so that the equipment are kept hygienic.
After taking up a Diploma in Sport & Wellness Management in Nanyang Polytechnic, I became obsessed with all-things fitness, and the interest grew to all channels from exercise physiology, nutrition, coaching, marketing, economics, accounting, management, to entrepreneurship.
My time with Planet Fitness as their youngest Personal Trainers was a crucial experience as I used my knowledge to help about 20 clients achieve their fitness goals.
What are some operational challenges you’ve encountered and overcome with The Gym Pod?
The Gym Pod was designed to be very easy to use and self-sufficient maintenance-wise. Our Gym Podders tend to be very responsible and considerate individuals, and while there are the occasional misusers, our fantastic feedback system allows the Gym Podders to inform us when users overstay or do not tidy up the Pod after they leave.
They say 75% of weight loss is diet. Do you find Singaporeans understand the notion of this balance?
Yes, I think Yummy Bros is blessed to have very healthy growth in the business because of the fact that Singaporeans are very well-educated on the benefits of eating right. Majority of the enquiries we receive are diet-focused and asking how they can use our meals to fit into their plans.
It’s great that many Singaporeans are already aware that weight loss is simple and that one needs to be in a calorie deficit (calories in less than calories out) to lose weight. So, once they come to our website, they know what they need to order!
Of all the misconceptions on weight loss, fad diets and ways to get fit, what’s the one you’d highlight or debunk?
I would say that fitness being a complicated subject is a myth in itself.
A common trend on being fit is excessive need to be super muscular, or slim – like a magazine cover model or celebrity. The ultimate goal of having fitness in one’s life is to be healthy and happy! It’s okay to be ambitious but it’s important to avoid hurting yourself.
I think it’s understandable that people are confused with how fitness works and being obsessed with getting a certain physique because of the perverse effects of social media. Just keep learning, think critically – but not to the extent of becoming a cynic – of the materials you read or watch, and experiment with different exercises and diets while staying safe.
How has the fitness community taken to The Gym Pod and Yummy Bros?
I still workout in commercial or larger gyms, and have found that gym-goers are indeed Yummy Bros consumers. Some of them have had private chats with us on Social Media. And we’ve met offline at the gyms to introduce ourselves in person. Our customers mean a lot to us. It’s exhilarating that we’ve been able to make a positive impact in their fitness journey.
The same goes for customers of the Gym Pod, whom we’ve affectionately dubbed the Gym Podders. The users are constantly excited about a new pod launch. They provide us valuable feedback on how to improve our Pods, service, mobile app, and the overall user experience.
As a Singapore Institute of Management alumni, what’s your two cents for a young, budding entrepreneur?
Just get started.
As a new entrepreneur, you’ll face many bouts of uncertainty, and from experience I can say that taking decisive actions beats achieving perfection. Your product will never be “perfect” and will constantly be a work in progress – in fact your idea of perfection is very likely to differ from what your customers have in mind.
Yummy Bros started with only 3 dishes on the menu, while The Gym Pod started with only 1 mini-gym. All our small but decisive actions were what built both businesses to where they are today.
Splitting his time between Yummy Bros and The Gym Pod, Gerald’s work day is packed out with meetings; and getting down to creating the best experiences he can. In spite of his schedule, he continues to hit the gym on the weekdays, and squeezes in his favorite game of Basketball on Saturday evenings.
“Training is tough, eating right is even tougher.”
Here’s to more Gym Pods, new dishes and community projects in 2020!
In case you’ve missed out on previous month’s fitness featured posts…
“Fitness has given me motivation, discipline, and has made me more organised with my time. It keeps my mind busy and has opened doors for me to meet like-minded people who share the same passion for fitness as I do.” Read more on Fitness Featured…