Hello folks! Welcome to the second interview in The Green V Entrepreneur Series! Today we’ll be chatting to Aidan Lee, owner of FitRoots – a premium personal training business, and boy oh boy does he know his stuff! Aidan and I worked together earlier this year, and he made such a difference to my mindset, relationship with food, exercise and general wellbeing and I’ve seen a complete transformation in how I think I feel. So, let’s get stuck in!
How did your Vegan journey start?
My Vegan journey began around 4 years ago, when I was around 20-21 years old. At the time, I was still at University, where I was studying Philosophy, and was simultaneously in the midst of competing in my first Kickboxing competition as a Vegetarian. From being an avid meat eater for the previous years, to suddenly vegetarian, those around me found it harder to adjust than I did!
Ultimately, I research everything, and I mean everything. I knew Veganism was one of the last frontiers that I hadn’t crossed yet. Partially, that was because I knew what the outcome would be before I begun. In many ways, I was scared to admit to myself that what I was doing was wrong.
I had a lacuna in my understanding, and between my actions of how I viewed the world, and my place within it. After the research, including watching the notable documentaries, studying articles, books, and the like on ethics, environment, health and more, I knew that I had to make a change.
I initially began with cutting out white and red meats, then fish. I continued as a Vegetarian for 6 months, and realized I no longer needed dairy and eggs, so I decided to cut those too. Now, I’m happily and healthily Vegan 4 years later.
In essence, I understood that my actions were not congruent with my beliefs. I initially did it for the ethical side of the argument, then proceeded to the environmental, and health, which all add up to what I call, the Vegan Tripartite Reasons.
My love for animals is, and always has been profound, ingrained within me from a young age. You will be hard pressed to find someone fonder of puppies, dogs in general, and most other animals for that matter. I have a new found appreciation of animals, and nature in general, since I have committed to being Vegan for the rest of my life!
What made you want to set up your own business?
I cannot stand spending time in meaningless ways. I realized this is what I was doing in all the jobs I’ve had since I was 15, and had to make a change. I needed to institute meaningful change in society, in such a way, that it actually transforms people’s lives for the better.
My Dad created Warlords Kickboxing Academy, one of the first Martial Arts schools in the area, back in the 1980s, so in many ways, I had a blueprint to follow. One which I could also improve upon, and help more people with. But it was only when I acted upon my vision that I realized the potential of it, and where this can go.
Generally, any business is set up to solve a problem or a need. My business both solves many problems of today’s society, and is needed more now than ever before. I had also amassed 20+ years of experience in various disciplines such as Martial Arts, particularly Kickboxing, Boxing, Muay Thai, Wing Chun, MMA, Strength Training, Yoga, NLP, and Philosophy.
Although I had amassed all of this experience, I wasn’t really putting it to use, or to its full potential, by genuinely helping other people feel the wonders of what optimal health and wellbeing feels, and looks like. The only solution was to provide a service to students who are willing to learn, and change their lives, as I know they and I could.
In knowing that I can transform someone’s life, and they subsequently transform another’s life, by being the very best they can be, ad infinitum, is a powerful chain of events. One which I knew I had the responsibility to share, and bestow upon the world.
What’s your top tip for someone who wants to start an ethical biz?
Being Vegan and a business owner is an interesting combination, one of which many in society see as a paradox of some sort. In the way people are consuming goods and services these days, I believe it’s a very powerful combination, when harnessed properly and genuinely, can be fruitful (excuse the Vegan pun!).
My top tip therefore, would be to have a business which is in line with ethical principles, and let people know about that, and where you stand, in relation to certain issues. If you are Vegan for example, be firm in not promoting animal products in your business. Sounds obvious I know, but I have seen it be done!
Have a moral compass, which is thoroughly thought out, and one which you will not stray from (unless successfully and rightfully convinced otherwise). By having a firm stance, people will respect that you believe in something bigger than yourself.
Most of society is sickened by how many businesses conduct themselves, whether it be corporations, private entities, or in many cases, even SMEs. With this in mind, care to be different, and provide your customers with an experience which makes them feel like family, and not a distant entity, which is only equivalent to a transaction.
People want to feel loved for, and cared for, especially when they are investing some of their hard earned cash into your product and/or service. Respect that need.
Other than that, standard business practice applies. Although, an ethical business has the upper hand in how owners conduct themselves, putting their vision of something bigger than themselves first, before a measly profit.
Who’s been your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspirations are those who are leading from the front, and encompassing the body and the mind for effective change of society from within.
To name one is hard, but if push comes to shove, I would say Bruce Lee. An Ubermensch, or “the overman”, as Nietzsche would describe it. Bruce definitely fit the bill. He was a childhood (and still is) hero of mine. He relentlessly pushed for the importance of overcoming the self, and combining the necessity of optimizing the body and mind, to fulfill our human potential.
Bruce embodied much of what I stand for, and still lives on vicariously through many people. In business, and in life, this is what I feel would be the ultimate aim, to leave a meaningful legacy, being remembered for the right reasons.
What’s your favourite vegan meal or recipe?
My favourite Vegan meal would have to be Sri Lankan rice and curry! Coming ethnically (mostly) from a Sri Lankan background, growing up, I was surrounded by foods and cuisine based on Ayurvedic principles, with an array of spices, vegetable curries, and tastes, which are ideally suited for the vegan palate.
Healthy, tasty, filling, and made on sound ethical and health principles, you can’t ask for much more.
I have an upcoming sample recipe book for free, detailing some of these recipes. If you would like to get your hands on that, be sure to reach out to me, and I will send you a copy.