For many entrepreneurs, taking a leap of faith on a new business venture is a rite of passage. Power couple Robert Button and Toni Tong left the corporate world to become the successful co-owners of three 30 Minute Hit franchises. But neither of them began their professional careers with the intention of making their mark as fitness entrepreneurs. Tong was working in administration while Button’s background was in IT.

Tong, who is originally from Vancouver, moved to Montreal where Button was living at the time. With Tong feeling homesick after several years in Montreal, it was Button’s turn to make the move for a new family life in Vancouver. After seeing a television commercial for 30 Minute Hit, Tong was immediately intrigued by the efficiency of an intense 30-minute circuit training with boxing, kickboxing and self-defence aspects, and became a member. Tong admittingly suffers from anxiety, shyness and lack of coordination, but the feeling of empowerment after a HIT workout afforded her the ability to maintain a career, a healthy lifestyle and a family life.

With some unpredictable life circumstances thrown their way, the couple eventually moved back to Montreal with their then eight-year-old daughter. Leaving their jobs and life in Vancouver behind, they talked about the idea of opening their own 30 Minute Hit location. There was just one problem: no one on this side of the country had ever heard of 30 Minute Hit or the concept of a high-intensity, women’s only kick-boxing circuit. Though the franchise had been successful in Western Canada where it originated with co-founders Jackson and Deanna Loychuck in 2004, Tong and Button wondered if there would be a positive response here.

“There were so many considerations and challenges when it came to bringing the Hit to Quebec,” says Button. “Not only had no one ever heard of it over here, but none of the material or franchise information was available in French.” Undeterred, the couple collaborated with the Loychucks and a legal team here in Quebec, opening their first location in the West Island in 2013.

Within a couple of months, the couple had their answer: not only was 30 Minute Hit getting a positive response, but they began to see a need in other large areas around Montreal. “Within about nine months, we were ready to have our second HIT baby,” says Tong. In February 2015, 30 Minute Hit Laval opened its doors. Tong and Button credit the success of their first two locations with the welcoming and motivating atmosphere created by their team, who are supportive trainers to the members as they move through their circuit. “Our trainers are optimistic, happy, fit and they have empathy,” says Button.

Button says members really enjoy the community-building aspect of the workout as well. “We’ve become the go-to place for getting fit and reducing stress,” he says. Operating a business that is for women only, Button says he never feels out of place. “I’ve got the best job in the world!” he laughs. Endearingly nicknamed by their team as ‘Papa and Mama Boss Bear’, the couple are now celebrating the opening of their third location in Vimont.