The Adaptables: Featuring Body by Ciara.

Mar 29 2021 | Alice Wong, PayPal Editorial Staff

In this episode of The Adaptables, we speak with Ciara Madden, founder of Body by Ciara. 

Ciara Madden, more commonly known as Ciara London, is a personal trainer who only came onto the personal-training scene five years ago, but has already transformed the lives of thousands of people. Body by Ciara offers tailored nutrition plans, live online workouts, and resistance body bands. Ciara trained in person with clients up until this year – when the pandemic forced her online. But don’t feel sorry yet – Ciara’s shift online has allowed growth beyond her wildest dreams.  

Tune in to the episode above to learn more about Ciara’s journey, or if you’re short on time, get the episode summary below.  

Episode summary: Ciara Madden on embracing technology and becoming part of your customers' daily habits.

Start small and let your idea grow. At first Madden, a personal trainer, created a home gym so that she could train herself during lockdown. But then she realised other people might be looking for ways to continue their personal training too. “I just thought, well, if I'm training myself, I could allow other people to join in because, in real life, I was teaching classes all the time anyway. So I started that for free for two weeks, where I was just doing workouts on Instagram. Initially it was, I don't know, 500 people. Then it was 1,000 people. Then it was 1,500, 2,000. And I think at one point there were maybe 3,500, 4,000 of us every day.” 

Find new ways to monetise your services. When Madden realised she would need to find a new source of income with gyms closed, she thought creatively. “I launched a subscription service [using PayPal], and basically created a private Instagram page and built a website that was already in the makings for something else. And then I just said, ‘Look, you can sign up here. Once your payment has come through and you fill in the form, you give me your username, I'd accept you.’ Well, they crashed my website, believe it or not, in the first hour. It grew to around 9,000 for the majority of lockdown. I have girls in Australia, in Japan, in Barbados, Trinidad, Nigeria, all over the world and we're all training together at the same time.” 

Partner with brands who help protect your business and your customers. When Ciara realised her business was a prime target for cyber-attacks, she was relieved to know PayPal was there to help. “I was really worried about [fraud] at the time, because there were so many transactions coming in and going out and what PayPal actually allowed was while they put the freeze on my account, money could still come in. So everyone could still make their payments. They could still subscribe, but I couldn’t retrieve the money, which in fairness, I wasn’t going anywhere and I didn’t need to. So it was fine, but it also meant that no one else could get into that account. And there was a point where people were, I had a couple of cyber breaches because unfortunately with the service I was offering, you could see the number of people signed up and you could see the cost of the subscription. Therefore, people were doing the math and they knew, who’s making this much right now. So that meant that at a time where money was tight for a lot of people and fraud is at an all-time high, I was sort of a prime target. So actually working with someone like PayPal who is a massive major player on global scale, it gave me a sense of relief.” 

Make your service a daily habit. “I think people realised that you can transform your body from your living room,” Madden says, adding that people like that they could easily integrate her workouts into their daily lives. “It's just so easy. I was lucky because, in a way, I would say I crept into people's habits.” 

Embrace technology as much as you can. “If you don't embrace it, you are going to be left behind. This is just the way that the world is going. Certain sectors flourished during 2020, and technology is most definitely one of them. I think that technology, in a weird way, could really help the world in the sense that it helps with people's carbon footprint, and it helps with people saving money in terms of commuting in and out to work. And if you don't utilise it, then you're just being pig-headed to a certain extent. I wish that I jumped on it sooner, but everything happens as it should.” 

If you found Ciara's story as inspiring as we did, tune in for more episodes of The Adaptables, featuring small business owners who have not only adapted to survive, but to thrive.  


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The contents of this site are provided for informational purposes only. The information in this article does not constitute legal, financial, IT, business or investment advice of any kind and is not a substitute for any professional advice. You should always obtain independent, professional accounting, financial, IT and legal advice before making any business decision.