If you've seen the 1989 film Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner, then you'll be well aware of the line, "If you build it, he will come." Costner plays Ray Kinsella, a farmer who hears a voice telling him this while he's walking in a cornfield, in turn convincing him that if he builds a baseball diamond in that spot, someone special will turn up.
It was sort of that way with SAF over a decade ago when I started the SeriousAboutFitness.com website. I can't say that I heard a voice the way Costner's Kinsella did, but there was definitely something in the back of my mind telling me to create a website specifically about women's fitness – so SeriousAboutFitness.com was born. Then a similar thing happened about five years ago that resulted in the SAF fitness camps and competitions being created. Each time I built one of these things, it wasn't one person who showed up but many – mostly women. In the case of the website, it was to read, learn, and look at the pictures. When it came to the camps, it was not only to learn, but also to meet SAF's stars firsthand and to mingle with like-minded fitness enthusiasts. With the competitions, it was obviously to compete.
But it wasn't enough that people came for the sake of all these things we were offering. In order for it to be worthwhile, I knew that the SAF site, camps and competitions had to have something unique to attract people and keep them coming back over and over again. To do that, I had to create a vision for SAF that was unlike anything else out there. Frankly, it wasn't hard because everything was crystal clear from the get-go. What's more, no one else was doing what I wanted to do.
I knew that SAF's central theme would be fitness – after all, SAF stands for Serious About Fitness – but I didn't want SAF to have the straightforward look or attitude of almost everything else out there. Instead, I wanted SAF to combine fitness with beauty, glamour and elegance, to be a real showcase for what women's fitness can be. To describe that look most easily now, I often reference two magazines and a well-known brand – SAF combines the athleticism of Sports Illustrated with the fit-and-healthy look of Oxygen and is spiced up with the sexiness and glamour of Victoria's Secret. There also had to be one more ingredient: fun.
Vanda Hadarean, Monica Alongi and Melanie Albert
But I also knew that SAF needed authenticity to have real credibility. In other words, beneath the glitz and glamour there had to be a no-nonsense approach to women's fitness that truly worked and that women could benefit from. As a result, the articles on the website offer something real and valuable to the reader – no fluff. The camps are fun, but also extremely informative. In order for the competitions to have credibility, I knew they had to be highly competitive, expertly judged, and 100 percent fair. The contest winners, who would ultimately become SAF's models, would have to be women who were examples of the organization's overriding themes. I also knew that our champions had to be extremely fit and have a positive, inspiring look that was capable of motivating other women. As I've said publicly many times, I want the women who attend our competitions to look at the SAF winners and say, "I want to look like that!" Likewise, I want them to say the same thing when they see the images on our website or come to our camps and meet our SAF stars.
What started as an obscure voice in the back of my head telling me to build something unique has grown to become a formidable women's organization covering many aspects of women's fitness. SAF is also a brand that is synonymous with painting a positive, inspiring and beautiful image of women's fitness. SAF has created many stars who have become well-known names in the fitness world, and who have gone on to great success in other competitive organizations and been featured in popular print magazines and on TV.
Is there anything more for SAF in the future? Undoubtedly there is because there are so many more avenues to explore and expand into. But I have to wait for that little voice to tell me what that next step might be. Until then . . .
SAF Founder and President