50 Ballarat Body & Soul






Mel Tempest, 52

Head office

Ballarat, VIC

Year founded





Sport and recreation



When Mel Tempest started Ballarat Body & Soul, she had no business experience, including no idea what GST was or how to file a BAS statement.

“On opening the club in 2003 I only had a few years experience under my belt as a group fitness instructor. Everything about owning a gym was new to me!” she says.

The early days continued to be tough as the business grew, with Tempest fighting with the local council for building permits while competitors continued to pop up around her. At one point, she had only $3.63 in the bank with wages to be paid, and relied on a credit card to keep the business afloat.

But she persevered, and “never took no for an answer”.

“You just need to believe in you and stay true to you. Once you start to listen to the naysayers you can get sidetracked … smile at them be pleasant but keep moving forward,” Tempest says.

Tempest travels frequently to seek out new ideas and inspiration for her business, saying she’s been to fitness centres around the country and a number of fitness conventions internationally. However, she sees technology making the biggest impact on her business in the coming years.

“Our industry is changing at such a fast rate that you almost wake up every morning and there something new and exciting that has evolved overnight,” she says.

“Technology is making a huge impact in our industry and I see a lot of new innovation being released in the next 5 years.”

For other entrepreneurs, Tempest says there’s nothing more important than knowing your customer, and never be afraid to ask for help.