Braden Usher had an entrepreneurial spirit from a young age. At eight years old, he started making hand- sewn goods and selling them at his dad’s store. As he grew up, so did his ventures, which expanded to include lawn care services, piano lessons and delivery services. “I was always interested in the power of making an offering and paving my own way,” says Braden.
The early days
As a teenager, Braden participated in Summer Company, a youth entrepreneurship program from the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation. The program has been administered by the South Georgian Bay Small Business Enterprise Centre located in Collingwood, since 2008. As a participant in the program, Braden received hands-on business training, mentoring and support, as well as $3,000 in grant financing. As part of Summer Company, Braden founded Braden Usher Delivery (BUD) services, which helped local businesses and individuals deliver items. Braden remembers that he used the grant mainly for marketing purposes, such as building a website for the business and creating merchandise. He notes that the experience of running a real business and receiving mentorship through the program was helpful in developing a deep understanding of what being a business owner entails in real life. “The skills I learned through participating in Summer Company were invaluable when I launched my own business, especially for having the confidence to position my offer to potential clients,” says Braden.
After graduating from high school, Braden started going to the University of Guelph with a double major in music and psychology. As a college student, Braden found it challenging to connect what he was studying with the kind of career path he wanted to follow in his life.
Following a predetermined path of societal expectations made him feel alienated from his true purpose. Eventually it started taking a toll on his mental health and well-being. Hitting rock bottom, Braden was motivated to seek a change. He decided to take the path less travelled and left the University of Guelph. In the season of change caused by this major life decision, the gym remained the one constant for Braden. In his darkest moment, the gym became the place that offered him focus and purpose.
Slowly but surely, Braden started regaining his sense of well-being and confidence. As he became attuned to his own authentic path, Braden felt called to share what he was learning with others. Braden states, “The beauty of entrepreneurship is that it can help open up a new world of possibilities and lets you play in a field of your choice.”
New Journey of Entrepreneurship
When Braden re-embarked on his journey of entrepreneurship, he started spreading the word about his services through Facebook and Instagram. Braden recalls that the skills he developed through Summer Company became very useful during this time. Braden started offering his services at Sunset Point Park, where he coached his clients on how they could train themselves with just resistance bands and a few weights. His vision was to make fitness within reach of more people.
Braden operated the business from his parents’ garage, where he incubated his plans and ideas for the future. In the meantime, he also started spending more time on himself and training for fitness competitions. Reflecting on this time period, Braden states, “Gym was somewhere I could still focus on my health and seek progress. So much of happiness is in the pursuit of the goal, and the gym was one of the places that brought me that happiness.”
As Braden started spending more time with his clients, he became increasingly convinced that long-term well-being came from not just knowing what to do but also knowing the ‘why’ behind the actions. Braden observed that knowing the ‘why’ allowed clients to experience a change in mindset, which helped them keep up with their fitness goals after finishing the coaching program.
He says, “It’s not just personal training; it’s about making a commitment to yourself. It’s not just about muscles; it’s also about confidence.” Braden explains that he named his business Train for Life to recognize the fact that his team takes a holistic view of well-being.
Train for Life
From 2018 to 2022, Braden operated his coaching business from his parents’ garage while continuing to build a loyal base of clients. In 2022, the Train for Life team moved to their new location at 124 Hurontario St. in downtown Collingwood.
The team is currently made up of four coaches who are passionate about helping people achieve their fitness goals and ultimately enjoy a better quality of life. Train for Life currently offers a six-month program that guarantees tangible results for its participants.
Braden states that the program’s goal is to equip clients with the toolkit they need to take charge of their well-being in the long term. He notes that one person who achieves their goals can inspire others to follow the same path. “Training can change a life, but coaching can change a community,” says Braden.
The program is based on three pillars—training, nutrition and wellness. Every program starts with four discovery sessions, which consist of consultation and movement screening, learning the ‘why’ of the movements and their concepts, implementing the concepts in real life and identifying what could bring lasting positive change to the client’s fitness goals.
Through the discovery sessions, clients develop a better awareness of their current state and where they want to be. After that, the coaches help clients understand what they need to do to achieve their goals. The final step is offering accountability so that the clients can set in place a structure that can help them stay on track once the program is completed.
Gearing up for a new adventure
Braden shares that he is already getting ready for his next adventure. In May, he is planning on cycling across Canada to raise awareness and funds as part of the Ride Across Canada Expedition (RACE) for Mental Health campaign. The campaign has a three-fold mission of breaking down barriers and overcoming the barrier of stigma, raising $25,000 for mental health, and inspiring others to discover their true potential. The 50-day biking journey is expected to cover more than 8000 km through the widest point of North America—from Tofino in Vancouver Island, British Columbia, to St. John’s in Newfoundland and Labrador.
When asked about the inspiration behind this decision, Braden states that the challenge is his way of pushing away his limiting beliefs while also contributing to a cause he believes in. For Braden, training and movement are the foundation of his mental health and an essential part of how he was able to reclaim his sense of purpose in life.
Through this campaign, Braden is eager to support others who might be experiencing mental health challenges. Braden admits that a part of him is intimidated by this challenge, but he confides that fear is also part of the motivation. “I know that challenges provide the biggest opportunity for growth,” says Braden.
Follow Braden’s big adventure with the RACE for Mental Health campaign at https://www.raceformentalhealth.ca/
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Photo Credits: Dave West Photography