PEx Personalized Exercise Inc. Succeeds By Using Advice From SCORE Mentor

There are many parallels between the sport of fencing and running a business. Both require preparation, mental agility and a commitment to being the best. Perhaps that's what led Jana Angelakis to start her own personal training business in 1990.

Jana Angelakis
My Location
New York NY
United States
Year Company Formed
My Successes

Always interested in athletics, Jana took up fencing at age 10, and became the youngest female to win the U.S. National Championships seven years later. She went on to earn four All-America honors, two NCAA championships, and membership on the 1980 and 1984 Olympic teams.

Unfortunately, fencers have no pro leagues, endorsement contracts, or broadcast opportunities waiting for them when their amateur careers are over. So after working at several exercise-related jobs, Jana realized that there was a tremendous opportunity for providing personalized training and exercise services in her adopted home of New York City. She recruited a partner and began looking for ways to go into business.

Jana and her partner launched PEx Personalized Exercise. They began by conducting workouts in client's homes, at Jana’s apartment, and anywhere else they could find space. But just a few months later Jana and her partner had a falling out. "I realized too late that business partners need to formalize their expectations and responsibilities," she says. "You must have the right balance, and we didn't."

But good competitors don't stay down for long. Jana quickly returned to SCORE where her mentor Jules Eckstein and other experienced mentors guided her through the process of restructuring the business into an S Corporation. They also showed her how to select an accountant and make sure she protected both her business and herself from potential liability issues.

With SCORE's help, PEx has evolved into a "buffed" business. A second SBA-backed loan enabled Jana to open a 4,000-square-foot personal facility at Broadway and 21st Street in Manhattan. There, she and her staff of full- and part-time trainers work with a host of increasingly healthy clients. PEx also provides professional trainers to members of New York City's exclusive Union Club, and frequently helps with athletic-oriented fundraisers.

The company's remarkable growth has enabled Jana to add other services such as massage, acupuncture, nutritional counseling, and even a gourmet health-food delivery service. An impressive Web site provides current and prospective clients with a wealth of information on exercise and health issues. And more people are learning about PEx every day, thanks to dozens of articles about Jana in fitness, business, and women's publications; numerous local and national television appearances; and her ongoing charity work.

What's Great About My Mentor?

A call to the Small Business Administration led Jana to SCORE, where she met with volunteer Mentor Jules Eckstein. He reviewed Jana's ideas, discussed techniques for developing a business plan, applying for a loan, and other valuable insights that every prospective entrepreneur offered needs. Jules believed that the venture held a lot promise, except for one issue. "He recommended that I start the business on my own rather than with a partner because there might be problems down the road," Jana recalls. "I didn't agree with him. Like a lot of newcomers to business, I felt that I needed someone who could be a sounding board, and provide skills or insights that I might not have."

How SCORE Helped

Jana found her sounding board in SCORE, working with Jules and other mentors whenever she had a question or needed some advice. "You need to talk to someone who's been there and can give you an objective perspective," she says. "It may not always be what you want to hear, but it's almost always what you need to hear. SCORE has been a great resource for me and my business."

Jana says, “SCORE is great for start-ups because they open your eyes to a lot of issues you might otherwise not think of. It’s like providing a blueprint in words on how to start and structure a business.”