By Doug Gray, Senior Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – It is an oft-discussed subject amongst the international community of Rio – how to make money in a city not known for its ease of business practice or its ready acceptance of overseas workers.
In a country understandably protective of its workforce and low unemployment rates (7.5 percent in October according to IBGE), money making schemes and gap-in-the-market business ideas are ten a penny conversations over ice cold chopp with foreigners across the city, but one expat who has put her words into action is Missy Sturgis, a Texan who has lived in Rio since 2007.
After moving here with her husband when his work in the oil industry brought them from a previous posting in Egypt, Missy wanted something different to occupy her time; “I’d left behind a great marketing job in Houston to move to Egypt in 2003 with my boyfriend and for a while felt a bit misplaced out there. The culture was so different and everything seemed very far from home.”
Finding comfort in the lively expatriate community and charitable work in Cairo, kept Missy occupied until she reluctantly left for what looked like a move to London, before the more appealing opportunity of a move to Rio surfaced, and via getting married in 2007 they re-settled in Brazil.
Again keen to find an opportunity to fill the space in her working life where the Marketing job once lay, Missy went about meeting people and sounding out some ideas.
“Word of mouth is the key to getting anywhere as a foreigner living here I think, and it’s the way you can find work as well. Put simply, you have to show you’re interested in getting interested in projects.”
It wasn’t long until she was put in contact with Marajoria Swimwear, a local label trying to export their line of bikinis to the US. “It seemed like a great idea and a cool label, but as a midway between a Carioca company and the US it was hard, and the efficiency that was asked of on the US side wasn’t reflected here which in turn made me look bad.”
After some other endeavors, MIssy explains; “… I heard from my sister back home who had joined a new exercise program called Boot Camp back in Houston after having a baby and was raving about it, so I did some research.”
It turned out to be something of a fitness craze across America as well as reaching Sydney and London, and as an avid fitness fanatic, Missy thought it would be a perfect solution to socializing and working out in such an outdoors city as Rio.
“I polled a bunch of friends to see what they thought of the idea and the response was so positive that I got in touch with the originator of the program in Houston and they gave me all kinds of advice and routines to try out. Eventually I found a trainer who spoke English and was into the idea too and we had our first class back in January and it has snowballed from there really.”
Though none would argue it is anything less than an exhaustive workout, Missy is keen to emphasize the social aspect of the Boot Camp too, and sees this as the key to the classes’ popularity.
“Sometimes people hear the name Boot Camp and think of being screamed at for an hour which isn’t too appealing. Our classes aren’t like that – you’ll just get to meet some great people as well as having a full-on workout.”
Now with classes five days a week and two trainers in Zona Sul and one in Barra the popularity of the new style of workout has hit Cariocas and foreigners, men and women alike, and the outdoors element has tied in perfectly with the Carioca way of life. With more classes planned in Ipanema and Barra, it looks as though putting ideas into action has paid off for this expatriate’s fledgling fitness business.
For more information on Boot Camp Rio, visit bootcamprio.com.