A winning edge on the field and in business

Boundless energy, passion and determination have taken footballers Emily Gielnik and Daniel Bowles to the top of their game at the Brisbane Roar. The same qualities also come into play off the field where both have kick-started their own small business.

A defender for the A-League club by day, Bowles has been running a café for about 18 months in the Brisbane suburb of New Farm. “I always had a passion for food. The café is something I knew I wanted to do when I finished playing so I kept my eyes on market prices”, he says. When an opportunity arose just around the corner he and wife Hannah, a full-time midwife, decided to “pull the trigger”.

 “I always wanted to work for myself”, says Gielnik, a striker in the W-League. She started a personal training business in her sister’s garage three years ago. Word spread and before long she had to move to bigger premises – her parents triple garage where she sometimes had 20-30 people.

This year she took the next step with the opening of commercial premises in the Brisbane suburb of Redlands under the banner of ShredEm Fitness. There’s a gym and reception with a barista serving coffee and protein lattes in keeping with the healthy gym vibe.

"Professional footballers rarely play beyond their mid-30s, so it makes sense to prepare for a life beyond football."

Gielnik and Bowles both do up to eight, four-hour training sessions a week over six days. When you add game-related travel and promotional duties, there’s not much time left to run a business. But if football teaches you one thing, it’s the power and importance of teamwork.

Bowles’ café is fully staffed for breakfast and lunch seven days a week, with a manager who handles the day-to-day. Bowles looks in around 6am each day to make sure everything’s in order before heading to training at 7. In pre-season, he has a second training session after the café closes at 3.

“I design the menus and do all the food-related planning. There’s always something to be done”, says Bowles. He also makes the most of technology. “If I can’t make it into the café, I’m on my phone. I can see the till live on my phone and can make changes, even when I’m overseas,” he says.

Bowles uses Kounta software to monitor the till and Deputy to manage staffing and rostering. He also uses Xero cloud-based accounting software.

For Gielnik, planning ahead is key so her bag with training gear is always packed. She’s up around 4am to get to the gym by 5am to conduct training sessions with clients, and often returns later in the day after football duties. But she couldn’t manage without her business partner who works full-time in the gym, often till 10 or 11 at night, and handles all the admin.

"If football teaches you one thing, it’s the power and importance of teamwork."

That means that when Gielnik’s on the road she doesn’t need to monitor the business closely. She keeps in touch with her business partner by phone and FaceTime. “It's just face to face conversation, nothing fancy”, she says.

Gielnik prefers to focus on training individuals and groups, although at this stage of her football career she’s not as hands on as she would like. Overseas travel with the Matildas and a recent stint with the J-League in Tokyo during the local off season means she employs three other trainers as well as people to do reception and make coffee.

It’s a punishing work schedule, even for elite athletes like Gielnik and Bowles. So how do they cope?

“Coffee!” jokes Gielnik. On reflection she admits she is happier being super busy. “I find a second wind once I start training”, she says.

For Bowles, it’s passion. “I have a passion for football and a massive passion for my café. Being young helps (he and Gielnik are both 24) and having good people around you.” He says having an outlet he’s passionate about outside football acts as a pressure valve and actually improves his game.

Professional footballers rarely play beyond their mid-30s, so it makes sense to prepare for a life beyond football. Bowles has big plans and wants to grow his business with multiple venues on a grander scale by the time he retires from football.

Likewise, Gielnik wants to expand her fitness empire. She plans to bring football conditioning programs into the gym and might consider franchising, but she’s giving herself 2-3 years to decide which direction the business will go. “This gym-related career is what I want but I also want to stay involved with football”, she says.

With an abundance of ambition and boundless energy, you get the feeling this pair will be playing to win on and off the field for a long time to come.

Steadfast is the proud principal sponsor of the Brisbane Roar team. To find out when and where the Roar are playing, or to buy game tickets, visit: www.brisbaneroar.com.au.

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