The only way to do great work is to love what you do – Steve Jobs
Today, we talk to Nick Blair, the co-founder of the Dubai Muscle Show. His success story will inspire you to achieve your dreams and pursure your passion.
He shares how he started the Dubai Muscle Show, why he chose Dubai, and what to expect in the future shows.
SW: Hey Nick, tell us about yourself, where were you born? Where did you get your education?
Nick: I was born in London in the UK, but moved up to a place called The Wirral, which is about 20 minutes’ drive from Liverpool – who also happen to be my favourite football team!
SW: Tell us about your story from a sales professional to a fitness event organizer? How did it all happen?
Nick: I first moved to Dubai in 2011 and joined an exhibitions company where I worked for 2 years, I then spent 2 years in London selling telecoms solutions to city based businesses.
Then in 2014, the draw of Dubai was too great! So I returned, to work for a company called Informa within the team that runs Arab Health. I really enjoyed my time working for these companies, and I learnt a lot.
My passion since in high school has been working out, and playing sports. I represented my university in the finals of the American Football league in the UK, and went on to play for the UAE.
I started training with weights in the gym 3 times a week after school when I was 16, and then that quickly became 5-6 times a week when I reached 18. I spent all my money on Men’s Fitness and FLEX magazines, and of course my gym membership and all the latest supplements.
I had visited some fitness and bodybuilding shows in the UK and Europe, just to stand in line and get a photo with Jay Cutler. So after all the years of experience in running exhibitions 10 years later living in Dubai – it really was the ‘perfect storm’ when I thought: “why isn’t there an event like the ones in the UK for me to go to?”
I raised the idea to one of my best friends and colleague at the time, Craig, and without hesitation he said “I’m in!”
So we both left our comfortable corporate events jobs and went full time trying to get Dubai Muscle Show launched.
I had personally always wanted to have a go at running a business – and this was a case for both Craig and I of: “if we don’t do this now – when is an idea that we believe in so much next going to come around?”
SW: How many events you have done till now? What are your aspirations for the future?
Nick: We are into the 3rd edition of Dubai Muscle Show. Our aspirations are to keeping growing Dubai Muscle Show in size, by adding the ‘Dubai Active Show’ which we feel can appeal to the masses.
We want to see Dubai and the Middle East as a much more fitness oriented region, and hopefully our event can play a part in inspiring tens of thousands of people to be more active.
Outside of Dubai, we plan to take the event to other countries and regions, with some exciting plans actually being announced very soon!
SW: Who were the first validators (believers) of your idea of Dubai Muscle Show?
Nick: One of the hardest things in our first year was convincing companies, such as SquatWolf to take part in the expo. There had been so many big promises from other fitness type events in this region that had never delivered. We heard stories of people promising 250,000 people would attend another event, when in reality it was more like 250 people.
Because of these previously outlandish claims from other events, companies were very cautious to invest in our event to start with.
We always wanted to be honest with people from the start, and I think that has been one of the key reasons to our success.
Everything that we tell companies that participate, and people that attend the event, we have delivered on.
SW: Why did you select “Dubai” to organize this event? What were some reasons and statistics to bring in sponsors and brands for the event?
Nick: Well we lived in Dubai and ran events here, so had experience within the local exhibitions industry and saw a gap in the market.
It is much easier now to bring in sponsors and brands as, in reality, what other platform can you reach 25,000 highly targeted consumers and speak to them face to face over 2 days?
Companies like Squat Wolf are testament to the fact, that we deliver the people for you to sell out of your products (twice!) …
The great thing for brands is that Dubai is the hub for business, and people love coming here. Because of this, there were a LOT of distributors, retailers and wholesalers from around the MENA region at Dubai Muscle Show.
SW: What are some big names you will be bringing in Dubai Muscle Show 2018?
Nick: Well that wouldn’t be a surprise if we told you now would it?
Haha! We know who the fans want to see again from last year, so we will of course be bringing back some of the big names from 2017 and adding some fresh faces that have never been to Dubai before including one celebrity that is going to break social media when we announce them!!
SW: What were your goals to achieve from this event?
Nick: From a personal perspective, all I wanted was to create an event which I would want to attend! And I definitely think we have done that!
I think it’s so much easier running any business when you are passionate about that particular industry and know what you are talking about.
We also wanted to put Dubai on the map for international fitness and bodybuilding – which I also think we have done. Over 35% of our attendees last year flew in from outside of the UAE!
The weekend of the event, the fitness world was dominated by the #DubaiMuscleShow hashtag and pictures of the show, with the video of Kai Greene and Jay Cutler training by the Burj al Arab getting over 8.5 million views!!dd
SW: Dubai Muscle Show has been nominated as one of the Best Consumer Exhibitions in Middle East. How did you feel when you heard this news?
Nick: This was awesome news, and we were so honored this year to be in the large exhibitions category along with some huge events like Dubai Motor Show.
SW: Squat Wolf sold out twice during the Dubai Muscle Show. How do you think about the brands like SquatWolf and their scope in GCC market?
Nick: I think like Dubai Muscle Show, Squat Wolf have spotted a regional gap in the market for affordable, but high quality gym clothing.
We get lots of people to Dubai World Trade Centre for the companies that participate, but if you’re products are rubbish, of course we can’t make people buy them! So it just proves that SquatWolf’s clothing really impressed people at Dubai Muscle Show.
Having worn the clothes myself, I know that the quality and feel of the product is amazing – which is something you can’t necessarily get from a website. For this reason, I think live events like this will always be important for consumers to try and sample products before they buy them.
When I first started gym training 12 years ago, people were not too bothered about what they wore. I used to just pick up and old tshirt and get down to training.
But I think now, especially with the rise of Instagram and the sharing society we live in, people are a lot more keen to have nice clothes to wear in the gym that feel and look good.
SW: What is the future of Dubai Muscle Show? How 2018 event will be different from last two events? What are some new ideas you are bringing in?
Nick: Well for starters, we have added another hall – so it is much bigger. We have loads more sports happening, as well as classes that people can arrive in their workout gear and join in with.
We are going to have celebrity athletes taking the attendees through a Live Workout, much more food options in a big food court area, and of course plenty of free stuff to give away!!