Hi again everyone, hope you are going well. It has been year since I last posted. And if you snoop around the website, you can see it is in a mild state of disrepair. The mailing list has ceased, the links at the bottom of each blog post are broken, and some image links are also gone. If this was the physical and not the digital world, there would be cobwebs.
As you can see from the title, this is Granite Fitness’ swansong – it’s final performance, or in this case, the final active blog post. Like most good things in life, Granite Fitness has taken its course and come to its natural end. I’ll be talking more about its journey and lifespan throughout the course of this blog post.
Throughout this post, I’ll be speaking as Mark – the founder of Granite Fitness. In 2014 I was experiencing a quarter-life crisis and was a bit lost. I contemplated what I wanted out of life, and considered being a digital nomad and starting a new life in Eastern Europe. I even went to the Ukraine and Belarus to scout the place.
In order to achieve this reality, I needed a plan. The plan culminated in Granite Fitness in 2014/2015 – it was to be a small business importing and selling fitness products, especially resistance bands. I created the blog as a means to drive traffic to the business, establish my credibility as an influencer, and provide an alternative means of income by affiliate marketing.
Concurrently, in my days of being lost in life and living in near-poverty, I also wrote four e-books which can still be purchased online today – Lifelong Fitness Blueprint, Strategic Nutrition Guide, Winning Psychology Manual and Travellers Fitness Bible.
It was rosy at the start and there were some sales. But as fate would turn out, I got a full time job in late 2015 at a university, which thwarted my plans to move to Eastern Europe. At that point, I was still interested in selling products online. It was then when I met my business partner Atanas, based in Macedonia.
We created a few online e-commerce websites and participated in a few affiliate programs, which also ran its course. Some of them included the “Impulse Buy Store” for impulse shoppers, “Laschwandra” for the African American women, “Travel Fitness 4 Me” for fitness conscious travellers, “Granite Net” for American fitness products, “YouTubers’ Reviews” for whitegoods, “Ebooks 4 Me” for digital products, as well as two consultancy services “Solutions 4 Me” and “SEO For Blogs”. There were also a few others which I had omitted. Collectively, they became known as the Granite Network.
Throughout this time, the Granite Fitness blog started to grow like crazy. Though product and affiliate sales was in dribs and drabs, Granite Fitness grew into a community, and you can still see some of the comments on the earlier blog posts. I then began to treat it as less of an income source, and more of a hobby.
So how did the e-commerce and online selling go? Well, sales continue to come in dribs and drabs, but as Atanas spent a lot of time working as a coder and taking care of a young family, and I was thriving in a full-time job at a university, our operations were neglected and took a back seat. It bubbled in the background, and a few years in, they were unprofitable and getting to be a burden, and so gradually we dropped those brands, and we have come to this point.
Looking back, Atanas and I are proud of the journey we had undertaken together. We had both learnt many skills which we would not have acquired if not for this journey. Speaking for myself, I learnt how to write and publish an e-book and countless blog posts, how to source and import products, how to build and manage websites on WordPress, graphic design, video marketing digital marketing and SEO, and more.
Similarly, Atanas had learnt much about online sales, coding, plugins and digital marketing. This journey had seriously beefed up our resumes. Atanas still uses many of these skills in his day-to-day life as a coder and marketer in the digital freelance world. And I have used these skills from time to time as my role as a University Guild staff, and now a People and Culture (Human Resources) Manager. There were also many transferable skills that I took out of this experience.
If we were to pinpoint a few highlights, one of them would be the crowning glory achievement of this blog, which is to hit the number two spot on Feedspot in our relevant category from approximately 2018 to 2021. The link is still there on this page, although of course our ratings have slipped due to neglect.
The other highlight will be our lifelong friendship and bond, as I went over to Macedonia a couple of times and entered a new world. Good times. Finally, of course, the countless number of people who benefitted from our blog posts is something we are thankful for. This is something no one can ever take from us.
So, where are we now in life in late 2023? Well, Atanas is raising a young family in Macedonia and has moved into a new place throughout the pandemic, and is now an experienced hand in home renovations and DIY. I spent the last few years working as a HR Manager, and throughout this time I also got myself a Diploma in Human Resources and a Certification in Work Health and Safety. My workplace is rapidly expanding and so I’m continuously challenged. As you can tell, personal growth is important to Atanas and myself.
How about fitness? Am I still passionate about it? Well, yes and no. I am still committed to keeping good general health. As of now (end of 2023), going to the local gym is part of my daily routine, and I do yoga twice a week. I also ride my bike in the warmer months. I’m committed to maintaining my physique and not letting it get out of control entering my 40’s, but am not hardcore about fitness.
I do have a dream though – one day when I start my own family and move away from my apartment into a home, my “man-cave” will not have motorcycle parts or a liquor collection. Instead, I want it to be my personal gym and have a treadmill, a stationary bike, yoga mat, weights, kettle bells, resistance bands, squat rack, and a mounted TV and basic sound system.
So what happens to the website? Well, over the past 8 years, the blog’s contents has been a blessing to countless people over the world. Therefore, as a public service to the wider public, this blog site will remain to be online – even though there probably won’t ever have new content. Most of the material is evergreen anyway, and can be useful for you until scientific research overtakes some of them.
I will keep this domain name and renew it pretty much indefinitely once it’s close to expiring. In terms of web hosting, I moved the entire website from Hostgator to DoRoyal so that I only need to pay a one-off fee to host the content indefinitely as long as they are in business. Hostgator requires a monthly fee – yikes!
It is our sincere hope that the contents of this blog will continually be a blessing to everyone who comes across our content. If there is ever a need to contact us, please connect with me on LinkedIn (in/marksptan) and drop me a message. This will be the easiest way. May God bless you richly, and thank you for being part of Granite Fitness. Take care everyone!
Mark is an all-rounded guy with dreams, aspirations, and a desire to be a better version of himself. Having conquered obesity, he set-up Granite Fitness to help regular people get in shape and stay healthy. As of 2023, Mark spends his days as a People and Culture Manager. He holds three science degrees, a Diploma of Christian counselling, a Diploma of Human Resources, and a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety. Connect with Mark @ http://au.linkedin.com/in/marksptan