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An Interview with Nic DeCaire

Ryan James

Nic DeCaire is a fitness expert and founder of Fusion Fitness, a fitness center where members not only work out together, they do business together. Nic is an enthusiastic, philanthropic and results-oriented small business owner dedicated to improving the health of Delaware residents.

He is a natural problem solver, who is adept at building connections and bringing people together for the benefit of the community. Nic is also a versatile communicator with experience in print, video and online media.

In this interview, Nic shares how his background in fitness drove him to start a business of his own. He shares the mission of Fusion Fitness being not only a fitness center but a community where people can do business together. Keep reading for helpful insights from Nic, ‘the hands-on owner’ and how you can apply his thoughts to your business!

His advice to anyone starting a business:

If I had to give any advice, I would tell them, “The devil is in the details.”



I started Fusion Fitness because I did not want to sell insurance.

I had been in the fitness business for about eight years when the gym I was working at announced it was closing. I was 25 years old. I needed to make a decision.

I could go work for the family business and sell life insurance. Sure, I would be making great money from the start but that did not motivate me. This was the safe road to travel. Who wants to go down the path where you already know the ending?

Instead, I decided to take a leap of faith and open my own fitness center. It had been my dream since I was a teenager and worked at the local Gold’s Gym. It’s not an exaggeration to say this was a life-changing experience. Working there exposed me to the world of weightlifting, and I ended up competing in bodybuilding and powerlifting for most of my teenage years and into my early 20s. I saw what the sport did for me physically and mentally and I knew it could do the same for others. Plus, it didn’t hurt to be in really good shape on the dating scene.

With the closing of my employer, there was no local fitness center. I saw a need. I figured that with no other competition, a community that includes the University of Delaware – home to 20,000 students – and an equal number of residents, it was sure to be a success.



Opening Fusion was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I couldn’t afford to hire a contractor so my good friend Robbie and I literally spent three months working 14 to 16 hours a day every day fitting out Fusion so that my dream could become a reality.

I remember many days when we would be working and people from the community would stop in and check out the progress. “When are you going to be open?” they asked. They were just as excited as me.

After three months of construction, I knew I had a business. But one of the first times it actually felt real was when I was walking down the street to get lunch and I saw a member wearing a Fusion Fitness t-shirt.

It was one of the coolest feelings to see someone representing the brand that I created. At that point, I knew we were becoming bigger than just weights and treadmills.



The mission of Fusion is to change lives through fitness. We have evolved over the years like many small businesses do.

Ten years ago, we had a thriving business with hundreds of University of Delaware students.  By year three, however, this started to dwindle. This was right around when the economy started to go downhill. I assume parents stopped giving their children extra spending money after paying $20,000 a year for them to go to school.

I knew I needed to change something fast. We shifted from a fitness center that focused on selling memberships to a results-based facility. People who truly want results are willing to pay for them. They know they can’t do it on their own, so they are willing to spend money to feel sexier.

We focused on working more closely with our clients through personal training, team training and nutrition. After finding out what our clients need, we design custom workouts for them. They meet with our nutrition coach to talk about food. We also get them involved in our community so they feel a sense of belonging.

Community is a big deal to us. We have used Fusion to not only serve our customers better but also to serve our neighbors better. We have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the surrounding community through fundraisers and fitness challenges. Right now, we are working on building an adaptive playground in our town.

We have created three non-profits over the years. The first, the Friends of Newark Police K-9 Fund, has purchased 3 K-9s for the local police department, along with equipment and training for the officers. We have raised about $130,000 for them in the past 10 years.

More recently, we started fundraising for Preston’s Playground, an 8,400 square-foot adaptive playground to be built in the city of Newark. We have raised $440,000 so far. We also started Fusion Inclusion, an organization that provides adaptive running chairs in the community so everybody has the opportunity to cross the finish line. We have raised $25,000 toward that effort.



We  just celebrated 10 years in business. There were a few times I didn’t think we would make it. Most small businesses fail in the first couple of years.

I can honestly say the only reason we have been able to beat the odds is because of our loyal members and the community. We had a pretty rough couple years in 2011 and 2012. Because of my relationship with local banks, I was able to get a loan to help recover from some bad business decisions. Without the relationships I have built over the years, it would have been hard to secure the money. But they believed in me.

I had this dream when we reached 10 years that we were going to throw the party of all parties. We ended up having a black-tie affair as a fundraiser for three non-profits we support. This party was not about Fusion, though. It was about the community who helped us achieve this milestone. We recognized those organizations at the event and used the proceeds to donate money to their causes.

It was amazing. Having members celebrate a milestone of 10 years with you is special, let alone getting them to put on a tux and fancy dress. Normally, we see these people in sweat pants and dirty t-shirts. I even walked past a couple members wondering who the hell was crashing our party. It was a night I never will forget.



During the week, I wake up and help get my daughters ready for school. I check email while I am making their lunches and make sure nothing has changed in the day’s plan.

I drive my daughter, Josephine to school every morning. It’s special because we spend some uninterrupted time together and talk. Heaven forbid, I check my phone at a red light because she will scold me. This is time I need to get mentally prepared for the day’s challenges.

Soon after arriving at Fusion, I am either working with a client or jumping right into the day’s tasks in the office. (My staff will tell you that I often get sidetracked by a member and spend some of this time talking.)

My morning is so jam-packed with clients, meetings or budgeting that I usually don’t take lunch and wind up grabbing a protein shake. At 3, I‘m out the door to pick up Josephine from school. She and I run a couple errands then we pick up my other daughter Grace at daycare. We get home and I start making dinner.

I usually work from home in the evening, put the girls to bed and then head back to the gym to close for the night. I have closed almost every night for the past 10 years. We hire a lot of University of Delaware students for the front desk and I want to make sure our team feels safe at work. I know they are probably fine to close on their own but I feel as an employer it is my duty to make sure.

When I get home – again – I answer emails or write while trying to watch some crappy television show. During all of this, I find time to work on my other company, Fusion Racing, and the non-profits we have.

So what motivates me to have a crazy schedule like this? My family. I want to be able to provide a good life for them financially but also have them be proud of what we have accomplished. My daughters love coming to Fusion and dancing in the back room or “training their clients.” They are proud to be a part of it, which in turn makes me proud of what I have built.

The second thing that motivates me  is the community. Over the last decade, we have been able to change many lives. We call it the “ripple effect.” I have a saying that I reference a lot: “Toss the stone and create the ripple.” To me, it means never be afraid to make a splash and see what comes from it.

When you toss a stone into the water, what happens? It creates a ripple that keeps going and going and going. When you create a ripple in the community, the good deeds keep going and going and going – not necessarily by you, but by what you created.

I often stop and think that if I never opened Fusion, where would some of these people and organizations be? I want to keep moving forward so I can change more lives. Leave a legacy, not regrets. One day when I have moved on or am gone, I want people to be able to see the positive things I did in the community, not just that I owned a fitness center.



Probably one of my biggest influencers would be my father, Xavier DeCaire. From a young age, he showed me how hard work and giving back to the community make for a fulfilled life. He always made time for me and my sisters when we were younger. I try to do the same for my family.

When I was just starting, people I met who knew my father always made mention of what a great man he is. Actually, I still run into people who knew my grandfather and they tell me what a great man he was. Both my grandfather and my father had a strong desire to help others. They always put other people first. I am just trying to live up to the family legacy.

Years ago, when I told my father I was dropping out of school to pursue my dreams I thought he would be angry. He wasn’t. He understood when I explained that I was bored in school, falling asleep in class from working so much as a personal trainer and also making more money as a trainer than I would when I graduated. I didn’t want to waste his money.

He supported me and told me I was making a good decision. Even though in his heart he might have felt otherwise, he never let me believe I was making a mistake. Realizing how important education is, I returned to school and earned my degree from Wilmington University.



The biggest thing I struggle with as a business owner is time management. I have a hard time saying no. I am a people pleaser. Because of this, I get roped into a lot of projects that sidetrack me from my businesses.

They are all great projects, but I have learned saying yes to everything leaves me little time to work on my own business. Without my business, I cannot help others.  So I am getting more careful about what I say yes to now.

My advice for a future star is to take care of yourself first.  If you don’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of anyone else?



This can be challenging sometimes. If your friends work a 9 to 5 job and collect a regular paycheck, they may not understand the struggle and stress of someone who has to earn their living daily. They may not understand the long hours or meetings.

Owning your own business will show you who your true friends really are. Luckily for me, I have very few friends. They understand that sometimes you might not hear from me for weeks or a month but when you do it will be just like old times.

Family relationships can be tough. You want to spend as much time with your family as possible, but the business requires long and different hours all the time. You have to find a balance for both. My wife, Anne, has supported me through every venture. She is also not afraid to tell me when enough is enough. I am a dreamer. Anne is able to bring me back to reality.



Fusion has evolved over the past couple of years, and I don’t want to own multiple facilities. Owning more does not always mean more money, it just means more expenses and more headaches.

But we continue to add to the Fusion brand. We recently launched a sister company, Fusion Racing. We are an event management company for road races. In less than a year, we have managed more than 30 races and own four of our own personal races. Fusion Racing has grown faster than I could have imagined. We recently held a one-mile race for the police K-9 unit that tripled in size from last year.

I really want to connect the running world to the fitness world. I’ve discovered there is a separation between people who run and people who lift weights. We train several runners who have found the amazing benefits from strength training.



Before I opened my business I had a meeting with one of my dad’s friends who is a very successful business owner. He asked me what I wanted to do with my life and gave me some good advice.

At the end of the meeting he said, “Nic, the devil is in the details.” At that time, I really didn’t know what he meant. Ten years later, I do.

I didn’t do my homework when I opened up Fusion. I had the mentality, “If you build it, they will come.” It worked for Kevin Costner in “Field of Dreams,” right?

By the time construction was done and the doors opened, I had $300 in my checking account and had to make rent in two weeks. Ten years, later the doors are still open and we are still changing lives. I think I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out the details.

If I had to give any advice, I would tell them, “The devil is in the details.”


To have a closer look at how Fusion Fitness and Fusion Racing are doing, follow Nic onTwitter, connect with him on Linkedin, or subscribe to his Youtube channel!


Original Article:


Businesses should put higher priority on customer service

Nic DeCaire via Delaware Business Times

Sometimes it can be hard for me to be the customer. While I shop I am either looking for ideas to make my own company better or else critiquing the business where I spend my money.

Unfortunately, I find myself doing more critiquing than finding ideas from other companies. It makes me frustrated and confused but also upset.

I don’t understand why so many business owners don’t seem to take pride in something they’ve built and that has their name attached to it. I also don’t understand why they don’t spend time training their employees who represent them.

Consumers are part of the problem. We are failing business owners. We’ve started to expect subpar service. We’ve actually become OK with staff not making eye contact with us or not being educated about the product they offer. When we actually get good customer service, it blows our mind.

But it shouldn’t. If anything, that’s the way it should always be.

As a consumer, I realize I’m part of the problem. At least five times I have told myself I am not going back to a local grocery store. I get angry every time I go in there. From its absent customer service to rude employees and a lack of cleanliness, this place just drives me crazy.

My longest boycott lasted about four months until I finally gave in because of convenience. They won. I lost. It’s still the same service, same employees and I am still frustrated. But for some reason I still give them my money.

If customers don’t care why should you care?

Because times are changing.

I’m challenging you to take a big step back and look at your current business. Are you satisfied with the way your customers experience your business? Are you proud to have your name on the door? Would you trust your employees to handle crisis situations if you went on vacation for two weeks?

I hope the answer is yes.

If you think you can do better, take heart. Since most customers have such low expectations of good service, it won’t take much to wow them.

Here are some simple things you can do to stand out above your competitors:

No cell phones. Make sure your employees don’t have cell phones that a customer can see. There’s nothing more annoying than watching an employee check a text or post on social media when you are looking for some help.

Smile. Everyone is entitled to a bad day. It happens. But nobody gets inspired or wants to buy something from the person who has a case of the Mondays on a Thursday. If it is truly that bad, perhaps your employee shouldn’t be at work.

Greet everyone. Ever walk into a business and everyone looks at you like you are interrupting them? Customers are guests in your house and they should be treated with respect and welcomed with open arms. No exceptions.

Thank you. These are two simple words employees often forget to get use. When someone spends their hard-earned money with your business, they deserve thanks. They had a choice and they chose you. Forget to say thank you and maybe they will go somewhere else the next time.

Customer service is pretty simple when you think about it. Just treat people like you would want to be treated. Spending time on the little things with your employees will go a long way for your company. If your employees aren’t willing to make the small changes, let them go work for your competitors.


Nic DeCaire is the owner of the Newark business Fitness Fusion and a member of the DBT40 class of 2014.

Original Article:


How to be the change you want to see

Nic DeCaire | Guest Columnist

Be the change you want to see – but be realistic

No matter what we see on television or read on social media, I believe that it is human nature to be good and want to help others. It’s why we are here.

But it can be hard to help if you don’t know how to get started. Nine years ago, I certainly didn’t.

Then I heard from a Fusion Fitness Center member that the Newark Police K-9 unit needed to purchase a new dog. How cool would it be to help, I thought? Of course, I did not know how I was going to help, only that I wanted to.

Since then, Fusion and Friends have raised more than $80,000 for the Newark Police department. Our efforts have helped with the purchase of three canine officers, in addition to equipment and training for the dogs and their human partners. That’s pretty cool considering it all stemmed from a conversation in the gym with a police officer.

People often ask me how they can help with different charity events in the community. Here’s some of the advice I offer.

What are you passionate about?

Is it animals, children or feeding the homeless? I have a special connection to the K-9 department because I wanted to be a K-9 officer. I believe in what they do. When I talk about the program, ask for money or donate my time, I never feel it’s a burden on anyone because I truly believe in what I am trying to do. Make sure you feel the same way.

How much time can you actually give?

Time is precious. We all have work, family and a social life outside of charity. Make sure you are realistic with yourself and also with the organization you are helping about how much time you can honestly commit. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the mission and then quickly get burned out. That’s not good for you or the organization.

How long can you commit?

No matter how passionate they are, I believe everyone has a time limit when it comes to fundraising. Ask yourself how long you plan to commit to helping a certain organization.

I am frequently asked to sit on boards and committees for charitable organizations. As much as I don’t want to, I often have to turn down these requests. Sadly, there are too many people out there who need help and I am not always ready to tie myself down to one organization.

If you already volunteer, I recommend re-evaluating the charities you help out every two or three years to make sure you are on the same page with their current mission and fundraising goals.

If you don’t support a charity, I encourage you to change that. I have met so many one-person operations that are doing amazing things in our community. They just need more volunteers and fundraising to keep their missions alive. I suggest contacting Delaware Community Foundation or the Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement (DANA) for some ideas.

One of the most exciting things about fundraising and charity is you never know what is coming next.

Over the summer, I partnered with Deb Buenaga, founder of Preston’s March for Energy, on the Inclusion Means Everyone 5K, a walk/run that took place just as its name suggests. Our overwhelming success with this inaugural event convinced us to hold another race, this time on Oct. 11 at the Christiana Mall. (For more information, visit

The two of us were at coffee a few weeks ago to plan for this next event. We started thinking about where the money from the race would go this time.

The idea struck us like a bolt of lightning. We would use the race as the kickoff to our efforts to build an inclusive playground in Newark that could be used by all kids.

And with that, I was on to the next adventure.


Nic DeCaire owns Fusion Fitness in Newark and is a member of the DBT40 Class of 2014


Know when to listen to your body when you hurt


“How’s your knee feeling?” I recently asked a friend.

Earlier, we had talked about a half-marathon he was planning to run in Philadelphia.

I already knew the answer. I just wanted to see if he was going to be honest with me.

It hurt, he told me. It was uncomfortable to run and his mileage was low for where he should be in his training.

When he was younger, running was his passion. But many miles over the years put a lot of wear and tear on his body. Now in his early 50s, his body was starting to talk to him more and more.

So I asked the one question no athlete wants to hear: “Is it worth it?”

“I am not sure,” he said.

Does the risk outweigh the reward? It’s something I always ask when I am coaching someone.

Growing up as a competitive bodybuilder and power lifter, I get it. You are always fighting your mind. This is what I used to do. At 17 years old, I squatted 500 pounds. At 35, the thought of that scares the daylights out of me.

Do I want to do it? Absolutely. I just have learned my limits.

For me, trying to squat 500 pounds doesn’t make sense. I’m a husband and father of two amazing girls who need their dad to be healthy and strong. Not injured. Doing something to push the limits just because it’s something I used to do doesn’t make sense. The risk doesn’t outweigh the reward.

People are always trying to push the limits in fitness. Trust me, I love watching American Ninja Warrior and seeing what the human body can do, but I don’t agree with people who come up with crazy exercise routines just for the sake of doing it. Fitness should be something that is fun, challenging and safe.

Do people get hurt exercising? Absolutely. It is a sport. The trick is knowing when to listen to your body.

Here are some tips when it comes to smart fitness:

1. If it makes you sick it probably is not good for you. If you are exercising to the point of vomit, it is time to scale back. It might happen once, but getting sick from a workout should not happen on a regular basis.

2. The slogan, “No pain, no gain,” is about the dumbest thing someone could say. If you feel pain, stop. Try a different exercise or modification. If it doesn’t go away, see your doctor or physical therapist.

3. Make it challenging, but make it safe. I like a good challenge as much as the next guy, but I know when something doesn’t sound safe. Going to the parking lot and trying to pick up cars might sound fun until your back goes out. Make sure your workouts do not leave you crippled for days or lying on the ground saying the rosary.

4. Don’t live in the past. Having your letter jacket from high school in your closet doesn’t mean you should wear it. Work with what your ability is now, not what it was.

I can still remember those days of competing and the joy I got from picking up the heaviest weight possible. And it is a good thing I still have the pictures. Right now, my fitness goal is to just make sure I am strong enough to pick up my girls in each arm.

Back to my friend with his race quandary. He thought he could probably push through those 13.1 miles and be fine.

But his life is about more than running. He recently found another passion in strength training. He has been doing this with a group for a couple of years. He enjoys it and sees the physical benefits.

“Your mind is telling you that you need to run this half-marathon because it is something you have done your entire life,” I said. “Not doing it would be a failure. But your body is telling you it is time for a change.

“Is it worth getting injured?”

He shook his head no.

Learning your limits and being smart about your fitness will keep you strong and healthy for many years. There really is no sense to push the injury or limit.

Remember, if you are injured you are probably on the sidelines.

Nic DeCaire, owner of Fusion Fitness Center in Newark, has been training clients for more than a decade.


Help children join Healthy Kids Club for lifetime benefits


His head was slumped down. His feet dangled off the bench.

He couldn’t have been more than 12 years old, but already he weighed about 40 pounds more than other kids his age.

He sat on a bench in the park, tapping on his iPad. His dad sat next to him. He seemed oblivious to the other children running around and playing. Every once in a while, he took a sip from a Pepsi by his side.

My heart ached as I watched him.

If he stays on this sedentary path, this boy may face many health problems in the coming years. I thought about overuse injuries to his neck, eye and hand stemming from the time spent playing video games. I thought about weight-related problems like type 2 diabetes and emotional struggles resulting from other children’s ridicule about his weight.

It made me sad, not just for this young boy but the next generation. We are setting up these kids for failure.

Turn on the television and you will see nothing but ads for fast food, soda and the latest technology. This is how they think they should spend their time.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Adults can make a difference, but it requires us to rethink our own habits and lifestyles.

It’s not easy. I know the struggle of a busy family life.

Parents rush in the morning to get everyone out of the house and off to school. In the afternoon, they shuttle their kids to myriad after-school activities before rushing them home to eat, bathe and finish homework before it’s time for bed.

For many of us, family life operates on a razor-thin schedule. We send work emails while our kids sit at band practice. We take conference calls in the car.

All the while our kids are watching and listening. They see when we are so cramped for time we roll through the drive-thru because we don’t have time to make a healthy dinner. They see when we opt for the DVR instead of a family walk after dinner. They hear us complain about our growing waistlines.

I am just as guilty as everyone else. I gave my daughter an iPad to keep her busy while I am writing this column. The only difference is that after I am done we are going for a walk on the beach.

Children learn from our behaviors. My life is surrounded by health and fitness. We talk about it at home. I take my oldest daughter to work with me once a week so she is exposed to fitness.

Last week, when I picked Josephine up from camp she said “ Dad, I am starting a Healthy Kids Club.” My heart smiled.

I asked her what she planned.

This is what she told me: “Daily exercise. We have to eat fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water. You also have to limit the amount of desserts you eat weekly.”

She is 6.

So how do we get other children to join the Healthy Kids Club, I asked her. “We just have to tell them about it and get them excited to be a part of it.”

Here are a few things Josephine and I came up with to help children live a healthier life and become part of the Healthy Kids Club:

1. Go for a scavenger hunt – Instead of asking your children if they want to go for a walk after dinner, make a list of five to 10 items to find in the neighborhood. Turn family fitness into a game.

2. Blend vegetables into pasta sauce – Most kids love spaghetti but don’t want to eat the broccoli and peas on their plates. Boil the broccoli and peas. Mix them with a jar of prepared sauce in a blender. Your children will think it’s just their plain old spaghetti.

3. Have a dance party – I will be the first to admit I love putting on Kidz Bop and watching my girls have a dance party in the living room. They have so much fun, sometimes they even get me to dance with them.

4. Local farms and markets – Take your children to local farms and markets and have them pick out the fruits and vegetables. When they have a sense of “owning it” they are more likely to want to eat it. They also learn these foods don’t just magically appear at ShopRite. Even better, try planting a small garden in your backyard.

5. Create a chart – If your children are like mine, they love to be rewarded and they love sticker charts even more. After our talk the other day, Josephine made a Healthy Kids Club chart. Each day has three boxes underneath it. Whenever she does something healthy – exercise or eat a piece of fruit, for example – she gets to put a sticker in the box. Her goal is to do three healthy things per day. (Reading books counts as brain health.)

Each time I seek a kid mesmerized by a tablet in their lap or swigging a supersized soda, I am reminded of that young boy in the park.

By just implementing some of these ideas of the Healthy Kids Club, families could be setting their children up for a healthier, more productive life.

As a father and fitness professional I want to see the next generation lives a long and healthy life.

Will you please help me on this mission?

Nic DeCaire, owner of Fusion Fitness Center in Newark, has been training clients for more than a decade.