If you're a woman, you likely understand how hard it is to find the desire to work out and stay fit. No matter what you like or dislike when it comes to fitness, we can all agree that if given the choice between binge-watching Netflix and going for a run, we'd watch an entire season of "Grey's Anatomy" in one sitting with our pals Ben and Jerry in tow. Really, who wouldn't?
Massachusetts-based fitness instructor Kerrie Gotell is hoping to change all that with her company KFIT Body, a private fitness studio that works to empower women through health and wellness programs made specifically for women, by women. By providing both group and private fitness sessions as well as nutrition and body positivity education, Gotell is revolutionizing the way we work out one push-up at a time.
Dailybreak got the chance to chat with Gotell about what exactly makes her tick, why community-based fitness works and why women from all over are flocking to be a part of the KFIT Tribe.
Kerrie Gotell: My studio venture was not originally part of a master entrepreneurial game plan. Eight years ago, I was working in a clinic as a Physical Therapist Assistant, and a few of my girlfriends asked if I would train them at a local park over the summer.
In a short couple of months, our small workout squad evolved into a larger group of women who were coming together four nights per week for community exercise. Every day I looked forward to leaving my day job to go and train them at night. That's when the passion started to bloom. I guess it showed, because by the end of the summer, the girls were on me to find an indoor space for the winter.
I booked a few hours at a local Zumba studio. It took me a full year later to build enough confidence to abandon my full-time job. I was filled with self-doubt, naturally. Common thoughts crossed my mind like, “If entrepreneurship was easy, why wouldn’t everyone do it?”... I’m not good enough to succeed....What if I can't pay my bills?” and many more. But eventually, my passion outgrew the fear and I took the leap of faith.
Many great trainers get into this industry and fail, because they never elevate themselves from trainer to owner. My advice to someone starting out (and a huge learning curve for me) would be to understand that you are not a just trainer. You are the founder of a business that is relying on you to move forward.
If you want to be successful at owning and operating a fitness studio, you must have the business acumen and work ethic to build a brand and manage all facets of the business from ground zero.
The sooner you can acquire the skill set that is required to run a successful business -- from operations, to hiring, finance, and leadership development -- the better your chances are for economic survival. Even if you plan to stay small, expect to wear many hats and find a trusted mentor that can show you the ropes.
KG: It's a bit comical, actually. When I decided I was going to rent an indoor space for the winter, I thought I would need to do some marketing to maintain my new “expansion” from local parks to a brick and mortar. I needed a name, so I put the first letter of my name in front of FIT. Brilliant! I look back and think, “I wish I was more creative!” But KFIT has taken on its own deeper meaning, and represents so much more than just a brand name.
KG: I felt connected to the demographic of women that may have been intimidated by a "globo gym." I believe that existing, standard “women-only” fitness centers are still often geared toward gimmick diets and unreasonable workouts.
My goal has always been from the beginning to create an empowering and supportive space for females where they can learn how to workout in an effective way. I’m not saying that some men are not equally intimidated by the current offerings, but I know that I personally connect with women on a relatable level, and my passion is geared toward uplifting them.
I am often asked by my clients’ husbands about when I am going start a men's class, and am flattered that they believe in my leadership and ability to serve people in a meaningful way.
KG: I may be biased, but I adore the camaraderie and support you get from working out in a community setting. To be transparent, I think it truly depends on one’s personality, and general preferences that drive individual work ethic.
There are many people who have major success with at-home workouts, or go to the gym solo and stay committed. But that is not the clientele we appeal to most. We serve women who thrive on external accountability and being part of our tribe. Many of our clients have worked with us for years, and have evolved enough to workout on their own, but they thrive on the accountability and inspiring support that comes from their peers and coaches.
The largest benefit of community fitness is the motivation factor. It’s really hard for many to make wellness a top priority amidst our social and professional obligations that take up much of our time as human beings. If you have taken a step forward then three steps backwards on your individual fitness journey again and again, I recommend joining a wellness community that will motivate and inspire you to indulge in self-care. After all, we deserve to be healthy!
KG: Long-term strategic planning is not an essential tactic that I implement regularly. Instead, I focus more on the daily, monthly, quarterly and annual improvement and growth of my company. Just like fitness, I never want to stay complacent in business. But that doesn't necessarily mean that I’m aspiring to grow a franchised brand or open multiple locations for KFIT.
I’m hyper-aware of who we serve and what my own core values are as a studio owner: To learn from past mistakes, to stay innovative and to be the best in our industry so that we can continue on our proud mission to empower women and push beyond the boundaries. I would rather be a small, authentic haven than a watered down mega mogul (unless someone offers me millions, then I'm peace-ing out to the Islands)!