Some of you know me. But knowing someone is a very relative word. On the outside, it looks like I run around, in and out of the studios, juggling a variety of different projects, sometimes teaching a class, sometimes hosting different events, sometimes at the front desk. The role of being a co-founder in any business is multi-faceted.
However for those of you that really know me, you know there was something running in the background of my life for the last seven years. I like to call it my "seven year itch."
Back in 2009 I was working as a public relations executive, managing accounts like Under Armour, vitaminwater, Subway. I was exposed to the nutrition and fitness industry in a much deeper way than just enjoying it as a hobby, I was helping brands build empires and connect with customers all over the world. It was so gratifying that I wanted to do it all day, every day. This is what started my "seven year itch."
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
While I was an athlete all the way through college and always knew fitness would be a part of my life, working on the corporate side of brands showed me how I could bring my passions to life. A light bulb went off one day when we were hiring Registered Dietitians to speak on behalf of brands we were representing. These women embodied everything I was and everything I wanted to be. I marched into my boss's office and said, "Let me go back to school and I can be this voice for the agency." Instead of hiring strangers to speak about the brands we worked with, I could be an asset for my company and fully immerse myself in the brands.
After many discussions with my boss, I got started on my adventure. It wasn't easy. I refused to reduce my workload, I wanted to continue to work full-time, stay professionally relevant and financially secure. But what that meant was that I had to work 8-9 hours in the office, then hustle before or after the workday to a class on campus. There were semesters that I was in school for 8-hours on a Saturday, or I was in a lab for chemistry class taking conference calls in a stairwell, pretending I was in the office. It wasn't easy, but I never doubted whether it was going to be worth.
GETTING READY TO WORK IT OUT
Three years into this secret life of being a PR professional/returning college student, I met Noel. I was living next to the Willow Studio and I was walking with my laundry one day and passed the studio. At the time Work it Out may have been opened for a mere month, Devon, Noel's sister, was standing outside handing out flyers, and I took one. My curiosity got the best of me and I sent over a blind email about my passions, my current career, how I used to teach gymnastics throughout college, and maybe on some weekends, I could teach for them. I didn't know what my intentions were, but I felt compelled to reach out in a way I have never felt before. This started a 1-year of back and forth between Noel and I. Different email exchanges about business ideas, where she saw the business going, where I saw myself going professionally, and overall life dreams.
As the summer of 2012 rolled around, I began to question where I was going in my PR career. I could stay in it, be financially and professionally successful, meet celebrities and athletes, and be that working girl. But that wasn't in my heart. For me, it would have felt like I was taking the easy way out and not reaching for my dreams. My dreams of connecting with people, like I saw the brands I worked with connect with customers.
Noel and I had a meeting one day and it just happened. We decided to work together and I would leave my job. I never considered myself a risk taker, but this was the biggest risk anyone could take. Leaving my corporate job with all its stable perks, and choosing to live the life of an entrepreneur/small business co-owner. Not to mention, Noel and I really didn't know each other! We just knew there was something between us, and it was trust. We trusted each others visions and goals. I wasn't even done with school yet, I actually didn't even cross into the hardest years of my education, but Noel and I made the commitment to each other and to the business that we were going to grow this one studio, into a brand.
THEN IT BECAME REAL
In the beginning it was a whirlwind. I can't really tell you what I expected, but I know I was scared. Being scared wasn't a bad thing either, it caused me to jump head first into understanding the business, the staff, and clients. Nutrition was alway on my mind, but in the back. Between the years of 2012 - 2015 we were building a brand. It included opening the River Studio, hosting a pop-up yoga studio, creating tons of events and partnerships, training and growing staff, and so much more. Then 2016 hit.
The height of my nutrition program began in the Fall of 2015 and really ramped up in 2016. It included completing 2100 hours of clinical practice and finishing my masters degree. That sounds like a lot for anyone, let alone someone who was a partner in a business, at a crucial time where we were growing. Full disclosure here: I always knew these clinical practice hours were coming, but I didn't want to over analyze my schedule, responsibilities, and how it would effect my role at Work it Out. I am painful worrier about everything, and I would have melted down if I thought too hard about this. So my hours started, and I melted down, go figure.
The meltdown came in year seven of the seven year itch. We were renovating the Willow Studio, which was a huge undertaking, rolled out new memberships, hired more staff, and we were busier than ever. Then you had me, spending 8-hours a day in a hospital, trying to juggle my primary responsibilities for Work it Out, and I was getting crushed. I couldn't sleep, I was up at 5:00am every day trying to squeeze in work, before having to be in the hospital at 9:00am, and then rushing to the studios to have some type of a presence at the end of the day. The guilt I felt for not being there like I used to be was overwhelming. I trucked through it, nonetheless. I had support from friends, family, the WiO family and most importantly my work-wife Noel. Finally, I finished my clinical hours and my masters, and saw a light at the end of the tunnel.
WELCOME WIO NUTRITION