Fitness Guru Shares Secrets For Starting and Growing a Successful Business
Today, there are more female entrepreneurs in this country than ever before; and that trend is expected to continue to rise. At the forefront of this new wave of female entrepreneurship is working mothers, like fitness guru Lisa Corsello. We sat down with Lisa to discuss entrepreneurship, balancing family life, and emerging market trends.
What's your background and how has that helped with your business?
My educational background is in psychology. My original goal was to become a therapist, but after a lot of post-grad work in the field and a semester of grad school, I realized that this wasn't the path for me. During grad school, I worked as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, and I loved connecting with people one-on-one in the gym. I started to see how exercise could help people both mentally and physically; and soon my thoughts turned to making fitness a full-time career. For the first time in my life, I enjoyed what I did for a living. However, I knew that working 6 days a week from 6am-8pm was not sustainable. I wanted to have children, and I wanted to be my own boss, so I began to create a plan to combine the fun of group exercise with the one-on-one attention I was able to give private clients. I became certified in Yoga, Pilates and Personal Training and spent several years working with clients and in gyms throughout San Francisco. I learned as much as I could, both from negative and positive experiences. I worked long hours and took every client and class I was offered. I experimented with creating lots of different types of hybrid workouts, and when I began combining Pilates, Cardio and Strength Training, I knew I had struck gold. When I finally opened my first studio in 2009, I was both terrified and very excited to bring my own brand of fitness to San Francisco.
I think that my beginnings in counseling psychology helped me learn to listen actively to what people want and need, and I try to use these skills as a manager and as a teacher every day. I think the fact that I love what I do comes across to our clients, and I search for this passion when hiring staff. My ability to commit to something wholeheartedly helps me push through the challenges that come from owning my own business, and when I see and feel that what we are doing makes people healthier, stronger and happier, I know I’m in the right place.
What is a Mompreneur? How have you balanced being an entrepreneur and mother?
A Mompreneur is a woman who is both an entrepreneur and a mother. Being a mom and owning one's own business are very similar in that they are both jobs that don't ever stop. I am always on call, and I can’t ever call in sick.
Balancing the two is all about flexibility, a sense of humor, and the ability to delegate. It has taken me a long time to trust others to help me both at work and at home. I used to think that if I wasn’t doing it, it wasn’t good enough- not for my clients, and not for my kids. Now that I have 2 young children and 3 locations, it’s impossible to be there for everyone all the time. I have to know when to let things go, when to keep pushing, and when to ask those I trust for help.
Tell us about your business.
Our workout is unique, dynamic, challenging, and smart. We combine the very best aspects of Pilates, Cardio, and Strength Training in a fast-paced 55 minute workout. Our clients are as loyal to us as we are to them, because we care a lot about providing a challenge, while respecting limitations. We have male and female clients ages 14-70. Absolute beginners are able to workout with marathon runners and athletes because our method is adaptable, and our instructors are give one on one attention. We believe very strongly in being challenged in a positive and safe way. Respect is a big part of our method. Respect yourself, respect your limitations, respect lessons learned from challenging yourself and getting stronger, and respect other clients and staff. We currently have 3 locations in San Francisco with plans to double in size this year.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs and business owners?
Know your product inside and out. Do a lot of research, ask lots of questions, and treat everything as a learning experience. Have a solid business plan, and test your product out on the public before you set up shop. In other words, make sure that people will respond favorably to and want to pay for what you plan to sell them. Solicit and listen very carefully to feedback from clients. Be prepared to work… A lot. Create a strong support group who will help cheer you on when you need it. Be willing to learn from and admit mistakes. Work really really hard.
What are future trends you pinpoint in the industry?
Group Fitness is really strong right now, and I believe this is part because people are looking to belong to something. Working out with others to amazing music with someone encouraging you is so much better than running in a treadmill alone with your ipod. People are connecting with one another more and more through fitness, and I am excited about the social media integration I am starting to witness. I hear about new fitness sites, apps, and meetups every month. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Lisa Corsello, a Lululemon Athletica Ambassador, has been a featured fitness expert on WebMDas well as in My Family Doctor Magazine, LowCarb Magazine, Current Health Magazine, and Cornell University’s Food & Fitness Advisor newsletter. In fact, Lisa is a regularly featured fitness expert on the KPIX Weekend Morning Show. Lisa is currently a contributing fitness expert on SingleMindedWomen.com.
A Bay Area native, Lisa recently created and starred in the Burn Home Workout DVD. She lives in San Francisco with her very patient and fantastic husband and co-owner of Burn, Jason, and her two amazing kids.