My StudiOne Story: Full Time Part Timer

Here is the fourth installment on the road to StudiOne.  If you missed the first one or three, you can link back through my journey below:

  1. The race that started it all
  2. The gym that shaped my training philosophy (and rest of my life)
  3. Choosing Tulsa

And now I present to you what I did for the two years in Tulsa while I waited for StudiOne to happen.  I did move here with high hopes of having my own personal training studio.  I wanted a place where I could train people one on one or in group fitness classes.  I also wanted to be able to coach running.  Yoga was nowhere on my radar except that I enjoyed taking classes.

I took a giant leap of faith and moved here with no job lined up.  (This was pre-budgeter Sprenk.)  I know I was spinning my wheels trying to get various training groups together around town.  I coached a small group of three people to their first half marathons in the Route 66 half.  I took over (and still manage) the events at my friends’ coffee shop.  My friend Katie works in the event industry and she helped get me a few leads to at least have some cash flow while I worked on growing my training business.

One of my main gigs at this point was working fancy style events for Skyloft (the top floor of one of the few skyscrapers in Tulsa) – galas, weddings, bar mitzvahs etc.  It wasn’t at all along my career path but it worked well for me initially.  I had a steady though small flow of income while I explored my training options in Tulsa, and was still able to have most of my daytimes free, sacrificing nights and weekends to work these special events.  By the wintertime, this job was wearing me out.  I’m grateful for the small stability this gig gave me when I first moved here, and that it led me to a bride named Leslie, who led me to swiping right on Tinder for a dude named Chap.

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View from SkyLoft

My second home was (still is) Foolish Things Coffee.  I did most of my work there since I didn’t have internet at my house yet.  Luckily for me, Justin and Katie needed some help managing the special events part of the business and I took over a job that I really enjoy and fits easily into my schedule (still does).  I manage inquiries for the use of the cafe for events ranging from birthday parties to book clubs to baby showers, rehearsal dinners and small receptions.  It’s easily manageable and I look forward to getting dressed up on the weekends.  I appreciated the smaller scale of this event management position compared to the one at SkyLoft.

Working the two event jobs gave me time to explore different gyms in Tulsa to see where I might want to train and/or teach.  I tried a lot of different things.  I ran a Groupon promo to have an outdoor bootcamp in my neighborhood.  0 people signed up.  I tried to teach bootcamps at my friends’ kickboxing gym but it was in a tough part of town for me to get to (I have a small radius).  I finally settled on teaching at the YMCA and working the floor.  I washed towels, cleaned machines and gave tours.  For one hour on my shift each day, I was able to teach a Sets and Reps weight lifting class.  I worked a split day 10-2 and then again 3-6:30.  It seemed to be a good fit for a while.

Then, an incredible opportunity fell in my lap while I was searching Demand.com as I did periodically to see what else was out there.  There was a fitness manager position available for a downtown start up called Live Streaming Fitness.  Their goal was to offer live fitness classes on their website all day, and filmed right here in Tulsa.  I applied and made it through the interview.  It seemed really wonderful at first as I interviewed and hired all different kinds of fitness teachers from Tulsa – conditioning coaches, yoga teachers, aerobics teachers, kickboxing etc.  I wrote plans for classes and planned out larger month long programs and challenges for members.

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Behind the scenes at LSF

Soon, the newness wore off and the expectations of most corporate or office jobs wore on me a little bit.  I wanted to be able to run or workout on my lunch break.  I wanted to travel for races and fun more than the number of paid vacation days allowed.  I quickly realized something I probably already knew: I don’t do well being bossed.

Much against Chap’s best advice, I turned in my two weeks’ notice and went back to part time at the YMCA.  I took on more teaching roles this time, added one private client and an outdoor boot camp.  I’m a big believer that nothing is a mistake and two of the trainers I hired at LSF led me to additional paying jobs I still hold today (that’ll be a later post – how to keep StudiOne floating).

Throughout all of this transition and job hunting and leaving, I found a steady yoga practice at Foolish Things.  Katie and Justin had envisioned having yoga on the patio weekend mornings before opening and as it happened, had a teacher inquiring about teaching for us.  I met with Teresa Moyer one afternoon at the cafe and talked to her about what we wanted as a coffee shop, and what she wanted as an instructor.  She was newly certified and wanted a chance to give a donation based class to our customers.  We gave her the green light and Saturday yoga became a thing.  I was stoked to get to have access to yoga every week.

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Yoga on the patio

There clearly isn’t a clean, straight line to living the dream.  I knew this as I walked through each of these transitions, trying to make ends meet (even driving for Uber for a while!) and just tried to promise myself that I would continue to work on and tend to the personal training and coaching dream.  Looking back it all is so clear how one step (and seeming mistakes) all led to a pretty sweet life I have going right now.  Important relationships (personal and professional), connections to future jobs, experience and income were all provided in some capacity from each job I tried and eventually left.  My bottom line for working – don’t be miserable.  No job is worth being unhappy.  I kept my eyes on my end goal and just meandered my way to it.

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My road to the Studio

My StudiOne Story: Part 2, Memphis

Welcome to the second installment on my series explaining what it’s like to “run my own little kingdom” that is StudiOne yoga + fitness.  In the first installment, I explained in detail the life event that I am certain changed the course of my life forever – my first marathon.  It’s a long read (mile by mile through the race) but it’s important.

Immediately after the marathon, I headed out for a fraternity formal (not a recommended recovery activity, but a damn good time) and then finished up my junior year of school.

I don’t remember the exact timeline of my working career at this gym that trained me to run the marathon, but I do know that first I taught Spinning there, and then I began working behind the desk.  I don’t think I can put into words the impact Lisa, Natalie, Donna and each member had on me.  It was my second home.

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My running family

I remember thinking and dreaming as I vacuumed around the cardio machines or mopped the red floor that I wanted to own my own place someday.  I wanted to have a place that made people feel as good about themselves and as safe as Inside Out did for me.

When I graduated, I had no promising entry-level positions in any career field.  My psychology degree didn’t give me a foot in to many places.  I was so surprised and don’t think I hesitated when the girls offered me a personal training position at Inside Out, even offering to cover the initial expense of getting certified.  I took the class as soon as I could and that first summer out of college was a personal trainer.

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TRX crew!

There were lots of opportunities for me and I soon loved the variety provided by a schedule of teaching mixed with personal training.  I was allowed and encouraged to develop my own programs, from Boot Camps to my own version of the marathon training club to private clients.  It took a while but with their encouragement and advice and my hard work and constant desire to just hang around that place, I had a full schedule fast.

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My last class 😦 

It wasn’t all easy and soon I was having trouble adjusting to weird times in the middle of the day being home from work, and then going back to the gym for my after work clients just as my neighbors and friends were coming home.  By the time I finished around 8 or 9, I needed to head to bed so I could get up for the 5:30 classes and appointments.  This was the only major drawback that I remember, and sometimes is still something I struggle with.

Sadly, after two years I moved on to graduate school in Austin, Texas.  Those few months preparing to leave Memphis were some of the toughest I’d experienced.  I had a client base that I loved deeply, and felt responsible for in some ways.  The best part of personal training was getting to know people on a deeper level.  I watched people get married, have babies, lose their loved ones, get dumped, move through divorce while we trained.  I met their dogs, got invited to dinners and set up on dates with mutual friends.  Some of the things I learned in sessions I don’t think spouses knew about their people.  I developed friendships that are still in tact to this day.  I loved my people and my town.

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Clients and friends

As I left with a broken heart, I had every intention of returning to Memphis after my two years in Austin were up.  For those of you who know where I am now, you know that’s not how it worked out!  But Memphis gave me two years of discovering that I’m on the earth to teach and encourage, and I learned from the best.  Thank you, IOG.

Stay tuned for Part 3: Choosing Tulsa.

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Goodbye, Memphis