A year of discovery.
Read Time: 9 min
Wow. What a roller coaster ride. This past year has been one of the most challenging yet simultaneously rewarding years of my life. In what feels like a blink of an eye, FemTribe is about to celebrate its first year in existence. There were days over this past year that I have wanted to quit, throw FemTribe out the window and never look back. There have been days when I felt on top of the world and determined to overcome all obstacles in my way to making FemTribe a success! I have been angry, I have been scared, I have been happy. I have NEVER been bored.
Through this blog I want to recall the past year and reminisce about the many ups and downs. As well as take a few minutes to acknowledge some of the amazing people who have made this past year possible. But why should you care to take the time to read this? Because in order to make the world a better place, we need to build stronger communities...stronger tribes. We need to support one another, and I'm asking for your support by letting me be vulnerable with you about my experiences over the past year. It has been tough. I mean, really tough. But I wouldn't trade it for any other experience. And I want to share that with you.
When I left 24 Hour Fitness three years ago, I struggled to find where I fit into the fitness industry. I was unhappy with corporate box gyms who saw clients as numbers that generated income, I was bored with “8-week bikini body transformations” and I knew that I was searching for a way to change people’s lives through health and fitness, in a big way.
In March of 2016, a client and friend, Emily, asked if she could re-do my website, which at the time, I was calling “Peak Performance Fitness” ... not a bad name but really it’s just a bunch of buzzwords that don’t really mean anything…. that could’ve been anyone. So I jumped at the opportunity for her website design help. I was feeling completely overwhelmed by grandiose ideas and big dreams bouncing around in my brain about something I couldn’t even put into words yet.
Emily, I will be forever grateful to you. You saw me when no one else saw me. Thank you for offering to help me, and more importantly believing in me enough to hear my vision, and giving me the courage to make that vision into a tangible reality.
This time last March, Emily and I sat down for lunch at the Protein Bar on S Colorado Blvd as I discussed with her what I wanted to do with my ideal fitness company. I was sick of fitness being only seen as a remedy for “being fat”, as if that was unanimous with being evil. I was sick of our culture’s disregard for mental health needs and care. I was sick of being told what I could and couldn’t do with clients strictly based on a cookie-cutter model. I explained to her that I wanted my fitness company to be something radically different. I wanted to integrate fitness with mental health AND nutrition. These three crucial components of one’s overall health have primarily been seen as independent of one another, but it is my firm belief that it is through their integration that a person can thrive, not just survive. I wanted to build a community of like-mined people who support each other and helped to lift each other up.
So with that, Emily took my vision and turned it into a website. We didn’t have a name yet… as that took more time to stew.
In April, I started looking in my immediate community for other like-minded women who would be interested in helping me get this project off the ground. Women who were interested in empowering others and changing the world at the same time. With this I found Elizabeth Reed, Katie Keel, Emily Winslow, Casey Fitzgerald and two others who are no longer with FemTribe. These ladies helped me start the blog portion of the FemTribe website. The women on the FemTribe team are incredibly educated and talented in a vast array of experiences and skills. So the goal was to create a blogging schedule which would give voice to these special women in hopes of educating and empowering other women in our world. In addition to creating a team of talented women to support me and FemTribe, I spent this month working on the website, generating ideas, training clients, and teaching classes. This was also when the name FemTribe was created, as well as the logo. The name FemTribe was perfect. It conveyed my message… female community. A tribe. A support system. So much better that Peak Performance Fitness…am I right?!
Blogs: a few of the past year's highlights
In May, FemTribe signed up to sponsor a few summer events as a way to get out into the community and start spreading the FemTribe message. We did events such as the Tribella and Outdoor Divas, both all-female triathlons, as well as the Tour de Ladies, which is a 60-mile all-female cycle race in Parker, CO. With this, we also got a beautiful 10X10 custom branded pop-up tent and matching table cloth from Brendan at Dagmar Branding. Plus, FemTribe swag such as shirts, printouts, and business cards. We were looking pretty legit and it felt great!
In June, we set up our tent at the Tribella Triathlon. We wanted to get the FemTribe name out into the community and talk to anyone who would listen about our mission. This was also my first time participating in a triathlon. Another FemTribe team member, Katie Keel, did this with me. To this day, it is one of the most fun athletic events I have ever participated in. And having Katie by my side was amazing. I knew then and I still know now, Katie is the real deal. She is genuine, honest, brave, caring, brilliant, and athletic..... EXACTLY the type of woman I want by my side on this journey.
In July we set up the FemTribe booth at the Tour de Ladies race. We had our “smash the scale” contest in which people could take turns swinging a large sledge hammer at weight scales (very cathartic). In addition, we also had a pull-up contest with our own free-standing pull-up bar and body-positive interactive life-size photo frames. This was my first time riding in the 66-mile road bike race, and I completely fell in love with the sport of cycling. It was also at the end of this month that we unexpectedly had to start looking for a new gym home. It was time to move from our 2+ year home at STAC Fitness Center to Ascent Fitness.
It was also in July that FemTribe took a field trip with 15 clients down to the Manitou Springs Incline. It was a killer workout and many of our clients first venture up the daunting stairs. (By the way, pictures from all these events are below in a slideshow)
In August, we made a big switch. It was scary and overwhelming but I moved FemTribe to Ascent Fitness. It is one of the best decisions I made this past year as it allowed me to give my clients better workouts in a larger and more comprehensive space. It was during this month that we set up our last FemTribe booth at the Outdoor Diva’s triathlon. I competed in my last triathlon of the season and decreased my time by finishing in 4th place overall for my age group. While I still have much more training and learning to do (especially in the swimming department), participating in these events opened up my eyes to a whole new side to fitness that I was LOVING!
It was also during this month that I made another big decision. That decision was to bring my husband, Brendan, onto the FemTribe team. He has been an avid fitness enthusiast for years and played baseball at Metro State in downtown Denver. He is no stranger to the gym and in addition, has skills in business, sales, and marketing. Not to mention that Brendan and I work really well together as a team. #powercouple
August was also a crazy month because not only did FemTribe move to a whole new space, Brendan and I got married on August 27. And I started graduate school at Regis University on August 20. This was one of the most stressful and challenging months of the past 12. While I was genuinely excited about my marriage, school, and FemTribe, it was WAY too much to be happening all at once. I was overwhelmed and wanted to throw in the towel.
September – December was a dizzying cocktail of “oh shit!”, “okay, I think I can do this” and “oh my gosh, what have I done?! I want to quit”. I was trying to figure out how to be a full time student AND keep the forward momentum going with FemTribe, while trying to navigate my new life as a married woman. But again, this was way more difficult than I ever imagined. Days were long, extremely difficult, and I cried. A lot. But I also knew deep down that this was what I was meant to do. So I kept pushing.
In September we also held our first “Work(out) With Your Dog” event outdoors in the vacant lot behind Ascent Fitness. It was the last warm weekend before the snow hit and the class was a HUGE success. We had tons of dogs, a great workout, and again set up the full FemTribe tent/booth.
It was during this month that another great person walked into my life. What started as a social media internship, turned into the beginning of a great partnership. Amanda Brant was referred to me by a client, as Amanda was a new mom with a degree in nutrition who was looking for a company to work with that held some of the same values that she did. We hit it off right away and Amanda is currently our lead nutritionist.
December was a month of giving! With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, a season about buying gifts for others, FemTribe decided to give the gift of fitness. Because in our minds, that's the greatest gift of all! As a way to give back to the community, FemTribe had a "Month of Free Fitness!" All the Zumba, Insanity, and Bootcamps were completely free of charge.
At the start of the 2017, I was determined to find a better work-school-life balance. I set a personal boundary by only allowing myself to take two classes at Regis (which is still full-time status) as opposed to the three classes I had taken in my first semester. This helped tremendously.
Throughout January and February, things were still difficult. When I wasn’t behind on school work, I was behind on FemTribe work. And when I was caught up on those two subjects, all my personal relationships were struggling.
At the end of January, I got a very interesting email from a lady named Ali. To preface this, I get a plethora of emails each week and surprisingly, a lot from nutritionist in the community who want to be a part of FemTribe, but this email was different. Ali was not only a nutritionist, but a yoga teacher and personal trainer as well. She was enthusiastic, intelligent, and genuine. I could tell during our first meeting that she has a heart of gold, and hoped that she would join the team. Luckily for me, she did.
Here is Ali’s first blog:
In February, FemTribe hosted two fun events. The first was a Zumba Benefit class for the Humane League of Denver. A former Zumba student of mine, who also works for the Humane League, reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in teaching a benefit class for the animals. Of course I said yes! In addition, we held the first ever FemTribe Dinner Club. We had a light meal, enjoyed some conversation, games, and a bonfire with s’mores, and as a community sat down to discuss the future of FemTribe.
I have a lot to be thankful for… a lot. But one thing that I am THE MOST thankful for is my clients. I have some clients who have stayed with me literally through thick and thin. I moved to Denver almost five years ago and started training at a 24 Hour Fitness right away. Since then I have moved to four gyms and had about ten clients who have followed me the entire time. Without their support and belief in me, I would absolutely not be where I am today. If I am considered a success, it is only because of my clients.
I have had more heart break, struggle, and excitement over the past year due to FemTribe then I have ever had in my entire life. It is equally frightening and exciting to think about where FemTribe could go.
So here is what I have learned:
1. Starting a business is incredibly hard.
2. People will disappoint me.
3. I will disappoint people.
4. I know I am on the right track for living a life that I am proud of and love.
5. I know that FemTribe is needed in this world.
6. I know that I can try my hardest and I still might fail. (I hate this fact so much)
7. I know that failure is the only thing that is going to move me forward and make me better.
8. I know that I have a sensitive heart.
9. I know this is what I want to do.