Episode 24 - Playing the Long Game
Angie Zak, after dominating her own fitness journey, decided she wanted to help others do the same. Although a full time gig as a social worker keeps her busy, Angie still opened Powerhouse Fitness Center and Yoga Studio. Balancing two businesses is no easy feat and Angie is going to talk to us about how she works smart and efficiently to keep herself from burning out.
Best way to reach her: email@example.com
Host - Dan: fitDEGREE is more than just two guys with microphones. It is the studio management software you've been looking for. For more info reach out to me on our website at www.fitdegree.com, on Instagram at the handle fitdegree, or my email dan.berger that's B-E-R-G-E-R at fitdegree.com to get the conversation started. All right now on to the show.
Host - Dan: What's going on everyone? Welcome back to another episode of the fitDEGREE podcast and thanks for tuning in. I'm Dan, your host, on the show. Joined by my co-host, Nick. Our guest today has a story that many of you can relate to if you ever put a whole lot on your plate. Our guest Angie Zak, after dominating her own fitness journey decided she wanted to help others do the same. Although a full-time gig as a social worker keeps her busy, Angie still opened PowerHouse Fitness Center and Yoga Studio. Balancing two businesses is no easy feat and Angie's going to talk to us about how she works smart and efficiently to keep herself for burning out. Thanks for coming on the show today, Angie. So, glad to have you. How are you?
Angie: Great. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Host - Dan: Great. So, yeah, from what Nick's told me you've got quite an awesome story that led you up to the opening and now operating of PowerHouse. Take us back to, I don't necessarily want to say the beginning, but wherever you think the best start of that story is and let our listeners know a little bit about how you went from point A to point B, and a little bit about the journey along the way?
Angie: Okay, great. Yeah. You know, I was always not super heavy as a kid but kind of bulkier, for sure. So, I struggled with my self-image and weight issues throughout my whole life probably but I grew up on a farm, so I was always busy. So, I wasn't like super overweight or anything like that but something I always wanted to do was kind of get into fitness. I just never seemed to really get there. It wasn't until about my mid-30s, I want to say, that I just decided, I really need to do something about it. I remember prior to that I would try to run. I would pretend I was a runner and go run.
Host - Dan: Ugh, running's miserable.
Angie: Yeah, and go for a run and I'd try a mile. I think, I could run maybe a quarter mile, maybe a quarter mile, I would say, and then walk a little bit, and run again. Which is great. It was still getting me out there and doing things. But I always just admired those fitness people. It was just such a dream of mine to be one of those people. After I got married, I kind of put on some weight. I just wasn't really feeling like myself and I remember actually sitting there thinking, you know like next lifetime, I got this next lifetime I'll do that fitness thing.
Angie: But something just clicked one winter and I was just like, "No this is ridiculous. You can get up. You can do this." And I started out just refocusing my diet. I actually cleaned out my cupboards and redid everything in my life and really focused on the fitness piece of it and was able to drop a hundred pounds.
Host - Dan: Wow.
Support - Nick: Wow.
Angie: It took about, I want to say, three years because I still had those days where I cheated, you know? Or just [crosstalk 00:03:26].
Support - Nick: Well, that makes it the lifestyle.
Host - Dan: Yeah, you don't want to drop it too fast because then your body's confused.
Support - Nick: If you told me three months, yeah, if you told me three months I'd be like, wait another three months, you'll probably going to put it all back on. But three years I think that sounds like a healthy time.
Angie: Yeah, so I went through that process. I tried a whole bunch of different things. And what I really realized is that I just need to ... you know it's okay to try new things. But you just need to focus on being a little bit more healthy in your diet and really work on that fitness piece. And so, yeah, through this whole thing I tried, I started to do yoga. That was kind of the last draw though. Like my friend had asked me for her birthday if I would go with her and I was like-
Host - Dan: Oh, that's sweet.
Angie: ... no, I'm never do yoga. Never going to be that person in yoga. Well, so, I went and I ended up loving it and after about two years I started to practice on my own at home and I just totally found a little niche with Buti Yoga. I'm not sure if you guys are familiar with that?
Host - Dan: Yeah. Yep. I've definitely heard about Buti Yoga.
Angie: Yes. So, I started Buti Yoga at home and I just really really fell in love with that. So, I got certified in Buti, I want to say, you know what year are now, 2019? I'm saying in May of 2017 is when I went and got certified for Buti Yoga. The reason why I got certified is just like I just felt so passionate about sharing this practice with other people. And Red Lake Falls doesn't really have a lot to offer as far as fitness, or it didn't. So, I just thought it was really great to be able to share this. So, I got certified and I started teaching Buti Yoga once a week in the back of the American Legion Bar in Red Lake Falls.
Host - Dan: Well, that's pretty cool.
Angie: Yeah, so they were kind enough to let me use that space for free. So, that was amazing. I had a great-
Support - Nick: Oh, that's fantastic.
Angie: Yeah, so I did that for, I want to say the summer of 2017 I did that, and at the same time the fitness owners of the gym were trying to sell and they wanted me, they thought I would be a great person to take over but I just didn't know if there was a space for a yoga studio in there. So, I kind of held off for a while. But then I realized that tearing down some walls, we could really make it work. So, I ended up purchasing that. So, it's a fitness center along with a yoga studio.
Host - Dan: Very cool.
Angie: My clients are able to go in 24/7. So, they just need to connect with me to kind of get set up because as you've said I work full-time as a social worker so, making appointments to get people memberships, that's the one tricky part, kind of working with other people's schedules and my schedule.
Host - Dan: So, really the 24 access or the autonomous access, you know you don't need to be there at the front desk, would you say that's a big piece that's been an enabler for you to work full-time and be able to manage this fitness studio?
Angie: Yeah, for sure. Without it, I don't think I would be able to function. I mean I still need to pay bills and so I need to, I'm now single holding a mortgage and bills for the gym and things like that. So, I definitely need right now to work full-time and without that, I don't think I'd be able to operate that business.
Host - Dan: Sure. So, is there a lot of honor system going on here? You know people being able to use these facilities without supervision, knowing they're going to clean up, put their weights back, keep things running smoothly so that it's not costing you more than it's bringing in?
Angie: Yes. And I'm very lucky. Red Lakes Falls, you know, is a smaller community. It's amazing. The people are amazing.
Host - Dan: That's awesome.
Angie: Yeah, they do look out for me. I mean I have people, I put the shovel in front of, or by the door, and kind of tease people that's an extra workout. So, they get there and shovel that snow for me. They understand I work full-time and so, you know they're pretty awesome about that stuff.
Support - Nick: Well, that's incredible. I know you said, maybe for a small community at first you think, oh, there's not a lot of fitness around here why would it be. But you know you only need, what, 15, 25, 50 people to really make something, make a business out of it. And it sounds like you have a group of loyal ones up there.
Angie: Yes, for sure, I do.
Host - Dan: It's very different from where we're from. The New Jersey, New York area, that sense of community I would have to say-
Support - Nick: Lack of.
Host - Dan: ... not. Yes, yes. Not as strong. Strong in the other direction.
Support - Nick: You couldn't trust them to put their weights away during normal operating hours. Forget if there wasn't a front desk girl there to make them feel less of a person by picking up their weights for them.
Angie: Right. And I never wanted to be one of those owners that had notes everywhere reminding people to do this or that, you know? And for the most part, I don't have to be so that's great.
Support - Nick: That is exciting. When we talked, I only talked about the yoga studio with you. I did not know that you ran this 24-hour gym as well. That's pretty neat. So, what is that mean for your business? Do you have a lot of people that are doing both? Do you have people that only do one? Talk to us about that?
Angie: Yeah, so, you know what? I have a mix. I do sell the yoga passes separately. There is a perk for the members for them to get 10% off. So, that kind of helps. And so, yeah, I have some people that just do the gym. But it's kind of neat because they just do the gym but some are kind of interested in the yoga. So, they kind of see people coming in and out so, it's kind of great to give them influencers in there [crosstalk 00:09:19].
Host - Dan: Tease them a little bit.
Angie: Yeah, like you should try this out. Yeah. But yeah, so they get 10% off if they are a gym member and then purchase the yoga passes.
Support - Nick: Right, so then now you got this started what, about a year ago you told us?
Angie: Yeah, in November of 2018, is when I opened.
Support - Nick: Okay, so less than a year. Right?
Support - Nick: Okay, so that's exciting. So, you're still within the first six months. What was-
Angie: Oh, gosh. You know, now that I think of it, it is.
Support - Nick: Yeah.
Angie: Oh, my god.
Host - Dan: It must be going really well if you're losing track of time.
Angie: I can't remember.
Support - Nick: You're having too much fun. Or that, or it's just been the longest six months of your life.
Angie: No, no, yes, November 2017.
Support - Nick: Yeah, you sound more like a veteran. So, now what was the hardest thing, because we talked about that you are working full-time while you maintain this. You have the studio with classes and instructors. You have the 24-hour gym. What was one of the biggest hurdles of starting the business, especially while you were working full-time? Other than you working full-time, what was one of the biggest hurdles?
Angie: Well, it was trying to figure out the best class schedule to fit both my student's needs and the times that work best for them and then also for me as a full-time worker trying to figure times that work for my schedule, and not burning out at the same time. So, it's changed over the year. You know I had a couple more classes and I took a couple away and then I added one and added different time slots. So, it's just, you know tweaking it here and there and trying different things out and seeing what works.
Support - Nick: So, now how do you avoid burnout?
Angie: I try to keep the weekends, you know my involvement in the gym on the weekends to a minimal. Just because I really want to take that time for me. I will set up times like to set up a new membership and stuff on the weekends, here and there, but I really try to just kind of digest on the weekends and then you know in the evenings at least allowing myself an hour. I hate to say that but at least an hour to kind of just relax and spend some time for myself.
Host - Dan: Well, that's a tough one. A lot of people look at their schedule, and they go, "Okay, I'm working from 8:00 in the morning, 7:00 in the morning, until 5:00, 6:00 at night," and then like, "Great, so I've got this many hours after work." But if you're going to the gym you have to cook food, grocery shop, errands, bills, whatever, those are things that add up time, and the next thing you know it's like, "I got to go to bed in 20 minutes. I didn't actually take a minute to sit and sit."
Support - Nick: Breathe.
Host - Dan: Do whatever, you know something you enjoy. Yeah. There's time there that's not work but you're by no means sitting there and/or just doing something to decompress.
Angie: Yeah, and you know some of the nights my hour to myself is still kind of running through my playlist. Because I do a lot of my yoga coincides with the music that I chose. I'm more of get into the music and kind of flow with the music. That's kind of the style that I have. So, even that hour I have at night, sometimes it is listening to my playlist for the next morning's class. But at least I'm just kind of listening and not actively thinking or worrying about other stuff.
Host - Dan: And if it's something you look forward to doing that also helps a whole lot, as opposed to something, "Oh, I have to do this."
Support - Nick: So, that's a good point too. Are you still, like when you go teach yoga has it ever felt like a drain at any point or is it still fun, new, and exciting, and work is good, work is work, but you know you're excited to teach those yoga classes on top of that long workday?
Angie: Usually, I want to say, yes I'm very excited. You know, there's some days where maybe I become like a little bit lazy. You know when I have those blizzard days like I [crosstalk 00:13:34].
Support - Nick: Extra long Savasana.
Angie: And I just kind of get lazy and I'm like, "Oh do I, you know I got to go teach." But once I get there, once I get in my studio, I am set. I'm ready to go.
Support - Nick: Well, that's great. Now, how do you separate the studio and the gym? Like I was just thinking as far like the noise. How is it separated?
Angie: Well, you know there is a wall in between and where we kind of ... my music is pretty loud in my yoga classes, yeah. Usually, it's not an issue. We do have one kind of little crew that goes to the gym and we kind of have little battles with the radio. They'll crank theirs a little bit louder, I'll crank mine a little bit louder, but we play with [crosstalk 00:14:17] when it's done. You know it's only an hour out of the day.
Support - Nick: Sure, I mean, yeah, as long as they get it that makes it work.
Angie: Yes. And I do want to say too. My studio and gym is in a little strip mall that our town has and so the walls in the mall kind of are a little bit bing and sometimes when I got my yoga classes going on but it's like I said, it's a small town people are amazing and it doesn't bother them, so that's great.
Host - Dan: Well, one of the other studio owners we talked to, the Grateful Yogini, she has a studio attached to a basketball gym. I don't know if you've ever been to a basketball gym but those things echo like that's what they were built to do and the squeaking of the shoes and bouncing of a ball. I mean that's a loud place to be and she said, she tried everything from extra thick curtains to louder music and somehow she's managed to make that studio work despite being in a very loud environment.
Host - Dan: So, in building the studio and in setting up the gym, did you have any experience working in a gym before, you know what kind of equipment you wanted to use, or the type of atmosphere you wanted to create there?
Angie: No, I actually hadn't at all. I had no experience actually.
Support - Nick: Sometimes that's the best way to start.
Support - Nick: A little naïve.
Angie: I had been going to the gym for like four years and kind of knew. You know, I did a lot of research on workouts and things like that. I would go to, I do go out and venture out to other gyms and kind of check out what's going on every once in a while, just to kind of get away and try something new. I think that's important. So, I had some ideas and at the time I was married and my ex-husband was a gym goer his whole life. So, he had some ideas too. So, I was grateful to have him to help through. He had helped me through the setup and stuff before we had split. It was great to have that knowledge too and that help.
Support - Nick: Yeah, I can imagine that help. How did you go about acquiring all that equipment?
Angie: The previous owners had most of the equipment that we have.
Host - Dan: Oh, that's great.
Support - Nick: Oh, so you bought a gym from someone.
Angie: Yep. Yep.
Support - Nick: And they probably had some existing clients? That probably helped too.
Angie: Yep. Yep. Yeah, so I had some returning clients and some new clients and so it's worked out pretty great.
Support - Nick: That's awesome. Now, how many classes a week do you have on your schedule and how many instructors do you have?
Angie: So, there's six classes I have right now and it's just me.
Support - Nick: Okay. Is it only yoga or is there also like some Boot Camp style classes I thought I saw on your Instagram?
Angie: So, yeah. I actually only do one Vinyasa Flow yoga, and I do my other yoga classes are a little bit different. So, I do a Power Sculpt where we're using weights along with the yoga poses, and I do a Power Core which is basically we're in a planking position either forearm or on our hands for most of the class. It's a half hour class and that one we're using our core and footwork to kind of keep our balance and working on that core. So, a little bit different and then Buti of course.
Support - Nick: Right, right. So, what was my next question going to be?
Host - Dan: I don't know. I wish I could, if I could read minds we'd probably wouldn't be doing a podcast right now.
Support - Nick: Excellent. All right. Oh, okay. So, now what the next steps for you in the horizon? So, you've had the studio for, it was November 2017 or November 2018, you opened?
Angie: On November 2017, I opened, yeah.
Support - Nick: Okay, so we're are at a year-and-a-half right now. What are the plans on the horizon for you? Is it to get away from the 9 to 5 job? Is it to keep balancing it? Is it to hire someone to help you expand the studio?
Angie: Well, for right now my hope is to try to find a full-time position possibly where I'm working from home.
Support - Nick: Okay.
Angie: So, I'll be working from home and still have maybe the feasibility to go and check in on the gym a couple times a day or meet with members on my breaks. Right now I not only work full-time but I'm driving 30 minutes to work.
Host - Dan: Yeah, that will add up.
Angie: Yeah, so I've had to take some extended lunches to go meet with members and my vacation to take time are very minimal. I've just accepted that that's going be the case. But you know, so, I'm hoping to work from home, have some more accessibility to the gym and increase my time there. Then hopefully, yes, either try to go down to part-time and work more at the gym and the yoga studio or just the yoga studio and gym altogether.
Support - Nick: Right, right. The goal, okay, I just wanted to make sure the goal is to get to that point.
Support - Nick: Then once you get to there we'll decide what the next steps are once we get there.
Angie: Yes. Yep.
Support - Nick: All right, well, Angie, thank you so much for coming on the show today. Is there any last words or any pieces of advice you learned throughout your journey that you want to share with our listeners?
Angie: You know I've been having so much fun.
Host - Dan: Well, that's great.
Angie: It's a big challenge. But for the most part, I'm having fun. I'm having fun exploring what I'm capable of doing that I didn't know I could do before. So, that's just having fun with that and just staying humble. It's been great.
Support - Nick: That's awesome. All right. Thank you so much for coming on and we hope to touch base and [inaudible 00:20:02] in the next couple of months and hope the next episode is making progress towards that dream.
Angie: All right. Thank you.
Host - Dan: So if you like this episode, be sure to go and leave us a review. Your feedback helps us make better episodes every week. If you're a studio fitness owners who wants to streamline processes with a studio management software that's actually affordable check out fitDEGREE. Go and find us at fitdegree.com, that's F-I-T-D-E-G-R-E-E.com to talk with the team member today. We'll see you back here next week, same day, same time for another podcast episode featuring amazing studio fitness owners. See you later everyone.