Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Natalie Baumchen, Owner of Fit Collective Denver, located in Denver, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Fit Collective is a female-owned and operated fitness studio in Denver, CO. Our tagline is 'fitness for everyone,' and we provide fitness classes in multiple formats for individuals of all levels! My company started as free Instagram live workouts, which evolved into a virtual fitness platform and eventually a physical studio. We currently offer more than 30 in-person weekly classes, 17 virtual live classes, special events, and 80 workouts on demand. The age of our clientele ranges from college-aged to over 55. We work with local groups and organizations to offer donation-based classes as a way to give back to our community!
Tell us about yourself
I have been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years - working as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and program director in both the private and public sectors. I have an undergraduate degree in Exercise Science and a Master's degree in Exercise Psychology. I was working full-time in public recreation when the pandemic struck, and my position was eliminated.
As a single mom of twin girls, I knew it was a risk to start my own company, but it was something I had always wanted to do. I started offering 5-6 free IG live classes per week from my living room, and people from all over reached out in support. During such a trying and uncertain time, they were grateful to have a way to move for both their physical and mental health. With a strong support system behind me, I decided to launch Fit Collective in 2020.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Opening my studio! I was at a crossroads in my career where the virtual platform was sustaining itself, but I wasn't generating income for myself and my family. I knew I'd have to either look for a full-time position somewhere or take the leap and open a studio, so I took the leap! I signed a 10-year lease and used all my savings to pay for the studio buildout. When the doors opened in November of 2021, I couldn't be prouder of myself.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Finding balance, especially at the onset. With a limited budget, I'm not yet able to hire administrative help, so I am responsible for all aspects of business operations and administration. The cost is late nights and early mornings, performing everything from accounting to web development. 'Learning by doing' is a humbling experience as there are many lessons that come along the way. There is ALWAYS something to do, and with two young children, I find (like many other parents) when I'm focused on work, I feel like I'm not being an attentive mother, but when I'm focused on mothering, I'm not being an attentive business owner.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don't hesitate to find other business owners in the same or different industries and ask for guidance. I looked to a few of my colleagues who have been successful and ran ideas by them, asked for product/service recommendations, and inquired about the mistakes they made early on.
- Trust your gut. People have all sorts of ideas of how things "should" be done, but your intuition is extremely important. Even if it turns out to be a failure or flop, you will learn and grow as a business and individual.
- Hire good people and express gratitude for them. I have a staff of 15 fitness instructors who work fewer than 5 hours per week for me, but it's important they share my mission and vision for the company. I ask for their input and feedback constantly because I respect and value it. The more staff is invested and more engaged they are, the more they positively add to the community.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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