Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sam Leicht, founder and CEO of Pridefit, located in New York City, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Pridefit is an online fitness program and community focused on sustainable health! The pandemic finally gave people the opportunity to take care of their health for reasons other than aesthetics, and our (primarily queer) community has exploded in the past year and a half with people who have made the mindset shift to long-term health instead of short term progress pictures and weigh-ins.
Many of our members don't feel comfortable going to a gym, so while the Pridefit gym program is very popular, our home program gives people the flexibility to move from home with just a set of dumbbells. Making fitness accessible for all has been and will continue to be our primary mission.
Tell us about yourself
I was working as an actor on Broadway and a personal trainer when the pandemic hit. I had no choice but to shift my business completely online, and I'm so glad I did because there is a huge need for community and fitness training that focuses on positive, joyful movement instead of burning the most calories and looking the best.
I found that what I loved most about fitness classes was the community at the gym, and we were able to replicate this through Slack and social media in a way I never would have thought possible. Helping people learn to enjoy movement is the biggest motivator I could ask for. So many people, especially in the LGBTQIA+ community, grew up feeling ostracized from exercise or sports, and helping people realize that movement can be fun and make you feel good is *chef's kiss*.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Wow, I'm not really sure. This past weekend we had our first in-person event in Central Park and had 50+ Pridefit members running a 5k in person and 100+ members running virtually. More importantly, seeing our members who have spoken on Slack for the past year finally get to meet and hug for the very first time - it was absolutely incredible to watch.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I can think of two off the top of my head:
- Taking time for yourself is incredibly challenging. It feels like any moment you're not spending on the business is a moment wasted, but it's not true. If you go too long without recharging, and I mean really recharging, you are going to pay for weeks, if not months, when the burnout comes. Just like over-exercising, it's a recipe for disaster.
- Growth is, of course, a challenge. As a small business, you don't have the resources for marketing that huge fitness brands have, so taking advantage of the organic marketing available to you is essential, easier said than done when social media companies continue to change how they run their platforms. You have to be constantly evolving to not get left behind, which adds to the challenge of trying not to work too much (see number 1!).
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Niche down way more than you think you should. You will not saturate your niche. I promise.
- Social media is the only resource that is free to small businesses. Instead of resenting it, learn to enjoy it as part of the process. Believe it or not, even with the platforms being toxic in certain usages, you can be super creative if you get past the superficiality.
- Put your own oxygen mask on first. You are doing a disservice to your business if you aren't taking care of your body through sleep, nutrition, exercise, and stress management. They need to be non-negotiables so that you can run your incredible business to the best of your ability. It's not selfish; it's thinking long-term and sustainably.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
If you're queer (or an ally!), check out Pridefit! We have the best time sweating together and being in a community of people who lift each other up!
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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