Work, family, fitness, how can you get it all done?
“Having it all” is a concept that people have been chasing for decades. Balancing your career, friends and family, and your health is a constant juggling act. At one point or another, we’ve all let one ball fall. But what if there was a way to incorporate at least one or two of your goals so you can feel healthy, spend time with your loved ones, and still kill it at work?
Bonnie Micheli and Tracy Roemer met as young moms in Chicago where they shared their frustration with not having workout options that met their needs as active parents. So they came up with their own. Today they're best friends and business partners in a fast growing fitness company called Shred415, a multimillion-dollar business with nine locations, and they're getting ready to launch franchises throughout the U.S. I recently interviewed Tracy and Bonnie for the LEADx Podcast, where we talked about their business and how we can all start shredding. (The interview below has been lightly edited for space and clarity.)
Kevin Kruse: Let's talk about Shred415. Where did the name come from?
Tracy Roemer: We wanted a name that when people heard it, they would understand that ‘shred’ means shredding pounds or shredding your body. But, more specifically, shred is strength + tread = shred. And then 4/15 is four 15-minute intervals. So on every 15 minutes, you either alternate from the treadmill to the floor or the floor to the treadmill.
Kruse: Is there a backstory to the name that you can share with us?
Roemer: Bonnie and I met as neighbors in Chicago. We would spend many hours in the alleys watching our kids play, because that's what you do in Chicago. We have very clean alleys here. And we would discuss what Chicago was lacking on, in terms of boutique fitness. And we really enjoyed high-intensity interval training. And we couldn't find any studios in Chicago that motivated us enough to get into the studio to workout every day. And so we wanted something that would shred our baby weight and get us back to pre-mom shape. And we came up with the Shred.
Kruse: What gave you the courage to say, “We know what's out there, this is different and we can compete”?
Roemer: When we first started talking in 2010 and really brought Shred415 to life in 2011, there was no SoulCycle. SoulCycle was created in New York, but we really didn't hear about it yet. And so in Chicago, the landscape was all barre, pilates, and yoga. So nothing like high-intensity interval training in a boutique-fitness studio existed. And we just went for it. We saw the need, and we went for it.
I think Shred415 delivers a fun and challenging, sweat-inducing, heart-pumping workout. And we created an incredible community through that. We have a kid's room, so parents who had small children and who hadn't worked out together in years were finally able to workout. We were bringing these families in, and then they were meeting friends, and their kids were making friends in the kid's room. And this huge community was created through that.
Kruse: Do all of your locations have a kid's room?
Roemer: Yes. There's only one that does not. But out of the nine, eight of them have a kid's room.
Kruse: What did your friends and family members think about launching this business?
Roemer: I did not tell anybody that I was doing that. My husband and I decided to do this, and it was a huge risk for us. And there was no Plan B; there was only Plan A. So I honestly didn't want to hear from my friends and family that it wasn't a good idea. And I didn't want to be talked out of it, and therefore, we kept it to ourselves.
Bonnie Micheli: I have always been kind of a free spirit and I think my family was like, “Here she goes.” So yeah, they always knew I loved fitness so it was really fitting.
Kruse: It’s a huge project. How did you get it all done?
Roemer: We rely on a lot of help. We knew early on we were not experts at everything, and we didn't know everything. So we really talked to people about what we didn't know. So hiring a copywriter, hiring someone to help us with our website, and someone who had a law degree, someone who knew how to capture sales. I mean, different things that we were not experts on, we asked for help. We also really rely on our families. Our husbands and our kids are very supportive of what we do. And they understand how busy we can be at times. And they respect our jobs and what we do.
Kruse: Entrepreneurs often forget to delegate, but it seems like you figure out how to hire the right people early on.
Micheli: When Tracy and I opened, we didn't want to teach every class. We wanted to be awesome instructors and have everyone really want to take it but we wanted our instructors to be just as good as us. So we train them, and they taught the majority of the classes. She and I, when we opened, only taught four or five classes. And although people loved to take our class, our instructors are incredible. And we've always made sure our training program was amazing, so that they were top instructors.
Kruse: How do you go about hiring great talent, great instructors?
Roemer: We have two great directors of training that work for us. And so that's part of our delegation. We delegate the training of our team to our directors of training. And we have a very extensive training program that not only works on how they're going to motivate their clients but how they're going to talk to their clients, how they're going to instruct their clients, how their personality is going to be. And we spend a lot of time on ongoing training. So a new instructor may not start out really great, but at the end of the eight weeks, or at the end of three months of working with them, they're going to be quite amazing.
Micheli: And we've found some of our best instructors are actually Shredders. So they came on as clients. And we've had so many Shredders of the Month, which is who we feature once a month, who's lost a lot of weight or changed their life because of Shred. And we have a lot of Shredders of the Month that are now instructors.
Kruse: What advice would you give to the young first-time manager?
Micheli: Our best advice to a new manager would really be to get to know your clients and be yourself. This is exactly what Tracy and I did when we first opened. We didn't wear many hats, we wore all the hats. We cleaned. We worked the kid's room. We worked the front desk. But in doing that, we knew everybody that walked through our door. We knew about their families. And that's really what drove our community and what created it from the get-go. And that's what we would tell our managers. And that's what we do tell them, is get to know everyone that walks through your door. And really be yourself.
Kruse: I always like to challenge our listeners to get 1% better every. What would you challenge us to do?
Roemer: Make time for yourself. Create a goal, set a plan, and follow through on it. So even if it's just a little bit every day of exercising–obviously, we're going to talk about exercise. And we know that everybody is so busy in their lives today with either work, or kids, or both. And it's really challenging to find time to exercise. But if you can take even 5 or 10 minutes a day to get up, walk around the block, do a video online, and take that time just to move just a little bit, you'll find yourself in a better place.
Kruse: I’m an introvert, so going to a fitness class intimidates me, and yet I find it hard to maintain a workout schedule at home. What should I do?
Micheli: I do think we have people of all different personalities coming to Shred415. The lights are low. You're not in a spotlight. We don't do partner workouts. We really don't like partner workouts. But it is nice because, maybe, you would make a friend or two. And then they're like, “Where were you last week? Oh, you're busy?” And then you're like, “Oh, I’ve got to go and see my friends.” And it is a motivational thing to go into a class and take classes with other people.
Roemer: We absolutely believe that Shred415 is for everyone. And believe it or not, I think we're both introverts. But I think that you can walk, jog, or run in our class. You can pick your own weights. You can go all the way to the corner and not talk to a soul, or you can be right in the middle and high-five everyone as they come through the door.
You can pretty much be whoever you want in that class and not have to worry about anybody judging you, because we don't judge. We honestly just want everyone to come into Shred415 and get the best results that they can. And maybe one day you come in and you're not feeling it and you walk. And the next day you come in and you're feeling awesome and you start to jog or run. So however you're feeling that day, we want you to have the best experience.
Kevin Kruse is a New York Times bestselling author, host of the popular LEADx Leadership Podcast, and the CEO/Founder of LEADx.org, which provides free world-class leadership training, professional development and career advice for anyone, anywhere.