Fitness studio taking on obesity and the economy
Owning a gymnastics studio is a tough business in any economy. There is a select number of interested youth and the teacher-to-student ratios are typically pretty high.
So when the recession hit, Nikki Warren, owner of Tumbleweeds Gymnastics, was looking at a grim future.
Instead, the past three years have been the most profitable out of the nearly 10 years she’s owned the Carson City business.
“You’ve got to be scrappy in this economy,” Warren said. “It’s not that people aren’t willing to spend money, they’re just more picky about what they spend it on. And people need us.”
A new business model
Warren has always coached gymnastics because it’s fun, she said. But she started to notice a disconnect with the parents.
“I looked up at the moms and they’re cheering on their kids, but they’re just sitting there the whole time.”
That’s when she came up with the idea to offer something to the mothers. So she started a fitness class, called Moxy, three years ago where women could work out, yet maintain an atmosphere of fun.
“We’re teaching women that we’re still allowed to play,” she said. “I encourage moms and adults to get out and do a handstand. If your kids are playing on the monkey bars, jump up there with them. Do the little things that keep you young.”
An avid runner, Kristen Loos joined the Gardnerville class as a way to stay in shape. She soon dubbed it her favorite program.
“It’s the best,” she said. “It drives you to want to work out.”
Around the same time, Loos and local businesswoman Sharon Kassity were discussing options to develop a business together.
Kassity, the owner of the local McDonald’s stores and mother to a Tumbleweeds gymnast, also was enrolled in Moxy.
It wasn’t long before the two women developed their business concept and approached Warren about franchising her operation.
Moxy became Kaia F.I.T. – Functional, Intense Training for Women – on Jan. 1.
The women trademarked their name and their workouts. They market the program to other owners of gymnastic, dance and yoga studios, who already have the equipment and the possible clientele.
“You can sell anything you’re passionate about,” Loos said. “I’m so passionate about this. I want all the world to feel as good as I do when I leave a workout. It’s as simple as that.”
Instructors are trained in Carson City and given the tools to run the program out of their own locations.
It creates a synergy, Warren said, that benefits both aspects of the business.
Moms who sign up for the fitness class may want to enroll their children in the studio, as Loos did. And mothers whose children are involved in the studio may want to sign up for the fitness class, as Kassity did.
A branch is opening soon in south Reno, with locations in Florida, Colorado and Maine in the works.
“We certify them,” Kassity said. “Then they build their classes with the women already in their lobbies.”
Kaia F.I.T offers a variety of sessions, including four boot camps a year. During the last six-week boot camp, 100 women lost a combined 485 pounds.
Two women lost 27 pounds each during the six weeks.
“Every single day you watch yourself transform,” Warren said. “All of the sudden you’re saying, I’m an athlete.”
And there are other benefits as well.
“Fitness changes your whole mindset and attitude,” Loos said. “You can be more creative when you’re healthy. It clears your mind so you can reach all of your goals.”
Warren chose to name the program Kaia because it means “One with the beautiful body,” but also as an homage to her son Kai.
“He came into this world with lots of health issues, and he was a little fighter,” she said. “He’s strong now, but it was a struggle.
“We’re fighting too. It’s fighting not only to be thin, but it’s fighting for your life.”