Saturday, October 23rd, marks the end of an era. The studio at 3528 Alameda opened on March 28, 2009, nine years after I migrated west immediately after graduating from Georgetown University to start an investment banking job on Sand Hill Road. Several years later, newly married and sick of the San Francisco fog, Tony and I decided to relocate to “that warm sunny suburb” and open a fitness business. Nine months later we opened our second studio in Los Altos and 2 months after that, we welcomed our first daughter, Ava. What started as a whirlwind has continued as we have navigated ups and downs, masks and vaxs, and so much more.
I have learned more than I could have ever imagined. I am most grateful for the gifts of gratitude and perspective, as they have helped me both treasure and prioritize what is most important in life.
10. Taking a risk. SO many people told me we were crazy to open a business, sign a personal guarantee on a leased space, and commit “career suicide” by stepping back from corporate America. As scary as it was, especially in the midst of the economic downturn of 2008, I am so grateful I took the leap. As hard as it has been, it would have been harder to sit on the sidelines thinking, wishing and wondering what could have been.
9. Investing in people. Human relationships are complicated. I have learned more about people than I ever cared to know. I have been burned and betrayed. I have been supported and seen. I have given everything I have, only to realize that it’s simultaneously too much and never enough. Yet, I appreciate the opportunities to navigate tricky situations as much as I appreciate knowing some of the greatest people who have ever walked the planet. I have honed my people-radar skills and am grateful for the real, raw and true Blue Crew.
8. Being vulnerable. I was given the advice early on to “play it close to the vest” and to “never let anyone see you cry, struggle or stress.” Clearly I didn’t comply. 😉 I have put myself out there since day 1. I don’t know any other way. And as hard as it is sometimes to be vulnerable, like risk-taking, I’d rather put myself out there and fall on my face, than never put myself out there at all. I work hard. I love harder. I invest in people because I believe connection and authenticity makes the world go round, at least the kind of world I want to live in. And, sometimes it hurts. But I imagine that for me, being closed off and guarded would be even harder.
7. Giving a shit. I care. A lot. Not just about the “here and now”, but in the future. Not just about myself, but about others. I believe that the actions of today impact the outcomes of tomorrow. Meanwhile, I’m living and operating in an industry that is all about the fleeting, flashy fads. Stronger, faster, better. More is more. How it will make you look on the outside trumps how it makes you feel about yourself on the inside. While this may be a short-term win and the most profitable approach for the bottom line, I believe in doing right by people now AND in the future. The whole mission of Alkalign and the principles we practice are completely counterintuitive to what we are trained to believe and what the fitness industry promotes. Sexy sells. Safety and sustainability do not. Yet, I continue to swim upstream in the hopes that I will plant seeds that will help people flourish in the future.
6. Setting boundaries. This was perhaps the hardest thing for me to learn but it has made all the difference, in business and in life. I am a passionate person. As much as I want to help people, I have also learned that I can only do so much. People have to be accountable to themselves, and I am no exception. Self-care isn’t selfish, it is essential. You can’t pour from an empty cup and the more I fill my own, the more I have to share with others.
5. Listening to my gut. I love the quote “Listen to your gut. It knows what your head hasn’t figured out yet.” My gut has always been talking to me. It has taken most of my life to truly listen. As a history major and former finance person, I rely on facts. I crunch numbers. I study anatomy. I geek out on the how and WHY things work. But not everything in life is black or white. It’s in the gray that I’ve learned to trust my gut.
4. Doing the “invisible” work. There is a lot that goes into a business. And if that business is run well, you have no idea it’s even happening. My amazing team and I have invested and continue to invest a ton of time and energy into all that Alkalign is and will be. There is no awards ceremony for best customer service or the cleanest studio. There are no accolades for never running out of toilet paper or for always having a consistent schedule even when staffing is nearly impossible. There is no spotlight shining on the fact that people get stronger and smarter at Alkalign while feeling supported vs. being mentally and physically broken from their workout. Much of this goes unnoticed, and that’s when I know we are truly making a difference.
3. Doing the right thing. The world we live in is complicated, especially in these days of COVID. I have witnessed kindness and compassion, anger and ignorance, and everything in between. Through it all I have always put the health and safety of my clients and community first. From long-term joint health to a global health pandemic, I will never regret prioritizing people over profit.
2. Celebrating success. I was raised to not display successes and to be ashamed of failure. Well, I disagree. The Menlo studio has been a tremendous success and the fact we are closing doesn’t change that. COVID sucks. It has impacted many types of businesses. Fitness already had so many obstacles. Additional restrictions and fears didn’t help. I am extremely proud of everything we have accomplished and everything we have and will continue to contribute to the community, both in our Los Altos studio and globally with our livestream presence.
1. Having fun. Life is too short to take yourself too seriously and I strive to always put the FUN in FUNctional. I will never regret renting a giant boozy bus (aka Silicon x Sea Sips) to come serve beverages at our Menlo Grand Finale party. I will never regret buying more wigs and costumes than I can count. I will never regret singing Happy Birthday to clients in my horrible “strangled cat” soprano. I will never regret living and loving with all my heart. I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve this community, and in the process, learn and grow both personally and professionally.
With gratitude and appreciation for all of you and all of this amazing life we get to live,