Welcome to a new post in my fun series called “Coffee Chat.” This series is focused on inspirational women who love their jobs and want to inspire other women to find their passions and transform their lives. Today’s coffee chat features Katie Landa who is the owner of Recess Endurance, in Scottsdale, Arizona, a gym that offers all the critical components of fitness: flexibility, mobility, core conditioning, strength and resiliency. Keep reading to see how Katie got inspired to go down the career path as an entrepreneur, plus her three main tips to those who are considering a similar career path!

1. Where do you live and what is one random fact about you to break the ice with our readers?

I currently live in Phoenix Arizona. One random fact about is that I am a horrible passenger in the car, yet I have heard I am very scary to drive with when I am behind the wheel.

2. What is the first thing you like to do before you start your day?

5 out of 7 mornings, I start my day at 4:30am to teach classes. As much as I would love to be prepared for the day, I typically have just enough time to make coffee, get dressed and head out the door. There is little to no room for emergencies to take place. Probably not advised. But on the other mornings, I love having my coffee in bed and just sitting in silence and my thoughts. No phone. No email. Just time to be present. Then I love to get the body going so I will go for a run, bike or do a workout (that isn’t one I am coaching).

3. What inspired you to go choose your career path as an entrepreneur? Is there a childhood memory that made you decide?

While I was attending Pepperdine University for my MBA, I was completely alone. I had no friends, or family out in California and found it difficult to meet genuine people. So I started taking fitness classes all over! Yoga, bootcamps, spin and after some time, I started looking at each one as a business. What did I like? Not like? What would I do differently and why? I became certified really started to pursue my passion for performing, fitness and helping others all lumped into one.

There isn’t necessarily one specific memory. I trained for triathlons for years and loved for the concept of endurance, physically and mentally. I also loved the idea of joining a group of like minded people, all with different backgrounds, to all pursue and train for a particular event. So I decided that community and comfort had to be a HUGE part of what would make Recess successful.

4. What was your very first step to get you where you are today as an entrepreneur?

Ha! It’s hard to remember one particular step. It took me years… probably 6, before I started to heavily pursue this as a possibility for me. I had never started anything on my own and the idea and concept was so overwhelming! There’s so much that goes into it and knowing which step comes first!? I spent about 2 years looking into real estate for a location. It took forever!! Places were either too small, too big, no parking, too high of rent, too saturated, etc. But when we came across one that seemed “okay,” my dad sat, “If this is something you want to do, you need to go for it. You will always wonder otherwise, and you will never regret doing it. Only not doing it!” The biggest step I remember was signing a 3 year lease. I walked out of that office saying, “hoollyyyy shit, here we go!” 

5. What was your big challenge you had to overcome to help you move forward with growing your business with new clients/customers?

I started Recess with zero following. I opened my doors with 6 gyms in walking distance. I sat each day at Recess for 14-16 hour waiting for one person to walk through the door. The business quickly felt emotionally, mentally and physically draining. My biggest challenge was having patience. Continuing to market, sell, network, give 100% energy and motivation to a spin class of 1 vs 4 vs 20, and trust that it would pay off over time. This is not a challenge I have overcome yet. I am constantly working at it. Learning to be working at my maximum capacity, with as much passion, love and excitement each day, for little to no money and having patience that it will all pay off in the end.

6. What are three habits you would recommend to someone pursuing their dream career as an entrepreneur?

  1. Check your circle of friends and be willing to cut people out. Surround yourself only with those who are supportive of you, smarter than you, more creative and seeking growth. Never be the smarted woman (man) in the room.
  2. Be willing to make bold moves.
  3. Be patient and celebrate small wins.

7. How would you describe your support network? Who is in it?

Wow, I have been very fortunate in this area. My parents and my boyfriend, Tim attend Recess classes every day. They build relationships with members by doing events, dinners, vacations outside of Recess, creating a sense of family and close knit community, which helps keep our retention high. My mom helps me at the gym full time working on maintenance of the facility, cleaning, decorating, marketing and more! Without hesitation of longs hours or weekend time spent in the office cleaning bathrooms and floors is a norm around here. They firmly believe I have what it takes to make Recess a flourishing business and will do just about anything to support that for me.

8. What’s one skill you are currently working on to be an effective leader?

Learning to take time for myself to rest and recover. It’s so easy for us business owners to work 24/7. We love what we do and it doesn’t feel like work to us. However, burn out happens to everyone and if you are not careful it can quickly have a negative impact on the company. I am learning to get coverage of classes, plan trips and weekend getaways so that when I am working, I am an effective leader, a positive role model, a healthy and happy leader and coach, and a happy and present friend and partner in my personal life.

9. To balance out your work life, what’s your fitness and health regime?

I take care of my home on Sundays. It’s important to me to start the week with a clean and organized home. Laundry done, fridge stocked and meals prepped for the week. Outside of all the workouts I do at Recess Endurance, I love to get out and go for bike rides, swims and runs on the mornings I am not coaching.

10. What is one book that helped you on your career journey that you would recommend?

There have been so many, but I really enjoy all of Brendon Buchard’s books. His story is very eye opening!

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