We had the good fortune of connecting with Kim Itzla and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kim, can you share the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
In my previous career, I was in sales and operations working with Fortune 500 corporations and large healthcare systems for many years so I was exposed to multiple personalities within multiple entities. The lesson that helped me the most is to listen to people and don’t make assumptions. Now that I own my own gym, it comes into play daily. It may be talking to a potential new member, making sure an existing client is getting what they need and are happy and very rarely, it may be taking care of an issue or frustration. When people know you are listening to them, it makes a difference in how they feel about you and your business. We live in a community where many people know each other and they have diverse careers, personalities and backgrounds. Listening has helped me in all facets of business.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started as a receptionist in a company that sold copiers. Over time, I moved into Customer Service. Our company was sold to a larger company and I was going to work with the original owner at his new venture. The President of the new company called me in and wanted to know why I was leaving and I told him I had acquired too many hats over time and it was getting to be more than I could keep up with and still do a good job. He asked what I liked about my job and then asked me what I didn’t like. I had nothing to lose so I was honest and straightforward. He sat back and said okay, all those responsibilities are no longer yours and you are staying. Over the years, he mentored me and put me in a support role taking care of our house clients. As I learned more, he continued to mentor me and eventually I ended up in sales. I had a long and successful sales career.
In 2016, I went to a small local company working for a former boss for a few years and when they ran into financial difficulties, I decided to take some time off. I was able to help a friend who’s father was ill and just took some time. I had multiple job offers but I wasn’t in a hurry to jump back in and helping with his dad was more important. I continued to go to the gym every day to make sure I was taking care of myself. I was an original investor and was one of the original members. One day I heard the owner was thinking about selling and I had an aha moment. I knew right then that was what I wanted to do when I grew up.
It took about 6 months of negotiating and I took the gym over Feb 1, 2020 and 6 weeks later we were closed down by the city due to Covid. We got creative and trained outside and when that stopped being an option, we moved the gym to an offsite location. It was definitely challenging, new business and no income but we pulled through. I was able to use my prior business experiences to negotiate our rent and other expenses so we could survive while we were closed and most of our clients and trainers hung in there with us. While we were closed we pulled the trigger on all the improvements we were planning on. Fortunately construction was considered necessary so when our members came back, it was like a new gym. It took time to get some of our members comfortable enough to come back but we were lucky that we got some new clients in the interim. They preferred our boutique gym to the big boxes. Our protocols were very strict and we kept everything sparkling clean. We were cleaning regularly before Covid and increased our frequency to insure it stayed safe. We still clean regularly but have gone back to normal rotations.We also had the foresight to acquire an airPHX which runs 24 hours a day and has been proven to kill Covid and any other viruses in the air and on surfaces. It was developed originally for the military and we were one of the first places in Texas to get one.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Although things are opening back up, I am still staying closer to home because we have so much to offer locally and we want to support them. We would have dinner at Perry’s, definitely drinks and snacks at Moxie’s. Being in Texas, you can’t miss out on barbecue so we would head to Feedstore Barbecue. We would head to Las Colinas for Blue Fish although RA would work if we wanted to stay local. We probably would go hit Main Street in Grapevine and wander around. There are plenty of places to drink and snack and we would have to show them Harvest Hall .
Assuming we could, we would head to Dallas and hit the museums and Klyde Warren, plenty of places to eat and drink. Town Hearth is one of my favorites and in Fort Worth, we love Grace.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Thank you to my family and friends! Special thank you to my gym family which is made of our trainers, members and staff. It takes a village and I appreciate everyone that hung in through the challenges last year. They are the reason that we are doing well and growing.
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