How I Started A Business Helping Mums Get In Shape During And After Pregnancy
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi! My name is Kate Johnson! I am a CrossFit and Pregnancy and Postpartum Athleticism Coach in beautiful northern Colorado. I’m also a mom to two adventurous little boys!
In 2018, I started my personal training business TulaFit, to fill a much-needed gap for women. It’s my mission to help educate and empower pregnant and postpartum women with the mindset and movement strategies that support long term strength and function to handle everyday mom life and get them back to the activities they love.
I offer in-person and remote consultations, programming, workshops, and coaching services. I work 5-10 hours a week in my business but have been able to reach hundreds of women by hosting workshops, working virtually, podcasts, and utilizing social media platforms like Instagram.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
There is a huge gap in helping women navigate pregnancy and postpartum fitness or even in general. Information and well-meaning words such as “listen to your body”, “keep doing what you’ve always done” to the other end of the spectrum of don’t lift more than 25 pounds are often given as considerations during this time.
That’s not enough.
As an athlete, I did not want to hear I could only lift 25 pounds. When I was told to listen to my body I thought I could do that… but what does that mean? How do you listen to a body that’s in constant change? I modified movements as I needed, but often more out of consideration for my growing belly not with the consideration of pelvic floor, structural, emotional or hormonal implications.
We need more support than generic blanket statements and that’s my mission in my business- spread awareness, education, and hope that women don’t have to feel alone in dealing with common issues like leaking, prolapse, and diastasis recti. There is so much help.
After the birth of my first son via emergency C-section, I was cleared to return back to exercise at 7 weeks postpartum. I was so excited but had no plan other than to get back to CrossFit. I wanted to feel like myself again. No one around me had or knew considerations that I should have been aware of. It was a humbling experience- one now I am forever grateful for. I still remember the shock and confusion the first time I leaked urine while jumping.
What had happened?
In a nutshell, I was told this was a common rite of motherhood. This was my new normal. In addition, I experienced pelvic pain, low back pain and diastasis recti that went undiagnosed until after the birth of my second son.
I felt alone and isolated which led me to take action- I wanted to know more and do better to help me heal and educate other women.
As an athlete, I wanted to regain strength, function, and performance, not just aesthetics. As a mom, I wanted to enjoy activities with my boys and be strong to care for them. As a coach, I wanted to better prepare women and know how to truly help them thrive during this season (and all seasons) which is why I pursue ongoing education in Pregnancy and Postpartum Athleticism.
I became a certified Pregnant & Postpartum Athleticism Coach in the fall of 2017. I have attended seminars on the pelvic floor and core health for Female Athletes. I work/collaborate and learn with some of the best Physical Therapists and Fitness Professionals in the world all in an effort to help women be aware and learn strategies that support long term strength, function, and performance.
This is more than a job. This is my passion. My purpose.
In the 18 months since I have started my business, I have been humbled and inspired by the stories women have been brave enough to share with me. I have coached numerous women both locally and around the world to help navigate pregnancy with specific strategies and programming, recently postpartum moms looking to rebuild their foundation to get back to doing what they love, and women who have their babies graduating high school because postpartum is forever.
I collaborate with Women’s Physical Therapists to host workshops along the Front Range of Colorado to educate and bring awareness to as many women, coaches, and communities as possible. I have held 7 large workshops and presented several free mini-workshops locally.
It’s not been easy balancing being a mom of two amazing little boys, coaching, and navigating a new business. I’ve spent more on ongoing education and workshops than I’ve made all with the intention of learning more and doing better. I am growing my foundation to serve others. I know this is my purpose. I went through a hard road of anxiety, pain, helplessness and have arrived on the other side with a voice and passion to help support women of all ages so they don’t have to say “I wish I would have known.”
In my job, I have helped high-level CrossFit athletes, Olympic lifters, casual gym-goers, and moms who just want to pick up their kids without pain. All moms are athletes and we all deserve a life of function and strength to do the things we love, whether that’s lifting weights, yoga, running, or jumping on the trampoline with our kids.
It’s time to be empowered and advocate for ourselves!
There is no shortcut in business. A foundation must first be laid to support growth ahead.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Well talking about vaginas and other often taboo subjects like leaking urine wasn’t ever something I saw myself doing. Prenatal and postpartum health is something that until recently hasn’t been offered as a service- so it’s still a bit of finding out what works and what doesn’t. I am by nature a quiet, more reserved person- yet sometimes we have to step beyond ourselves to do the work we are meant to do.
I was scared to start wondering if I was good enough… would what I had to offer or say resonate? I reached out to a local pelvic floor physical therapist who has now become a dear friend to ask if she would consider co-hosting a workshop for me. Workshops were where I started in my business. I could reach more people and introduce myself and my mission this way.
In the first workshop, I decided to charge only $20 for 3 hours' worth of content. I was nervous that no one would show up. I was wrong. We sold out plus some and I hit the ground running with more workshop requests, podcast invitations, and client inquiries. Better yet women were experiencing hope and help for the first time in dealing with issues that they had been told they would just have to deal with because they were a mom.
I have held 7 large workshops and three smaller free local workshops. This is a great way to utilize time and effort… I also now charge $50 for 3 hours. Hosting these workshops has led me to individual clients, first in person, and then as my social media posts have taken off has led me to offer remote availability.
In-person individual and group sessions are a passion of mine because I get to physically connect and help women in my community. It helps me also because my primary job is staying home with my kids so it's an amazing and much-needed outlet for me. However, it is difficult to find physical time to meet in person with clients or hold group classes which is a big benefit to me offering online services.
I have worked with women all over the world thanks to Zoom, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and individual coaching programs like TrueCoach. My most popular offering is a 60-90 minute virtual consult which ranges in price from $80-$100 in which we go through an assessment, learning strategies, and make a plan as needed for them moving forward. I follow up with an individualized resource document after the call for them to use. I’m currently designing an 8-week self-guided postpartum program and am looking to find a user-friendly platform to deliver- so many options- but my plan is to have this as an offer late 2019.
I rely mostly on word of mouth advertising and have not done any advertising for my business. As I continue to evolve and my time availability changes I plan to start more marketing endeavors!
Leading my first workshop!
Describe the process of launching the business.
Launching my business has been quite a learning experience! I started first with obtaining a Limited Liability Company through my state and then obtained business and professional liability insurance.
I used/use mostly credit cards to run my business but costs usually equate to my ongoing education. I don’t carry any overhead costs as I pay a percentage from my training sessions to the facility I work out of.
My largest expense right now is paying my business coach. I invested in myself last November to start learning more ins and outs of being an entrepreneur as well as receive ongoing support.
I currently utilize Squarespace to host my website and that has been a major learning curve! I am a very DIY person and for the most part, have accomplished what I need for the moment (although I already know in the years to come it's going to have to accommodate a lot more!)
I think I was also under the impression that everyone would visit the website as soon as I hit publish… it's a great tool to have out there but has not been where I receive the majority of my clients from.
I made my first logo on Canva! I liked it but it wasn’t what I wanted. Last July, I hired a friend of mine Freeline Creative to design my logo for a few hundred dollars which I love and helps set me apart! I’ve made t-shirts, hoodies, and even leggings with this logo which people (even my husband!) wear! I give them to clients to help “market” my business. It’s so fun to see my logo out there!
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The more authentic and vulnerable I am the more I connect and resonate with my particular audience. I work in a field where perfection is advertised all of the time. I work with a team of other professionals on trying to break down that wall.
My audience also loves learning and movement demo videos! Some of my best social media posts are a series I started earlier this year called #whiteboardwednesday for the pregnant and postpartum athlete. I am learning on how to address my ideal client and also add a call to action in my most recent posts. While I have not gotten the same amount of likes, I have gotten more direct messages to my inbox from women looking for help and that’s something I appreciate so much more!
Try not to compare yourself to others that are in the same field as you. Comparison is the thief of joy. It can set you back and keep you from helping the people you are meant to.
Keep showing up! Even on the days, I feel like no one cares what I have to say or I wonder if anything I am doing is resonating I am reminded that the work I am doing matters. A message from someone saying how much they appreciate my help. A testimonial. A peer giving me a shout out. Keep showing up.
I think I am unique as a business owner in that I am not looking to keep customers. I want them to fire me. Ideally, I want to work with women through the length of the pregnancy and then maybe for a year postpartum at most. Or perhaps a woman who is several years postpartum I’d want to help them for a set amount of time with the ultimate goal for all to get them back to doing what they love to do.
Here are some examples of my most successful social media posts!
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I am not currently turning a profit right now as I work to pay off investments I have made in my education and personal growth. My focus is on growing through word of mouth and social media right now all without spending for ads (for now!)
I use affiliate links when possible through Amazon, online courses, and nutrition companies.
My Instagram following is close to 2500 and I have almost 300 email subscribers, however, I don’t actively send email campaigns and I have begun making early 2020 action plans to send one a month.
Right now I am trying to balance motherhood, education, and frankly time to do everything I want and also need to! I look to impact where and how I can. I work about 10-15 hours a week between seeing in-person clients, consult calls, IG posts, education, and programming for clients.
My plan is to offer a virtual presence but my focus currently is putting more roots into my community to help impact those around me.
Short term goals include launching a new local 6-week program this October to be offered 3-4 times a year and long term goals would include turning a profit in the next 12 months so that we can go on a trip to Disney World with the kids and also finish our basement. 5-year goals would have both kids in school allowing me to work my business more full time with a more full-time salary but still work/life balance being the most important.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to other entrepreneurs, learn with them, celebrate and collaborate with them. So much more can be done in support of one another than against.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I’ve learned a lot over the last 18 months! I’ve found an incredible support system who has rallied behind my efforts and also have lost a few friends as a result. I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone to grow forward and then grow forward again- each time filled with anxiety but always with a focus on doing better to serve those around me.
I’m learning, just like with all things, that there is no shortcut here in business. A foundation must first be laid to support growth ahead.
It was hard at the beginning to put a price on my value selling my services. But through effort and knowing the value I can bring to so many people I’ve started to charge what I feel is a fair and reasonable price for my services. I will always try to offer what I can but need to respect myself and my time- and that has been a HUGE challenge. My time is valuable- get yourself a mentor if you have trouble believing this in yourself!
Here are some other things I've found to be important:
One of the best lessons I’ve learned is to go for it. There are always what if’s but if we don’t take that first step how do we grow? How do we achieve our goals? Certainly not on the sidelines. Take that big breath and step into “practicing brave” as my mentor and friend, Brianna Battles says. I have to remind myself all the time that I must be braver than my fears. I must keep my integrity and authenticity if I am to align with my core values as a woman, mother, and coach. The path is hard- sick kids, family schedules, insecurity, etc. You must believe in your purpose and have faith in yourself to bring you through the hard days.
Find your support: Life and business can be hard. I am surrounded by an incredible peer system of colleagues and friends that help lift me up all the time- and vice versa. Find your circle, so you can help support them just as much as you need them to support you- in all things and through all seasons of life!
This may sound silly but saying mantras and meditation have helped me focus. I often say mantras to help start my day including:
I can do hard things.
“Believe, breathe, and focus- you can do this.”
If those don’t work always surround yourself with a little Brene Brown: “Owning your story is the bravest thing you’ll ever do.”
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I currently use:
- Website: Squarespace
- Email campaigns: Mailchimp
- Remote Coaching/Programming: TrueCoach affiliate link
- Instagram: LinkTree
- Visual Images: Canva
- Video editing: InShot / iMovie
- Video Chat: ZOOM / Facebook Messenger
- Scheduling: Acuity affiliate link
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
- Brianna Battles: Pregnancy and Postpartum Athleticism Coaching Course
- Brett Bartholomew: Conscious Coaching: The Art and Science of Building Buy- In
- Lewis Howes: The School of Greatness
- Rachel Hollis: Girl, Stop Apologizing
- Jen Sincero: You are a Badass
- Antony Lo: The Women’s Health Podcast
Local resources! I look to attend local resource meetings with the Northern Colorado Women in Business, working on writing and blogging skills with Northern Colorado Moms blog, have meetups with other local businesswomen to learn and lean on one another.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
One of the best lessons I’ve learned is to go for it. There are always what if’s but if we don’t take that first step how do we grow? How do we achieve our goals? Certainly not on the sidelines. Take that big breath and step into “practicing brave” as my mentor and friend, Brianna Battles says.
Another great lesson is to try not to compare yourself to others that are in the same field as you. Comparison is the thief of joy. It can set you back and keep you from helping the people you are meant to. We all connect and resonate with different audiences- those are our people.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to other entrepreneurs- learn with them, celebrate and collaborate with them. So much more can be done in support of one another than against.
Where can we go to learn more?
- Blog posts: Talking about the Core and Pelvic Floor- Out Loud - Your “All Clear” Postpartum Checkup and the Return to Exercise
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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