It takes a lot of passion to open a brand new fitness studio. Meet Maria, who recently did this, and how she’s growing her business today.
I first met Maria, owner of Core Fit Studio in November when I noticed her fitness center being built close to my house. I was so intrigued, I showed up to meet her, even before her gym was open. I instantly liked her. She encompasses true passion for healthy living, she’s got a great sense for business, and the fact that she’s in her 50’s, yet looks 25, has me very jealous.
Last week, I sat down to interview Maria and get to know her better. I wanted to learn how she’s growing Core-Fit Studio in Lehi, Utah, and what the future looks like for her business. Check out our interview here:
AMY: I wanted to have a conversation today about how you got interested in health and nutrition, how you started a thriving business in California and then why you came to Utah. Also, I’d love to hear about some things you offer through your business to help people be healthy and what your future looks like. So tell me first, what started this whole path in your life?
MARIA: When I moved to California, I was actually in a different industry. I needed to look at a career change and re-evaluate what I was doing. I fell into health and fitness as a personal trainer and ended up totally falling in love with it.
AMY: How did you become a personal trainer, did you get certified? What kind of certification was that?
MARIA: Back in 2002, I relocated to CA from Vermont to work in an insurance agency as a Marketing Agent on a short term project. During that time, I was also training myself at 24 Hour fitness, and had a real passion for health and fitness. When my project was coming to an end, I had to think about my options moving forward. At the same time, 24 Hour asked me if I would be interested in becoming a personal trainer. After thinking about my options, I decided to switch careers, which also allowed me to stay in CA. I fell in love with it immediately. I got certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and, eventually, through the International Sports and Sciences Association.
As my career started to move forward, I began to feel limited within the rules and regulations of a commercial gym. It was primarily about sales, and less about the individual’s needs. I cared about my clients and wanted to coach and train them well, including discussing nutrition and giving them options. Because of the gyms limitations, I decided to go out on my own as an independent personal trainer.
AMY: So that was my next question when you decided to go out on your own, where were you training your clients?
MARIA: I leased space from a physical therapy facility, and worked with other independent trainers that owned their own gyms. I did this for many years until I decided to open my own studio called SYNRG Fitness located in Westlake Village, CA.
AMY: How did you find clients to train?
MARIA: When I opened SYNRG Fitness, I already had a clientele. After I opened my studio, I was doing more within the community, attending health fairs as a vendor, and collaborating with other entrepreneurs in the health and fitness industry. All of these efforts brought in new clientele to the studio. Plus, I also had independent personal trainers leasing space from me. They trained their own clients using my space.
AMY: When you would get a new client, did you have a program you put them on, or was it different for everyone that came in?
MARIA: It is different for each person. Everyone has their own goals and possible health issues. Each time I meet a new person, I do an evaluation and consultation to make a plan for them specifically, including nutrition.
AMY: Do you feel like you have a core program that’s unique from other trainers?
MARIA: I would say yes in the sense that I focus all of my training around the core. Core training is “movement with purpose”. It’s intuitive. It teaches people how to listen to their body so that they not only get better results, but avoid injury. They learn about themselves, develop more confidence, and become strong, lean, and flexible. It’s truly mind-body health.
AMY: And then you took a big leap in life and decided to leave your thriving studio and re-open a fitness center in Utah. What was the motivation for that?
MARIA: I owned SYNRG for nearly 6 years. I was planning to expand in California to create a full service wellness center because SYNRG was too small, however, after searching for a year, I could not find the right space and it was clearly too expensive to do it in CA. I decided I might need to look elsewhere. After seeing Utah and researching the area, I realized that I could bring something that no one else was doing, and the potential was greater for my vision to come to life.
I knew that it was a big risk. I was going to be giving up a lot in California. As a single mother of two young children, they were my primary focus. After thinking about it more seriously, I knew I was going to be able to provide a better life for them in Utah. So, I decided to start looking into it further and planning.
AMY: Okay, so you came to Utah and you built this beautiful studio from scratch. How were you able to start getting people in the door?
MARIA: Starting in late 2017, and into early 2018, I researched and planned for the move to Utah, while communicating with my Commercial Broker and Real Estate Agent to buildout Core Fit, and our new home in Saratoga Springs. Flying back and forth from CA, and working with the landlord and builders, all took about a year. It was a tremendous amount of work. During this time, I was also weaning myself out of SYNRG and training the new owner to take over. I was also marketing Core Fit during its build out phase to create brand awareness in the local community so that when I opened my doors people would recognize the name. In the first week, we had about 5 new members sign up. I felt like a lot of the pre-marketing, especially through social media, had helped.
Right now, it’s all about social media for getting the word out. It’s putting the message out there that this facility is more than just a gym. It’s about taking care of the people that come in. It’s about living a healthy lifestyle. I am trying to teach and promote that. I would say social media has been the most effective out of everything I have tried.
AMY: And like in California, are you attending local health fairs to get the word out?
MARIA: Yes, I have been a vendor at a couple of health fairs, and collaborating with local businesses in the health and fitness industry. I also joined the Lehi Chamber of Commerce. Our Ribbon Cutting will be on January 30th. Even the Mayor is attending! I also brought in a physical therapist to the studio, and hope to add a massage therapist sometime in the near future. All of these efforts and collaborating with others help to spread the word about Core Fit.
AMY: You have a program called “30 Days to a Healthier You”, can anyone sign up for this?
MARIA: Yes, anyone can sign up for it. It teaches you how to eat clean and make better food choices. It’s also super simple to incorporate into your daily life. I live this lifestyle myself and have for many years. The recipes are very easy. People learn to eat intuitively. Like core training, they learn about their body and what is good for them. The program reduces inflammation, increases energy and clarity, and promotes weight loss and management. Usually everyone continues after the 30 days because they have created a healthier lifestyle and like how they look and feel. I coach people locally or virtually.
AMY: Okay let’s finish up with your personal health habits. What kind of work out do you personally do?
MARIA: I actually work out the way I train my clients in the studio. It’s all functional fitness and core training, which to me is the best way to train. We do not need to be lifting heavy as we age. Functional training focused on the core creates a stronger, more balanced and flexible body for not only lifting weights in the gym but for everyday life. You really do get super fit and feel amazing with this style of training. I have been training this way for 20 years, and I’ll be 52 in May. I feel stronger and better than I did in my 20’s!
AMY: You look amazing for 52.
MARIA: Thank you! I share my age because it validates living a healthy lifestyle. Eating clean, core training, and mind-body health is the fountain of youth….literally.
AMY: Tell us about your other services.
MARIA: We offer three levels of membership. All include unlimited access to the studio, and some include personal private training, small group fitness, and our post workout recovery shakes. We also have a special program for kids called Core Fit Healthy Kids, which offers a class on functional fitness to get them moving and having fun. The class is tailored for children ages 8 to 13.
Everything is tailored to the members who come into the studio. We want to take care of them by coaching and guiding them on becoming a healthier version of themselves.
AMY: Thank you so much for your time Maria!
To connect with Maria, and to see what Core-Fit Studio in Lehi, UT can do for you, you can see her at :