"The intention behind everything I do is to bring light to everyone who steps foot in here. When you come in for this ride, it's challenging, but our intent is to have you become something bigger than yourself. Never coast. Who is a never coaster? Someone who refuses to give up. Refuses to settle for the easy route. Accepts any challenge. Is REAL. We gear our life towards the never coaster."
Meet Kristina Girod.
Head Instructor of Flywheel Scottsdale, and Lululemon Brand Ambassador. Have you seen those abs? Clear to see why! However, Kristina's allure is far deeper than just physique. She is also the most inspiring instructor I've ever met. After my first class, I told her I'd be writing a letter to HQ because she belongs at the master instructor level, she is just THAT good at her job.
As you know, I recently moved to Arizona and when I arrived I made it my mission to try out all of the top rated gyms and of course, visit one of my favorite East Coast studios - Flywheel Sports.
Flywheel is a competitive spin class. They are HQ'd in NYC and I became addicted to them while living in DC. Fortunately for me, a new studio popped up in Scottsdale a few months prior to my arrival and thus led me to Kristina.
There are so many fitness professionals in the world, it can be hard to stand out - so when you find someone who does, you just want to learn more.
How old are you and where are you from?
"33, Flagstaff Arizona."
How'd you wind up in Scottsdale?
"I am one of six siblings, I moved after college, and now my entire family is also here."
Tell us about your path into fitness.
"I was an athlete growing up, I tore my ACL at age 19 playing volleyball and got out of sports. Gained weight and after college, got into working out. I lost 20lbs and got shredded. I started working out at 24hour Fitness lifting and doing turbo kickboxing classes. I then became a turbo kickbox instructor and taught for two years. That was too intense on the knees which is what led me to spin.
I started teaching cycling in 2014 at Lifetime Fitness, then moved to Fit Republic, and then the Madison Improvement Club. Spin was just my side gig. I was working full-time for Yelp in their franchising division."
So how'd you land Flywheel?
It's finally official!
March 15th we celebrated the launch of Personalized Solutions Scottsdale and it was perfection!
The event was held at the stunning Museum of the West in Old Town Scottsdale - the only Smithsonian affiliate on the West Coast. We were joined by the President of the Museum, Mike Fox as well as multiple members of the board. We had over 100 local residents in attendance, media coverage from So Scottsdale! magazine, and a fantastic life in luxury raffle with over $1800 of luxurious goodies - including a stay at our favorite Scottsdale resort, The Andaz!
In addition to celebrating our launch, we honored the Women of the Year for Women of Scottsdale and East Valley Women. Two phenomenal ladies that inspire in everything they do, Margaret and Nancy, congratulations!
Truth be told, I had never stepped foot in Arizona until September 28th 2017. A DC client had asked me to attend a meeting on her behalf and off I went.
My first evening at the Andaz I attended a charity event that was being hosted by the hotel and that is when I met JoAnn Holland and Debbie Gaby. We chatted throughout the event and went to dinner together afterwards. They invited me to attend another charity event two nights later, Horses and Hot Rods. This event was the pre-event for The Arizona Heart Association's Heart Ball in November. That evening I met more wonderful people and decided I'd return for the Heart Ball.
In November I had such a great time that I began seriously considering Arizona as the next city for a Personalized Solutions office...it mixed fantastic weather, kind people, and a desert, cosmopolitan vibe. The Phoenix economy is also one of the fastest growing in our nation, another perk!
During this trip I attended a Women of Scottsdale luncheon as well as an East Valley Women meeting. I met more lovely women and decided that I needed to return again in December to really decide if this was the next step for my business.
In December I returned, signed a lease, and began the transition planning from DC to AZ.
End of January, we landed in Phoenix and haven't looked back!
I am so thrilled to be a Phoenician and a contributing member of this vibrant business community. Thank you again to everyone who helped welcome us this month, we sincerely appreciate your time and support.
For more photos, click here!
Meet Chef Ben Rubin, Founder of AllSpice Hospitality.
Chef Ben and I have been working together to create perfectly planned parties and menus to my clientele for the past three years. He is hands down one of my favorite people to work with (not only is his food delicious, but he is hilarious!) a rare but great combination in the hospitality industry.
He began to refine his journey into professionally cooking, seven years ago with a 22 month program at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. During his time at the Institute, he completed two externships. The first, working in the kitchen on a Celebrity Cruise Line ship for three months, producing meals for 2,200 people a day! During this time he saw 14 Caribbean countries, worked with staff that represented 86 countries, on a boat of 5,000+ people.
After his time on the ship, Ben went to Atlanta where he worked at one of the top Greek restaurants in the country, Kyma. He spent ten months there and loved every second of it.
Upon completing school, Chef Ben moved to Brazil where he spent a year courting his wife, soaking up the culture, and working in a sushi restaurant. (Quite the variety of experiences)
After Brazil, he landed back in Washington, D.C. where he worked for Blacksalt (one of my favorite restaurants), for two years.
Chef Ben was done working for others and that is when AllSpice Hospitality was born.
No, I'm not MAD at you. It's the name of the gym, silly.
Now you're wondering, what is this gym phenomenon and why haven't I heard of it or tried it?
MADabolic stands for:
Simply put: each daily workout is designed around one of those three driving concepts and you are never completing the same workout twice.
Last week while back in DC visiting our clients, I had the pleasure of not only squeezing in five MAD classes but also getting to know the owner of the Arlington/DC location, Corbin Jennings.
Corbin began his career, like many, in corporate America. He studied economics in college, worked in banking for a minute, then logistics for Lowe's and Under Armour.
It was during his time at Under Armour when he realized he needed a life change and could no longer sit at a desk for 60+ hours a week, staring at excel sheets. He was bored to death.
After doing the MAD workouts in Charlotte, North Carolina, Corbin decided to throw caution to the wind and began looking into opening a MADabolic of his own in the DC metro.
Two years later, at age 28, Corbin successfully became the owner of the MADabolic franchise in Arlington, Virginia. Pretty impressive...
How did you go from a corporate minion to business owner and what were the challenges you faced?
"I was always willing to take risks. The really challenging part has been not knowing the 99% of the operational side - taxes, licenses, etc. I am constantly in unfamiliar area. Prior to becoming a MADabolic owner, I was in roles where I could become really proficient at something and master it. Entrepreneurship is not like that.
What led you to pick MADabolic out of all the fitness franchises out there?
"I was a member in North Carolina for six months before deciding to franchise. I fell in love with the workout - genuine strength and athletic training. It was far superior to everything else I'd come across."
What was your fitness background prior?
"I was an athlete growing up and played soccer competitively but I was not a personal trainer or coach."
So how did you become one?
"There is a four to twelve week intensive onboarding program for trainers that takes place at the HQ in Charlotte. I completed that and I am also ACE certified.
WOW! That is a long training program, why so tedious? Explain the hiring process.
"There is a 25% fail rate for the onboarding program, it is designed to challenge. Before sending people to Charlotte, we have our own hiring process. We want people who can move REALLY well. At first, I was hiring a lot of former crossfitters, but as I've gotten further along, I've realized they aren't very dedicated. Now I am looking for passion and dedication to the program, attention to detail, and the ability to move REALLY well.
What has your turnover rate been like?
"We have only lost two trainers since opening. We had two potentials we sent to Charlotte but they didn't end up moving forward. In the gym industry there is a notoriously high turn over rate."
Let's dig into the workout...
March will be a jam packed month with lots of exciting things to share!
First up - we are headed back to Washington, D.C. February 27th - March 6th to check-in with our clients, friends, and colleagues.
While back on the East Coast, we will be interviewing Corbin Jennings, owner of MADabolic in Arlington, Virginia. MADabolic is an incredibly designed workout that will challenge and train your body like an athlete. (Prior to moving, I was a member and saw incredible results)
Stay tuned to read about what led Corbin to open his own gym and what makes MADabolic so special + check out their instagram, it's awesome.
(Arizona, I am working on convincing Corbin to open a Phx/Scottsdale location ASAP, don't worry!)
After inspiring you to switch up your gym routine, we will then lead you to the delicious kitchen of Chef Ben Rubin, owner of AllSpice Hospitality. We love working with Chef Ben because he is insanely fun but more importantly, incredibly talented. I promise the photos to come will be mouthwatering. Follow his instagram here.
After that is full coverage of our...
ARIZONA LAUNCH PARTY!
Our launch is happening on March 15th at the beautiful Museum of the West in Scottsdale. We are thrilled to also be celebrating the women of the year for Women of Scottsdale and East Valley Women.
Lastly, we will be doing a travel overview of:
Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Whistler in British Columbia
See ya in March!
Turning dreams into reality...
It's something most people won't make happen for themselves.
No, I am not a pessimist, I am a realist.
The reasoning behind it is simple...
MOST are too scared to try because they are too afraid of failing.
I've never been afraid of failing when it comes to my business and career.
When I first started PS, I had absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. If you read the Washington Post article then you know I was buried in student loans and my business was my ladder out of that grave. In the beginning days, I worked seven days a week to keep up with the growing demand and our rapidly expanding client list. It was exhausting but looking back, it was worth it.
Besides exhaustion, there were other downsides to this fast pace growth. I was completely worn out and had no time for my health (Up at 5:30am, home at 9pm/10pm), my relationship took a back seat and eventually failed, and my friendships were the weakest they'd ever been. Sure, I was 23 years old and I had an assistant - that sounds pretty awesome but nothing is ever quite as shiny as it appears.
No one enjoys the preachy, "here's how I did it" post but because so many people ask me how I wound up leading the life I have now, I've decided to summarize.
The magic keys:
I've never been afraid of hard work.
I've never been afraid to fail at work.
I always knew that if I tried my hardest and put forth the max effort, that was all I could do and if it wasn't enough, well then so be it. As I built Personalized Solutions, my clients were able to see my work ethic and my desire to succeed. I believe that is what built the foundation of trust that led to successful, long term, working relationships.
After six very prosperous years in Washington, D.C. I decided to uproot my entire life and move to Arizona. A risky move that could have potentially dire consequences to the business I worked incredibly hard to build back East. When I made the choice to leave, I knew that there would be risk involved but after weighing my options, I determined it was a risk worth taking. Worst case scenario - I lose it all. Remedy - I find a "normal" job. Fortunately for me, my clients stuck with PS, realizing a lot of our work can be done from anywhere, and as long as it gets done, the mission is accomplished.
Prior to leaving:
A new client approached me in November about a passion project of hers that she had pursued once but then let slip to the side. She was contemplating reviving the project and she felt I'd be a great partner in helping her do so.
This was not the first time I'd been approached by a client to help launch a passion project but it was the first time that the idea of partnering with a client sounded really appealing. I was able to understand my clients vision, the need for what she wanted to create, AND I'd get to play a major role in the development of the brand/product. However, my business background does not directly correlate...this is where the fear could and should set in, right? Fortunately, this client trusts that if anyone can help her launch this brand, it's me. There is great value in knowing that other people believe in your talents and capabilities. If they believe, so should I. (and I do)
Long story short -
This new venture = the opportunity of a lifetime, six years in to owning Personalized Solutions.
Dreams are goals with deadlines. (As Coach Dan says, have written goals - become part of that 2%!)
Build strong habits and be disciplined. (In all aspects of your life)
Don't be too afraid to start. (You will never know what could have been.)
So what if you fail? (You'll bounce back with a lot more knowledge than you had before.)
Listen to your gut instincts. (They are never wrong.)
Go chase your dreams, ignore the naysayers, and work your ass off. (I promise you will have no regrets.)
As I dig deeper into this new client project, I am invigorated. This project is what will propel both her and I to the next level and I believe that if I dedicate myself 150%, the result will be the same. I refuse to let fear dictate my life and that is why I am here in Arizona, defining a new chapter, launching a massive new venture, and enjoying every second of it.
Pursuing your dreams!
When I first met Master Business Coach, Danny Creed who I fondly refer to as "Coach Dan" - I could tell he was legitimate. We were both attending a mastermind event that a book publisher I was working with was hosting in Scottsdale, Arizona. (This was my very first trip to Arizona in September when I first began to entertain the idea of opening an office location here.) When it was Coach's turn to talk, I could quickly see he was the only person in the room worth getting to know better. This guy had taken 3 companies public, worked with over 14 start-ups, and he gave the best advice out of all 20 people in attendance. At the end of the day as I dumped the other business cards from the meeting in the trash, I made sure to hold on to Coach Dans.
When I decided to come back to Arizona in November for the Arizona Heart Association's Heart Ball, I sent Coach Dan an email and asked if he would meet me to discuss strategies for launching my business in Arizona. Being the stellar individual he is, he happily agreed and we set up a time. Prior to meeting, I listened to his book, A Life Best Lived which I highly recommend and as an added bonus, it is dictated by Coach Dan himself! (It's the closest thing to free, GOOD coaching you're gonna find - go download it!)
Our November meeting was easily one of the most useful two hours I've had the opportunity of taking part in. In such a quick period of time, Coach transformed the way I thought about business and my future success. Dang, who is this magician and how in the world did I find him!? Everything about Arizona has felt serendipitous for me, my new relationship with Coach Dan was no different.
After this life changing meeting, I returned to DC with my homework from Coach...
The first thing you'll notice when Audrey Alfano walks in a room is her keen fashion sense, fantastic accessories, and striking features.
As one of the nation's first plus size models, it's clear to see that Audrey has the "it" factor we all hear so much about. Piercing blue eyes, 5'11, perfect blonde hair, and sparkling white teeth. As she says, "I'm not for everyone" and as I'd say, "you're only for those with great taste."
Speaking of someone with great taste...
Charlie is the lucky fella who is married to this stunner. Crazy part is, he has had the pleasure of knowing her since...
THE FOURTH GRADE.
Yes, you read that right. Audrey met Charlie in the fourth grade when he most definitely was not the fashion killer he is today. (Stay tuned for a future post on Charlie's wardrobe...it's INCREDIBLE, to put it mildly)
So wait... Audrey is a model, a badass in business, a mother, AND she married her fourth grade suitor?
All true statements.
Audrey received a psychology degree from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan and knew from an early age, she wanted to work with people.
Instead of pursuing a graduate degree in her field, she pursued another passion: becoming one of the nations first plus size models and her husband. It might not be academic but it sure is admirable.
When Audrey and Charlie were seniors in high school their mothers pushed them together. Audrey hadn't seen Charlie since his charming days in the fourth grade but as fate would have it, this was a match made in the stars. They dated from senior year of high school through college, and wed the May after graduation.
This May marks 32 very successful years of marriage...
100% couple goals - please, teach me your ways! (Except I don't remember anyone from fourth grade so I think I'm out of luck on this one...)
After getting married, Charlie's career took them around the United States... St. Louis, Sacramento, Orange County, Austin, Chicago, Cincinnati, Ventura, and Manhattan Beach. In 2012, Charlie was offered a game changing opportunity to buy the Mercedes Benz dealership in San Luis Obispo, California. The dealership was failing and Mercedes felt that if anyone could resuscitate it, it would be Charlie.
After accepting this opportunity, Charlie asked Audrey to get involved in a business capacity. There was no one he believed would be a better team mate than her.
"There is no way I am working for you!" was Audrey's first response. Luckily, Charlie proved that she wasn't working FOR him, she was working WITH him and the things she was in charge of, were the thing he didn't want anything to do with. It would be a really great balance of power and responsibility. He was right.
Fast forward to 2018 and Audrey is now an owner of two Mercedes Benz dealerships (San Luis Obispo and MB of Gilbert) AND She is the head of Human Resources/Public Relations for MB Gilbert.
As one of the VERY few women in her industry, she had some key advice...
1. 60% of household decisions are made by a woman (remember that)
2. Men need to be retrained to think differently about the role women play (and they can be)
3. Know your worth. Don't be afraid to speak your mind (but remember, you don't have to be a bitch to do so)
4. Do the right thing by people and if you make a mistake, own it, apologize, and move on (you can't be perfect all of the time)
5. Don't take yourself too seriously. Appreciate and respect others (life is not a tit for tat situation)
Coming from a woman brave enough to spear head the American plus size model movement, marry her fourth grade sweetheart, raise three wonderful children, and take on a full-time role in a male dominated industry...I suggest we all listen.
Audrey Alfano is a woman to notice for all the right reasons.
(PS we just bought a car from MB Gilbert and this post is NOT sponsored - however, we strongly suggest you visit them for your new vehicle needs and mention this post when you go)
We are excited to announce a new series of interviews with women business leaders in Arizona, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Miami!
Each month we will feature 1-2 women who are leaders in their respected fields and how they achieved their success.
Our first featured woman will be Audrey Alfano, the fabulous owner of Mercedes Benz Gilbert located in the Phoenix metro. (Fun fact - she started her career as a model!)
We will learn about how she got her start working in a male dominated industry and what her tips are for climbing to the top.
"The GPS says we are here but I don't see a hotel anywhere..."
As I drive around the block it becomes clear, we are either blind, this hotel doesn't exist, or our GPS is wrong.
Turns out, we are just blind.
We circle back and sure enough, there's a glass structure that could easily be mistaken for an office building but if you look reeeeeeally close, you can see the etchings on the windows - Hotel 50 Bowery.
We pull up outside and are greeted by the friendliest of valets. He takes all 10 of our bags (we overpacked, but you never know what kind of weather or events you'll get into in NYC).
Before we dig into our experience, a little bit about Hotel 50 Bowery...
It is the first Joie De Vivre in New York City, first on the East Coast, and just opened in May of 2017
229 rooms, 5 suites
Hotel was built from the ground up (aka it wasn't an apartment building or office space converted into a hotel thus making it much easier to customize)
Currently #7 on TripAdvisor (this # fluctuates daily)
Average of 15 rooms per floor
Modeled to feel like a Chinese village in the evening - hallways are dimly lit with Chinese lanterns, the walls are red, the vibe is cozy
Dining + Drinking: Rice & Gold (incredibly well designed interior/massive space), Crown: rooftop bar with awesome 360 views of the city, and Greenlady, a speakeasy is on the way for 2018
The average travelers age is 25-40
Coffee makers available by request (Keurig, don't get too excited)
The process is similar to most - walk up to a desk, announce yourself, exchange credit cards for keys, walk away.