As Rachele nears the 3rd birthday of both her virtual fitness company and her youngest child, she’s embracing the growth that comes with getting out of her comfort zone.
This includes spontaneously running a live virtual fitness class for a casting agent in a Las Vegas hotel ballroom, in front of 100 fellow entrepreneurs auditioning for the popular TV show.
“The only way to experience VFit is to do VFit,” she says, as she describes the moment where she and her fellow trainer streamed 50 class members from around the country over Zoom, much to the bewilderment of the casting agent.
“It was amazing to see all these familiar faces from outside. We had nurses logging in–in their scrubs–from their hospitals,” she recalls. “That’s the culture we have. It’s lifting each other up, being there for each other.”
“My eyes started watering, thinking, ‘This is incredible. If it doesn’t go anywhere further than this, I’ve done something special.'”
“When I left it wasn’t about what was going to be the next step. I felt so in the present and so much energy. For once, accepting that I give so much, receiving all that support and love, and feeling like I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.”
Overcoming the Fear of Failure
It was her husband’s words that gave Rachele the push she needed to finally audition 10 days earlier.
“The reason I decided to go is because he gave me this one line, ‘If you see somebody else on that show with your same idea, and you never tried, you’re going to have that regret.’ ”
“And that got me right there. Regret. You can’t run a business with regret,” she says.
“What is failing, really? If you put something out there and it doesn’t work, you learned and you can usually get yourself out of it. It’s the fear of failing that’s so debilitating.”
“Vulnerability is my word of the year,” she says.
How Motherhood Inspired a Business
After working in an “everyday 8-5 job at a computer, without any windows” for about 8 years, and moonlighting at a gym, Rachele had her first child.
“I went back to work part-time and it just didn’t feel right,” she says. “I felt like I was going to miss her big moments, and it was more of a hassle to get her to daycare every day.”
Rachele says she devised a plan that started with getting her personal training certificate online and building enough clientele over Skype to allow her to leave her office job.
She’s also a big believer of “being around the right people and putting yourself in situations.”
After conducting a combo workout and cooking class with her friend over Zoom (the same video conferencing app that has vastly improved working from home for me), she got inspired to scale her business, as her husband had been encouraging her to do.
“The wheels just got spinning,” she says. With the addition of MINDBODY for booking, Rachele had everything she needed to host group classes.
As an added incentive to finally give it her all, the logistics of teaching at the gym had lost its luster for the now working mom of two.
“It became stressful and I wasn’t even enjoying it anymore,” she says. “It was a three hour production to teach a one hour class. Waking up two kids from naps, finding someone to watch them, or lugging them to the gym…”
Rachele officially launched VFit by putting out a free week with 10 classes on the schedule. Immediately there were 25 sign-ups and 12 people became members.
Fast forward to today, VFit has grown to 225 members, 99 percent of which come from referrals.
“Friends bringing friends makes it more fun” and adds accountability, she says.
Women Helping Women Succeed
VFit has helped Rachele realize that she enjoys working and feels a sense of pride and self-worth by contributing to her family’s income, despite the challenges she initially faced as a new mom trying to juggle it all.
“I think it would be boring to not work hard,” she says, which she credits as a lesson she learned from her own hard-working parents, as well as the legacy she hopes to leave her own children.
“There’s no perfect balance. Even when I think I have perfect balance, day care closes, or my kids are sick, or something else comes up. You don’t have this perfect plan. You just try,” Rachele says.
“I don’t sit there worrying about the unknown. I just do what I can.”
Flexibility is an important part of the culture of her team of trainers as well.
“If you had to get a sub at a gym last minute, good luck. Everyone at VFit has stepped in –from a hair salon to a park — to cover classes for each other.”
Rachele also values the lessons she learned with her partner in an earlier coaching business that ultimately helped prepare her for VFit.
“I don’t think I could have started this business on my own without working through it with someone else, the first time,” she says.
It Takes a Village
VFit has taken off in what Rachele describes as “these little microclimates that don’t have gyms with daycare, that have severe weather, and that are in rural areas,” very similar to where she lives in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.
Despite her loyal following in places like Kentucky, New Hampshire and Oregon, Rachele has aspirations to grow her virtual fitness studio in a way that’s manageable and keeps the “human factor” that sets VFit apart from pre-recorded alternatives.
“There are millions of people whose lives can be changed from this platform that have no idea we’re around,” she says.
Rachele isn’t discouraged going up against companies with “millions of dollars to spend” because of the connections she’s built with her team and her close-knit community of members.
“They’re the best marketers I have because they’ve stuck with it,” she says, noting the “sweaty selfies” members share with each other after class in a Facebook group.
Rachele has also found VFit’s unique voice, with the help of a copywriting coach she calls her #1 investment, helping her “dig into the truth of who you are.” She says it’s about so much more than weight loss or developing biceps:
“It’s a way of life. It makes you a better person. It’s a fun group to be around every day because they truly lift each other up.”