Jodi Stabile started out as a client of mine and our relationship has progressed into a deeper friendship. She’s worked in fitness for over 17 years, and is the owner of Sweat, a group fitness facility in St. Pete, Florida, which was recently recognized by ClassPass as one of the top 5 fitness studios in North America. She’s also a fitness expert on (HSN) Home Shopping Network.
In this episode, we dive into the strategies she’s used to grow and sustain her business, and how she’s come to live a life on her terms.
This episode will resonate with anyone who is building a business from the ground up, with no qualifications or experience doing so.
Jodi opens up about her own trials and tribulations along the way, as well as the things she wishes someone had told her when she first started out as an entrepreneur, including what a lonely road it would be.
Jodi’s upbringing and family life
How dance led her to fitness instruction
Building her business from the ground up
How lessons in Muay Thai translate over to business
Building a loyal community
Staying present by enjoying the pursuit itself
Saying ‘no’ is powerful
Her advice to new entrepreneurs
Service vs sales
Sweat St Pete
Sweat on ClassPass
Connect with Jodi:
Connect with James:
You can call this “Show Notes” or “Key Takeaways”:
4:04 “Choosing your sacrifices rather than sacrificing everything.”
Jodi had to give up a lot, and make sacrifices to get to where she is today.
“I had to sacrifice a lot, but time, energy, sleep, relationships. There’s a lot of sacrifice that went into kind of where I’m at today. I’m learning how not to always have to sacrifice and there’s going to be some sacrifices, but I think I’m kind of choosing the sacrifices rather than just sacrificing everything.”
7:40 How dance led her to her love for fitness instructing
Jodi fell into teaching when a group fitness instructor approached her and asked her to be a substitute instructor for a class.
“I met a woman who was a group fitness instructor. And one day she was like ‘Hey, I need a kickboxing substitute for a class at the gym here in St. Pete’… I’ll show you what to do all the things. And I was like, oh, okay. Talk about like rip the band-aid off and just jump in. I have no certifications yet. So I’m literally on a stage. I have a mic on and I have 30 people in front of me and I’m going to run them through this kickboxing class. And I did it and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is it.’ So it was like this flood of awesomeness and that’s where I found my love for teaching. And that was instructing back then. So I was 23. I found my love for instructing and that was very group fitness based.”
11:11 Blood, sweat, and tears… Building a business from the ground up
Jodi had no problems when it came to growing her client-base. The challenges she faced came when she needed the right space, and managing all the operations that come with running a “business”.
“I signed on the dotted line. I now have this building and this “business” and I’m like what am I doing? I have no idea what I’m doing. What I’m good at is knowing how to train people. I know how to get them results and build a network and community. And we were doing that. So I started at this small facility. But we didn’t have AC. We had one bathroom, no shower. So it got really hot there. I remember getting the computer system set up. And I was running to the front desk. I was doing all the classes. I was cleaning up after I did everything. But I showed up every single day. There wasn’t a day that I called in. I wasn’t taking any vacations. And everyone who’s ever built anything knows what goes into this.”
19:26 How lessons in Muay Thai translate over to success in business
Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable primed Jodi to be a better coach.
“I lived 10 years uncomfortable. You know, I was always sore, always tired, always challenged sparring guys getting knocked down, literally kicked in the face. My current position as an athlete and then my athletic training for myself, transfers over to me being a coach. So the more I’m a student, the better coach I am. And that’s the one thing I teach my staff all the time. I’m like, if you’re not in here with these people going side by side and feeling what they’re going through, how are you coaching them? That’s helped me a ton with my business aspect.”
26:33 Community-building and establishing true connections
Jodi’s ability to create relationships is how she has built a loyal fan base and community. It’s also helped Sweat St Pete garner national attention.
“It’s funny because I tell people, I tell my staff all the time… I’m not the best trainer in the world. I am not the smartest. There’s nothing about me that is different than anyone else. The only reason I built this business is because of relationships, literally. We say hi to every single person that walks in the door. We say hi to every single person that leaves, we know people’s names. We know their kids. We know that they went on vacation. We knew that they had an injury. Like it is probably the number one thing that I’ve done right. It was building the community and it was building like fans and people that loved me personally, and then loved what we had at wherever we were, whether that was the dance studio or whether we were at the kickboxing gym taking class, wherever we were, we had a group, a tribe, you know, and I think that people really long for connection and tribe and community.”
29:10 Create psychological safety and you create loyalty
James shares a study done by Google called Project Aristotle, where they hired the psychologists and sociologists to study cultures and understand why certain teams were performing better than others in all areas.
“The first and the most important element was psychological safety. How comfortable do people feel in that environment? Do they feel comfortable enough to say, “I don’t know, I don’t understand, help me.” Or do they feel that I am not going to be judged by being myself. And if you can make people feel like that, if a leader can create a space like that, people won’t want to leave.”
37:08 Being a visionary and embracing the journey
Jodi shares that she constantly envisions the next step. She aims for continued progress and growth. James adds that the pursuit itself has become more exciting and rewarding than the end goal itself.
“I’m wanting to get to the next level smarter and make the process more enjoyable because like we’ve discussed before, there is no end goal. And I have to remind myself that like the next level doesn’t mean we’re done. It’s just the next level. How am I enjoying the process? Who am I teaching during this time? What am I learning? So I try to just remind myself to like, be in it and not overthink it and not, but I do because I am a visionary.”
“The day to day has become more exciting than the anticipation of the goal for sure. And that has led to so much more energy sustainability. And it’s brought so much more enjoyment to the things that I do on a daily basis whereas before I kind of just got lost in the, “Oh, I can’t wait till I have this…”
43:58 Do the things that your body & mind are in alignment with
James shares how he gauges whether he’s doing something because he’s obligated to versus if it’s something he truly wants to do.
“Something that I learned a couple of years ago was this idea of a full body yes. And that’s where your body says yes, you feel ‘Oh, that’s expansive. I like that.’ And then your mind is like, this makes sense. This looks good. This feels right. Go for it. When those two things sync up, that’s when I personally will be like, let’s do it. But if something in my body isn’t right. Like my gut is saying slow down. Like, this is not cool. But my mind is like, yay, go, go, go, go. Then I’m like let me pause for a second. I got to really sit on this. I got to journal about this and meditate about this. And usually those things are the things that I feel obligated to do rather than want to do. And the things that I want to do that are full body yeses are the things that explode fast. I feel like I’m learning more about that.”
47:16 Saying no is powerful
There is something empowering about the ability to draw a line and make it clear where you stand.
“When you’re clear on where you stand, there’s confidence there because most people don’t draw that line or that line is super blurry and non-existent. So then you’re just like playing tennis back and forth in your mind back and forth and that’s exhausting.”
48:40 What Jodi wishes someone had told her while she was building a business
From building a team to delegating work, when Jodi started this journey she knew nothing about growing a business. But she was eager to figure it out as she went along.
“When I went into business, I didn’t have a business plan. I knew nothing. I’ve always been intrigued by entrepreneurship. I want to listen to the podcasts. I want to read the books. Those are the things– like self-development stuff or business. I should probably be reading fitness books and things like that. But my mind has shifted now as the being a business owner. The product and the service is obviously the most important thing but so is working in the business. I wish I would’ve known earlier how important building a team is. When I heard people say delegate and hand things off and grow your team, it’s like, what does that mean?”
53:30 Time management – Being super busy isn’t a badge of honor
She wishes someone had explained how important it was to manage her time better, and how having time to rest was equally important.
“It doesn’t have to be a burnout all the time. And you know, we talked about this the other day, I don’t have to be so busy all the time because then I started feeling that was my sense of purpose. Like I’m so busy I can’t talk, I’ve been up since 4 running all these classes and it’s like, badge of honor, you know, Who’s winning here? I was priding myself on that, because I guess I thought I this is what you going to do to really run a business”
59:30 The best salespeople don’t view it as a transaction
James explains the idea of service over sales, and coming to the relationship with the intention to add value to someone’s life versus just an exchange of money.
“I think some of the best salespeople that I’ve met don’t view it as a transaction. They view it as a collaboration, you know? And it’s an exchange of energy, yes. That’s what gets the other person excited to say yes, but the salesman or saleswoman is, if you’re doing your job right, with educating, asking questions and you really care for the other person that you’re sitting across from, it’s not sales at that point. But rooted even deeper than that is a level of service. Service to want this individual to be better.”
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