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Sweat Sister Spotlight: Karen Bratcher

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After I closed my studio last fall I said goodbye to some of my favorite ladies. I would get up early a few times each week to teach a 5:15am workout and had some of the most dedicated women in those classes. They made getting out of bed WORTH it. I was thankful they would get up to workout with me but more so amazed by their determination to get it done for themselves. Those early birds don’t play.

I got the opportunity to pick up my early morning classes at another studio just down the street from Fired Up Fitness. I started teaching several classes, including three 5:15am classes each week, at Studio One Dance Center in November. I was starting over and building my classes from nothing. I had a few of my FUF girls follow me to SODC and had a few other ladies become pretty regular pretty quickly.

I realized pretty quickly that new girl Karen was with me for EVERY early morning class and knew she was attending the other early class that I wasn’t teaching too. She was committed! Come to found out my new girl was actually and one of Studio One’s founding members. Karen and her family have been with SODC since it opened more than ten years ago!

She shows up with a smile on her face, a positive attitude, and genuine excitement to be there. Yes. Excited at 5:15am. It’s amazing! I feel so inspired and thrilled to be a witness of her journey and true physical transformation. She’s eager to learn and encourages everyone around her. Not only this, but she’s an amazing mother. She has two, absolutely stunning, daughters and is an incredible example to them both.

Karen started working out and taking classes at SODC 4-5 days each week when we started in November. She started making healthier choices, intermittent fasting, and changing her mindset. It wasn’t long before I could see changes physically. She shared her goals with me and I encouraged her to take a few progress pictures and measurements. We took these first set of pictures on December 1st. 30 days later we took the second set. How much did she lose? It doesn’t matter. She lost weight. She lost inches. It’s obvious in the pictures. Most importantly she’s gained a stronger sense of self, found FUN in fitness, and is enjoying the process. For me, this is what it’s all about!

“Listen to your heart, be inspired, celebrate along the way, make a change, and be EAGER.”

Karen recently shared this on Facebook…

Personally, for most of 2017, I felt stuck in a rut. I felt defeated, not happy with anything, grouchy, unexcitable, and wanting a change but unsure of what change I was wanting.  I was not really being present. I wasn’t the Karen I was at one time in my life or the Karen I wanted to be. I was believing lies without fully knowing that I was believing them. Furthermore what’s worse is not realizing the extent the lies grip had over me. To those stupid lies, I say “NO MORE!” Please, friends, don’t sell yourself short of stupid demoralizing lies.

In October, EB and I went on a cruise to celebrate our 15 year anniversary. As we started the set sail I got an email from SODC regarding fitness interest that was going to be starting up at the studio!! Yay SODC for this opportunity!! So as we are leaving Galveston, I sent a random cryptic half-email reply from a cruise ship saying “YES! Interested!” Thinking this will be something fun to try but not expecting to much more than that. I really just wanted to see what this is all about.

Enter November and SODC trainer Ember Nevill. Ember taught my first class and my life hasn’t been the same. I find that in my life, rarely has someone made such an immediate impact, but she did and continues too!! I am forever grateful that our paths crossed and forever changed. Thank you, Ember for your passion, your encouragement, your inspiration, your love and kindness that you freely give to all. Your passion is contagious.

Secondly, enter SODC fitness trainers Sidonie Hale and Casey Marler Blakewood these two gems are incredible. They both inspire, motivate, encourage and have pushed me way beyond what I thought was my limit! These two ladies have rocked my world and continue to do so!! Thank you, both! I love you dearly.

If any of my friends haven’t tried any of the fitness classes at SODC you TOTALLY should.

It is my prayer that anyone who reads this post, will NOT believe any lie that the enemy is trying to SELL you.

Don’t be afraid to try, take a step forward, trust in God’s plan, listen to your heart, be inspired, celebrate along the way, make a change and be EAGER. This is my 2018 theme word. I want to live with an EAGERness in all areas! I look forward to what is to come and live with focus and intentionality.

Blessings to each and every one of you! ❤️

I know Karen’s family, friends, and SODC sisters are SO very proud of her hard work. It’s awesome what is possible in a short amount of time when we are consistent and show up! I can only imagine where she’s going from here. Karen is currently enrolled in my Carb Queen program and ROCKIN it. Stay tuned I’m sure you’ll be seeing much more from this girl!

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Meet Carb Queen Sidonie

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I met British bombshell Sidonie at Fired Up Fitness! She had recently moved to the states and had been coming to different workout classes and making great progress with her fitness goals. She started the Carb Queen program to learn about carb cycling and kick-start healthier eating habits. I asked her why she decided to become a Carb Queen and here’s what she had to say…

“I’m an English girl living in Texas and couldn’t be any happier! I workout at Fired Up Fitness and love getting my sweat on as much as possible during the week. I’m doing this for a few reasons. I have family visiting, birthdays to celebrate, and holidays! This means I’ve fallen into some bad eating habits. I think this program is going to help me learn a better way of eating to live a healthier life. I’m hoping for weight loss too!”

It did not take long for Sidonie to become a Carb Queen pro! She had a good workout rhythm going and it took a week, maybe two, for her to catch on to as a Carb Queen.

When you hit a plateau with your progress that’s typically a good sign that it’s time to change it up and most likely clean up your nutrition. Your workouts should push you to eat better. I know that I can definitely feel the difference when I step into a workout.

We discuss mindset, lifestyle shifts, and work together every day to make it all flow together! I want to help you remove the guilt associated with eating the foods you love. Eat the French fries, eat the donut, enjoy the cold beverage! When you work hard, eat well, and have a solid plan in place you can enjoy the treats GUILT FREE. Sidonie was able to enjoy the parties, travel, and holidays while rocking the Carb Queen life. The Carb Queen course will show you the way!

You’ll feel motivated, encouraged, and fully supported in this program. Sidonie says that she loves the energy, motivation, consistency, and communication she experienced as a Carb Queen. “You reached out to all of us and I know you are always there when I have a question or need a little push.” 

“Learning how to fuel my body for my workouts was huge! I’ve been doing all sorts of fitness
classes with no structure in my nutrition so this has been a great lesson.”  -Sidonie

I want to help you find optimal health while living a balanced life! Fitness and nutrition should feel fun, not overwhelming. We are bombarded with new trends, diets, and information every single day. Let me help you sort through the noise, get out of your head, and into living your very best life. French fries included!

For more information sign up and download my free Simplified Guide to Carb Cycling and Intermittent Fasting. Read more about the Carb Queen program and register for my next cycle starting soon!

Fired Up Fitness

My Fitness Transformation Part 5

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On October 8, 2012 I decided to open a fitness studio.

My best friend, Kristi, agreed to partner up with me to help navigate the ride.

We both quit our gym jobs and started the journey of opening Fired Up Fitness. It took us nearly two years to make it happen. But we did it!

Our grand opening was July 17, 2014!

We wanted to grow the business from the ground up grass roots style. We wanted to avoid business loans, investors, and debt. We hosted fundraisers, community workouts, and attended networking events. We asked every Aunt, Uncle, Grandmother, friend, and neighbor we had for support. We hosted crowd funding campaigns. We saved, scrapped, begged, bartered, and bargained. We were on A MISSION!

But it wasn’t enough.

We did our best, but in the end, we took out loans, accumulated debt, and signed on with an investor. I do not view ANY of this as a failure. I’ve learned SO much about opening a business and I would definitely do some things differently the next time. (I share a several of those lessons here.) I’m guessing it would have been another year or two had we continued on our grass roots style mission. I am not that patient.

We had friends who wanted to see us succeed and wanted to invest so we took them up on the offer. If it were not for their involvement we would NOT have opened when we did. I’m so very thankful for their generosity and friendship (you know who you are!)

Business is not easy and not always fun. Working with close friends can definitely put a strain on the relationship too. I think communication is key and I’m not always the best communicator. I’ve had to bite my tongue and pull my foot out of my mouth on many occasions. It’s ‘Humble Yourself City’ and I’m the Mayor!

"Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong." -Ella Fitzgerald

We came really close to signing a lease agreement on two separate locations before finding the space we are in. Each time it fell through I remember feeling so defeated. I have a strong belief that everything happens for a reason and so we kept pushing forward. We were so hungry to open and get started.

Kristi found a dreamy space near her house and so we stopped by to peak through the windows. As we stood with our face to the glass a man walked up and asked if he could help us.

I thought…. ‘Um Creeper. No. Go away. Obviously, we are looking at this empty building. We don’t need your HELP.’

We smiled and said ‘no thanks’ that we were just checking out the building. Then he offered to let us in. Turns out he was the property owner! (Did I mention how shiny my Mayor badge is?)

He let us in, seemed really nice, and started asking us questions about our business. He was enthusiastic about Fired Up Fitness and offered us free rent for a few months to help get us going! It was not long after that we signed the lease and started moving in. It all happened rather painlessly compared to the other spaces we were looking at. It seemed to all fall into place and in my heart I knew we were right where we were in the right space!

We still had a lot of work to do. We had to install a second restroom into the facility that was NOT in our budget. We needed flooring, a sound system, and PEOPLE. If you’re looking to open a business try to find one that’s already built out! You’ll save yourself a LOT of time, money, and energy.

About a month before we were to open Kristi and I attended a fitness convention in Vegas. We were two days into our trip when Kristi broke her ankle. The timing was the worst and I knew she was feeling the stress big time. I was too. Kristi is the kind of person that will take care of ANYONE who needs ANYTHING. Being in a boot and then a cast limited her BIG time. This would not be an easy recovery. We had a lot of work to do back in Texas and KK was taking this blow pretty hard.

I tried to keep her smiling, laughing, and focused on recovery.

 

Permanence, perseverance, and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak. -Thomas Carlyle

Once we opened, I thought the floors would be the death of me. Have you ever worked out on concrete? It’s not fun. Nor is it good for your joints! There was so many things I wanted to get done but had to practice major patience while we raised the money. We had a banner on the building for the months that said “Fired Up Fitness Coming Soon!” People thought we were “COMING SOON” long after we had actually opened.  By November we installed floors and we put a legit sign on the building. We were *sing it* movin on up!!!

Yoga studio

We recently celebrated two years and I’m SO proud of our progress. They say it takes three to five years to profit in a new business and I believe this to be true. We are truly in the thick of it!

Kristi made a full recovery with her ankle! I no longer have to teach thirteen classes a week and I’m so thankful for our community of members and friends who keep us going. We work with an AMAZING group of trainers and instructors every day! I am BLESSED!!!

My vision has become a reality! I know there is so much more in store and I’m ready for the ride. If you ever have the opportunity to visit FUF – DO IT. If you’re already a part of our community…. THANK YOU!

It truly takes a village and I’m so thankful for the people who have embraced Fired Up Fitness with open arms!

Stay tuned…. as the journey continues!

The Fired Up Girls

My Fitness Transformation Part 4

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In April 2011 I was teaching classes, training new Flirty Girl Fitness Instructors, and managing a group exercise program in three facilities. My Coaching business was growing, my family was healthy, and things were going pretty smoothly.

I knew going into the gym management position that I would one day open my own place. I did not know when or how but I knew it was going to happen.

The gym environment is a very male dominated space. When you get up into management it can get pretty extreme! I was banging heads with the best of them and by June I was ready to tap out. We were about to open a fourth location and I, honestly, wanted no part of it. I knew going into this fourth facility would ultimately pull me further from my goals and in a direction I was not interested in. I was being spread thin and it was time to step down.

I wanted to focus on my Flirty Girls, my team, and MY business. I needed a replacement and FAST.

I had developed a pretty strong bond with one of the girls in my bootcamp and after some time we decided she would be the perfect person to take my place in management. Her name was Kristi Carter and we would soon become best friends!

Kristi and I spent a lot of time together working on the gym, developing programs, and transitioning roles. We had a lot in common, a fierce passion for helping other women, and little did we know, we would soon be opening a business TOGETHER!

The Fired Up Girls

In June, I stepped down from my management position, continued to teach my classes, and train new instructors at the gym. Kristi was managing the program and the fourth facility launch was under way.

Later that Summer, Kristi and I went on a Florida vacation together with our families. I remember standing in the ocean together discussing possibilities of opening a fitness studio together. We were day dreaming, and for the most part, joking around. The seeds were starting to sprout.

In October, my husband Darren and I, took a weekend getaway trip to Austin to visit a friend. Lisa was a fitness presenter and instructor too! We were out to dinner with one of her friends when we all started talking about opening our own studios. I did not know Lisa’s friend but he was obviously a very smart business man who was obviously very successful.

He validated my ideas, asked tough questions, and wanted to help!

WHAT?

He literally came over to Lisa’s house the next morning and over coffee we mapped out the first few steps. We sat for hours discussing possibilities. By the time we left Austin my mind was SPINNING. There was something very magical about having a complete stranger validate my idea. He did not know me, my experience, or my story. But I trusted Lisa and I trusted him. He heard a business proposal and enthusiastically said “GO FOR IT!”

On October 8, 2012, driving home to Fort Worth up I-35, I called Kristi and said I’m DOING THIS. Come with me! I held my breath and she said “YES!”

Back home we now had to figure out the easiest way for us BOTH to transition OUT of our positions at the gym.

By November, I knew I needed to separate myself completely and made the difficult decision to give up all of my classes. Kristi quit in December. By January 2013 we were working full time to open our brick and mortar fitness studio called Fired Up Fitness.

To be continued…

Chalene Johnson

My Fitness Transformation Part 3

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Let’s recap. In January 2008 a New Year fire was lit and I was motivated to get in shape. I was on a mission to lose at LEAST twenty pounds and become a healthy active mom.
I joined the gym and by December 2008 I had liberated over fifty pounds and totally transformed my body. I was making changes in the kitchen, making new friends, and taking classes at the gym. I followed the passion and by the end of that year I was a certified group fitness instructor! I was LOVING my new role and attended several instructor trainings in early 2009 where I was introduced to Mindy!
Mindy, like Christa, was and is like my big sister in fitness. I am thankful that she saw something special in me. Once again, I had an amazing person taking me under her wing. Mindy helped groomed me into a better instructor and eventually a fitness presenter. (The trainer who teaches and certifies new instructors) Both, Christa and Mindy, have taught me more about being a good wife, mother, and friend more than anything else. They are excellent role models and I still learn and follow their lead.
There are SEVERAL fitness professionals that I admire. I felt lucky when Mindy approached me in May 2009 about joining her team of Beachbody affiliates.   I loved Mindy’s passion and confidence about this partnership. I was not familiar with the Beachbody company but loved the community of fitness enthusiast that were jumping on board. Like every other fitness certification I said yes to… I was all IN!
Little did I know, that leap of faith would completely change the direction of my fitness career.  Again.
By September 2009 I was teaching fitness classes,  a new Beachbody Coach affiliate, loving life, and then suddenly fired from my gym teaching job. Devastated.
With a roaring FIRE within a entrepreneur is born! I founded Fired Up Fitness and began teaching classes, independently, around the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex.
I spent the rest of 2009 finding my feet and settling into my new routine. I had decided to follow in Mindy’s footsteps and become a fitness presenter. I loved paying it forward to up and coming instructors. I still get a huge rush when I witness someone transition from the back of the class onto the mic leading.
The seeds had been planted to open my own studio but I had a lot of self doubt. I decided to accept a management position at another local gym chain to gain experience running a group fitness program.  I had been teaching a few classes at this gym and knew it had a lot of potential. I had the freedom to teach, train, and grow. I made some of my very best friends, including Kristi Carter, while managing that program!  There’s no doubt that those two years were a roller coaster but they laid a solid foundation for opening my own place.
During that time I spent a lot of hours filming audition videos and taking the necessary steps to present for Chalene Johnson at Power Blue Productions as one of their area promotion directors. Mindy was a veteran “APD” and I knew if I followed her lead I’d be presenting fitness trainings too. Who doesn’t love the RUSH from ‘paying it forward?’  I was managing a group fitness program, where I had space to host trainings, and I was already working with other instructors! I knew I was planted right where I needed to be.
I was taking a nap when Chalene Johnson called to invite me to Orange County for the next round of live in person auditions. I could not BELIEVE that I missed that call. She left a funny voicemail, said she loved my audition video, and in April 2010 I boarded my first plane to California!
Talk about ECSTATIC! I was one of eleven girls invited to the audition for a spot on this exclusive elite team of trainers that year. Three veteran trainers lived in my area, including Mindy, so I had my work cut out for me. After “APD Camp” it would be another seven months of public speaking homework, video submissions, and shadowing the vets before I was permitted to present my first training. I made amazing memories, gained a TON of experience, an made life long friends from that process.
As I was working for to become an official APD, my friend, Tenneil suggested that I look into a cardio dance format called Flirty Girl Fitness. I totally brushed her off. I was working my ass off to pass all of the requirements to present for Powder Blue! I had ZERO interest in any other format.
She patiently persisted.
At church, she introduced me to her friend Casey, who happened to be a Flirty Girl instructor. Casey invited me to a class and I never went. She was nice enough but I had tunnel vision and was on a mission to go green light with Powder Blue. In November 2010, I was approved to book my first event. It was scheduled for the following March.
Between November and March 2011 the Flirty Girl format, that I had never heard of until Tenneil, continued to pop up on my radar. I think it’s like that thing where you never see a specific kind of car until you want to buy one specific kind of car and then you see is THAT specific car at everywhere you go. That thing.
Get this. I had pretty much eliminated watching TV.  I had replaced TV time with fitness time but one weird night I found myself home alone and decided I was going to watch me some TV! Almost in retaliation of the fact that I rarely did it anymore.
Then I felt a little guilty over the fact that I could be doing something productive so I thought to myself, “I should watch something with some substance.” So, naturally, I flipped onto the Oprah Network. She knows WHATS UP.
I flipped it on in the middle of marriage therapy show where this therapist lady was helping a struggling couple repair their marriage. Interesting. To help the wife get her groove back she bribes her into a sexy dance class at this dance studio. They get out of the car, cameras follow, and strut into the Flirty Girl Fitness studio of Chicago.
My mouth dropped.
I sat wide eyed and stunned. I could not BELIEVE what I was seeing.
Here I was, this ONE random time, this ONE random show. And this freaking Flirty Girl Fitness thing is in my face AGAIN. Is Tenneil in MY TV!?!? Does she KNOW OPRAH!?!?
Listen, if there was a “HERE’S YOUR SIGN” moment. This was it for me. I believe in the power of attraction and took this seriously. I messaged Tenneil who forwarded me an email she had just received about open Flirty Girl trainer auditions.
Seriously? Is this happening? Am I doing this? I know NOTHING about this format. I just invested over a year of my life auditioning for this other company and now I’m going to go through that AGAIN?
I had never taken a Flirty Girl class but it seems pretty similar to my cardio dance class that I was already teaching. I searched for videos, stalked out other Flirty Girl instructors, trainers, owners. Everything.
I took a deep breath and emailed Flirty Girl my resume. They responded IMMEDIATELY. I’m not joking. It was fast. I was booked for the first time slot for the first audition in Dallas. I felt nervous.
I still had my Powder Blue training on the books for March and was curious what made Flirty Girl so different. A few weeks before the February audition I got a call that auditions had been postponed due to an illness. She told me they were not sure when it would be rescheduled but they wanted to fly me to Philly to speak to them about the position in person asap.
Seriously? Uhhh ok.
A few weeks later I flew to the Philadelphia, for the first time, and attended the Philly Fitness Mania convention. I met with Flirty Girl trainers Jenn, Heather, and Mindy Mylrea. They seemed super down to Earth, FUNNY, and totally pumped to work with ME. The opportunity presented was AMAZING! Flirty Girl was a pretty new format. I would have creative input on the growth of the dance based format and able to book instructor trainings ANYWHERE. Pretty much free reign over all southern states!
I was IN.
Flirty Girl Fitness was respectful and cool with me presenting my Powder Blue event that March and I was feeling excited for this new opportunity!
I ROCKED my one and only Hip Hop Hustle training, respectfully resigned, and in April 2011 became an Ultimate Flirty Girl Fitness Trainer.
To be continued…
Hip Hop Hustle