Before becoming a wellness coach, I was a personal trainer for 15 years; about 90% of my clients were women in their fifties.
From the big corporate gyms, to training out of a client’s home, to being an independent contractor at a small studio, I’ve spent a lot of time in the gym.
Throughout those years, it was a 10-year dream of mine to open my very own gym – a women’s only studio – a place for women, where they could feel comfortable and safe and not worry about dealing with creepy guys.
I took the appropriate steps to open my studio.
I hired a business coach (who had successfully run his own studio) to help me create an extensive business plan. It took me an entire year that included a lot of research and hard work to complete.
I also had to find a location and luckily I did. I found a great space for lease and started talking to a realtor.
While this external process was happening, there was another process happening, yet this one was internal – it was an energy shift that was getting too strong to go unnoticed.
As I continued to train my clients in their fifties, I began to realize that what they wanted and needed was more than a hard workout I was giving them a few times a week.
We spent so much time focusing on the “outside,” losing weight and gaining strength, balance, and flexibility; yet they were yearning for the inner work – releasing old habits and behaviors and gaining strength, balance, and flexibility, not just in their bodies, but in their lives.
I began to understand that my mission and my calling was more in helping my clients achieve a transformation from the inside out, rather than from the outside in.
This new discovery slowly led me to start to sit and talk with my clients, rather than giving them a workout.
I held a safe, supportive, and non-judgmental space for them to share with me their fears, disappointments, frustrations, anger, and resentments.
They also shared their hopes and desires for life after retirement that included travel, watching their grandkids grow up, and moving around with ease so they could stay active.
They were in an exciting time of transition – like one of my basketball coaches used to say about how we looked before a game, “wide-eyed and bushy-tailed.”
That’s how I saw my clients – they were excited, yet scared about “what could be,” both ways – what could be if they did start making changes and what could be if they didn’t.
Soon enough, my clients and I started foregoing our workouts altogether and began sitting down and talking more and more – they were loving it and so was I.
Instead of me prescribing exercises to my clients and watching them perform them in front of me as I watched their form and counted their reps, we used our time to sit down and work on health habits, understand their troubles with food, and shifted the focus altogether from just helping them change the “outside,” to helping them change the “inside” that would eventually lead to the “outside” changes – these changes would LAST.
And that’s just what happened.
My clients started seeing better results because I was no longer just giving them a workout and sending them on their way.
I was now helping them make better food choices and offering them accountability with their workouts outside of the gym – because I like to say that it’s easy to be “good” when your trainer’s watching, but what about all the hours no one is watching?
That’s the hard time to make good decisions, and that’s what I was helping them do.
Throughout this time, my 10-year dream of opening my own studio began to feel less and less like the right move, even though there was so much sunk cost – I spent a year creating an extensive business plan and was working with a realtor on the space I was going to rent.
However, a new dream began – the dream of having my own wellness coaching practice for women in their fifties – the demographic I had trained for so long and was just starting to get to know on a deeper level.
“Go as far as you can see, and then you can see farther.”
“Kim, women in their 50s is too narrow of a market. You can work with just women, but why not ALL women? Why limit yourself to just the 50s? I think you’re making a mistake.” – what some of my colleagues said when I told them I was going to start a coaching practice exclusively for women in their fifties.
When I started my coaching practice, despite the naysayers, I knew in my heart that women in their fifties was where my heart was.
I had spent 15 years working with them, getting to know them, and learning about where they were in their lives and where they wanted to be and why.
I confidently chose to start my virtual coaching practice Transformation Wellness For Women where I would coach exclusively women in their fifties.
Since then, having a virtual coaching practice has allowed me to work with many women in their fifties from all over the country, even Canada!
More importantly, what I’ve realized along the way is that my colleagues could not have been more…. wrong.
I’ve discovered that “women in their fifties” is NOT a narrow market.
My coaching clients in their early fifties were going through many different things than my clients in their late fifties.
Some of my clients had their children earlier and some had them later. Some have no children.
Some of my clients were going through menopause earlier, some later.
And the list goes on…
Basically, I found that my market wasn’t narrow – it was large!
“Go as far as you can see, and then you can see farther.”
I realized that just because a woman was in her fifties, didn’t mean she was the right match for me or I for her.
Who did qualify as the right match was a woman who had put everyone else’s needs before her own for most of her life and she was ready, willing, and able to make a healthy change in her life.
She was eager to start making herself a priority – she wanted to move better, feel better, sleep better, eat healthier, exercise more, lower her stress, discover what’s important to her at this stage of life, make new friends, learn a new hobby, try out a new exercise class, and so on…
Along the way there have been women in their 40s and 60s who were fitting this description, but I turned them away… because they weren’t in their fifties.
Another shift was happening inside of me.
Early last month, I took off for the weekend to have an undistracted personal retreat in Northern California where all I did was read, write, reflect, and think, specifically about who I was currently serving, exclusively women in their fifties.
The question I pondered all weekend was: “Whom exactly do I want to work with?”
I returned home with my answer.
During my time away, I realized that I no longer wanted to qualify a woman who wants to work with me simply by her age.
Here are my exact notes from my trip:
- She’s been taking care of everyone else, now it’s “my turn to take care of me!”
- She must be ready, willing, and able to make a change
- She’s eager to make herself a priority
- She’s open to doing the hard work of looking within for answers
- She’s mentally and emotionally healthy
- She struggles with things such as:
- Poor health habits
- All-or-nothing approach to everything (food, exercise, cleaning, etc.)
- Feels out of balance, disorganized, and/or overwhelmed
- Lacks friendships with other similar women
- Doesn’t feel like her outside and inside match
- Spreads herself too thin
- She believes things like:
- “I’m done with the quick fixes and want to make changes that last.”
- “I’m fed up with sitting on the fence and want to make a commitment to my health and self-care.”
- “I value myself and my health and I’m willing to invest in both.”
- “I want to feel ‘in charge’ of my health and happiness.”
- “I’d like to develop my unique health style, rather than use a one-size-fits-all approach.”
- “A healthy body will not only help me feel better, but move better as well. It’ll allow me to do the things I want to do – from playing with my grandkids, to traveling, to just making my life easier.”
- “I’m finished with self-doubt and want to build confidence in my ability to master my wellness.”
I realized that I had turned away women who wanted my help and fit all of the above, but they didn’t qualify because they were in their 40s or 60s.
What was important for me to share with you as well is that I don’t see this as an expansion of my market; rather, I’m honing in on the right women for me and I for them – women who are at the right time of their lives to make these changes, regardless if they’re 47, 55, or 63.
I shared this news with my Flourishing 50s members earlier this week, and I’m sharing it with you as well because it’s important to me to lead by example.
I want you to know that I, too, am learning, growing, and evolving personally and professionally.
A friend of mine asked me the other day, “What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment so far in your life?”
I looked him in the eye and without hesitation answered, “I’ve found my calling.”
I believe that from the bottom of my heart with the utmost certainty.
As such, I want to thank you for being in my community and reading my blog posts every week.
It’s an extreme honor to get do what I do everyday – empowering women in midlife to greater health and self-care.
Because it has gotten me to where I am today, I continue to be committed to going as far as I can see, because then I can see farther.
Perhaps on your own journey you are doing the same.
I sure hope so.
Thank you for coming alongside me on my journey today.
To be continued…
It’s your turn to take care of you,