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Online Fitness And Wellness With Jillian Keaveny And Compass Fitness | Fit And Healthy Kinetik Chain Denver Podcast Episode-2

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Jamie:

All right, well, welcome Jillian Keavney. [snip] Jillian is the co-owner of Compass Fitness, and we’ll be talking about that, as well as their online fitness which they have just done a phenomenal job with. And you know, I thought about coming on here, Jillian and just saying something really mean to you because I don’t think I’ve ever seen you without a smile on your face, which is just amazing. Like, Oh, really? I’ve never seen you without a smile on your face. You know, you hugged me the first like three or four times you met me without even seeing it and knowing me. It’s a big testament to just how friendly you are and outgoing you are. I know you have a lot of things going on between Compass between school, the outline, which is essentially another business. You’re also an event producer. I’m sure there are several other things that I’m missing. Let’s just get started and we’ll cover as much of that as we can. So tell me about your background. How’d you get started in fitness?

Jillian:

Yeah. So my degree is in kinesiology with an emphasis in sport and fitness management. So when I was in college, I played basketball for two years at Mesa State, now Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. And as my degree was kind of coming to an end, I took the more business term towards the end and so my goal was to work for a professional sports team or the USS like the Olympic Training Center or something in that regard and the business side and, and so that was my goal. And then when I graduated from college, I couldn’t get a job pretty much anywhere. I even worked for the Kansas City Chiefs. I did a six-month internship and worked at Arrowhead Stadium and worked in the marketing department and I really liked it but came back to Colorado and there just wasn’t much available. So I was like, Well, I have this nice degree like I’ll just personal train on the side a little bit. So I did that for a little bit and then I did kind of get more into the retail side. I managed a running specialty store called the Colorado Running Company springs. I opened up Lululemon there, but all the while I was really passionate about movement. I started teaching for power in 2010 Down in the springs and that’s kind of where I got my group fitness and yoga Stark. And then I moved to Denver in 2013 and pretty much just started teaching anywhere I could both fitness and yoga.

Jamie:

Okay, so you’ve been here since 2013. And Compass started two years ago.

Jillian:

Yes, we just celebrated our two year anniversary in May.

Jamie:

Congratulations. What  was the genesis of Compass?

Jillian:

So, very early on in 2018. I myself just started thinking about like, what’s next? I had trashed my body teaching 20 classes a week for the previous five years and I thought how much longer do I have doing this? And am I like, what am I going to do and I can no longer teach as many classes personal training and just be this high energy all the time and and I was just like, you know, I’ve managed other people’s businesses, like how do I start to manage my business and what is even my brand like what am I doing and so I started producing some events with Phil who owns southern Colorado, and it’s I’m independently from myself and I just kind of had my hand and a lot of pots which I enjoyed, but I also felt very stretched thin and not like really seeing like what the long term plan was. And so my friend and CO winner puppets had a Lauren’s. She and I have known each other since Colorado Springs day. She was still a teacher at Porter power. We met each other over 10 years ago and she and I were like, we’re both like she just turned 40 and 36 We’re not like fresh chickens in this whole fitness world. We’re like, what are we gonna do long term and so we have taught so many places and learned so much about what I think studios do really well and where we find gaps and things that weren’t working well. And we were like, Should we just like to try to get this brick and mortar thing and go like, we were like, we’re both she’s an Enneagram 679 We’re both like okay, we’ll just do one here. We’ll just do one here. And if it’s terrible, we’ll like the fact that whatever. And we found a location, which is our current campus for this location in a situation where the current lease owner was like, not wanting to have it. And so we just did like a one year sub lease deal and in that process, a few of our other trainer friends. We’re like, hey, I want to come teach for you. I’m interested in ownership. And so we then became a trainer owned gym, which I think is one of the things that sets us apart from other studios. We have four trainers that on the end and we have two other like very small percentage owners that are not so

Jamie:

Okay. Great. And you have had some tremendous grace in the last two years. You’ve now opened a second location as well as the online which we’re gonna talk about both of those, but I want to know what holes did you see in the fitness arena that you thought Compass could fill? Yeah,

Jillian:

You know, I think the hole that we saw the big one was, so many studios focus on one thing. It’s like I want to be really great at one thing which we’ve seen in a lot of other businesses. Do you have a niche and that works really well? However, when it comes to movement, our bodies are constantly changing and evolving. What we want is constantly changing and evolving. We’re injured, we’re pregnant, we’re aging. We have, you know, new fitness concepts being released and how do we stay attuned to what our bodies need in the moment and also stay excited about movement. And so our idea was, the name or Compass came from you know, our tagline is find a direction it just comes. It’s fueled by the idea that we believe there’s a lot of ways to move your body. The idea was, hey, let’s pick a few platforms. A few class styles, hire the best teachers and most experienced teachers we know that we know will lead a great experience for a large size class. And let’s just go for I mean, our space is almost 7000 square feet. Heather knew she would help me when she said, John, you can have all of your events here you can have you can teach over 100 people if you want. And she didn’t get me there but you know, it was like, hey, what if we did a lot of trampling? What if we did a strength training class or like, what if we offered a mix of hitting parties or what if we did some run focus classes? So that’s kind of where we saw the gap. And we just knew that if we establish a really community based foundation and also like, Hey, we’re gonna meet you where you’re at today, we’re going to push you, we’re also going to adapt to what your needs are the best we can in a group fitness scenario. And I think that comes from the years of experience that we had. Those were kind of our foundational focuses in the open the business,

Jamie:

or some of the struggles you’ve had early on with the business.

Jillian:

Oh, geez, how long is this podcast? I think some of the struggles early on, you know, it’s just finding the flow personnel wise. We had some changes in ownership right away. That was pretty heartbreaking within the first six months of like, this foundation that we bought, was no longer and for that, emotionally, it was a pretty of a toll but we just kind of like pushed on and trust that the people that were meant to be on our team and help us develop and move forward either and then ownership level, a managerial level or teacher level like that. That would be what was brought to us and that’s exactly what happened. I think, you know, trying things on and giving it enough time to see what the result is without going oh, that’s not working. Let’s pull it back. I see a lot of studios do that with like time slots or formats and stuff like that. Like if you don’t give it time to like, catch on or for people to get into it and you like to pull it away too fast. I think we lose opportunities. So I think it was just like stressing ourselves and being like what have we learned working for 10 years in the business? Let’s try some things. And so I think that was kind of a struggle that we had, you know, marketing or fitness people like you know this when you own your business, you’re signing up to do it all and we’re like, we still like don’t even like do neighborhood marketing or anything. We’re just like, the word of mouth was like such a huge gift for us. So I think we just didn’t do the best job with that. And you know, personally now looking back like the last two years we just, personally I think like really ran ourselves pretty hard.

Jamie:

Yeah. And it’s one thing you know, because you are also pushing your body really hard every day you’re teaching the classes, right? People don’t realize that physical stress and mental stress are basically the same thing to the body, just kind of in different ways. And so when you’re running a business that has that many classes and that many people are coming through there. It’s very impressive. That you’ve kind of put up you know, and done as well as, as you have. And, you know, we’ve kind of talked about how you do a lot of that in the past but so, you know, when you start out, creating new business, you kind of have this great idea right? And most people think that successful businesses are started with these ideas that nobody has ever had. But the majority of successful businesses actually just kind of copy somebody else and that’s the safe way to go. And it’s actually how most businesses are successful. And you saw like, I want to do something completely different. And anytime you do something completely different, you get some people who really love it, and then you get some pushback. What was some of the pushback that you got?

Jillian:

With like the class styles, you know, people wanting more of this or more of that and like in not totally getting caught and all of the individual wants and needs of everyone and trying to figure out well, our 6:15 and our 9:15 and classes are our biggest classes, what styles do we put there? And oh, Joe Bob over here wants more strength training, but like Sally wants more hiit cardio, like how do we if we say Hey, this is one a one stop shop, or a lot of different modalities? How do we meet everyone’s needs? We only have so many hours in the day, you know, and so coming up with a schedule that made sense physically, where people wouldn’t be as inclined to go someplace else, you know, and if we were totally like, we know so many owners in this business, like if we don’t have the class you want like go see you know Beth at Transform or go see you know, Megan at HighRide, like we would we would throw those people names out there like Don’t be with these studios, but I think it was a little bit we would get caught up in like the chasing of what people want. And of course we wanted to please people and keep people you know, we first opened so that was definitely something and just, you know, pricing and all that stuff like Heather and I are always some people to be like, well, we’ll do it for free or like whatever but then like oh my god our overheads. Like I think we have that struggle.

Jamie:

Yeah, you have a huge building. That’s maybe one of the best spaces I’ve seen. It’s really nice there. And so when I saw you move into that place, I was like, you’re moving into that as a new business. I was lucky. They’ll be out of there in six months, but you would obviously prove me wrong. And Correct. You know, credit to you. I didn’t know what I was talking about. So you know, as you’re developing all of these, these individual classes, and you know, you’re trying to bring on some new resources for people, I want to talk about the individual classes and who those are for but what would you say your general approach to fitness is?

Jillian:

Our general approach to fitness I would say is like safety, form, functionality, and fun. You know, like we were very specific on like, when we teach them a little bit for a reason. We’re always going to show you a visual, we’re always gonna consistently cue you. We’re not going to be like, Okay, here’s an eight rep circuit, an eight move circuit. Now and get out there for 40 minutes and I’ll just like play some good tracks and see later, like, we’re constantly looking at people’s bodies letting those steel or cueing and like I really intentional class and format for sure, which is very hard to teach, and that’s something I will go back on like a struggle that we’ve had it like, Heather was notorious. She taught everywhere, and she left everywhere because either that studio or the owner was like you have to do it our way. Her creativity was tampered down. And we want to say hey, teacher, that we’re stressed, we want you to be creative, but we also want you to hold this level of integrity and standard that we have for our space. And it’s a very fine line. So your question was what again?

Jamie:

What is your general approach to fitness?

Jillian:

Yeah, so functionality teaches things for purpose. Being able to challenge people in a group dynamic, being able to up level people and being able to accommodate different injuries and stuff in a group setting is very challenging. It takes a lot of experience and work to do it well. And I think just like the fun factor, I mean, we are such goofballs and I think that lines work so well. For us. It’s like, we start every class with like, we call it our monologue. And Heather and I kind of wear this and our yoga teacher training. It’s like, I’m going to tell you where I’m at for the day if I expect you to be vulnerable with me or with your body and your energy and all that like I’ve got to step up and be like hey, man, like, I’m really excited to be here today have lots of energy or like it was a really huge struggle. This is my weird story that happened over the weekend. We’re all kind of notorious for our bizarre stories, but having that human connection, and then being like, alright, let’s let’s go we’re in this. Let’s turn it on. I think that is a big part of our approach.

Jamie:

Who would you say Compass is perfect for?

Jillian:

Can’t say everybody because that’s a lame answer. So all we say, I think try it out. Try it. Out. I think this is for somebody who’s constantly curious, that connection to movement and somebody who appreciates being excited about community and someone that is excited and curious about their evolution of their wellness.

Jamie:

How many classes do you have right now? Like not numbers, but like different styles of classes.

Jillian:

Okay, so I think we have about 10 and we have pre COVID They were like during the day it would kind of be buried. Now, post, post the times we call it the times, post the times. We would run the same class the whole day. So like Mondays, the cup is full. Wednesdays are hit and run things. Like they were before they were kind of scattered but with the special and equipment stuff weird kind of like that. But they vary on the phone line and have all formats right now.

Jamie:

Okay. It looks like let’s talk a little bit about Compass online. So you had had this idea before? COVID. Right. It was slowly starting to kind of develop and then all of a sudden, you know, it was essentially, you know, this has to happen now. So why did you want to do it before? And then we’ll answer that. answer that first.

Jillian:

Why do you want to do it? When we opened Compass fitness we talked about online like right away, and we got caught up in the house. It was just like how are we gonna do this? How can we film them really up on location. We just were really caught up in the how of it and we saw the need for the same reason we open the gym or like believing there’s a lot of ways to move our body. People could really connect with our individual personalities online and some people do want to work at home. Some people are intimidated to kind of face I mean we have a very fit community. Very friendly, but it’s intense sometimes. And I’m like I would hate if someone didn’t feel comfortable or fit enough or in shape enough to come into our space. It would be really beautiful if they at least could have something online where they can see what we’re really like as people and trust us in their living room and then be able to come in so that was like a big part of that. And as you know, on your brick and mortar the profit margins are very high. And so we thought long term like it’d be cool to have different kinds of umbrella limbs for our business.

Jamie:

Yeah. So you started this basically at the same time as everybody else in the world. You know, so lots of competition out there. Yeah, very few people were, I would say long term six

and you have been very successful at this because correct me if I’m wrong, you’re you gained like 2000 followers on Facebook something some a month or something insane like that. So why were you successful when everybody else wasn’t?

Jillian:

Yes, that’s a really good question, David and I keep coming back to and I think I have a lot of different answers for it. So basically the story goes we shut down on Monday the 16th of March at 1pm. And the four owners and I hopped on the call at 1:30pm and we were like what the FR unit deal like, we gotta keep it so our biggest goal was, how do we keep it because we want to keep paying our bills, and we didn’t know how long this is gonna go for. So our idea was our members, our auto pay members. Limited how do we keep them paid? And our idea was we were to say to our members, hey, if you guys need to cancel membership today, totally fine. If we’re going to do these 8 million things to keep you on providing that exchange of energy services still. So we rented out our entire gym. We offered everybody like four pieces of equipment that was paying us membership for free. We decided to get online on Facebook Live. The very next morning I thought about Tuesday morning at 915. So we had established we had Compass fitness, you know our Facebook business page. And then we created this page a couple months back called Compass family that was just like for our people in our community. It had like 100 members there that were like, Hey, we’re gonna have a potluck or we’re gonna do like a, you know, fitness, yoga or clothing exchange just like to keep our community kind of connected. We haven’t spent much time on the page though. So we’re like, we don’t want to put it on our business page because like the algorithm of Facebook people don’t see that much. We’re gonna create it on this campus fan page, which is a private group. So it does but we were gonna let everybody yet we didn’t care if you lived in Nebraska or whatever we invited everybody. So the next morning went out live and then we slowly decided we’re gonna at least do one class a day. And like week three, we were having two or three classes a day and showing our different formats that we have brick and mortar, but they were all in their living rooms. They were always stuff that we had around the house. I mean, we do some equipment. So like we’re like, Oh hey, if you don’t have weights like fill a backpack with looks like we tried to be as creative as we could. And I think that’s where our personalities really shine in that moment and like being really vulnerable. Like hey, we’re all in this and this is like my living room. My roommates upstairs like to shut the door shut. So I think that’s part of the process. But then we were just getting requests to requests and literally like, within three weeks, we were like over 1000 people and then within six weeks we were over like 2000 because everyone was just sharing it out and everyone wanted access. So they were invited. You know, we approve of them. We’re just letting everybody in. And we had a student who was so funny like Taylor did trivia nights on Wednesday. He like channeled Alex Trebek has a microphone and he did trivia everywhere from like regular Jeopardy. It was exactly like, you know, nature for 500 or whatever, like Compass would be like a category and it was on Facebook Live and people were typing your answers and all this stuff. I did an Enneagram talk. Cooking and live demos were just like what would people love to like, have a 5:30 pm Happy Hour like trying to keep something going some sort of like normalcy in people’s lives. So we’ve had that weird stuff on there. And like, you know, her boyfriend was in some of the videos and he became a character like it was just fun.

Jamie:

Yes, it sounds like you had a lot of fun with it and probably the most stressful time ever for you. For you, and thank you for helping bring up everybody else’s spirits as well. And good job.

Jillian:  

I will say it was all donation based. So that’s how it kind of transitioned after seven weeks so almost. Yeah, it was actually like two. It was over two months ago. I feel like we did it. We did all donation based content and then we flipped to the campus online format.

Jamie:

And how it how’s that going? How is the new online format going?

Jillian:

Oh, it’s amazing. It’s amazing. We use this platform created by Denver guys called member Dev. And one of our friends Kyle Uyghur, who’s a handstand workshop genius guy. He works with them and we tested out for like five platforms in one week because everybody was trying to sell those platforms to every studio in the nation. And so we really liked that it was a local streaming video. It was super easy. It allowed us to upload over 80 videos. I mean, already we could just dump into this program. It was super easy to go live every day and just literally clean and it’s been going great. We have just under two underpaying members currently. And our next goal is to really market it and spend some time and money to do that.

Jamie:

I mean that many members nowadays are pretty, pretty impressive. Thank you so we haven’t talked specifically about the classes and you probably have too many for us to go over the specifics of every class, but maybe just give us an idea of what people will get in the classes.

Jillian:

Yeah. So I’ll just go over a few. So one of our foundations is a purposeful direction that’s like our tried and true blend. of strength and cardio you’re gonna get both full body. We have conferences north to south which means upper body, lower body, same thing little mix of cardio and strength. One of our really popular classes is a strength training focus class only called down and dirty. There will be no burpees like no mountain climbers like no high impact. It’s all strength training. So if we have to use barbells, heavy weights going over like a push a pull a front of the leg back of the leg very, like low rep count and lots of reps people that really wanted to build strength. We have one of our newest, you know, we launched this class probably two weeks before COVID happened called hit and run like ah hit run. And so there was like a running element. And it really became like, essentially quarantining one of our most popular classes because I was like, Hey, I have six stores within my town hall. I can run stairs, you can run outside, you can jump rope, people I think like the idea that could get them outside. And like knowing that there would be like a little bit of a running element. But if they did run, you know, choose something else. And then we have a class called buttons and guns. It’s more glutes and arm focus, again, less impact, like down and dirty. And we have one called athletic conditioning like going over speed or agility kind of athlete mindset stuff. So yeah, that’s kind of like a little taste of some of our most popular classes.

Jamie:

And I know you went to the new place because I was recent, right?

Jillian:

Well, we actually are soft openings when we get to 20. And so we’re just doing personal training and now we signed the lease conveniently like the first week of February, and we acquired it like the third week of April.

Jamie:

Okay. And what is the eventual goal? Was that or what’s the vision?

Jillian:

Yeah, so I’ll tell you my initial vision and it hasn’t changed as of now but for profit wellness is two blocks up from company fitness, and is a totally different ideology. of it. We’re gonna have yoga and  barre there’s a separate yoga room, and then kind of out in the front space. Our goal is to have smaller group classes called highlight its high intensity, low impact. So we have six Versa climbers. We also have six cable machines, if you think like envisioning a home gym, and those would be for small groups and because of COVID those will be six people classes. And then it’s also wearing personal training. We have to mirror some kind of squat rack area up in the front. And then there’s three practitioner rooms. So the idea of the COVID was like PT massage acupuncture, chiro, those sorts of things hydration so it looks like a sister location as the same barrel roof ceiling but it’s a lot different exposed brick. Upper level loft we call the eagle’s nest.

Jamie:

Yeah, it almost looks like a fitness spa. It’s kind of like high end luxury. You know, it’s there. It’s a beautiful space.

Jillian:

Thank you. Yeah. And I want to be classy.

Jamie:

Yeah. Eventually doing quite a few classes there as well.

Jillian:

Yeah, not as much as there’ll be like four a day between yoga bar and small group? Yeah, about four a day.

Jamie:

I don’t want to give you credit too, because I know you CO produced the 50 to 80 wellness booths which were amazing, which had to be bought. Yes, exactly. Fitness. Everybody had fitness and health and there’s classes and so next year check it out. Jillian did a great job with that last year and I’m sure we’ll do a great job again. It’s really fun. And what else would you like people to know either about you or Compass.

Jillian:

I would love for people to come give me a try. I mean, I think I’m so passionate about the people. That we have there. Our staff, super knowledgeable, like super passionate people about movements. We just have a stellar community and I was reminded of that and since COVID, like the level of support the level of excitement that I got even like just being away from it at home was very noticeable. So I just obviously like my heart for that not just because of my corner but because of the people. Well, I think one more thing about me I think is just the last year I went through school with NTA which is nutritional therapy Association and I’ve been looking for a nutrition program for like five years and everything I found was just super felt like old school it felt like just like, here’s macros here’s a plane, like purely go type of thing and I was looking for overall wellness, like, how does food impact my life? How does food impact my digestion, my stress level? And that’s really what nutritional therapy looks at the whole person. It looks at our lifestyle choices and all of that and the last year I’ve been in school learning about that and I just graduated and I’m definitely going to include that and enCompass but also me personally working one on one with clients and then also creating I want to create an online course where people can learn about really about food and wellness and kind of dip off the diet culture and end access to the information in a feasible way. So that’s something that I’m working on now.

Jamie:

Yeah, I think that’d be huge for all your clients because fitness is one thing but health is more inclusive, right? And so while you can go and sweat every day, you know if you eat a steak and a beer every night, you may not know healthwise healthy person. So I think that will just bring a whole nother level for all your clients and you’ll congratulations on that. By the way, I know you’ve been working on time with as much as you’re doing. I don’t know how you did that. But congratulations. And it was it’s filled this free time up with something else something

Jillian:

I will tell you the last couple of weeks and like I have like space, a little bit of space like this was all filled up before – I can breathe.

Jamie:

Yeah, yeah, I’m not sure that’s exciting. I’m curious how long that will last.

Jillian:

JB you can check in with me to do okay

Jamie:

Alright sounds good. All right well Julie where can people find you and find a compass on social media so they can check you out?

Jillian:

Yeah, yeah so our compass is just compass to the center or their Instagram handle and then my personal one is my first and last name is Julian cavity is Ke Ke v e i official Instagram Graham and then we’re saying my favorite because that way as well our two websites so compass fitness denver.com our regular website for brick and mortars and then for the online it’s just online dot compass fitness denver.com And we do right now have four free class and if you wanted to see like what an online class is like. We do have four up there for you to experience.

Jamie:

That’s great. All right, everybody, make sure you check out Julian compass fitness compass wellness, compass online, compass nutrition.

Jillian:

Me It’s just me okay.

Jamie:

So make sure you check everything out that Julian is doing. And thanks for joining me. I appreciate it.

Thank you for listening to the fit and healthy Denver podcast.

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