Bria Pittman is a fitness coach and new entrepreneur as of October 2015. Before she turned her health and wellness blog, From Fluff 2 Fit, into a full-fledged small business, she was putting her undergraduate degree in Psychology to us and off to a professional start that any recent graduate would aim for. What changed? Read more about our conversation with Bria on why she decided to make an unexpected transition and pursue her dream.
Tell me about your path to becoming a fitness coach. Three years ago I was the heaviest I had ever been in my life. I was pushing 240 lbs., and had been trying lots of different stuff to lose weight before stumbling onto Weight Watchers, which helped me lose 80 lbs.. Before I lost weight I didn’t realize how bad of a place that I was in, but when I lost weight I started gaining more confidence and became much more outgoing– it really improved my overall quality of life. I was so passionate about it and people began coming to me for help, so I started my blog From Fluff 2 Fit, but I wasn’t ready to call myself a fitness coach because I am not perfect: I like pizza, doughnuts, and never plan to eat like a swimsuit model (laughing). After I had my son in April of 2015 I began to lose a lot of that maternity weight again and people started coming to me for more advice and instruction. So I told myself, “Okay, you can’t put it off any longer. Just go ahead and start helping people because it’s evidently what you’re meant to do.” That following October I got my first client and then it kind of took off from there; having that first client validated my idea for what I wanted to do and why I wanted to do it.
Were you doing anything professionally before that? Yes, I was actually a program coordinator at St. John’s Community Services. I actually graduated from Union in 2013 with by Bachelor’s in Psychology and followed the prescribed route of getting 40/hr per week desk job, but by 2pm everyday I felt like I was going to lose it. I’m definitely Type A and love to be as productive as possible, so by lunchtime I would have all of my work done and get restless. In October, when I started as a fitness coach, I left that job and returned to waiting tables part-time.
Now, I wouldn’t necessarily encourage people to take the big jump like that, but my husband has a really good job and I waited tables all throughout college so I knew that I could make enough money for us to get by while I built a foundation for my business.
Was that a difficult decision to make for you personally when you decided to fully commit to working for yourself as a fitness coach? You know a lot of people say to not quit your day job in order to pursue your dream, you either do both on the side or you work your job and build your business with the free time you have. Well, I have two kids (laughing), so when I go into work at 8am and then get off at 5pm, I then have to make dinner, help with homework, and get the kids ready for bed. I felt stretched thin trying to balance everything at once so I decided to either pick the dream or pick my current job and move on, because trying both was not going to work. It was a scary decision, but I knew that comfort is the enemy of greatness. I could stay in my office job and be comfortable with my salary, but it wouldn’t make me work on my dream of being a fitness coach and turning this thing into a business, so I knew I just needed to quit. I knew people would call me crazy (and they did!), but the thing that I have learned is that people will tell you that you can’t do something because they’re afraid to do it themselves. Because it’s scary–no, it’s terrifying–but I knew that if I didn’t pick my dream now that I wouldn’t do it ever. I would always have an excuse that there wasn’t enough time or that it wasn’t important enough.
Were your close friends and family supportive of that decision? Umm… A couple of my close friends were, but most were saying, “You have lost your mind.” Every Sunday I would almost have a panic attack because I knew had to go into work the next day, and when you’re doing something that’s not in alignment with who you are then that can only last for so long. My husband was really supportive, especially in those moments, and those close friends were as well. But everyone else was telling me I was insane (laughing).
I know that being a fitness coach must be important to you because of the weight loss you’ve personally experienced and the number of people who have come to you for the same kind of results. What do you think people’s most common misconceptions about health and wellness are? Is that something you have thought about as you have developed your business? Yes! I think there are two things that come to mind. The first one being that most believe that if they spend a couple of hours everyday in the gym without changing their diet, then they can still achieve the results that they want. That one hurts my feelings for people (laughing), because you are literally just spinning your wheels and wasting that hard work! The second one is that people think that they need to starve themselves to lose weight, and that backfires on you. I know that there is no way you’re going to lose weight by eating that way, but so many people don’t realize that your body needs fuel when there’s that much exercise happening. Both of those mistakes in people’s thinking have really motivated me to become a fitness coach. Something that I tell my clients is that I don’t look like Jillian Michaels and I don’t want to go through the craziness it takes to look like that; I’m a normal person who simply likes to live a healthy lifestyle. But because I have had that mindset and know where people are coming from when they say that, I feel like I have to be a fitness coach and help others think differently about those issues.
Aside from getting to do something professionally that you feel personally responsible for, what has it been like owning your own business? It’s been fun! Sure, there are some days where I’m overwhelmed and feel unprepared for what I’m doing, but entrepreneurship is high risk, high reward. The highs are high and the lows can be low, but the highs are awesome and make it worth it.
Have you had any mentors along the way? Yes, so I’d say that one of my mentors is a celebrity and the other one is a friend of mine who lives here in the community. My celebrity mentors are Chris and Heidi Powell, the personal trainers for Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition. Of all the people in the fitness industry they come across as being the most real; they recognize that we’re all normal people who are just trying to live a healthy lifestyle. One of their mottos is, “We’re all perfectly imperfect together.” I like the way they balance healthy living and being kind to yourself.
My local mentor is Jon Ewing, the administrator for the Woman’s Clinic in Jackson and a fitness instructor at Gold’s Gym. He, of all of my friends, was the most encouraging to me whenever I was thinking of leaving my full-time job and becoming a fitness coach. If I’m having a bad day as a business owner, he always picks me up and affirms me in what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.
So you just finished taking the most recent CO.STARTERS class here at theCO. What’s something from that experience that you think will inform the way you develop your business in 2016? Gosh there are so many things to take away. CO.STARTERS was so good for me in several ways. Even though I was working my business already and had clients, the canvas system for structuring a business has been a great reference for me to come back to already since finishing. Also, as business owners we make assumptions about what our customers want and how they want it, but the program pushes you to actually ask people what they think. That was really good for me because I got some answers that were unexpected; I assumed that people wanted lots of fitness tips and videos, but what’s been more of an interest has been on day-to-day healthy living (time management, cooking healthy for your family, and so on).
Before I started CO.STARTERS I felt like I had developed a fear of public speaking, even though most people would think that I would be naturally comfortable in that kind of setting. The instructors truly helped me in honing my message and overcoming that fear to share in front of people.
Do you think that translates to speaking with new clients or introducing your methodology to people that are not already familiar with you or your business? Oh absolutely. In CO.STARTERS we went over our pitches to potential customers so many times, and by the time I was finished I felt like I was able to explain everything that I do and how it can be helpful without even thinking about it. Sharing about my business almost feels like apart of my identity now, and a big reason for that is the repetition encouraged by CO.STARTERS.
Where do you want to see From Fluff 2 Fit this time next year? I would like to have a membership site in place in 2017. A big issue that friends have continually brought up when talking about my business is scalability, so I have looked at different models in the online community to see how they scale their business and one of the things I realized is that I need to have a starting place for new clients and develop a hierarchy from there. That will ideally start with my podcast where I’ll interview people from all over about their journey with health and fitness. The podcast will ideally be how I get people plugged into the membership site, which will have people pay a small monthly fee for fitness content and instructional information. From there I’d like to have group coaching and group fitness classes to go along with my current one-on-one coaching and finesses classes.
I’m reading DotCom Secrets by Russell Brunson right now and one of the points he makes is that some of your clients will always want another level to go to with you; they will always want to keep working so you need to be prepared to have the capacity to accommodate that. That takes building a latter, so I’m trying to do that now!
If you were to give a piece of advice to someone in your position twelve months ago, what would you tell them? Stop caring so much about what other people think. Seriously, so many people have dreams of doing what they’re most passionate about, but that over-care for what others will thing can be paralyzing. At the end of the day, people don’t think about ourselves as much as we think they do – we think way more about ourselves in comparison. You can still care about people and not care about what they think. So many people miss that, so that would be my advice.
Interview and Transcription by Joseph Smith.