In The Spotlight: Karen Lee, Founder Of KarenLee.Fitness
Contributed by Karen Lee* February 3, 2018
Enough was enough, after three deaths in her family, one after another, Karen Lee had enough of poor lifestyle choices, and unhealthy eating habits. It was time for change, and hers was nothing short of drastic.
After fifteen years in corporate with a comfortable salary, Karen left her job and began her journey in both fitness and entrepreneurship.
As women continue to be a driving force for change around the world, this series aims to highlight those who demonstrate an exceptional commitment to creating an impact.
We are excited for you to learn from and be inspired by Karen Lee of KarenLee.Fitness!
Tell us about you and your business/career, and what you were doing before you started?
I am a Fitness Change Consultant. I assess individual client’s fitness level for a start and customize a work out plan for him or her. When the client has a deeper, more challenging dietary issue, I would refer the client to an accredited Dietician or Nutritionist. And, when the client faces issue with his or her musculoskeletal pain causes, symptoms and treatments, I would refer the client to either an accredited Physiotherapist or Chiropractor before the commencement of personal training.
My mission is to transform unhealthy individuals not just physically, but mentally and emotionally to the point that they adopt clean eating habits and a smart exercising lifestyle for life.
A Little Piece Of History
Fitness has been in my blood since I was little. I was intrigued by my uncle’s physique who was a national Body Builder in the 80’s and told myself I wanted to be like him when I grew up. It was pretty funny as I look back. Even though I enjoyed sports I was never able to get the ideal physique that I aspired. I was born chubby. And, I had never thought of becoming a Fitness Trainer until my dramatic turning point came in 2012.
Three family deaths hit me badly; the first was my 44-year-old cousin who suffered from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease, followed by her mother at 65 of throat cancer, and then her mother; my closest grandmother at 96 of a bad fall. I had a corporate life then and was earning good money but their deaths affected me very deeply.
Fifteen years of corporate dog-eat-dog life spent in various multi-national corporations in both hardware and service sales came to a closure by September 2013.
There were various individuals who had helped me kick start my career; my partner Jacky, Gina Romero, Dave Rogers and most importantly, my grandmother. She used to tell me that I could do anything if I set my mind and heart on it. She wanted me to be happy.
KarenLee.Fitness’ Saving Grace
What would you say to people who are struggling with making the jump into a new career, or position?
Oh boy, I started my business with debts on hand and it was just tough. My grandmother was the one who helped me out financially with the inheritance she left for my family and I can’t thank her enough. She was my saving grace, as well as my father. This made me more determined to be persistent and focused.
Do not give up even though you might be tempted to be employed again. Just continue to follow your passion and you will definitely see light at the end of the tunnel. Most importantly, be patient and have loads of it!
Process & Strategy For Peace Of Mind
Do you ever feel like giving up or have you ever felt this way?
Never. It is definitely not a bed of roses. There are just too many things to focus on, primarily paperwork, accounting and system. Every business needs a system and foundation; without them it is doomed for failure. It took me a while to figure it out.
I used to be constantly worried when I was going to get the income to pay my bills which kept me awake most nights. There were so many times I wanted to take the easy way out but I told myself I can’t as I didn’t want to let down my family and my deceased grandmother. I pushed myself daily to think of ways to grow my business like getting clients and business automation. What gets me out of bed in the mornings is knowing that it is transformation time. It is time to whip my clients in shape in the name of fun!
What is your advice for fellow professionals who are tired, burnout, and ready to call it quits?
Persevere and never give up no matter how bad it gets. Find a business mentor, coach or even a support group. Joelle Ung is a phenomenal individual who gave me lots of sound advice and we used to meet once a week just to share our challenges. Her life and business experiences truly inspired me to not give up. She always says “Karen don’t worry. God is with you and He will see you through.” She is simply a wonderful soul. Lastly, my partner Jacky has never stopped encouraging me in times of failure!
Challenges To Find A Niche
What is your biggest challenge/frustration as an entrepreneur or professional?
I reckon the biggest challenge that I faced was determining who my clients were. I did not find my niche and took on all kinds of clients to a point that I had to reduce my rates just to accommodate their budget. The first client I had came through Facebook marketing. And, in order to get her sale, I reduced from a market rate of $70 per hour to $90 a month. She showed results in the first month and referred her sister, her sister-in-law and her family friend to me. Words got out about my credibility and more family friends came to me.
The power of word of mouth is real marketing for such an industry. After some time, I realized who my niche client was and I began to target them. However, I did not do much hard selling. My style is if you already have the desire to change then it is not difficult to incorporate fitness and clean eating habits together. Hiring a personal trainer can be costly.
If only I could urge every personal trainer to exercise care and concern for their clients and train them with the right technique. I see a lot of trainers who do not exercise such traits in gyms and fitness parks.
I would walk up to the individual and show them the right technique to perform an exercise be it a squat or lunges.
What is your biggest failure/lesson in life?
It lies with execution and focus. I can be scatter-brained at times as I get distracted quite easily. In order for me to be focus, I set targets and goals and set to achieve within a given timeline. Believe me failures are common in entrepreneurship and it’s best to fail in the beginning than later. The more I fail the better I become.
Why was this an important lesson and can you share your wisdom with others?
The worst trait I think is not recommended in entrepreneurs is conceitedness. Once you are conceited you become arrogant and become the know-it-all person who refuses to be teachable or seek advice. Learning is knowledge and it does not matter how old you are.
My dad is 67 this year and he recently graduated with a Bachelor of Mass Communication and Public Relations from Monash University of Australia. He has tremendously inspired me to work harder and smarter.
Mistakes are inevitable. Entrepreneurs are bound to make mistakes, however, the difference is whether one is brave enough to pick up the pieces and restart. Fall and then pick yourself up again.
Entrepreneurship is like learning how to walk. You crawl first, then on your feet. You would stagger like a drunkard because it’s the journey of stepping into the unknown until you have found the right system or approach for your business.
“Give into what you believe in and follow the journey.”
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