Get Your Fixx


ELISE CAIRA

FOUNDER — SWEAT FIXX

Reading Time: 9 minutes
M

y journey hasn’t been what most people think. While I’ve always been a super competitive person, and into anything fitness and athletic related, I didn’t always think I was going to end up owning my own fitness studio. If life hadn’t panned out the way it has, I may have very well been writing this as a successful CPA.

When I say I’m a competitive person, I mean it. Playing sports and competing was my life when I was growing up. I can remember being five or six years old and spending hours upon hours dribbling the basketball alone in our basement in the middle of winter. It was way too cold to go outside, so I would just set up cones and put myself through drills every single day. My parents probably thought I was crazy at the time, but I didn’t care.

Basketball was my first true love and all I ever focused on was getting better so that I could be the best. The more I worked at it, the more success I had. Even at that age, I became addicted to seeing the results of hard work. I felt like if you were going to do something, you might as well be the freaking best at it. Otherwise, what is the point?

My love for the game only got stronger as I got older. I remember when all the other kids were just hanging out at the beach during the summer, I was working my ass off in the gym. Basketball became the best teacher. It taught me grit, passion and what it truly meant to be dedicated. All those hours I spent alone in the basement when I was five—or the long days in the gym during summer—was just me building a foundation for the person I am today.

You can’t just be committed to something when there is someone else around. Even when there is no one else watching you, you need to put the work in. You can’t fake it.

The hard work I spent refining my skills as a basketball player would pay dividends when I secured a scholarship to play and study at Bentley University. For most of my life, I was the best kid on my team; but once you enter college, the whole game changes. Everyone is a scholarship athlete who was also the best on their previous team. I realized that I needed to work harder, that just because I was talented, things weren’t going to be given to me.

However, just as I began my college career, I was hit with a hurdle. I tore my ACL. It was devastating not being out on the court with my teammates. It’s true what many athletes say: rehab is one of the loneliest places you’ll ever find yourself. It tests just about every mental and physical fiber you have. However, I was determined to get back onto that court and prove it was where I belonged. My first stint in rehab humbled me and made me even stronger than I was before.

Soon enough, I returned to the court and was able to play again. I was proud and so happy to be back playing the game I love. I just started hitting my stride, leading the league in double doubles. I thought, “Yes I’m back!” Unfortunately, this was short lived as I would soon tear my other ACL, sidelining me once again.

As much as I wanted to be out there, my body was failing me. It crushed me.

I had spent my entire life dedicated to becoming the best basketball player I could be, and with one wrong step it was taken away. Basketball was my identity, and with it gone I had to work out my next step.

As most competitive people will attest, the drive to be the best isn’t limited to athletics. It bleeds into everything you do. To this day, I hate even losing a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors! After realizing that my dreams of playing basketball were over, I redirected my energies into my studies. I hit the books hard and eventually graduated with 3.9 GPA.

Just because you hit one roadblock, doesn’t mean you can’t find another way around. I redirected my focus toward landing a job with one of the “Big Four” accounting firms, and that’s exactly what I did. I attained my CPA at graduate school, and received a job offer from KPMG in Boston. It would have been easy for me to feel bad for myself after basketball was taken away from me. Instead, I stepped back and realized I had other cards up my sleeve to play. I did everything in my power to make something of myself, and I’m glad that’s the path I took.

The first job out of college is always challenging. I graduated in 2012 and went straight into work with KPMG. At first, I enjoyed the work, the environment I was in, and the ability to throw myself completely into something new. It was similar to basketball in that I knew if I continued to put in the hard work, I would eventually become the best and be able to work myself up the corporate ladder. At first, I welcomed the 60+ hour weeks, endless spreadsheets, and number crunching.

“I felt like if you were going to do something, you might as well be the freaking best at it. Otherwise, what is the point?”

Throughout it all, I still was finding time to work out and had even started running boot camps for my friends at Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield. The 4:30am wake-ups became natural, and I was loving every part of my life.

To my surprise, the interest in the small boot camps for my friends started to increase. They got so popular, I eventually began to use a small dance studio to fit everyone in! It got me thinking as to whether there was something to this. I loved training people and seeing them reach their fitness goals. Could this be something I could do full-time?

From that moment on, every single spare moment I had was dedicated to learning. I went to every single type of fitness class I could attend, picking the brains of instructors, tearing through their websites, social media, newsletters, and anything else I could get my hands on! I would spend weekends writing up business plans, mocking up classes and brainstorming all the ways I could possibly make this work if I ever got the chance.

At my desk I was crunching numbers, but my mind was far, far away. I may not have known when I was going to make the jump, but I sure as hell was going to be ready when I did.

My chance finally came in November 2016.

The space I had been using to run small early morning boot camps became available on the market. It took a single text from the old owner to spark my interest. I took a look at my job, and ultimately, I took the leap.

Looking back, it was a super risky move. I was comfortable in my job and was just about to receive a promotion. What if I failed?

Since I had decided to do this all on my own, the financial burden was completely on my own shoulders. In hindsight, I think this fear was almost what made it better. I had no option but to make it work. I realized if it was ever going to work, I’d just have to do everything in my power possible to make it happen. So, I signed the lease. I was going to make this work; I wasn’t going to be eaten alive.

We moved into the studio at the beginning of December and thus began the most chaotic four weeks of my life. With a January 14th open date, I had only four weeks to bring my vision to life. Despite all my planning and research, I still wasn’t sure what type of studio Sweat Fixx was going to be! I was a spin and yoga instructor, I was great at running boot camps, and had a fairly good knowledge of other fitness programs. But I wanted something everyone could do, that would be exciting but also push you to hit your edge.

As someone with awful knees, running and jumping exercises were completely out of the question for me. So, as an instructor, how could I expect my classes to do something I couldn’t even do? I remembered the lonely hours I spent in rehab during college, trying to keep my fitness up and build the strength in my knee again. I wanted a workout that wouldn’t take a toll on people’s joints but would also give them that fun and addicting full-body workout.

That’s when it hit me.

Water Rowers were the perfect machine, and anybody could use them! And for anyone who doubts that they are a viable workout option, I challenge you to try and sprint 500 meters on one! I decided I was going to use Water Rowers and weights in a way that had never been done before. Once I had that in mind, everything else just followed through.

I spent the next four weeks doing literally everything from designing the logo, figuring out the workout plans and classes, building out the space with just the help of my family, and every other thing that goes into starting your own business. I even drove all the way out to Rhode Island to pick up a rower and rented a white background so we could take photos to tease the opening. When I said I wasn’t going to fail, I meant it.

I had set the goal of opening Sweat Fixx Wakefield on January 14, 2017 and I’m proud to say we got there. We opened that very day with three waitlisted classes, with a workout no one had ever seen before.

Looking back at those crazy four weeks of opening our first Sweat Fixx location, it almost seems like a lifetime ago. It’s crazy to think that just a year ago I was sitting at my desk crunching numbers and now I’m scouting out locations for studio number three.

What we’re building is something special. We’re building a community of dedicated staff and clients, all working together to help each other grow. And I mean that. Our clients aren’t the only ones who are benefitting from our classes. They force us to be better instructors and better people every single day.

I had a bit of a rough time this year medically and was overwhelmed by the amount of support I received from our community. Without knowing the full details of what was happening, they got behind me and helped me get back and work even harder.

When I speak about Sweat Fixx, it’s always a WE thing. WE are going to open our next studio. WE are doing a workout at Reebok. WE want to take this concept to the next level. That’s because I truly believe that Sweat Fixx is no longer just mine; it belongs to my team and my community.

As they are so important to me, it’s become increasingly important for me to give back. We run a program called Karma Fixx where the instructors donate their time and the classes are free—however, clients donate whatever they want to the cause we’re fundraising for. One of our most recent fundraisers was for the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, and within 45 minutes we raised over $1,000.

Thinking back, I only have one regret. I wish I had started this earlier.  I think of how far ahead I could be if I made the jump a few years earlier.

However, I can honestly say without a word of doubt that I am truly happy about where Sweat Fixx is today and where it’s going to be in the future. I genuinely love my job and wouldn’t have it any other way. You’re never going to know when it’s the right time to take the leap and pursue your passion, but sometimes you just have to put your foot over the edge and trust what comes next.

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  • A highly successful Bentley College student-athlete, Elise Caira always knew her life was destined to be more than just spreadsheets. Taking a massive leap, she formed the Sweat Fixx studio and has never looked back.

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