he entrepreneurial spirit will take you on a roller coaster ride of the highest highs and the lowest lows. In February 2008, in a business session at the ECA World Fitness Conference, Michael Port gave aspiring entrepreneurs this advice: "get comfortable with being uncomfortable." After six years as President of Cardiopump Fitness, LLC, I can say with certainty, there have never been words spoken so true.

When I started Cardiopump Fitness, LLC, in September 2008, it was just going to be a business for workout DVDs. I had begun making kettlebell videos that were different than anything else out there. They used a light kettlebell, a squat (gasp) base for swings and were designed to reach the home market. The traditional way of performing kettlebell swings is with a deadlift base. A swing will always be more powerful with a deadlift base, which pulls the hips back and forth, instead of a squat, which drops the hips down and up. But when we're talking about the home user, we're not talking about someone who aspires for improvements in athletic power or velocity. We're talking about a mom with 2-3 kids and 20-pounds left to lose. The best program, then, would be one that puts the body at a mechanical disadvantage- making the movements as energy demanding as possible.

My female-focused soft-style kettlebell workouts sold like crazy. Women were getting the results they wanted and business was good! But something happened right around 2011- people quit buying hard-copy DVDs. They turned to instant downloads and YouTube. DVDs as well as DVD players became archaic. I had to take a good look at my business model, my strengths, the state of the fitness industry and change gears because the rollercoaster was dropping quickly.

I looked at what I had: a unique kettlebell program that appealed to women. If I was going to be a kettlebell authority, I would need to learn more about the traditional way of training with kettlebells. I went through Dragon Door's RKC in 2011, when Pavel Tsatsouline was the chief instructor of their program. RKC was the first formal kettlebell instructor training program introduced to the USA. In January 2014, I was a part of the first group to complete StrongFirst Level II Kettlebell Instructor certification.

I looked at my background. Before turning down the entrepreneurial road, my background was higher education. I possess a Bachelor's of Science in Exercise and Sport Science, Business Minor and Master's of Education in Physical Education. I spent over 10 years, collectively, working at Texas State University, The University of Houston and Southern Methodist University in the Department of Campus Recreation.

Here are three things that I knew about university fitness programs that would ultimately determine why I chose to penetrate this market as my next career move.

1. I knew their funding struggles
Many people think because of the beautiful $50,000,000 university recreation centers, program budgets must be astronomical. That's not the case. The money for new builds/renovation/expansion projects comes from student referendums and bonds. It is not for programming. Program budgets are allocated among the entire division, not just the department. Campus Recreation is usually housed under the Division of Student Affairs. Student Affairs also encompasses residence life, student activities, the women's center, campus ministries and so on. Everybody wants a piece of the divisional pie.

2. I knew their challenges with aiming to create programs by students, for students
As an Assistant Director of Fitness at a university, it's always easier to hire outside group fitness instructors and personal trainers, but it's more beneficial to hire and train students to assume these roles. Doing so teaches them a trade that may morph into their career. They may never use whatever degree they majored in, but may make a life and a living out of teaching group fitness classes and personal training.

3. I knew the obligation to show that fitness programs are educational
In order to maintain accreditation, universities must prove, every year, that measureable learning outcomes were set and achieved. Failing to do this would threaten the university's tax-exempt status, among other things. Accreditation agencies include: SACS, NWCCU, WASC, NEASC, MSCHE, and NCA. The process of fulfilling the requirements for sustained accreditation is lengthy, and an internal or external review can happen at any time. If a program is not reaching measurable goals to enhance the students' learning experience, it is a threat to the university. For that reason, fitness directors will always allocate portions of their budget, regardless of how shoestring it is, to continuing education.

My kettlebell training, college education and campus recreation background would have meant nothing if I hadn't put parts of each together to create something that was timely, different than anything else out there and something that lit a passion in me. If the forecast for kettlebells as a fitness trend was grim, doing anything else with them wouldn't have made any more sense than continuing to make DVDs! If my program wasn't unique, I would be positioning myself to tirelessly compete against other kettlebell educators. If I couldn't get passionate about the new endeavor, then I wouldn't be driven to hustle for it. I had education and talent, but hustle beats talent when talent doesn't hustle.

My gut was telling me to create a kettlebell training program exclusively for campus recreation centers. It was a modality I knew, education they needed and a market I had rapport with. I had never lost my passion for student development and the thought of returning to campus recreation in this capacity captivated my dreams.

Putting it all together, my team and I came up with CardioPump Kettlebell: Kettlebell Education for Campus Recreation. I wrote a book, 9-hour curriculum and assessment criteria (written and practical skills evaluation). I hired photographer extraordinaire, David Heisler, to capture incredible step-by-step pictures for the book. Next, I got a copyright on the book and submitted these materials to accredited, nationally recognized certifying agencies. That is how CardioPump Kettlebell became approved for continuing education credits. TrevNet Media, the industry's leader in fitness media, created the new cardiopump.com and managed my social media outlets. I sent the CardioPump Kettlebell curriculum to the President of GoFit. GoFit overwhelmingly supported the program and agreed to provide a 45% discount off of the retail price of kettlebells to any college or university that would host CardioPump Kettlebell. With GoFit on board, we were rearing to go.

CardioPump Kettlebell was born. We provide quality kettlebell education for campus recreation at a price that is amenable to fitness program budgets. Although non-students frequently attend, our priority is professional development for student fitness staff at colleges and universities. The curriculum is designed for personal trainers and group fitness instructors, alike. There is no licensing, no extra fees for manuals or testing and no easy pass without proving comprehension of the cognitive skills and motor learning objectives with kettlebells taught in this workshop.

I often get asked if I'm concerned about other cheap kettlebell trainings or certifications out there. There are plenty of uneducated people selling "kettlebell certifications" with no credibility. Sure, they may fool naïve personal trainers online, but they aren't going to fool fitness directors at colleges and universities. Since the latter was my market, I grimace when I see their ads online, but ultimately brush it off.

Through CardioPump Kettlebell, my business Cardiopump Fitness, LLC, transformed into the pioneer of affordable kettlebell education for colleges and universities. We proudly serve NIRSA (National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association) schools, all across the map. When this business was created in 2008, I never would have imagined it being anything other than workout DVDs sold out of my garage!

Whether it's DVDs or some other widget you sell to start your business, give it time and the climate will change, resources will change, technology will change and- if you're going to stay in business- you’'e going to change with it. These transitional times are scary, overwhelming and usually expensive. It will challenge your resolve. It will challenge your relationships, especially with those closest to you. It will even challenge your self-efficacy. But as Michael Port said, and as I warn you, too, before diving in to entrepreneurship: "get comfortable with being uncomfortable." If you can do that, there is no win-or-lose for your entrepreneurial endeavors. It's only win or learn.

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