Hello! Who are you and what are you working on?
Hi, my name is Michelle Miller! I’m a personal trainer and mompreneur with a passion for children’s fitness and a vision to see families around the world connect through lifestyle fitness that begins in the home. The tangible way to help families accomplish this is through my award-winning program, My First Workout®.
This progressive strength and conditioning program consists of 12 workouts that all build off Program 1. Program 1 is 13 full-body exercises depicted in both poster and video format and comes inside the My First Workout® kit along with 8 pieces of kid-size equipment. The idea was to create a simple step-by-step program that contained everything needed to get started and could be implemented from the moment the kit arrived.
What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?
Before I was old enough to drive, I was already running two or three businesses in the empty space beneath my bunk bed I affectionately called “my office.” My customers were imaginary but every logistical detail was carried out and I successfully wore every hat in those businesses to make them run smoothly. After high school, I attended Liberty University in Virginia on a full-ride academic scholarship and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. Degree in Exercise Science and Fitness. I completed an internship at Lynchburg General Hospital assisting the cardiac perfusionist during open-heart surgery for an entire summer.
I believe entrepreneurs are born into the world with the God-given qualities and personality traits it takes to be successful for the purpose of impacting the world in some significant way.
After my internship, I got married, became a mom and moved to Tallahassee Florida. I became an aerobics instructor and taught senior fitness, boot camp, strength training, sports plus and step classes at several gyms in the Tallahassee area. Several years later I obtained my personal trainer certification and took over the cardiac rehabilitation program training people after heart surgery. Over the years, I grew my clientele to the point where I had to start a waitlist. In 2007, I decided to start working for myself and formed MM FITNESS PLLC. MM stands for Michelle’s Mobile Fitness and in addition to training clients at Tallahassee’s most prestigious health club, I started going to my client's homes. In 2011, I opened a private studio and currently train 90% of the time there but also go to client’s homes and have clients at the health club too. I have been teaching people of all ages and skill levels how to get fit for the past 20 years and I absolutely love it.
On Sunday, March 18th, 2018 the idea for My First Workout happened. My young son and I were lying there talking before starting our day and I was overwhelmed with appreciation for our special bond and how healthy he is. He will never know what it’s like to go without exercise or eating healthy food because those are lifestyle habits for him. As routine as brushing his hair, getting dressed and washing his hands. My fitness training allows me the privilege to know exactly what is good and not good for him. As I was lying there, my mind began to wander to other families and I know they want their children to be healthy and fit too, but if their area of expertise is not fitness, they will be at the mercy of their upbringing, their child’s school PE class, sports coaches and/or finances to ensure their child is active enough. I had an idea to create a fitness kit that came with everything a parent would need to teach their child a habit of fitness from the earliest age possible regardless of a parent’s experience with exercise.
My curiosity got the best of me and I got out of bed and immediately sat down at my computer to see if there was already a fitness kit for kids on the market. I started with google, amazon, walmart, dicks and academy sports and was shocked to find nothing like what I had in mind. I found all kinds of dumbed-down equipment for kids such as block and blow up dumbbells and single DVD programs but nothing that was a complete program that progressed a child from one level to the next leaving them with a lifelong skill, habit, and home gym by the time they were through. Several days later I questioned why no one was doing it and feared maybe there was some research out there that was saying it was not good for kids to weight lift even though my training told me otherwise. Not only did the research say weight training was good for kids, but the statistics on how bad our children’s health and fitness levels are were literally crying out to me. Even as a fitness professional I had no idea things were as bad as they are and will be for this next generation of kids. That gives me the strength each and every day to keep going no matter what the odds are.
Up to this point, life was moving along at a nice pace. Everyone was healthy and happy. My husband and I were invested in thriving careers and we had a chunk of money sitting there to ramp up a few more renovations on the house. From the very minute, the idea popped into my head, my life has not been the same. I am consumed 24/7 with a roller-coaster ride of emotions. In the very beginning, I would wake up at all hours of the night to work or research or worry. No matter how crazy this venture gets, every single day I am encouraged in some small way to keep going and the undercurrent of uncertainty that I have felt since I was young, that there is something more I should be doing, has finally come to rest.
Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?
Once I was convinced I was really onto something big, I went back to the computer to research what to do next. Most of the articles I read said to start with a journal and document every move along the way so I did. The next step was to come up with a name for my product so I could secure the domain name for it so I did that. I wracked my brain for days to come up with a name that embodied the idea for my product. I was sitting there eating breakfast at one of my favorite spots one morning and I looked over at a book bin and on the side was written, My First Book. So I thought, hmm. My First Workout. It fit so that was that. Up until this point, I had never paid more than $10 for a domain name. The cost of My First Workout was $3,000. That was our first big move and a major turning point. I looked at my husband and said “should I buy it?” and we both agreed at that moment we were all in. Thankfully Huge Domains gave me 12 months to pay it off so $250 a month didn’t hurt as bad as $3k all at once would have.
I wrote the exercises for my first program and started putting together the pieces of equipment I wanted to include in my fitness kit for kids. Then I went to Facebook and nonchalantly asked if anyone would let me do a little workout with their kids for a research project I was working on. The response was overwhelming and so on top of training all my clients, on weekends and at night I would show up with my little kit and see what size weights the kids of various ages were used for the various exercises in my program. I settled on 13 exercises all the children could do and determined what size weights needed to go inside the kits that would be just right for most kids. The feedback from parents was phenomenal and nearly every single parent told me the same thing, “they are always trying to join me while I exercise but I just don’t know what to do with them. I’m afraid the exercises I do will hurt them.” This confirmed my belief that parents need help with kids' fitness and kids love to do the things they see their parents doing so my goal of connecting kids with families and fitness was born.
The next big step was finding a manufacturer to make all the pieces in my kit and a shipping company to get it here. Alibaba was a big source of help to me and there is a wealth of information from people who have walked the entrepreneurial road and are willing to share what worked and what didn’t. I had a laundry list of things to look for when I began my search for a reputable manufacturer overseas and I ultimately settled on the company I did because of their contact guy, Barry. He was so much like me. Great communicator, timely response time, and he oozed customer service. Looking back this was such a gamble but he turned out to be a home run. We worked 8,700 miles apart for 9 months emailing, skyping and we-chatting daily about all the various details of the equipment I wanted to have in my kits. He made original molds for two of the pieces in my kit and by the time Christmas rolled around that same year, I was shipping kits to kids around the country to go under their tree. It was nothing short of a divine miracle in my opinion. At the end of the day, I had to remind myself that I was just a personal trainer with a BS degree who taught fitness for a living. It was very humbling.
While my fitness equipment was being made overseas, my workouts were being produced locally. Once I came to the realization kids' fitness was being completely overlooked in the fitness world, I set my heart on making products and services for children that could go head to head with every major adult brand on the market and for that, I needed a top-notch marketing company. Before meeting with anyone, I purchased a subscription with LawDepot and printed out a confidentiality agreement with every person I spoke with from that point on. One of my previous training clients owned her own marketing firm so I started there. After I completed the workout with her kids, I divulge my secret about what I was up to. She was beyond excited and pointed me in the direction of an IP lawyer. He started the registration process to protect my brand and My First Workout® received the notification that we were officially registered on February 19th, 2019. In the end, I did not choose her firm and our friendship has suffered. Entrepreneurial life has been much different than small business owners live in that, my focus is so unwavering, I rarely feel any pain from the many losses I’ve accrued along the way.
The marketing company I decided to go with had worked with major brands and I wound up spending every dime my husband and I had saved and more on our logo, branding, website, video production, photography, trade show materials, and every single piece of tangible material needed to present My First Workout to the world. The end result was nothing short of perfection and I was pleased in every way except for the amount of debt I had started accruing because everything cost so much more than I had anticipated.
I started attending trade shows and every single one of those introduced me to someone who helped get me to the next level. At the ABC Expo in Las Vegas, I was sought out by an influencer who has been an incredible help these past six months with TV exposure, SM giveaways, reviews, and posts. I also met the reps from my fulfillment company at that event and decided to have them do fulfillment for my product rather than wear this hat myself. Inventory and shipping were two areas I was very concerned about and we made the decision to hire them to ship and house the equipment.
The last part of the process was coming up with a marketing campaign to let families know what I had created for them. My press page continues to grow and it is something I am quite proud of. My First Workout® has been featured on tv-morning shows, in magazines, newspapers, blog reviews, podcasts, fitness articles, by a celebrity endorsement and I’ve attended close to a dozen trade shows/events in just 6 months. We have won two parenting awards, have a listing on Amazon and partnered with Zulily for two live events.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Each month the number of kits that are shipped out continues to rise and has doubled the last few months. We are not profitable yet but the steady growth is encouraging. The feedback and following across all of our social media platforms are steadily rising and these platforms have been an incredible avenue for communication and awareness for the need for a habit of fitness from the earliest age possible.
There are two more kits that will be coming out in the near future for kids between the ages of 11-17 as well as additional sport-specific programming once children have graduated through the original 12 part series. There are additional pieces of kid-size equipment and programs to teach children how to use them that are in the works for the online store. The long term plan is to branch off into other health areas for kids that I am not at liberty to discuss at this time.
We have been approached by a TV series and have several super cool radio interviews in the works which are really exciting. Our margins are coming in at over 100% and I’ve got to get some help deciphering what all the graphs and stats mean for my website. The majority of my time is spent on business development, social media, and communications with my warehouse and customers at the moment.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
My biggest regret/mistake is the decision to hire a fulfillment company to ship and store my product. With all the marketing I had going out, I was afraid I would not be able to keep up with demand but the truth is, just because you build something doesn’t mean people are going to come pouring out of the woodwork to buy it. At least not right away with a product like mine that is going to take people time to fully grasp the necessity of. There have been so many problems and headaches with shipping and packing my kit with care. This is something I should and could have done myself.
I got blindsided with one of the bills from my marketing company. Every project we worked on came with a projected estimate that I signed before agreeing to move forward with. The biggest project of all came with a proposal price but no estimate and when it was all said and done, the cost was $20k more than I expected. That hurt and has really set me back. I learned that everything needs to be laid out on the table before engaging in any work agreement with someone.
The biggest challenge for me was figuring out all the technology that is involved in producing and selling a product. The amount of behind the scenes work from my website to Amazon, to my fulfillment company and setting up accounts everywhere was pretty daunting but my drive to keep moving forward was greater than my lack of knowledge so I kept at it until it could be checked off the list. There is also so much writing and public speaking involved so literally my three least favorite things in the world were all being pushed on me at one time. If it were not for my great love of fitness and desire to have it change lives for the better it would have been really hard to stay motivated through all of that. It is all getting so much easier now though and mentally I have grown so much from learning all these new areas.
What I appreciate the most about this entire journey is all the new people I have met and who are now in my network that I call friends. I have people around the world that I have met and know on a first name basis because of My First Workout®. Each one inspires me and I am so grateful for these relationships.
I believe entrepreneurs are born into the world with the God-given qualities and personality traits it takes to be successful for the purpose of impacting the world in some significant way. As glamorous as being an entrepreneur sounds, the road is not an easy one in any way, shape or form and after what I’ve been through, I realize there are not many people who are equipped to handle that kind of hard work indefinitely. These abilities/personality traits helped immensely:
Self-driven and self-motivated: I don’t wake up every morning needing a pep-talk to get me through my day. There’s a relentless drive to pursue perfection personally, professionally, socially and emotionally. This undercurrent of productivity sustains me through every high and low and especially in the times of waiting. Those are the hardest.
Grateful: Although I have never had a moment in my 43 years where I have been completely satisfied, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate every moment for what it has taught me and how I can grow from it. There are so many difficult seasons in the life of an Entrepreneur and if you ever find yourself needing life support apply positivity, humor, gratefulness, exercise, and prayer and you’ll come out alive.
Caring and helpful: Entrepreneurs are born helpful and give a damn about other people and making the world a better place. If you want to know the source of an entrepreneur limitless supply of energy, look at what they’re focused on and I’ll guarantee you it’s the big-picture mindset and others. The biggest drain on energy and time is a focus on oneself.
Education: Entrepreneurs are born with a love for learning. They asked questions, seek out answers and search for truth. These qualities are essential to be an entrepreneur because there are so many tasks along the way that are simply out of one's realm of training or experience and you are forced to dig deep and figure it out to keep moving forward.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
The tools that have been the most helpful to me are:
LinkedIn: I have connected with very influential people in the health and fitness industry and have used this platform to become an established authority on children’s fitness. I have been contacted by tv producers, podcast hosts, authors, CEOs, influencers and have grown a very large support network. This is my favorite professional platform.
Instagram: giveaways have been the biggest help on this platform.
Facebook: amazing communication tool to grow brand awareness within my small town. I can’t go anywhere now without someone saying, “you’re blowing up!” I am able to form whatever image I want someone to think based on what I post.
Twitter: the reviews from influencers go so far on this platform and the feedback from people is tremendous.
Google Business Reviews: I want people to see My First Workout everywhere they go and this is yet another space where we are leaving our fitness footprint.
HARO: help a reporter out has introduced me to all the people in the world who need content and I literally pitch anywhere from 1-5 writers, bloggers, influences, and/or media channels daily. It is nothing short of pure happiness when one writes me back because they chose my pitch. My press page is riddled with tremendous press from this source.
LawDepot: helped me early on to create professional documents instantly for a fraction of what it would have cost me to have a lawyer draw them up.
I know it probably seems so inconsequential but my absolute favorite tool on my mac is shift + command +4 for taking pictures and documents and saving them to my desktop. I use it almost daily for so many things and it has been invaluable to me.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The most influential book that I read is the Bible. I start every day with my quiet time and a cup of coffee and this is a ritual I can not live without. I am always encouraged in some way and walk away more grounded. It is my absolute lifeline. I also listen to Christian music in the car and on Pandora on my daily walk/run.
I have been a guest on three pod-cast shows so far and I have become big fans of all of them. Ramesh Dontha of The Agile Entrepreneur was the first guest appearance I made and he has since written a book on Entrepreneurs and has featured the My First Workout® story in chapter 8 of his book that will be coming out soon. Dori DeCarlo was the second guest appearance I made of Word of Mom Radio and she was wonderful to work with too. I love hearing the stories of other moms who have used their talents to improve society in some way. The interview with Eric Dye of ehealth radio should be airing live any day now and in September I will be a guest on Dr. D’s Social Network Podcast. I am so grateful for all these various platforms and their hosts for allowing me to share my program and it’s potential to radically improve the health of our nation.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
- Be prepared for a thrilling roller coaster ride. Expect extreme highs and lows.
- Be prepared to see who your true friends are and be grateful for the people that wind up coming out of nowhere to support you.
- Be careful to delegate when necessary but have your finger on everything. Every single person in the chain is a reflection on everything you work so tirelessly for.
- Be prepared to go far outside your comfort zone and eventually enjoy it!
- Be sure to go outside for a walk or take an exercise break daily to refresh your mind and to breathe more deeply.
Where can we go to learn more?
- Website: www.myfirstworkout.com
- Email: [email protected]
- TWITTER: MyFirstWorkout1
- FACEBOOK: MyFirstWorkout
- INSTAGRAM: myfirstworkout
- LINKEDIN: michelle-miller-77106235
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