Name: Sarah Luna
Position: President, Pure Barre
Graduate Degree/Concentration: Full Time MBA/Entrepreneurship
Why did you choose this industry and field?
As a retired dancer and a comprehensively certified Pilates Instructor, I knew I wanted to stay in fitness. My original plan was to own a studio and build out a virtual platform for my clients on-the-go. I appreciated that fitness, specifically in the boutique space, was booming and that more consumers were taking their health and well-being more seriously. It just felt like the right fit to continue down the fitness path. I was also excited about the opportunity to combine two passions – entrepreneurship and fitness!
How did you strategize to get your career to where it is today?
I knew what I was looking for, but also remained open to opportunities. Upon graduating from Chapman University, I secured a job as a Pilates Coordinator at Equinox. I continued to look for business opportunities and solidified my business plan on a regular basis, meeting with mentors and advisors at important milestones. I eventually entertained two turnkey acquisitions: a Pilates Studio and a fitness franchise. Ultimately, I decided on the franchise so that I could run it as a semi-absentee business operator.
Nearly two years into my career with Equinox, I met serial entrepreneur Anthony Geisler, who was conducting due diligence on Club Pilates Franchise, LLC and invited me to join the 8-person team. Over the course of 2 months, he interviewed me and I interviewed him; I knew that a startup would require trust in the vision and goals of the leadership team and a ton of work. I had to like the people I would be working with, so it was important to take time to fully evaluate the position. Eventually, I took a leap of faith to join the Club Pilates team as the National Sales Director, leaving my job at Equinox and quickly selling my franchise so that I could put 100% of my attention on this new endeavor. Throughout my work with Club Pilates, I was constantly looking ahead to see what was around the corner in order to anticipate the needs of the business, franchisees, and the leadership team. Being proactive with initiatives allowed me to grow quickly within the organization and take on more responsibility and exciting projects. I was with Club Pilates for 3 years growing it from 28 studios to over 500. Then, when Anthony acquired Pure Barre, I was provided the opportunity to switch brands and take on the role of President.
What career advice do you have for current students entering the industry in this job market?
Fitness tends to be incredibly entrepreneurial with “up-and-coming” concepts and workouts; there is always a new trend, product, or service launching. Because of this, it is a fragmented industry with tons of opportunity! Determine how you’d like to make a difference and on what scale. As an example, fitness franchise concepts look to aggregate and provide a distribution channel for fitness, but there are so many other ways to jump in and achieve scale, if that is your goal! Find a company that you align with to develop your understanding of what they do well and how they efficiently drive business and help fitness consumers. From there, identify gaps and opportunities for your next, new concept or idea, and execute!
How did getting your degree from Chapman set you up for success on your career path?
Earning a degree from Chapman University was the best decision I ever made. Not only did I receive incredible education in all aspects of business fundamentals, I learned the importance of always having a mentor, constantly networking, being a strong communicator and presenter, and interacting with other entrepreneurs, both students and professionals, to learn the challenges and successes of starting a business.
In fitness, many are practitioners that happen to develop a business. I wanted to be a smart and educated fitness expert, which is why I pursued an MBA (many told me it was overkill for what I had wanted to accomplish). Yet, since graduating, I have found that the MBA has made me incredibly unique because I can communicate with everyone in the industry, from clients to instructors to business owners to investors. It’s as if I’m multilingual in various aspects of the fitness industry!