Sun, 11 October 2020
Rachele Jaegers is the Founder and CEO of VFit Studio, a fresh approach to online, group fitness. She is passionate about functional fitness training and teaching people how to use their bodies in the safest way possible. At VFit Studio, Rachele has pioneered and trailblazed a virtual gym format that weaves together effective live workouts, a positive community, and accessibility to help people from all walks of life reach their fullest potential.
A Bay Area Native, Rachele moved with her husband to the Eastern Sierras to enjoy a more active life in the great outdoors. She is the mother of 3 and has received certifications through NAFC in Personal Training, Group Fitness, and Nutrition Coaching, as well as a certification in Level 2 will Power Method. Rachele lives her life by her favorite quote, "Exercise Because You Love Yourself, Not Because You Hate Yourself."
5 years before the pandemic hit, Rachele has been offering workout classes on Zoom. Many now call her the creator of the Quarantine Workout.
Before we discuss VFit Studio, let's discuss your personal journey into health. Where and when did your interest in fitness and health begin?
I would say I'm like many; I grew up very active in playing sports. I like the structure of being part of a team. I was very competitive with tennis and track. I went on to college, where I became a little bit more sedentary, and when you don't have sports in your life, you lose some of that structure and accountability. I was active. I called myself a weekend warrior. I would go on hikes, walk and do a lot of fun stuff around the campus but fast forward into adulthood. When I went on to my career, I found myself starting to sit at a desk 8, 9 hours a day and get out on the weekends or on a lunch break here and there, but I just wasn't feeling healthy, I wasn't feeling the peak of fitness, and when I really got into fitness it was after we moved to the eastern Sierras. As you mentioned earlier, my husband and I were trying to build a family and it wasn't happening, it was really, really a tough time for me emotionally and physically, trying to get pregnant, and I started to actually hate my body and just dislike it, talk very negatively and one day I had a friend from work say to me, you know what, let's go join a gym. It will help us feel healthy and empowered and you know, I never looked back. The first day we walked into the gym together, we just started on the elliptical machine, and we really had no idea what we were doing. I was not an active gym person. I was definitely more a sports or outdoors person. That was day one, and I look back because that truly transformed who I was. I started to learn to love my body and what it could do for me, and when I honored it and worked on it and put the effort and time on where it can take me, my journey went on from there. We got off of the elliptical machines and took some group fitness classes and just got hooked on the group fitness classes and boot camp classes and just got hooked on the group fitness aspect of being around other people and the energy and your coach calling your name and friends that you know were going to be there with you, and that's the end of the story basically. I just went on and got certified myself, which was the scariest thing I ever did. I'm a Business Major with a degree in Accounting.
I think I was close to 30 years old when I got my first certification, which now feels very young, but at the time, it seemed pretty old in the fitness world. I'm so thankful, though, because with age comes wisdom, and now 3 kids later and a business. I'll never forget that very first class I taught. This is where I was meant to be. This is my passion in life, it's a gift, and it truly is an honor to be able to teach fitness and share my love and passion for fitness. It's one of the best gifts in the world.
I began my group fitness journey probably about 9-10 years ago. My oldest daughter is now 7½, so even before I was pregnant with her, I started teaching at the gym. I started VFit Studio 5 years ago. In fact, this month, October is the 5-year anniversary of VFit Studio, which has now grown into this amazing team and community.
My journey into fitness was 9 years ago, but VFit Studio, 5 years, but before that to really date myself, I started doing one on one personal training through Skype with clients, and that's what led me to realize that this virtual platform really does work, and there are some Merits to working out live online with people, so I started Skype training when my daughter was born, that was one of the ways I was trying to kind of get out of my desk job and more into the mom fitness Balancing Act.
What inspired you to focus on virtual home fitness training?
Like I mentioned, once I found that aspect of group fitness and a community, accountability and motivation, it changed who I was. It changed my relationship with myself and, therefore, my relationship with my family and everybody that I came into contact with. After I had my daughter, I went back to my full-time office job to manage teaching at the gym, still something that I loved and fed my soul. Being a mom and working, there just wasn't enough hours in the day to do it all; something had to give. So I said to myself that there has got to be a way to pursue what I love and still be a mom.
I was so grateful to finally have my daughter, who we have been trying for so long to have. Somebody approached me back when a lot of the multi-level marketing started and wanted to know if I would be interested in being an online coach; I didn't realize she wanted me to sell shakes or something for their company, and that got my wheels turning. I'm an entrepreneur at heart, and that's where my business side comes from.
I said, wait, I can coach people online with fitness. So I gave myself a goal, put together a package if I have x amount of clients, I can leave my job. It gave me motivation. I gave myself a timeline, and in about 2 months, I worked it all out. I was waking up 5, 6 in the morning to train clients, then feed the baby and go to work. My husband had started a business and had a good foundation, so that gave me a little bit of wiggle room to take a little leap of faith. When I got to that x amount of clients, it was really from referrals, I started working with one person, and they said it was amazing. They would tell their friends, so it didn't take that long to build to that point, and my husband always said, you love group fitness, you have to figure out a way to do this on a bigger level, but at that time, I didn't know about Zoom. This was Skype. Luckily from day one, 30 minutes was only what I did with my clients. It was the magic number, especially when you're online, it's like it's only 30 minutes, you can't talk yourself out of it and we just really got to work and just started tugging away, and they became your friends fast forward, VFit Studio started when I was with my second of three children, one 7, 5½ and 2. I started VFit Studio when my son was 6 months old, so I had a 2½-year-old and a 6-month-old when I started the group fitness side of VFit Studio. That was crazy, but the more you're challenged, the more you grow.
Has Your business grown during the pandemic?
When COVID first hit in March, that second or third week, my partner and I (Maria) got together and said we're in this position, and we have been training for a year, and we have this opportunity to help and to serve others right now whose world got taken away from them so abruptly, so we literally overnight doubled our schedule and brought on a couple of other trainers whose gyms have been closed down and who have worked with us in the past. We added a bunch of kids programming, cooking, drawing, and we literally went from 65 classes a week to I think at the peak of that month that we opened up to the world, a hundred and thirty classes. It was like starting the business over, but it tested every system we have built from customer service to capacity to, can we still make this a personal experience, because that's what VFit is, a community, we can see you, and you can see us. It passed the test, and from there, we picked up probably about 150 new members that month, which was incredible, but like anything, it ebbs and flows, and then you hit June and Zoom fatigue. No one wanted to look at a Zoom screen. June was something I never seen in the 5 years since starting VFit and was the flip side of people being fatigued by having everything online and not wanting to look at a screen. We had to go back and get creative and discuss what our core values are and how do we keep everyone motivated. This isn't just a meeting you're logging into or something that you need to prepare for, so yeah, it was crazy, it was a big blur, it was a little like starting the business over in a sense, but we're out here now, it's October, I think we've grown in a way that aligns with our values. We're not this huge Peloton, multi-million dollar company. We've built everything from the ground up.
How Important is Functional Fitness in Everyday Life?
Functional fitness should be at the top of everybody's priority list when you are training because whether you're an athlete, and we have athletes, marathon runners or you're on team grandma, we like to call them, or you're just getting off the couch after 20 years, we are all training for life, to enjoy this life that we have to be functionally fit so that if you want to climb that mountain or if you want to paddleboard across the lakes or if you want to kiss your grandkids pick up your groceries, actually get out of a dangerous situation, you want to train your body and your mind to work together, and that's what we call functionally fit. We actually capitalize on the FUN because it also has to be fun.
We built a four-part functional fitness plan that is around 4 key areas, the first being cardio, and HIIT, which is high-intensity interval training, the second quadrant is strength training, the next two I found that most people are missing are balance and mobility, and the fourth, stretching and recovery, so we look at this as a four-part quadrant. This is all live 30-minute classes that you're logging into and taking with the trainer.
Who Are VFit’s Ideal Clients?
Our ideal clients are those who are willing to spend the time and energy, and that doesn't need to be hours a day, but truly believe they are worth taking care of and that they have this one body to live and this one life to live and they want to get the most out of it. We have the most amazing members like I said, every age, every walk of life, every season of life, and you know for any fitness level; you need to want it for yourself. As much as every trainer, I have wants every single person to be healthy and strong and fit, and we hope one day everyone finds that. You have to want it the most for yourself. As long as you can get yourself logged in and dressed, we'll take it from there and motivate you, encourage you and cheer you on, but you have to be at that point where you're willing to say I'm worth it.
Are Your VFit Classes Affordable for the Average Person?
Yes. Most of our clients (90%) are on an unlimited class pass, so each month, they are on an automatic monthly payment. It comes out to less than a couple of dollars per day for unlimited classes. They have the support of our trainers, and we do different add-on programs like those nutritional coaching. So my value is that we have this unlimited membership that most people can buy for an incredible value for unlimited classes, trainer support, a team, and then we offer a handful of add-on programs if you'd like to take your experience further or dive in deeper into different programs like the Reset. We have a fun game going on right now that involves a 21 Day fitness challenge. We just started a mindset coaching group, so we have these options if you would like to take this journey further, but our membership is worth its weight in gold for what we offer. We believe fitness should be for all. With group fitness, we can afford to have the prices a little lower because we can fit more people in my classes as opposed to one-on-one training where you're going to be paying a little bit more, and from that first day, I said try a free week. There are no strings attached to test it out and then decide if this is the right choice, the right fit for them.
You are a wife, a mother to 3 children, and a business owner; how do you manage all three very demanding responsibilities?
All of those are so important to me. You can love everything you do and still get burnt out at times. You don't have to balance everything because then you're just giving a little bit to everything, so I try to swing the pendulum when I'm working, work, be present and do that when I'm with my kids, I'm Mommy. Right now, because of COVID what I need to work the most on is the life category because, with everything that happens sometimes parenting right now, you're trading shifts, trading meetings. My husband has his own business too, so it's kind of like tag you have the kids, I have the kids, so I think it changes season to season. I am so blessed; these are probably the three best dream jobs I could ever have. I love working, I love having a business, that is a part of who I am, and my family knows that about me, and so they have to keep me in check sometimes, but they know that that also fills me to be the best version of myself because I love what I do.
How Can We Learn More About You and VFit Studio?
The free week trial is always available. You can get that on our website at thevfitstudio.com, and you can read a little bit more about our studio, you can see the schedule pop-up subscriptions, read about my trainer team, and learn a little bit more about the program. We throw a lot on social media as well as a lot of fun fitness challenges and little workouts on Instagram and Facebook at thevfitstudio.
This is a condensed transcript of the interview. You can listen to the interview in its entirety at www.6weekstofitness.com.