Business in Boardshorts Podcast
EP9 – Maria Fitzgerald
Release Date: January 20, 2021
Location: Cleveland, OH
Guest Name: Maria Fitzgerald
Business Name: Maria Fitnezz, LLC
Business Website: MariaFitnezz.com
Intro (guest speaking): Just being an entrepreneur as a whole, and it’s a very slippery slope because you can love the idea of it but not actually love the day to day tasks you have to do and the amount of stress and the fact that you can never turn it off. But it forced me to level up into a version of myself that could handle things and it made me feel very confident and it felt like a natural shift to branch out on my own because I knew I could do it.
Intro (host speaking): Welcome back, and welcome to the Business in Boardshorts podcast. Today’s guest is Maria Fitzgerald from Cleveland, Ohio. She’s a wellness blogger, motivational speaker and owner of Maria Fitness LLC. She helps people build healthy habits around a well balanced intuitive lifestyle. Maria, welcome to the show.
Guest: Thank you so much for having me, CT.
Host: You’re welcome. You’re welcome. So let’s start with your backstory. You’re based in Cleveland, Ohio right now. Have you lived there your whole life?
Guest: I have. I was actually born in Youngstown, which is about an hour and a half away, very small town. And then when I was four, we moved to Cleveland as my dad got a job at the Cleveland Clinic. And I’ve been here ever since.
Host: What’s the vibe like there?
Guest: It is, let’s see. Well, when LeBron James was here, it was a lot better. No, I’m just kidding. It’s a great city to live in. And it’s awesome for up and coming millennials. Like there are so many cute coffee shops, small businesses, yoga studios, so it’s kind of more so a good place for millennials to live. And that’s probably my favorite part of it, city wise and suburbs.
Host: Let’s get into your business. So can you give our listeners some context around it and what you –what you offer and like to do?
Guest: Yes, so I build my platform based on helping people, build healthy habits in a way that is sustainable for them and enjoyable. So currently, I’m working on three different, I guess categories of my business. One of them is a YouTube channel just to make healthy living more fun. I do vlogs like of my daily life, like what I eat and how I exercise and all of that. I offer tips and advice and experience. So twice a week, we have brand new YouTube videos that go out. And that’s kind of my like free education entertainment venue. And then I also created a healthy habit trackers. So kind of like a habit log, I guess you could say, which is called the One Read Journal. And it’s a physical book that’s three months long of daily habit trackers. And we focus on intuitive, healthy living, not attached to weight or calories, just to help people develop a positive mindset around healthy living. And then a couple months ago, I launched a group coaching programme, where every month we focus on a different topic again, in building healthy habits. November is going to be nutrition, for example. And we meet on zoom every week, my group and I, where we just talk about what’s going well, what we’re struggling with kind of that accountability and guidance feature that I wish I had when I first started, you know, living healthy, and I wanted all three things to be either free, or very affordable, because I think that’s a boundary right now that a lot of people face in terms of you know, living well is it can get expensive. So that’s kind of my spiel.
Host: And you launched that journal, it’s called One — One. Ray, correct?
Host: And you launched it on January of 2019.
Guest: I did. So I — yes, well, March — March of 2019. I came out with journal number one. And then in January of 2020, I launched another cover. So it’s the same journal, but it’s a different cover with different daily quotes inside. And just in a few weeks, we have our second official collection of new titles, new cover design and quotes coming as well.
Host: Sweet. How did that process work from — the you know, hey, I want to create this journal to actually creating it? There’s so many different journals. I feel like that the marketplace is kind of flooded with all different kinds of daily, weekly and monthly journals.
Guest: Yes, it is. And that’s part of the problem. So I put the design, like I had the idea a couple of people in my life kind of brought this idea to me like hey, you know, you’ve been journaling. I’ve been journaling for like eight years consistently. And I think it’s the thing that has helped me maintain the joy and consistency in terms of exercising and eating well and, you know, looking at my gratitude every day in all of these things. And so about a year before the journal launched, I put together the plan and I spent months and months and months going through every single journal on Amazon and looking at is what I have to offer the same as any of these? And the answer is no, because most of those journals are either so overwhelming with question after question after question of things that don’t even matter. And then on the flip side, there are some journals where it’s a blank page, and neither of those things are good for beginner journalers. So I narrowed it down with the graphic designer who put the actual physical copy together, because I don’t know how to work Adobe workshop. And we decided on five different habit –habits to track every day and things that you could kind of either write a lot for, or write a little depending on your activity level or your journaling experience. And then, after I got it, put through the manufacturer, it was probably about one year of a process in total. And then for the marketing aspect, that was a work in progress of making a mistake, and then learning from that aspect and doing better than next time.
Host: What would you say from the marketing angle that you would change the next time you do it?
Guest: That’s a great question. There’s quite a bit of it. So the first thing is to not sell the journal, but sell the lifestyle that it has given me. So feeling more confident in the clothes that I wear, being able to sleep eight hours, because I’m eating healthy and exercising during the day, you know, not getting headaches, because I’m dehydrated. And I’m actually because I’m actually tracking my water every day. And so more of the lifestyle component, and then also marketing it as exactly, as I said, intuitive, intentional living as opposed to tied to a number, because a lot of journals and apps out there want you to write in how many calories you’re eating. And sure that can be important if that’s something you’re working with your doctor or your registered dietitian, but I think most people are looking for a middle ground where they can just dip their toe in, like it’s not a dive headfirst into this whole new lifestyle. And so I need to do a better job this time of making sure people know it’s a gentle tool and not this aggressive thing you have to like throw yourself into because people get turned off by that it’s not like that 30 day transformation you see of diet pills on TV. So that’s kind of the angle that I’m going for, if that makes sense.
Host: Yeah, I think a lot of people can get intimidated or feel overwhelmed from the start and you know, not want to partake in journaling, just because I think it’s it takes it’s going to take too much too much time. How what — what do you say to people that are going on? Hey, I can journal for a week and then I can never stick with it, I guess is the question I’m getting, like, What? What do you think your journal does? Well, that helps them stay accountable in that way. And it’s it’s light enough that they don’t feel daunted. You know, it’s not daunting.
Guest: Yeah. One of the things that it offers is at the top, there’s the day of the week, and then a blank section for the date. So if you do a week, and then you stop for a week, and then you jump on again for a week, you don’t have to waste pages in the journal, you can just jump right back. If you skipped a week, it’s totally fine. There is a space in the next week for you. And it’s not going based off of a certain date. So you can fill in the date as you want as to not waste pages. And then the accountability aspect of people who can’t stick to it. That kind of uncovers a different issue of you’re having a problem and consistency with yourself and the routine as a whole, like establishing a routine that works for you. So that’s exactly why I created a group coaching program to just offer that additional assistance when you’re using the journal, because I don’t want someone to buy the journal and then say, I bought it, I thought I would use it and then I never did. I want everyone who has the journal to have every single tool possible, whether that is accountability or guidance with it. And that’s, I guess the best answer I can give you in terms of sticking to journaling. And it is a promise you make to yourself. It’s a commitment and if you’re not willing to do that, then you got to reevaluate, is healthy living something I can do?
Ad-Break: Hi there, it’s CT. I’m interrupting my own show because I’m now open to new clients or I have a waitlist for website design and marketing strategy sessions. If you’re trying to throw in your marketing dollars down the drain, and want a website that actually drives new business, let’s hop on a call. You can book a free hour with me at ctkaupp.com/bib, that’s ctkaupp.com/bib.
Host: Do you also do one on one with clients? Or do you mainly service in a group setting?
Guest: Mainly group setting. We do a zoom a group zoom every Wednesday night. So I do get to see their face. And it’s small enough right now or we go around and we each give, you know what we’re doing well with what we’re struggling with, not me, but the group members. And then they do get like, I talk directly to them and say, Here’s maybe something you could try and the other members do chime in, if I were in your shoes, I might try it this way, or this has worked for me. So even though it’s a group setting, everybody in the group right now gets individual attention. If it grows, you know, we have to shape and mould with the dynamic of the group. But right now it’s a little bit of both, I guess you could say.
Host: Let’s dive into the entrepreneurship angle. What made you want to start your own business?
Guest: So it started out as, I graduated Physical Therapy Assistant in college, which has nothing to do with business, and I was getting super bad migraines, like one to two times a week, where I wouldn’t be able to go into work, or I would be laying down for majority of the day at work, because in a physical therapy clinic, we have beds and we can accommodate if needed. And I always thought I need to do something to fall back on if I can’t show up for work, or if I can’t do this. So it started from a financial standpoint of and at the time, you know, I was 20 years old, I was still living at home, so I didn’t have to worry quite as much then. But I thought long term, how can I create a brand of some sort that can sustain on its own if I have to take a day off. So it started from the financial aspect. And then as I started listening to podcasts, and watching YouTube videos, and I read books, I fell in love with the amount of, just being an entrepreneur as a whole. And it’s a very slippery slope, because you can love the idea of it, but not actually love the day to day tasks you have to do and the amount of stress and the fact that you can never turn it off. But it forced me to level up into a version of myself that could handle things. And it made me feel very confident. And it felt like a natural shift to branch out on my own because I knew I could do it.
Host: What do you think, are a couple differences between the nine to five and entrepreneurship angle where you are your own boss?
Guest: This is something I think a lot of people need to hear. Because social media shows how much fun it is to do something on your own and be your own brand. But there is quite a few more dark angles to it. Number one, being accountable for yourself and aware, are you doing busy work, or are you actually being productive? I’ve gone weeks where I just do a bunch of busy work and I actually don’t do anything to move the needle forward, or that’s going to lead me to make money in the end. Number two, being good with finances. I’m, you know, my dad taught me very well when I was little about finances and all of that. So learning upfront right away, if you can handle how to balance an ever moving number in the bank and pay your bills at the same time, that’s an important thing that doesn’t come from a nine to five because there’s stability and being able to pay your bills. Number three, is sometimes you have to work a lot of hours, way more than you clock in for. And it’s way more attention to detail and high energy tasks as opposed to just going on autopilot throughout your nine to five. And just honestly that it’s a lot harder. Like the amount of work, the amount of stamina that you need is harder than a nine to five and arguably one of the hardest jobs to have aside from like a surgeon and a lawyer and all that. But it requires a lot of being in touch with yourself and what you can handle pushing, yourself accordingly. But also knowing when you do need a break. So there’s a lot of like personality issues that come with it that you have to be very comfortable with yourself to be successful.
Host: You took the words out of my mouth. That was very well said.
Guest: Thank you.
Host: What do you enjoy most about your business and what you get to do?
Guest: I enjoy the people, the friendships that I’ve made through journal customers, the depth that we go in when I’m on with my group. So the people have made it so much more worth it. I’ve like all kinds of cool stories. People have ordered journals for someone in their life or someone recently got out of a toxic relationship and said this has been one thing that has kept me going, so the stories and the joy that it brings to other people. Number one and number two, the creativity because I am a highly creative person and I love being able to say, you know, call the shots essentially, like, if I want to add, you know this into it, I can do that. Or if I want to make this resource for my group, I can do that. So having the freedom and the creativity to kind of do what feels best is very rewarding.
Host: And if we take a two, three year 30,000 foot view, where do you hope the businesses?
Guest: I hope to have grown my coaching group to a couple hundred people. I hope to have a sustainable journal brand where I’m filling orders, every day, I have a team of people filling orders every day, so more customers and then with my YouTube channel, I would like to grow it over, you know, the amount of subscribers to be able to add ads into my videos and just kind of level up everything. So get a better camera, make the videos even more fun, interactive. And all of that kind of comes with growing the community one person at a time with people who are of quality and vibe with kind of the theme and mission of my brand as a whole.
Host: What is the best business advice you have ever received?
Guest: The best piece of business advice that I’ve ever received was actually from one of my patients. He was a successful or is a successful businessman in the area. And he one day I was just kind of talking about what I do, because since it’s my side hustle, it tends to get pushed to the side. I don’t always — I’m not eager to like come out and say this is what I do. It’s kind of like, oh, you’re a physical therapist assistant, and you have a little thing on the side. So it tends to be something I don’t talk about a lot. But as I was explaining it to him, he listened and took a long pause. And he said the smartest thing you could ever do is to live on half of your income. And you will never have a problem with finances because that’s a very important part of having a business realistically speaking. That’s the thing that keeps you going and he said live on half of your income. And to this day, I have taken that piece of advice. never forgot it and still live by it.
Host: That’s pretty good. Right there.
Host: What would you say is the best life advice you’ve ever said?
Guest: Best life advice? Oh, you’re going stump me with this one, to do what’s best for you first, even if it pisses people off, or even if it offends people and doesn’t come across like maybe it would have been in their eyes a better option for you to go with them. Like let’s say you need a night to yourself and someone invites you something really fun and you say no, because you need that time to refuel your energy. So honestly, saying yes to yourself first and not caring about what other people think of the choices you make for yourself.
Host: I appreciate you coming on. Where can my listeners check you out?
Guest: They can find me on Instagram, @mariafitnezz and fitnezz is with two z’s at the end. Osn Facebook and on YouTube new videos every Monday, Thursday.
Overview: Maria Fitzgerald helps people build energizing healthy habits focused around a well-balanced, intuitive lifestyle. She offer tools and motivation to achieve this through a few different outlets – videos, habit tracking, and group coaching. Each week she created videos on YouTube that involve motivation, wellness, and lifestyle to show tips to live healthier and how she practices what she preaches. The One Ray Habit Tracker is a daily log that focuses on the 5 most important habits Maria has been writing down for 8 years with consistency in habit building. She also offers group coaching to provide the community support of life minded-people to offer the leadership and resources she wishes she had when she first started her health journey. Healthy living doesn’t have to be just kale and marathon running as the stereotype goes – rather a way of life that allows you to live in your fullest potential and happiness levels.
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