If you haven't heard Anna Kaiser's name before, you'll soon become familiar with her growing fitness program, AKT, or the Anna Kaiser Technique. A revamped combination of dance, Pilates and interval training, Kaiser takes the boutique fitness craze and offers a revolution.
“When the boutique boom happened, I started working in boutique fitness and realized that the same thing was happening to me that was happening to many other consumers," says Kaiser. “You get really involved in one modality, and then you burn out and try a different modality. And all these boutique studios were focused around a single modality. I thought, why is no one bridging the gap between single modality boutique fitness and the comprehensive gym model?"
The $30 billion fitness and health industry has been growing around 4 percent annually for the last 10 years. The boutique fitness sector – which consists of familiar luxury gyms and group class settings such as Equinox and SoulCycle – has been gaining momentum, with membership growing by 70 percent between 2012 and 2015, and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
This year, AKT became a part of Xponential Fitness, an equity-backed holding company that acquires boutique fitness brands and hit $148 million in revenue last year. Kaiser is set to franchise her brand with Xponential, and is projected to open at least 300 studios around the country.
Before her fitness breakthrough, Kaiser was a professional dancer. Her passion for fitness stemmed from her love of dance, which she holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in. Kaiser says that as a dancer, she had to prioritize staying fit both aesthetically and physically in order to perform. So she was always looking for a solution, whether it was yoga, Pilates or lifting weights at the gym. Kaiser highly prioritized her fitness journey while she was touring and performing, trying to learn as much as she could about exercise and the body.
If you're searching for someone who is knowledgeable about fitness, Kaiser is your person. She has done it all – taught exercise classes, managed fitness studios, received certifications in Pilates, yoga and barre and studied sports medicine long before she founded her own business.
“I was trying to figure out what I loved best, and what I believed to be the most efficient and effective way to work out," says Kaiser. “I started to figure out what that looked like with private clients. I did a beta class program in Connecticut for a year to test the market."
In addition to the beta program, Kaiser tested her work outs with private celebrity clients including Shakira and Kelly Ripa – who coined the name AKT. Kaiser says that her celebrity clients added valuable credibility to AKT.“They were encouraging me to open the studio and start the business. It helped get the word out and helped legitimize what I was doing," says Kaiser. “[Celebrities] have access to pretty much every technique, and anyone they could want to train with.
So why are they choosing AKT? It provided some intrigue to what I was doing."
After moving from Connecticut to Tribeca to test the New York market, Kaiser met with a client who wanted to become an investor.
“She said, 'let's do it, let's open the first studio,'" Kaiser recalls. “It was really a culmination of the last 15 years of my life, in dance and choreography, creative inspiration as well as the education I had in fitness and working not only for fitness companies, but as a manager of other studios and sales. I knew what to do to be successful."
By 2015, Kaiser had opened three New York studios. Her class model became an interval dance class, and she eventually created her signature series of four classes; tone, circuit, band and dance; in order to incorporate every level of a workout. AKT even offers classes for those who aren't choreographically inclined, says Kaiser.
Each workout is specifically designed by Kaiser, and they're the exact workouts she's using with her celebrity clients. And every three weeks, she spins it on its head.
“Once you get used to that content, I switch it up. You really are getting the programing of a personal trainer, but the community and excitement of a group class," Kaiser explains. “That is the heartbeat of what we're doing."
The community aspect of AKT is what excites Kaiser the most about her business. When presented with expansion, she says that franchising wasn't an option she had initially thought about. The great thing about franchising, she says, is that owners will bring in their own communities to her brand.
“It's a much more organic way to grow, and the way I feel AKT has grown," says Kaiser. “This is the continuation of that story. I'm so over the moon excited to share this with everyone. It's a dream come true."
Personally, I am over the top excited that we are on the cusp of turning the page on not only a new year but also on a new 10-year window of opportunities and possibilities!
You may be thinking, whoa…I am just embracing the fall season…yikes… it is tough to think about a new decade!
Yet it is this groundwork, this forward thought that you put in place TODAY that will propel you and lead you into greatness in 2020 and beyond. Designing a new decade rests in your ability to vision, in your willingness to be curious, in your awareness of where you are now and what you most want to curate. Essentially, curating what's next is about tapping into today with confidence, conviction, and decision. Leading YOU starts now. This is your new next. It is your choice.
Sometimes to get to that 'next', you need to take a step back to reflect. Please pardon my asking you to spend time in yesterday. Those who know me personally, know that I created and continue to grow my business based on enabling the present moment as a springboard for living your legacy. So, indulge me here! True, I am asking you to peek into the past, yet it is only in order for you to bring the essence of that past forward into this moment called NOW.
One of the best ways to tap into what's next is to clarify what drives you. To design a new decade, ask yourself this question about the past ten years:
What worked? What were my successes?
Make a list of your achievements big and small. Don't type them, but rather use ink and paper and sit with and savor them. Move your thoughts and your successes from your head, to your heart, to your pen, to the paper. Remember that on the flip side of goals not attained and New Year's resolutions abandoned, there was more than likely some traction and action that moved you forward, even if the end result was not what you expected. Once you have a full list of a decade's worth of personal and professional accomplishments, think about how this makes you feel. Do you remember celebrating all of them? My guess is no. So, celebrate them now. Give them new life by validating them. Circle the successes that resonate with you most right now. Where can you lean into those accomplishments as you power into the decade ahead?
Now comes a tougher question, one that I used myself in my own mid-life reinvention and a question I adore because in a moment's time it provides you with a quick reconnect to your unique inner voice.
If it were 10 years ago and nothing were standing in your way, no fear or excuses to contend with…what would you do?
Don't overthink it. The brilliance of this question is that it refocuses purpose. Whatever first came to mind when you answered this for yourself is at its core a powerful insight into defining and redefining the FUTURE decade. Bring your answer into the light of today and what small piece of it is actionable NOW? Where is this resonating and aligning with a 2019 version of yourself?
Then, based on your success list and your answer to the above question, what is your 2020 vision for your business and for the business of YOU?
Designing a new decade begins as a collection of 3,650 opportunities. 3,650 blank slates of new days ahead in which to pivot and propel yourself forward. Every single one of those days is a window into your legacy. An invitation to be, create, explore, and chip away at this thing we call life. One 24-hour segment at a time.
While you have a decade ahead to work on design improvements, you have the ability to begin manifesting this project of YOU Version 2020 right NOW. Based on exploring the exercises in this post, begin executing your vision. Ask questions. Be present. Let go of 2019 and the past 10 years so that you can embrace the next 10. Position acceptance and self-trust at the forefront of how you lead you. One choice at a time.
Don't get bogged down in the concept of the next 10 years. Instead position clarity and intention into each new day, starting today. Then chase every one of those intentions with an in-the-moment commitment and solution toward living a legendary life!