From a corporate career in Investment Banking on Wall Street and HR at Facebook to launching the wellness brand Gym Hooky, our guest Ariel Belgrave is a powerful woman entrepreneur with words of wisdom to share. On this episode of the Second Act Success Podcast, Ariel explains how she turned “pain into purpose” as she grew her side hustle from a blog about skipping the gym into the mega popular wellness empire Gym Hooky.
CONNECT with Ariel Belgrave:
Instagram – @gymhooky
Gym Hooky – www.gymhooky.com
Thailand Retreat – https://www.gymhooky.com/retreat/
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/arielbelgrave/
Podcast Episode – https://secondactsuccess.co/episode8
Before becoming a full-time wellness entrepreneur, Ariel spent over a decade as a corporate HR leader for Fortune 100 companies like JPMorgan and Facebook. In her roles, she focused on designing and developing programs to increase employee engagement and foster an inclusive work environment. She fuses this HR knowledge with her health expertise to create engaging wellness programs, trainings, and experiences for her clients.
Ariel’s energizing personality and commitment to wellness has earned her opportunities to partner with Fortune 100 companies, influence the health programs of top colleges, energize attendees at large events, and receive recognition from major outlets, such as The Today Show, NBC, Women’s Health, Shape, Elle, Bazaar, Glamour, Refinery 29, PopSugar, Entrepreneur, and The Huffington Post.
Ariel is a native of Brockton, MA, and a graduate of Boston College where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology/Pre-Med and played D1 club rugby. Outside of work, you can catch her dancing, rapping to 2000s hip hop hits, and trying new recipes.
01:46 – Ariel’s beginning from college to first job
02:49 – Idea for Gym Hooky
03:42 – Turning pain into a purpose with Gym Hooky
05:42 – Working in HR at Facebook
05:51 – Becoming an Under Armour athlete
07:11 – Working at Facebook and building Gym Hooky at the same time
08:12 – Under Armour partnership
11:12 – Feeling burnout while juggling both roles
12:39 – Attending events for entrepreneurs
14:23 – Making the decision to run Gym Hooky full time.
16:38 – Enrolling in a program to make an online course
17:26 – Resigning from Facebook to run Gym Hooky full time right before COVID hit.
19:06 – Building a community
20:41 – Where did you get the nickname “the burnout whisperer.”
22:31 – 28 Day Lean Program
24:52 – New women’s retreat in Thailand in August 2022
26:02 – One-on-one coaching
27:08 – Tips for staying healthy while working from home
29:02 – Ariel’s weekly affirmations
29:39 – Would you recommend having a plan before you take your side hustle full time?
30:41 – The term “lifestyle creep”
32:24 – The company you keep
35:04- Having the support of your partner
36:35 – Lessons learned from moving from corporate to owning my own business.
39:37 – 5 Fast Qs Of The Week
40:04 – Would you recommend taking a leap into a big life change for your best friend?
41:11 – Advice to someone starting a second act
42:00 – What does the future hold for Ariel Belgrave?
42:46 – Connect with Ariel Belgrave
Second Act Success Podcast
Season 1 -Episode #8 - From Human Resources to Gym Hooky
Guest: Ariel Belgrave
Transcription (*created by Descript and may not be perfectly accurate)
[00:00:00] Shannon: Do you have a side hustle or you thinking of ditching your day job and pursuing the hustle full-time? Today's guest took that leap and she's here to share how she went from working in HR at Facebook to launching the mega popular health and fitness brand Gym Hooky. Stay with us.
Are you at a crossroads in your career or in life? Well, don't worry because life's next chapter is waiting. This is the Second Act Success Podcast. I am your host Shannon Russell.
I'm a television producer, turned boy mom, turned business owner, podcaster, and career coach. If you are looking to start a new career or begin a fresh chapter in life, then get ready to be inspired with stories of women who have done just that. We will share advice and offer steps you can take to help figure out what your true calling in life really is.
It is time to shine. So let's turn the page and get started.
Welcome to [00:01:00] Second Act Success.
Ariel Belgrave was a college athlete and began her career working in investment banking in Boston and on Wall Street. She then transitioned into human resources and worked at Facebook. With her hectic work schedule, she found herself struggling to find time to go to the gym. So she started exercising at home. The idea for Gym Hooky was born and she went on to launch this powerful business, influencing women to take care of themselves and their bodies. Let's dive into our chat with Ariel Belgrave.
Ariel, it's so wonderful to have you on the podcast. Thank you for joining me.
[00:01:42] Ariel: Thank you for having me. I'm so excited for this conversation.
[00:01:46] Shannon: Why don't you take me back to the beginning? You have had a long career and some changes along the way.
[00:01:51] Ariel: Yeah. So, I actually started my career in banking and the irony for that is in college , I was a psychology [00:02:00] major. So if there's one thing for certain that my correct represent is that anything is possible, um, as long as you have transferable skills. But Yeah. so I started in banking right outside of college. One thing worth mentioning is that I was an athlete. I played rugby in college. So that transition was definitely a tough one. As I imagine it often is for a lot of athletes who may not have the structure that you had when you were an athlete. I was also just out of college where you're trying to build rapport and credibility, improving yourself, and especially being a black woman in the investment banking space, having to really prove yourself in an environment where you could be the only in the room. So that was definitely hard for me. I knew that. While I could grind. You, you hit a ceiling when you're not able to feel like mentally there.
I stayed in Boston for two years and then transitioned to New York. I was working 80 plus hours in investment banking. And I absolutely dealt with burnout like while working, [00:03:00] in Wall Street. And I knew, moving my body was something that mentally helped me. It was like a stress reliever and not being able to do that was really hard. I just had to just be real with myself saying like, Hey, I don't have time to go to the gym, but how can I move my body in some way and give myself permission to do something. And that's when I ended up building Gym Hooky around was literally 15 to 20 minute workouts. Because oftentimes we are told, you got to go in the gym, you have to work out for an hour. You have to do all this stuff. And all I did was start with a yoga mat and dumbbells, and that was it. And I felt so good just doing 20 minute workouts before I headed off to work and especially as women giving yourself permission to be able to do that was a game changer.
What people know me now as is the health and fitness guru. It started with a pain that I turned into a purpose, essentially. When you don't feel good, then you're not performing your best. You're not your most productive self. I just gotta be real with what I am and, and lean into the things I'm comfortable with, which is working out.[00:04:00] And started working out at home. And over time realized that I wasn't the only one who was dealing with this pain. A lot of women, who I worked with were asking me to be their gym partners. And I'm like, yo, I actually don't work at other gym. I work at, at home. And I started, on Tumblr blog posts where I was just sharing my workouts. And it ended up growing into a positive movement around skipping the gym. I eventually ended up starting Gym Hooky while also working full time. In 2015, I put up an Instagram, I came up with the name Gym Hooky, which was hope it is what it sounds like?
[00:04:34] Shannon: I love it. It's so brilliant.
[00:04:37] Ariel: Thank you. And at the time I'm not going to lie. When anyone's creating a business, you, you thinking long and hard about what are you going to name it? What is going to stick? And I was most confident in the work and less confident in the name. I'm like, I just want to put it out there. I'm probably gonna end up changing this name in like six months that did not happen. When you're creating a business, just go with your gut with whatever you want to [00:05:00] name it.
While working full time, I was creating this movement. I created a brand. I got certified as a trainer, as a health coach. At one point I transitioned from working in banking to working at a startup. So I jumped ship from a Wall Street, moved to San Francisco with a hubby now, but fiance at the time. And I ended up working for a nonprofit to help black software engineers advanced in tech. Gym Hooky, still happening during this time did that for a year. Then made my way over to tech and worked in Facebook. And at this point I was more in the HR realm. HR employee engagement. I live for creating experiences for employees, so they feel included. So they feel like they belong. And my job at Facebook or Meta now was to make it, , a amazing workplace globally. And Facebook was so supportive of what I was building with Gym Hooky.
While doing that, I became an Under Armour athlete, so I was literally living two different lives. I'm someone who's very like, you know what? I'm [00:06:00] here to work. I'm here to do HR stuff. So when I started at Facebook, I didn't share that I had Gym Hooky going on. And what happens when you work for a social media company and everyone's on social media and your account is public, is that they find you.
[00:06:16] Shannon: Oh, what happens?
[00:06:18] Ariel: It was actually the best blessing I'm glad it happened in that way, because it was actually someone seeing me on a billboard and Under Armour billboard and was like, I feel like I saw you. I was like, no, I don't think that was me. I was not claiming it, but I was claiming it to the world that I was showing up for. I just felt a little uncomfortable with work because I never wanted it to be perceived as, as being distracted, you know? And when you're first starting a job, you do want to show your commitment. I quickly learned that Facebook was entirely different place. I had the most amazing manager and team. They were like, oh my gosh, you're leading this other life, like we want to support you. And I ended up being this duo personality, [00:07:00] working at Meta as this HR person who does fitness. So. I'll be walking down the hall and people would be like, oh my gosh guess what? I did 10 jumping jacks today.
[00:07:10] Shannon: That is the best of both worlds. You got to share your other secret life with your work family. They must have loved that. So how did you intertwine the two?
[00:07:19] Ariel: In very many ways. I think they actually helped me intertwine it. I think it helped also for me that I worked in a completely different space than what my side hustle was. So it made it less tricky when it came to being able to bring both. I was literally encouraging people to be their best selves and whenever Facebook could, they want to me to be able to display that, and, and ultimately help the employees around it and do what I love. I was a part of the Black At, which was the employee resource groups. I would do events for that. I would do workouts. I would pump people up, get them excited, do self-care blogs, you name it internally. And I felt really very connected to that work. I was living, the life because I was able to [00:08:00] fully bring myself in that way. And I think for me, what was important was never losing sight of how I can continue to develop in both worlds.
[00:08:09] Shannon: How did your relationship with Under Armour come about?
[00:08:13] Ariel: I've been, with the under Armour team since 2018. I knew nothing about partnering with brands. I am naturally an educator. I love, love, love to share. So I've always built my brand around educating, but educating in a way that's digestible. That's fun. That's relatable. When it comes to working like big brands with Under Armour is they're looking for alignment. I am committed to helping women build healthy habits, build confidence, build strength, and show up for themselves as they build their careers in legit alignment with Under Armour. When they came, they were looking for more of the lifestyle athletes. So while I was an athlete in college, historically, a lot of people know Under Armour for being very like super athlete. At one point it was a very male dominant brand. So they were trying to make the [00:09:00] transition for more lifestyle. They were looking for women in the U S six of them. And I was one of the six. I came in as the trainer, they had SoulCycle. They had a kickboxing talent, and we were able to ultimately be the face and, and allow them to start speaking about how lifestyle performance is just as important as being the super athlete.
[00:09:22] Shannon: You're the perfect partner for that. What an honor to be there with them and get to reach so many more people.
[00:09:28] Ariel: There was definitely a lot of juggling I had to use PTO time to do shoots. I had to be very strategic if I wanted both worlds to happen, but it all was very fulfilling to me. So although I was using my PTO time, it was just very exciting to be able to be a part of these important messages and these shoots, and obviously work for one of the biggest brands in fitness, apparel space.
[00:09:49] Shannon: And work for Facebook Meta at same time. You're hitting it big in all directions.
[00:09:55] Ariel: Yes. Yes.
I am that person who I did [00:10:00] not plan to be a full-time entrepreneur. Nope. If you knew me. 10 years ago, you knew that I was the corporate Ari who was trying to climb the corporate ladder. That's how it was in Wall Street. That's how it was when I was in the startup world. That's how it was when I worked at Meta. I like to say you never know how your path will be written for you. You kind of got to roll with the punches. I'm a Capricorn at heart. So I'm like, oh yeah, I'm gonna do this. And then I'm doing that. And I started to find myself in a bind and the bind was I had to choose and let down opportunities because on one end I may have a big project on the HR side that I'm like, I can't do this opportunity on the Gym Hooky side. I have to miss the shoot that I have an opportunity to do for Under Armour and things like that. And on the other end, it was the same, oh, I have something big happening on the Under Armour side. I never want to not bring my full best self to work and show up on both fronts. So that is where it started for me, where I had to just start to be more thoughtful of the transition that was totally [00:11:00] unplanned for.
[00:11:01] Shannon: You're really at this decision making moment where you have to decide if you're not going to balance it, what's going to happen.
[00:11:08] Ariel: That's right.
[00:11:09] Shannon: I don't know if I can do both. I've got to make a decision here.
[00:11:12] Ariel: For me, it started in 2019 and I'll be honest. I was definitely dealing with burnout and it wasn't burnout from juggling, both the side hustle and working full-time it was mainly working full-time. So while I absolutely loved my work, I was working around the clock. I'm showing up, but, there was only so much I can do. For me, I needed to evaluate just my purpose, right? I had to evaluate happiness. I had to evaluate fulfillment and I was someone who struggled with people pleasing. I was always, whatever work will come my way. I'm like I got this super super woman. And I took a lot of pride in that. And it was around the second half of 2019 where I really started to evaluate it [00:12:00] as a whole, like everything I had on my plate. And I attended a few events that ultimately gave me the first thoughts t o entrepreneurship. I I've always seen it as a side hustle. I did not have entrepreneurs in my family. So working full time was just what I always, deemed for success and stability and building wealth. And it wasn't until I went to these events, that had entrepreneurial women who were on the grind, who had already had businesses. So I'm in this small fish in this big pond. It inspired me so much. It was the first thought that I had of possibility when it came to running my own business.
But I attended a conference that had attendees write a letter to our future selves. I was so nervous because I'm someone who can get a little fearful that if it doesn't happen, I'd be really disappointed. And I was sitting next to someone who really encouraged me to do it and everything I wrote in that letter happened, and on that letter, [00:13:00] I wrote that I was going to leave Facebook and do Gym Hooky full time. First thought I ever had of it. They say, when you manifest, they say, when you write these things down, they say, when you vision hard, it becomes closer to a reality because how you think, how you move the people you surround yourself with looks a little different, right?
[00:13:19] Shannon: It's so funny. My parents found a letter, and it was the five things that I want to do in my future. And they handed it to me and I had done all five and it was just this chill that took over me. And then you just say, I want to keep writing. I want to keep writing down these goals because you're right. Once you write them down, it really does go into the universe. It's true. I love that that happened for you.
[00:13:39] Ariel: And that's the other thing. So for anyone listening to this, you know, if you're someone who is, is interested in, you know, taking your side hustle into full-time, what was a game changer for me was being in the environment with people who were already where I wanted to be. And while I didn't fully know, that's where I wanted to be. It was inspirational to be [00:14:00] in that room and just learn. It was important for me actually to go by myself. That challenged me to meet other people and step outside my comfort zone. And because I did that, that just broadened my horizons.
[00:14:11] Shannon: That is another great thing that you did to get you into a comfortable place to really take on Gym Hooky full time.
[00:14:19] Ariel: so I did that letter, then was in Ghana. In 20, 19 December. And I had a further evaluation of like, oh my gosh, I really think I'm onto something here. Huge reflection time. And this is where the thoughts ended up being heavy. I actually decided to start therapy in January, 2020, because for me, I'm like, I want to make sure and whatever decision I make, that I am running to something as opposed to running from. I was dealing with burnout, so I didn't want to just run towards a Gym Hooky work because I want it to run from my corporate work. I wanted to make sure I was in full alignment. And going to therapy really helped because it did make it clear that it was definitely time. It [00:15:00] was something I was very passionate about. I was able to really think through purpose and fulfillment and what it is that I wanted for my life, you know, 10 to 20 years from now and impact is something that means so much to me. And while I was making impact, absolutely working for a large tech company. I also saw a lot of women who I work with, be on the grind, kill it in their jobs, but then struggled to take care of themselves. And I had to ask myself, what would it mean to me if I did help these women? And what would it mean to me if I sat on the sidelines and didn't help these women and that surpassed like everything, I'm like, oh my gosh, I want to, I want women to kill it. We gotta break these ceilings.
[00:15:47] Shannon: That's the potential, right? You had that clarity that, okay, this is more important. You did the work you wanted to do at Facebook. And now it's time for you to step it up a bit and help the women.
[00:15:57] Ariel: Yeah. One thing that was told to me was, [00:16:00] you know, while I was able to have great success while working full time, time is powerful. Energy is powerful. And the moment you're really able to give something more of your energy, you can scale that by a whole lot. For me was like, okay, I know that I'm making impact, but you have to be really strategic and intentional because I was a little bit more comfortable working in corporate because I had a nice paycheck. So I didn't deprioritize making money in Gym Hooky. It wasn't until I jumped ship where I'm like, yeah, their bills to be paid. I gotta figure this out.
I started to attend just different environments before even making that decision. So between starting therapy and walking into my manager's office and say that I'm jumping ship, there were things that I did in between and what really h elped me make that decision was joining a program that I knew would help me build the program that I wanted for the woman that I wanted to serve. [00:17:00] So the calculated risk-taker in me needed something, needed something from me to feel like, okay, this is what I'm doing next. This is what I'm going to work towards. So I ended up joining a program that was three months, and I knew when I would need to start it. And what would that force me to do is really make the decision. I'm like, I, I can't do this program and work full time and the program wasn't cheap. So it held me accountable.
February, 2020 was when I walked into my manager's office and, I actually gave one month notice saying that I was going to be going all in on, on Gym Hooky. And the support was like insane. People like, okay, we knew this was coming. We want to support you, let me know how we can support you. And it just so happens that my last day at Facebook was the very first day of the pandemic. Couldn't have planned for it. I made this decision one month before, and it just so happens that health and wellness was absolutely [00:18:00] needed more than ever during the pandemic, just given the circumstances of needing to work from home. So it was absolutely my time.
[00:18:08] Shannon: You were all in at the perfect moment.
[00:18:10] Ariel: The timing was pretty wild. I prayed about it. Lord, like, let me show me a sign that this, this is a good decision. And I didn't expect the sign would be COVID, you know, but nonetheless, Gym Hooky was all about home workout. So when I made it was my time to shine, I built a brand that everyone was already familiar with when it came to home work outs. So the moment I did take the leap, I started to get a lot of opportunities on the corporate side. My messaging was very clear on who it is that I served and what I do, and that worked for me. I side hustle for five years before taking that leap. And by that fifth year was when I was really able to make the biggest impact during the one of the most trying times in our history of existence, you know, so.
[00:18:55] Shannon: Wow. So That five years really prepared you to go big or go [00:19:00] home when the world needed you.
[00:19:02] Ariel: I'm a whole mush over here. I love connecting with people. Building community is my jam. That was my bread and butter I'm working in corporate. a, It was validation for the work that I was doing. What I gave a lot of women permission to do was be okay with working out for five minutes, 10 minutes, because you know, it's one thing to push self care is another, when you're, , up against the circumstances during the pandemic, where you have moms who had to do, virtual learning, or you don't have, a child and you're dealing with loneliness at home and what does it mean to show up for yourself? While a lot of people knew me on the workout side. I really was able to hone in to the holistic wellness, health coaching mindset. How do you show up for yourself from the inside out? And I was really able to do that. And that's actually where I started what I'm known for now, my affirmations during workouts or my affirmations in general. If you ever do a workout of mine, [00:20:00] I always have a moment where I just say affirmations aloud, encourage you to repeat after me. And let me tell you while it may sound so like, oh, you know, mushy or woo. The amount of messages I got for women who are like, I needed that even down to saying, I am enough. Like, I want you to say, you're enough. I want you to punch out the thing's not serving you like imposter syndrome and excuses and not forgiving yourself for past mistakes. And this really spoke to the community. And again, served as a reminder for me, like, this is why you're here. , women need this, they need it more now than ever.
[00:20:37] Shannon: Okay. I have a very important question for you, Ari. Where did you get the nickname? The burnout whisperer.
[00:20:45] Ariel: I became known as the burnout whisper within the past year. So what a lot of people see me doing on the gram is serving the direct audience for women. But what I also do is corporate work. I do a lot of corporate work. I came from the corporate space. I like to say, you can [00:21:00] take the girl out of corporate, but not corporate out the girl. And I knew that's where I could make one of the greatest impact. The burnout whisper came from me, literally snatching a lot of women out of burnout. So for the clients who came to me, a lot of them came with goals to work out or just be more energized. And what I ended up finding was the foundation of their struggle was being so stressed and exhausted that they didn't have time for the things that brought them joy that brought them energy that allowed them to take care of themselves and just be empowered, empowered from the inside out. So for me, while I didn't say I'm, I'm helping with burnout. I would be doing a lot of burnout work and I ended up getting certified as a stress management specialist to learn, , sleep, to learn, , just tactics for managing stress. You can't just make all of it go away or say, I'm never going to have a stressful job. It's how do you manage it? How do you carry that load? And that's the biggest differentiator? So I became [00:22:00] known as a burnout whisper when working with corporate and just creating just real conversations around it, where people felt like they weren't alone. And doing that in a corporate space where it's often not talked about, gave a lot of corporate people, a greater appreciation for my, my approach to it.
[00:22:17] Shannon: So you get to impact corporations that bring you in to work with employees and you get to work with your followers at home. That's double duty there. Tell me about your work. Tell me about your coaching. I want to talk about Thailand coming up, all the things.
[00:22:31] Ariel: Yeah. When I jumped ship, I joined a program to create a program essentially. And the program that I created was my 28 Day Lean. So it's an acronym that stands for lifestyle, exercise, attitude, and nutrition. And I wanted to create a program that really helped women kickstart their wellness journey. We, as women are just any, anyone who's on their wellness journey can feel the pressure for it to be perfect along the way or not feel like they have the structure. [00:23:00] So I wanted to create a structure, but also create a structure that was not about restriction. That was that allowed more flexibility that didn't leave you feeling guilty. If you missed a day or you, you ate that piece of food that you may have told yourself that you shouldn't. , so creating this program that gave structure and guidance was what I created. I, I was very intentional about it being 28 days, because what I've found is when I asked a woman to do it for 60 days or 90 days, this is when the excuses usually come. So I specifically designed it for the busy woman and anyone who identifies as busy. I've taken over 2000 women through the program. They've had the most amazing wins. Again they may come in saying they just want to lose weight and they end up just having so much confidence and putting on that dress. That's been in the back of the closet for forever to setting better boundaries at work and at home to just communicating their needs and taking off the cape that we're, we were told we need to have as women be strong and being okay with taking it off [00:24:00] and, and just taking breaks, you know?
Now, fast forward to still having that 28 Days, but seeing where I can continue to meet my community where they're at. So what's really important as an entrepreneur in general, is that you have to be prepared to just evolve, right. Just because it worked for your audience two years ago or top of the pandemic, or even six months ago doesn't mean that it's, it's what they need now. Coming from the corporate world, there are just a lot of things that I was able to bring into how I do things as, as an entrepreneur and getting feedback is one of them. I'm always getting feedback. I'm always learning how I can do better. I'm always also getting a pulse check Of what the needs are for the woman that I'm serving. And what that has allowed me to do is create other things that can allow them to bring their best selves to their day to day.
So you did mention the Thailand retreat. And this year I decided to do a self-care retreat for the first time. What I've learned for women [00:25:00] is they need a true getaway, it could be a woman with kids or not. It could be someone who's just working so much who hasn't used their PTO. And the reality is people have found it more hard to use their PTO during the pandemic time, and what happened was a lot of stress and burnout. So I wanted to create a space where self care like really happened, like really, really happened where you unplug and you, you get it all in your fields. You can choose to do something. You can choose to do nothing. And I chose Thailand because it would be a true getaway. I wanted to plan it out. So the women who are coming don't have to plan anything. Oftentimes we are the planners, right? When you're taking your family on a trip that is fun. There's so much, that's required that by the end of that vacation, you feel like you need a vacation from the vacation. T here's so many different audiences within my audience that I wanted to really tap into to what those needs are.
[00:25:58] Shannon: That's amazing.[00:26:00] What about your one-on-one coaching?
[00:26:02] Ariel: Great question. So that is an extension of my 28 Day Lean. So when I do my 28 day lean, I created it initially for group coaching. So creating a group group environment, that way I was able to scale, however, I've brought back my one-on-one coaching within the past year because they're women who really value even more accountability. I do believe that there's power and really being able to take apart what your life is like and building a routine. It's very customized and specific to you. So right now I do work with a lot of women who are executive women from lawyers to venture capitalists, to tech executives, to doctors, you name it, um, and helping them build a routine that's very specific to them. And it's been, it's been such gratifying work, such gratifying work. So if anyone's ever interested in that, I'm absolutely your girl. I'm your, your health coach bestie.
[00:26:58] Shannon: You have a guide, [00:27:00] how to stay healthy while working at home. Are there any tips that you can give our listeners just a couple and then they can go find the guide as well on your website?
[00:27:08] Ariel: Yeah. Now fun fact here. When the pandemic happened, we didn't know how long it would be. I think for me, it was just an opportunity where I'm like, oh, let me put together this guide. So women know the type of environment they can create for themselves, a couple of things that I would say is one working from home, continuing to have a routine. I think oftentimes when we think about a routine, we think of, you know, taking our shower, drinking our coffee, putting on our clothes and leaving commuting and going to work. But what does that look like when you remain at home, you still need to have a routine in order to feel like you are showing up for yourself. So whether it's having a morning routine to get you energized and start your day, It can be so easy to just roll out of bed and go into your first meeting or, or, or immediately check your emails and that can completely throw things off. So seeing wherever there's an opportunity to [00:28:00] create a routine, even if you are at home and setting a time for when you open up your laptop, the other is on the healthy side of just eating and preparing things. The fridge is right there, but that doesn't mean that you are going to be able to have time to cook things mid middle of the day, especially if you have back-to-back meetings. So making sure that you're just really intentional on preparation and what that can look like, it could be doing meal prep. It could be, if you're doing ordering, ordering, scheduling a healthy meals to come during a certain time of the day so you have lunch. Those are some of the things routine and meal prep, and then just creating an environment that serves you, right? What energizes you? Do you need a candle? Do you need plants? Do you need a standing desk so you can move your legs every now and then, , so just creating an environment that is conducive to energy. Yeah. That allows you to be fulfilled.
[00:28:55] Shannon: I think everyone should print out some of Ari's affirmations and have those on the [00:29:00] wall or put them in a picture frame on your desk.
[00:29:02] Ariel: I share every week, three morning mantras every Monday, , that you can say to yourself, usually encouraging across the board, whether it's personal, whether it's preferred professional. so if you're someone who can use that encouragement, first thing, Monday morning, you can definitely sign up for my email list and you'll get that every week.
[00:29:20] Shannon: I feel like you are very type A, me if I'm wrong. You didn't even know you were going to go full time, but you were working towards it while you had your steady paycheck while you were in the other career that you really enjoyed. Would you recommend that other women who are thinking about the change kind of take those calculated steps like you did?
[00:29:39] Ariel: I would say, have a plan, but, but understand that the plan can change. I've become more flexible than I've ever have. I'm typically someone who's super structured , even my husband says like who's this person it's it's night and day. Life changes, the world is changing as we see it before our very eyes. So understanding that while you can have a plan, it can [00:30:00] change. So being open, however, there were things that I did leading up to it. I did mention that I didn't fully plan to go full-time entrepreneurship, but I unknowingly was planning very well and it's not just even business it's personal. I went to therapy. I think that every entrepreneur should have a therapist or at least some type of mental support, mindset, coach, you name it. I've had both. Because when you're going from one space and going to another space of the unknown, there are things there are limiting beliefs that you, you, you may need a kick to the curb in order for you to have an abundant mindset in order for you to get past the trying times that happens when you're an entrepreneur. So going to therapy was , a great preparation.
Have you ever heard of the term lifestyle creep? Lifestyle creep happens when, like, as you continue to grow in your career and you make more money, you spend more money and lifestyle creep is essentially that. As you b [00:31:00] ecome more popping in your career. You start to spend more on rent. You spend more on the types of restaurants, the types of foods, and there's nothing wrong, obviously with, with, with treating yourself for all the hard work that you're doing. But if you are someone who may want to eventually take that leap and become a full-time entrepreneur, you have to definitely create a cushion to work with because you may not make money right away. You may need that time to really build. And making sure that financially, at least you're not stressing as much about that, , is, is a step that you can take. And then just having a plan. of what you think would be what's next. You also have to know yourself, right? How do you operate under these conditions? I love structure. So it helped to have someone who gave me accountability and have structure. So I knew that I, that I had a plan to build something and it wasn't just me sitting around trying to figure it out for a few months. '
[00:31:56] Shannon: Because you can spend money on all these different programs and coaches and [00:32:00] then never implement it. On the same front, I knew I wanted to start this podcast for a really long time. I paid for a program that had me make sure I could build it, taught me how to do it and get it out within, I think you could do it between 30 and 60 days, and I did it under 60. But without that timeline and that program, I don't think I would have done it. That was a really smart move on your part.
[00:32:24] Ariel: Thank you. Yeah, you are the company you keep. And what I realized for me is that I didn't have as much friends in the entrepreneurial space. So it really did help to be amongst women who, who were I wanted to be. And I'm talking, speaking to women who were six figures and seven figures, and I was blown away by the level of confidence that they had in themselves, their vision for what they're building for their business. And I'm like, whoa, hashtag goals and inspired me in such a great way. You know? I would also say as an entrepreneur,[00:33:00] sometimes though comparison could be. It can help you and it can hurt. So just making sure who, who you're comparing yourself with is realistic on where you are on your journey, because entrepreneurship is not a destination. It's an absolute journey. When you work on one thing, you're going to have to work on another, once you hit that goal. So for me was really, was making sure that yes, I had people that I compared myself to who were like, who could even be my 10 to 15 years out goal. But I also nurtured relationships with the people who were within my realm, who were two years out, who were exactly where I was. And just building that network of people who were an understanding of the goals that I wanted to achieve, because I do believe that entrepreneurship is a whole nother ball game. While you have a lot of skillsets from the corporate world, that can absolutely serve you. I'm a huge advocate for that. I'm like, make sure you build your toolbox while you're in corporate. There is a different level of confidence you have to have and believing what you're building like for your business.
[00:33:58] Shannon: And networking. And now you [00:34:00] have those people that, people you can go to and be like, Hey, have you experienced this? Like just having someone to talk to that knows the game is, is helpful don't you agree?
[00:34:08] Ariel: Oh, completely, totally agree community. And, I remember one thing I was fearful of was always hearing that entrepreneurship can be lonely. And knowing that really challenged me to be more intentional about that. Cause I'm like, I don't want this to be a lonely journey. So one of the main things I prioritize was being in communities of like-minded women entrepreneurs, I've been in masterminds. I've just been in groups where there there's just a different understanding of some of the challenges, but then also the wins, like having people to, to, to, to celebrate with. So that, that was something that was like, was big for me. And one of the best decisions I made was just really investing in and prioritizing community.
[00:34:53] Shannon: On another personal front, your husband, you were saying you moved from the east coast to the west coast and now you're back on the east [00:35:00] coast. How has he been supporting you through this journey and this growth?
[00:35:04] Ariel: Man, I have the best husband ever. So we've been together 12 years since our junior year of college. I'm not going to lie. I, at one point feared, I would have to choose between my career and, and having a relationship. He is so supportive. Every move we made either. I've moved for him, he's moved for me. But as an entrepreneur, the timing worked out perfect because , while he was working full time, I was able to really focus on, on building. And we've had moments where we've swapped before I took the leap. He actually had a break cause he's been in the startup world. While I was working full time. So we've been just really blessed to be able to support each other in that way. And he is my biggest cheerleader I can ask for. What's really important for us is continue to communicate. He has his own business now. So now we're a two CEO household and just, that is a [00:36:00] whole nother ball game. Right. How do you be intentional about working from home and what that means? And like being able to separate business and, and your relationship and in doing date nights and, and all the things. So it's really challenged us to, to make sure we're prioritizing each other. But the support is real. It's so real. I'm so grateful. I'm so grateful.
[00:36:21] Shannon: It sounds like you're really partners on this journey and that's you can't do it any other way.
[00:36:26] Ariel: Yeah.
[00:36:26] Shannon: What do you think you learned from your prior careers wall street, big tech, HR going into owning your own business?
[00:36:35] Ariel: My favorite motto is my corporate skills are paying the bills. There are so many transferable skills that you have in corporate. And I don't think I realized that until I took that leap. , I actually thought because I was in a complete different space in HR, it would be day and night. I'd be starting from ground zero because I was going in and in a complete different industry in health and wellness. But what [00:37:00] absolutely worked to my advantage was communication. And it sounds like the most high level thing you could think of, but there were so many things that I did. I led trainings, I, um, work with cross-functional partners. I led events, hosted different events and speaking engagements, all why working in corporate and that hands down probably was the most leveraged that I had as a, as an entrepreneur. When I immediately took that leap, I knew the type of conversations to have with corporate partners. I knew that metrics was really important to them. I knew the questions to ask. I also happen to have done a speaker training while I was working in corporate to help just develop my story and how I communicate whenever I'm doing a presentation, whenever I'm doing a speaking engagement and that was to develop in the corporate world. But the reality is that type of skill set applies everywhere. So being able to communicate, on different levels has definitely served [00:38:00] me. I would say just being organized at one point I was a project manager, when I worked at Facebook and that has helped me just built systems to grow. Being a project manager helped me do that from the get-go figuring out systems for project management, uh, building a team and how I can make sure that we're creating this virtual environment of support for the team that I'm building, because we're all in different locations. Building systems for the woman that I serve and making sure it's a seamless customer experience, all that matters and all that mattered when I worked in corporate. And now it's, it's a, it's a huge value for me. Hands down as a business owner.
[00:38:38] Shannon: And even with the retreats, you planned events. Now you're planning your own events. It's just all synchronicity.
[00:38:44] Ariel: So aligned and even someone who's curious, I've always been really curious, , when it comes to technology. So even my website, I've, I've built that on my own. And I think that curiosity that came from being in the corporate space has allowed me to just be okay [00:39:00] with being uncomfortable and trying new things as an entrepreneur. And sometimes you don't have resources and you have to get, you have to get creative as an entrepreneur and your girl here. That is the name of my game. I'm like, okay, what can I do to build a website and do it very quickly? Okay. I'm going to Google. I'm going to figure this out. Okay. Cool. Website built.
[00:39:22] Shannon: Life long learning, right? You're just a lifelong learner and you're making it work.
[00:39:27] Ariel: Forever student.
[00:39:29] Shannon: You've got to teach yourself in order to teach others.
[00:39:32] Ariel: That's right. Oh, so perfectly said. So perfectly said.
[00:39:37] Shannon: Alright. It's time for our Five Fast Qs of the Week. Here we go!
Name one thing that these different chapters in your life have taught you.
[00:39:46] Ariel: Be flexible. Having your own business is a journey, not a destination. So know that there are things that you may have planned for that you may need to unplanned and go another route and make pivots [00:40:00] in order to grow your business and help the people that you serve.
[00:40:04] Shannon: Would you recommend taking a leap into a big life change for your best friend?
[00:40:09] Ariel: Yes, absolutely. My journey has been on display and people have witnessed my transition live. So from doing the high side hustle to five years later, deciding to make that leap to right now, I mean, I've scaled my business and run it very fast in a matter of two years and openly sharing that, but not just the wins, sharing the trials and tribulations that come with it. Being just as real, as possible, has inspired people to want to do it too. And, you know, the leap comes in different forms. So I would say there's leaps to entrepreneurship, but there can be leap to a different industry. There could be a leap to just a completely different into a startup from a corporate environment where you're getting steps closer. So just know that leaps can, can, can be in phases for you. And I've definitely [00:41:00] encouraged friends to take the leap to different careers, um, to, to going into their business full-time to even starting it as a side hustle so they can work towards something greater, in the years to come.
[00:41:11] Shannon: What is one piece of advice that you would give someone who is about to start their second act?
[00:41:15] Ariel: To work on yourself. I think in order to grow your business, you have to grow as an individual and being committed to growing yourself , being aware of any limiting beliefs that can possibly hold you back on your journey. There was a quote that I heard the other day, , that was something along the lines of when you choose not to heal a wound from the past, it bleeds into your business. And It's true. So making sure that you're taking care of yourself as you grow your business and know that is an evolution, just because you worked on one thing personally or on mentally or on your mindset, more things may introduce as you continue to grow. So yeah, That's my thoughts take care of [00:42:00] you.
[00:42:00] Shannon: So what does the next chapter look like for you?
[00:42:03] Ariel: So expanding the retreat is something that's new. I want to continue to create spaces for women that allow them to take true breaks and understand what that is. I have been doing a lot on the LinkedIn side of things growing my brand there so I can do more corporate work. As we talked about earlier, the burnout whisperer, burnout work is something that's near and dear to my heart. I don't think that it's openly talked about enough within workplaces. So I pride myself on being that person who can create environments for that to happen in a way that doesn't seem so, uh, bashy towards employers, but supportive of employees. So that's going to be a big one for me.
[00:42:42] Shannon: All right. So where can our audience connect with you Ari.
[00:42:46] Ariel: At Gym Hooky on Instagram and G Y M H O O K Y. I provide lots of humor, entertainment, and realness for you. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn. So I do try to switch up where my [00:43:00] work is, and I do talk a lot about burnout and stress and all the things across the board. Exercise fitness on LinkedIn as well. So you can find me there. Ariel Belgrave Harris. Let's connect, , would love to be able to support you on your journey any way that I can.
[00:43:15] Shannon: this has been so inspiring. Everything you've said I resonate with, and I know our listeners will too. And I just thank you so much for your time.
[00:43:23] Ariel: Thank you for having me.
[00:43:24] Shannon: Is it me or does Ariel just make you want to work out with a smile on your face? Her approach to health and wellness is empowering. And the community she has created is inspiring. Make sure to check out gymhooky.com to learn all about the brand and the business that Ari has built. And be sure to follow @gymhooky on Instagram. So you don't miss the powerful affirmations Ariel shares. I'll see you next time.
Thank you for joining us. I hope you found some gems of inspiration and some takeaways to help you on your path to Second Act Success. To view show notes from this episode, recommend to guests [00:44:00] with a great story, and learn more about us. Visit secondactsuccess.co. Before you go, don't forget to subscribe to the podcast. So you don't miss a single episode. And if you are enjoying our time together, please leave a review in Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Reviews only take a few moments and they really do mean so much. Thank you again for listening. I am Shannon Russell, and this is Second Act Success.
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