Be prepared to learn how to do everything. I didn’t know what I didn’t know until I started a business. In the beginning you will have to learn how to do so much from email marketing to photo resizing. I think it is good to dabble in everything because it makes you a responsible business owner and helps you to make informed decisions when you are able to outsource tasks.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alexis Ring.
Alexis is the owner of Lexi Miller, a womens’ cycling apparel brand that she founded to address the lack of functional, beautiful cycling apparel for women. She is also a Pilates instructor and personal trainer. In Summer 2020, she founded The Endurance Hub, an online membership to teach female cyclists how to get stronger on and off the bike.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in suburban New Jersey, and always thought I’d spend adulthood as a lawyer in a suit going from one concrete building to another in New York City. I was not what you’d call an ‘athlete’ as a kid. I eschewed team sports and opted for riding horses. I didn’t deliberately raise my heart rate until I was in my 20’s.
After college, I spent time living in New Zealand, which made me reexamine my preference for big city living. I lived in Lake Tahoe for a year and then moved to San Francisco and became an interior designer. The good weather, lifestyle, and ample access to nature allowed me to discover my inner athlete as I got into long distance running and later, cycling and swimming.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
I ran my first half marathon at 29 and loved it. I was hooked on endurance. I was training for the San Francisco marathon when crippling nerve pain radiating down my legs sidelined me. A low back injury forced me to give up running. A few months later, I lost my dream job at an interior design firm due to the recession, and my dog died shortly thereafter. It was not my best time. I felt like I had lost everything that had given me joy.
A couple of friends encouraged me to take up cycling, but I was so intimidated by the lack of women on bikes, and very put off by the hideous apparel. Reluctantly, I bought a bike and it changed my life. I was able to get back outside, I was able to indulge my inner athlete, and discovered that I love climbing hills. Around the same time, I discovered Pilates and I was amazed at its transformative power. So I decided to send my life in the direction of the things that gave me so much joy, by starting Lexi Miller and getting certified to teach Pilates. I wanted to pay it all forward.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
This might sound unexpected, but It’s A Wonderful Life. There are so many timeless lessons in that movie: the importance of friendship, doing the right thing, playing the long game, believing in oneself.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
I teach Pilates in addition to running Lexi Miller, a women’s cycling apparel brand.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
When the shutdown happened, I was no longer able to teach the same volume of clients. So I thought about how I could essentially combine my two audiences (cycling and Pilates) with one digital product, so I started an online membership to teach core strength to female cyclists.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
I knew that I wanted to try to reach a wider audience, and I could do so by teaching online, but it was challenging to teach a wide array of people, and to find a time that worked for everyone. I wasn’t gaining traction. It felt scattered and disorganized, like there was no glue holding it together, and I was casting too wide of a net.
I also realized that accountability breeds consistency. Accountability comes with having skin in the game. I can peruse free, on-demand content all day long and never commit, because I know it’s there, and I haven’t invested in it. But when I pay for something, I am way more likely to show up and do it.
So I thought about how I could 1) niche down to get focused on my audience and 2) have a model that fostered accountability and commitment, so I settled on a subscription model and chose to work with female cyclists.
Once I committed to those two things, in that “aha moment,” everything fell into place.
Everyone needs to have a strong core, but especially cyclists because we maintain a static, forward flexed position for hours at a time. The challenge is that cyclists tend to be pretty myopic when it comes to working out — we’d rather be riding. So the workouts are short in duration and meant to be incorporated into one’s life, not take it over.
How are things going with this new initiative?
They’re going really well. I have a great group of committed women who are learning a lot, and we are getting ready to open the doors to new members on January 15, 2021.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I never thought I would be a teacher, or be the kind of person that people paid attention to because I was never comfortable in front of an audience. I took my Pilates teacher training course from someone who is quite the opposite: an outgoing dancer who was accustomed to being on stage. Her name is Lara Hudson and she is no longer in the Pilates world but at the time she was a force. I think at first she mistook my quiet demeanor as uninterested. But I was just taking things in — learning! Once I aced the first written test, she knew that I was indeed not apathetic and worked with me to help me find the confidence to step into my role as a teacher.
I’ve also got to hand it to my first few members who are women who knew me as a trainer, or as customers. I threw the idea out there and they said yes, becoming the backbone of this membership, and putting up with my technological hiccups.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
I suppose it is the fact that a lot of what I am teaching is new to people. Despite being athletes, a lot of my members have never been taught what your core is, how to use it, why you should breathe in a certain way when engaging your core.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Be prepared to learn how to do everything. I didn’t know what I didn’t know until I started a business. In the beginning you will have to learn how to do so much from email marketing to photo resizing. I think it is good to dabble in everything because it makes you a responsible business owner and helps you to make informed decisions when you are able to outsource tasks.
- Do your research. Make sure there is a need for your concept before investing a ton of time and money. Start small and scale.
- Don’t take it personally. You and your product are not for everyone. Hone in on your niche and your people and give them all of your energy.
- Ask for feedback. Ask your best customers what works for them. Also reach out to people you might have thought would be your ideal client but are not. It helps to figure out where you are gaining and losing customers: your product or your messaging or both.
- Remember why you started. Things get hard and sometimes you have to take a step back and remember the passion you had for this idea in the very beginning because some days that might be the one thing that keeps you going.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
Since March, I have tried to keep as much structure as possible. That means getting up early, working out, eating well. Fortunately I am a disciplined person and I enjoy the byproducts of self-care. It feels good to feel good! Plus, you can’t pour from an empty cup, and my job has evolved into part therapist, part trainer during this tumultuous year. Also, starting a new endeavor helps to establish a forward thinking mentality. Solving problems instead of dwelling on them.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Our habits decide our future. How we treat our bodies from day to day has a cumulative effect, from diet to posture to physical activity. In terms of physical ‘fitness’ I believe that having a strong core is essential and it must come first. You can be strong enough to lift heavy weights, or run a marathon, but if you seek longevity, you need to be able to hold yourself up, support your spine, and maintain form.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Lindsey Vonn. She is a trailblazer in women’s skiing, and I admire her for her grit.
How can our readers follow you online? On Instagram @endurancewithalexis and on my website TheEnduranceHub.com
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!