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5 things I wish someone told me when I first became a fitness expert: “Know when to make changes” with Rebecca Asfour and Chaya Weiner

Know when to make changes. Just as you know you cannot please everyone, you also have to take responsibility when something isn’t working. Make changes and pivot. Your business is like a living organism that is constantly changing and you need to adapt as quickly as you can. As part of my series about health and […]

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Know when to make changes. Just as you know you cannot please everyone, you also have to take responsibility when something isn’t working. Make changes and pivot. Your business is like a living organism that is constantly changing and you need to adapt as quickly as you can.

As part of my series about health and wellness leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rebecca Asfour, owner of two Dailey Method barre + cycle studios in the northern suburbs of Chicago. She’s the Master Instructor and a busy mother of two. With a background in marketing and finance and a passion for wellness, Rebecca brings solid business practices and positive leadership to her studios.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

My father was in the Air Force, so we moved a lot — which created a defining part of my journey because I understand the concept of being a new kid. I empathize with how challenging it can be to try something brand new and the scary feeling of walking into an unfamiliar place for the first time. It is now my job to make people feel welcome when they walk through our doors. My job is to make people happy and help them find their best (and strongest) self — and it’s one I take very seriously.

For someone who never had a hometown and always felt like the new kid, I’ve always sought community. That is why I fell in love with our studios and why I purposefully create a place where everyone is welcome, encouraged and supported. I’ve created a little hometown community within the studio walls!

I came to the Lake Forest Dailey Method studio as a student, five months after my little guy was born and with pretty bad postpartum depression. I walked into the studio without knowing anyone, left my baby in the childcare room and I took a barre class that helped me find my strength, balance, courage and, ultimately, my best self. After only a month of taking class, I was toned and fit without injury or aches in my ankles and knees. As a former runner, this was remarkable!

I loved The Dailey Method so much that I trained to teach barre and then eventually took over the Lake Forest studio in 2015. Now that we have opened in Vernon Hills, I am honored to bring our amazing classes to a whole new community.

Can you share the interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Since becoming a business owner, I feel I have developed into a leader. Perhaps I should have become a leader first and then a business owner, but that’s how the universe worked for me. I honestly didn’t know how to be an effective leader, communicator or a very good boss at first. But with years of practice and a few mistakes, I finally got out of my own way and figured out how to see the big picture, how to work through stressful situations, and how to make everyone do and be their best. I don’t know that I would have learned this without making a ton of mistakes or fully understanding what it takes to lead a team. Regardless, I’m so glad that I did and now I’m so much more confident in my abilities!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first started, I didn’t know anything about audio equipment. I literally thought that when you turn on the speakers, the music magically comes out and everything sounds great. Magic!

So when we upgraded the sound system in our Lake Forest cycle studio, I didn’t know that the sound waves would bounce around the room and make a terrible squeaking noise in the speakers. Of course, this happened during a full cycle class, causing everyone to get really annoyed that their ride was ruined because I didn’t have the right sound absorbing materials on the studio walls.

That very day, I rushed to Guitar Center and bought every piece of acoustical foam that they had! I loaded up my car with them and glued the tiles to the wall that night. It was a huge and exhausting job, and I did it by myself…eventually cracking a beer to celebrate finishing the job. Now I know so much more about sound and how to properly install the right equipment — and I definitely know to test it out before launching it to a full class!

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

I am! I have a very exciting retail collaboration in the works which we’ll announce in the next few months, just in time for the holidays. My goal is always to provide retail offerings that are helpful to my clients as she (or he) is running out of the studio — we are a place people visit daily, and if I can also be a place they pick up a cute pair of leggings, a great sweatshirt, or a gift for a loved one, that saves them a trip to another store.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. 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’m most grateful for my husband, Charlie. He has been a sounding board, a cheerleader and the ultimate supporter for my businesses. Not only does he close my books at the end of month, he also gives me advice on business strategy and helps me stay calm in times of anxiety. I literally could not do this without him and I’m so grateful for his involvement.

Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that will help people feel great?

  1. Go to bed (and wake up) at the same time each day. This seems simple, and this also means that the weekends aren’t wild, but going to bed and waking up at the same time each day will really help your sleep become consistent. I talk to a lot of people about sleep quality, and I can tell you that I hear so many stories of insomnia and trouble staying asleep. This tweak to my own schedule was a game changer for my sleep quality!
  2. Drink lots of water. Lots. Everyone says this, but I really do it — my family jokes that I’ve been thirsty my whole life — but water really solves so many problems. My tip is to use a big water bottle and carry it around with you all the time. It gets lighter as your drink it down, so you’re incentivized to drink it!
  3. Make a weekly meal plan and grocery list. I spend an hour or so each Sunday setting up our meal plans and grocery list. Then I go to the store, buy almost everything we need, and we’re good for the week. It makes the weekdays so much less stressful…and since the meals are planned, everyone knows what to expect and we have fewer complaints around dinner time.

Is there a particular book that made an impact on you? Can you share a story?

Girl, Wash your Face by Rachel Hollis. This book changed the game for me. It inspired me to reach for bigger goals, to use my voice, and to lean into my best self. I loved this book so much that I read the next one, Girl, Stop Apologizing, watched the “Made for More” documentary, listened to her podcasts, and attended the Rise conference in Dallas, my first ever self-improvement conference.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I think incorporating technology into wellness is the next frontier. I have a couple of ideas about an app to bring wellness directly to someone’s smart phone in a clean and clear way.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I believe that in every class I teach, I am making the 25 students in the class find their best selves. This is how I feel during and after the classes I take at our studios. When we spark the inner radiance of every person, in every class, they take their radiance and shine it out into the world. I really do think we are helping people approach the world with kindness and patience, generosity and grace.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Don’t be scared of what other people will think. Originally, I was so worried about what people would say about me that I was paralyzed into indecision. I didn’t want anyone to be mad at me…or say bad things about me around town. But a leader cannot be indecisive or without vision, so I was working against myself! I had to let go of the fact people were talking about me, and it’s been so refreshing to not care anymore.
  2. You are worth the price. You are providing a valuable service, and you are worth the price that you are charging. Everyone will always want a lower price, always.
  3. You cannot please everyone. Again, everyone will always want a lower price and more services. You can’t please everyone, so you have to do what’s best for the business and hold firm to your decisions.
  4. Know when to make changes. Just as you know you cannot please everyone, you also have to take responsibility when something isn’t working. Make changes and pivot. Your business is like a living organism that is constantly changing and you need to adapt as quickly as you can.
  5. Marketing is your best friend. It’s necessary to drive sales, to maintain retention, to communicate to clients. But not all marketing is the same, and not all marketing hits your target demographic. You have to know which channels will work and lean into those.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

“Work hard and be kind, and amazing things will happen.” — Conan O’Brien

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would have to go with Gwenyth Paltrow because I absolutely love what she’s doing in the wellness space and how she’s pushing us forward into new areas. I love her recipes and her style, and I think it’s utterly genius that she’s made wellness an aspirational concept.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

@rebecca_asfour

https://www.instagram.com/dailey_lakeforest/

https://www.facebook.com/tdmvernonhills

https://www.instagram.com/dailey_vernonhills/

Thank you for all of these great insights!

— –

About the author:

Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.

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