Anna Kaiser: “I started a movement to inspire people to be active 4x per week, in a way that makes them truly happy, within a supportive community”

This will make everyone less stressed, less anxious, more motivated, more focused, happier, healthier, and more efficient overall. We have started to become a culture of voyeurs. Let’s get back to LIVING. And living well. Together.

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I would love to inspire everyone to be active 4x per week, in a way that makes them truly happy, within a supportive community. This would make everyone less stressed, less anxious, more motivated, more focused, happier, healthier, and more efficient overall. We have started to become a culture of voyeurs. Let’s get back to LIVING. And living well. Together.

I had the pleasure to interview Anna Kaiser, the Founder of AKT, one of the nation’s fastest growing luxury boutique fitness franchise concepts. Through AKT, Anna combines all of the years expertise in performance and training to create a cross-training technique that incorporates the best workouts available ( Dance, Bands, Circuit and Tone) in the most effective, efficient and fun way. Dedicated AKT devotees include Kelly Ripa, Shakira, Emmy Rossum, Jackie Cruz and many others.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

As a dancer, I constantly struggled to find ways to keep myself in shape. I would go through phases of focusing on Pilates or yoga or barre, but then struggled with the idea that I was not getting enough cardio. As a result, I began overtraining and became tired of doing the same boring routine that I felt was not giving me the full-body training my body needed. I knew this was an issue that many people struggled with, which ultimately became the catalyst and biggest motivation to bridging the gap between the gym and the boutique fitness studio.

I wanted to create a culture and a brand that combined the personalization of private training with the community and electric experience that a boutique studio offers. I found that the consumer would plateau after only a few months of working out at a single modality studio (barre, Pilates, yoga, spin, etc.) because the workout wasn’t changing.

With my background, I was able to combine my expertise in anatomy and exercise science with my knowledge and talent as a choreographer and dancer to create a new take on efficient and effective workouts. I founded AKT as a solution to provide members with an ever-changing workout experience focused on something no other fitness concept does — a kinetic approach to physical wellness with a cutting edge in pop fitness culture.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

When I was in the middle of opening my third studio (AKT NoMad), we were dealing with a landmarked building and a change of occupancy. This meant extra time and money. What I wasn’t entirely aware of was just how much extra time and money would be required to get through to the DOB. I ended up having to leverage all my personal assets to complete the buildout and open the studio for the launch event. It was mania! But VERY worth it in the end.

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 opened my first studio, it was the dead of winter in NYC. So, I thought I would turn the heat on for classes on opening day. However, the classes were so packed that the heat generated overall was almost to the level of a hot yoga class and people were walking out just to get air! Lesson learned!

The night I launched my first studio, there was a line around the block to get in! In fact, it was so crowded, that I had my VIP clients driving up and then driving away because they were too intimidated by the crowds! Lesson: have a publicist or employee communicating with your best customers during a special event.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Most boutique concepts are based around a single modality (barre, yoga, Pilates, spin, etc.) and instructors are told to lead a workout within a given genre. That means every class is different, and the class experience depends solely on the instructor. Our workouts remain the same for three weeks so that people are constantly challenged to improve their muscular and cardiovascular endurance, stamina, strength, and flexibility. Then, on week 4 the entire class content changes to keep their minds and bodies from plateauing! I am also the only founder that choreographs every class offering, every 3 weeks, from minute 1 to minute 60 to guarantee comprehensive programming, maintain quality control, and be able to offer the exact same program I am personally creating for my celebrity clientele.

At AKT, we focus on combining muscular endurance with power to create a strong, lean figure in the most efficient way possible. All of our classes are interval based, the most effective way to train your body. The intensity and length of the cardiovascular and muscular endurance portions vary from class to class, to create a well-rounded program designed to support each member’s strengths and weaknesses. Each member is greeted by name when they walk in the door! It feels like a warm family supporting your fitness lifestyle, not just a studio offering a workout!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Following the recent launch of AKT’s franchise opportunity, our team plans to bring the workout to cities nationwide. With strategic development plans to open 500 new studio locations by 2021, we are hard at work! This means everyone who has experienced AKT through our On Demand app, Retreats, or Intensives, will be able to finally have a studio near them and get the full AKT program live!!

I think AKT is going to raise the bar for fitness. It will not only provide mental and physical results to clients, but challenge them in a way that no other studio has before. I, personally, cannot workout at any other studio since starting AKT because nothing compares for me and I hear that story from so many clients. It truly is a transformative fitness experience.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

I would advise female leaders to conduct extensive research. In order to truly help your team thrive, you need to be able to identify the challenges and issues that currently exist in the segment, as well as the motivating factors behind consumers. Test out your product or concept in a variety of markets and make sure it is well-received and successful. The biggest mistake you can make is developing too fast before having the proper support and resources necessary to do so.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

I would advise female leaders to surround themselves with partners who care passionately about what you do and who each bring a variety of experiences and knowledge to the team. The ability to grow AKT and provide cities nationwide with the same workout and passion that originated from my first location could not be done without the help of Xponential Fitness’ 25 years of fitness franchising experience, growing some of the largest fitness franchises in the world.

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?

AKT would not be the company it is today without the help of many wonderful people along the way. One of the people I am most grateful for is Kelly Ripa. She supported and believed in me not only as a creative founder, but as a woman launching a new business. Over the course of the last 10 years we have been working together, she has never accepted a complimentary session or class. She speaks honestly about her love for AKT and the workout because she believes in it.

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

There is nothing that is more rewarding than helping a client reach a goal that they never thought was possible! Helping someone become more empowered in their own skin and embrace fitness as a lifestyle makes them happier and healthier which, in turn, improves their overall quality of their life and interactions with the community that surrounds them. Happiness is addicting. And we need more of it!

I once had a client whose daughter sent her to AKT after having a heart attack. She was 54. Her daughter told her that she wanted her to get healthy again because she didn’t want to risk losing her. So, this client went on our AKTransformation 8-week program. She loved it so much that she repeated it. After 4 months she went back to her cardiologist who tested her heart and asked her, “How many days a week are you working out?” and she responded, “4 or 5.” His response was, “Wow. It’s almost unbelievable. After only 4 months, your heart is now as strong as an athlete.” We gave her back her life. That story still gives me chills. And I feel so grateful to be able to have a positive impact on someone’s life and the lives of those who love him/her.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Communication is key. Make sure every employee has clear deliverables on a weekly/monthly/quarterly basis and make sure that they feel they have the tools necessary to achieve these goals.

2. A business must make a profit to be successful. Try not to overspend or starve your business. You will always be the one responsible for the financials of the company, so listen to your advisors and spend wisely. Have a sound business plan and follow it. There will always be curve balls but follow them closely and adjust accordingly.

3. Hire the right people. Sometimes it can be tough to wait for the right person to apply. It can means that you and your employees have to carry the burden for a longer period of time. But the time it takes to hire someone, train them, and rely on them is worth the wait. Don’t just get a body in the door to take the pressure off.

4. Don’t wait to replace the wrong person. One bad egg can be toxic to a team. I made the mistake of thinking “Oh she’s just going through a rough patch. It will get better.” And then it just gets worse. Make sure you give someone a performance plan immediately and see if they care enough to change. If not, move on.

5. Love your business so much you can’t imagine doing anything else. Because tough times will happen. And that belief and passion in your concept and business will need to drive you to get through it.

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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to inspire everyone to be active 4x per week, in a way that makes them truly happy, within a supportive community. This would make everyone less stressed, less anxious, more motivated, more focused, happier, healthier, and more efficient overall. We have started to become a culture of voyeurs. Let’s get back to LIVING. And living well. Together.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Success is no accident.

It’s hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all love what you are doing. — Pele

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 with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

Phil Knight — I read Shoe Dog and I find his approach and story fascinating and inspiring. I would love to sit down for a meal and pick his brain!


Kris Jenner — she’s a genius. And I’m so very curious.

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