I have known Kara Miklaus for a few years now. I used to take her classes when she was a trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp in Irvine, then, found her teaching classes at my favorite OC spin studio, Full Psycle. Now, she is currently co-owner at WORK in Irvine. I have yet to try her classes there given I’m in Los Angeles now but can’t wait to go back to the OC and get my butt kicked!
I remember in her classes, she’d always make an effort to know the names of everyone in class and would always come around encouraging any progress made. My 7.0 speed sprints would have nothing on the 10.0+ speeds of others but I would always feel leaving like I was the fastest in the room, with her positivity and encouragement.
I wanted to start this blog for several reasons and one was to be able to learn more about those who have been so inspiring to me. There wasn’t a better person I could think of to feature. Based on the responses below, you’ll see exactly why Kara’s energy has inspired me!
Has your journey always been health and fitness focused?
Not exactly! I’ve been an athlete my whole life, 5 brothers and I played every sport imaginable. I started out as a Bio/Pre-Med major in college. After graduation I went to work as a Clinical Assistant in one of the world’s most well known oncology hospitals. While there I got to see first hand that doctor life, and decided it wasn’t for me. Every patient I came across was diagnosed with cancer, but in little to no cases did I ever hear nutrition or lifestyle being discussed. Integrative/Holistic medicine was always the “last resort.” However, I did want to affect massive numbers of people and their health, so I chose to pursue my Master’s in Public Health, which the hospital paid for. After graduation, I parted ways amicably with the hospital, and went literally on the other side of the world! I landed a nutrition internship in South Africa, where I worked with local rural people on teaching sustainable agriculture to remote villages, i.e. how to grow vegetables in poor arid soil. After several months the internship ended and I came home to New York, where I had the opportunity to relocate to California (almost 5 years ago now).
When I came out here, I looked for jobs in both the non-profit and hospital sector, thinking I would do more of what I had been. But after several months searching to no avail, Barry’s Bootcamp got in touch with me when they were opening their first franchise in Irvine. Now, I’d already been certified as a personal trainer and it was just something I did on the side a little for fun, but never in my wildest dreams would have imagined it would lead me where I am now. At Barry’s they taught me how to teach group fitness, and ultimately I became the studio manager there and had the experience of what it would be like to own my own business, but with no financial stress!
You’ve mentioned openly about not always having the healthiest mindset when it comes to body image, how did you overcome your personal struggles?
Still overcoming! It’s a daily battle, but sometimes it’ll be a fleeting thought and that’s it, other days it’s on my mind most of the day. But I’ve just come to realize, IT’S NOT WORTH IT!!! There is so so so much more to life. I’ve done a lot of traveling, and I never get tired of seeing/experiencing different cultures. And in each of these cultures, beauty has a different ideal. Not only that, but most people are just fighting to survive, and here I am complaining I don’t have a 6 pack year round!? I am me, and I’ll always be me. I can’t change how tall I am, the texture of my hair, my face shape, or a myriad of my other physical features. But what I can change is how I feel just by making a simple choice to love myself. And if I do everything I can to be the best me, like working out, focusing on diet, etcetera, then how could I ever be mad at myself?
I met you when you were a trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp and now you own your own gym! How did you get to where you are now? And what would you say was the biggest struggle in becoming a business owner?
Well, after Barry’s I took a little detour from fitness for about 2 years. I did some more traveling, and when I came back I started working at a start up in Culver City (and traveling 2 hours each way every day!) doing Corporate Wellness Strategies. So basically consulting with companies on how to get their employees healthier. I met my husband, Dane, at a previous studio we both were trainers at, along with our business partner Scott Perry. The three of us decided just about one year ago to take the best of all training worlds that we knew, and to combine them under one roof. It was about 6 months of planning, finding investors, finding a location, getting the details sorted out, then about 2 months to create the actual brick and mortar of WORK, then we opened our doors on August 22, 2015! I worked full time still until November, when 20 hour days were going to give me a breakdown. So I left the corporate life and started working full time for us.
The biggest struggle I have is to not feel guilty about not working 24/7. When you have your own business, it’s hard to take time entirely for yourself because you’re just thinking, I should be working right now. So realizing that things won’t fall apart if you’re away for a day, or that it’s OK to delegate responsibilities.
What motivates you to get up each day and do WORK?
OH MAN! I would argue that it’s discipline, not necessarily motivation. We’re motivated to start something, but it’s discipline that keeps us going. There’s a lot of things I do that I’m never going to be motivated to do, like clean the bathrooms! (which we do ourselves because we have yet to hire staff) But, it’s the daily act of creating a schedule and sticking to it, of knowing that I have expectations to live up to, both my own and other’s, to be a role model, that gets me up everyday. That, and my boss is my husband! So it’s hard to say no to work!
Do you have an inspirational quote or phrase that you live your life by?
“The question isn’t who is going to let me, the question is who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand
I’m all about finding your passions in life. Do you have any advice for girls (or guys) out there that may be struggling to find motivation or feel that they are living an unfulfilled life?
Oh man, story for another day! I think I have a different mindset on this than most people our age do. We all think we should be living our passions and that life shouldn’t feel like work if we love it. But I argue the opposite. If you work at something hard enough, it might become your passion. I never intended to do fitness, I always scoffed at it being “a real job.” Even when I started I didn’t really like it, because I wasn’t good at it. But then I got good by studying, by getting more certifications that other trainers, by working hard. So maybe don’t think about exactly WHAT you do, but WHY you’re doing it.
Believe me, when my family found out I was teaching group fitness and wasn’t in medical school, mouths dropped to the floor. “You’re gonna do WHAT?!” And taken at face value sure, I get people motivated/excited to lift things up and down with a group of other people and get sweaty (putting it basically). That’s the what. But WHY do I do it? I have the opportunity to touch almost 150 lives daily, those that walk through our doors to train with us, and change them for the better by giving them a positive experience. By encouraging them to makes healthier choices, they then take that home to their families. By helping someone feel like they belong, feel wanted, feel like they contribute to something, I will hopefully enrich their life. So as far as advice, I would say stick with something long enough that you know for sure no amount of hard work would make you love it, then move on. You can constantly reinvent yourself. But do promise you’ll give something your very best shot before you call it quits.
To learn more about Kara’s fitness studio, visit WORK Irvine