Leah Kitching, mother of two, has always had a passion for fitness. The California native took this passion to new level when she opened her own fitness studio, Studio Elevate, two years ago in Culver City. In a place like Los Angeles, it can be difficult for a gym to set themselves apart from the myriad fitness options available—but Kitching’s Studio Elevate has managed to do just that.
“There is nothing better than when someone comes to class and becomes stronger mentally and physically. I am so grateful to be able to facilitate that change and see my students change both inside and out,” Kitching says.
It’s this mentality of building the foundations for overall fitness and well-being that makes Studio Elevate so special. With a blend of expertly instructed spin and pilates classes, focused on strength and awareness of body and mind, you’re in for an addictive experience.
Kitching sits down with Mom.me to discuss how she manages a family and a business—and still carves out time for regular workouts.
Describe the moment when you were inspired to create Studio Elevate.
I had been teaching at another studio for several years and realized one day I wasn't able to provide the true experience they deserved. The classes were always on display through windows, which I know makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Plus, the space was full of fluorescent lighting. I wanted to provide a place that people felt comfortable in. When you’re working out, you shouldn’t be focused on anything but yourself and your own improvement and growth.
What was the process of creating your own fitness studio like? Was there anything particularly challenging or surprising about the experience?
It took over a year to find a space. That was a challenge because we had been led to believe we were going to sign a lease with a great spot and has already purchased machines and equipment. They had basically led us on to leverage us against another fitness studio and then picked them in the end. It was very frustrating, especially because I was pregnant with my daughter and had to store the machines and start over on our search!
What sets Studio Elevate apart from other fitness studios?
We have an inclusive and transformative space. The teachers, the atmosphere and experience is all about finding your edge, connecting your body and mind, and always striving to become stronger in a calm setting. It's the best!
As a mother as well as the owner of Studio Elevate, how do you make it all work?
I am constantly trying to balance my work life with my kids. I have help, which is great because it allows me to get some really productive hours in, work-wise. This way I get to really step away from it all and spend quality time with my family when I’m not working, rather than always splitting my time and energy between the two.
When did you first feel successful?
I still don't feel successful. When I hit a mini goal, I keep assessing what needs to be done to get to the next step. I don’t think there is ever going to be a time when I feel “done.” It’s always, “OK, I reached this goal—now on to the next one.” Building a business is constant work and there are always ways to improve and evolve.
As a successful female entrepreneur, what are some ways that you want to teach your kids about "girl power"?
I believe in "people power.” I want to raise my daughter to believe she can be anything she wants and is not limited by gender. By talking to her about gender inequalities, I feel it exacerbates an issue that she doesn't even know exists. I really believe this generation can be unstoppable, no matter the gender—but, as parents, we definitely have a responsibility to foster an environment where they are able to thrive.
Has there been anything about creating Studio Elevate that surprised you or inspired you in a way you didn't expect?
I find it interesting that I don't really "feel" successful. I always thought I would feel proud of myself at the end of it, but now my goals have become bigger, so I'm still moving onward and realize I may never get that feeling. I'm OK with that, though, because this new mindset means that Elevate will just continue to grow more and more!
What's your advice for moms who are looking to start their own business?
Starting a business is a lot of work but can also give you so much flexibility in being able to spend time with your kids. If I could do it over, I would have done it before I had kids or after they went to preschool. Having little ones is such a fleeting moment, so to be able to really enjoy it is so special.
What sacrifices have you made as a mom and business owner to keep everything in balance?
I had to let Elevate coast for a while. When my son was born, I really just stepped away and enjoyed the first few months. I am very lucky to have an amazing team at Elevate; they really helped me out and were so supportive. While I feel lucky to have been able to check out for a bit, it has also been exciting to get back on track at the studio and progress it forward!
If you could have lunch with any business person/mogul/entrepreneur/nonprofit founder living or dead, who would it be and why?
Tim S. Grover. He’s a trainer and has taken on a lot of the world’s top athletes—like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan—and made them the legends they are. I just finished his book “Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable.” He has inspired me to work harder in every aspect of my life and I owe any future success to him!
Are there any new initiatives or products on the horizon for Studio Elevate?
We are working on some cool Elevate-branded apparel, which is so exciting. We are also starting our first teacher training, which is something that has been in the works for a while, so it’s great to finally get that in place. It’s going to be amazing!