Interview Transcript:

Tiffany: (00:01)
Okay, good afternoon, everyone. This is Tiffany I'm here with Ka'imi. She is an amazing person all around as well as a masterful martial artist and co owner of Othentik gym in San Diego area. She is here today to talk to us about the changes in the fitness industry during COVID-19 and her take on leadership as a business owner during that time. And in general, so we'd love for you to just kind of give us a quick overview on yourself and just how you got into opening authentic in the first place and you know, what makes you keep doing it right now.

Ka'imi: (01:11)
So as you were saying, I do martial arts and thank you for the introduction by the way is very kind. So my I've been doing martial arts my entire life, like literally my entire life since I could walk. And I've also done a lot of different modalities as well to supplement the movement aspect. So a lot of dance I've also been acting and Pilates, yoga, all those different things in different elements to enhance my martial arts training. As far as going into like entrepreneurship, or opening dojos in gyms. I actually started when I was very young about 14 years old, I was an investor for one, I started with one dojo that needed to be opened. And I mean, at this time I was acting a lot and at home I don't have any real bills, you know, my parents. And so I was able to, you know, have money saved up and everything and be able to invest. And so I started investing in in dojo at the time. And so, yeah, so I went through that and about three, let's say three dojos I opened before opening my own.

Ka'imi: (02:16)
And when I opened my own, I shouldn't say open, I should say invested in prior to, but when I actually or I guess the reason why I actually opened was because I had my daughter, this was about 13 years ago. And it was kind of one of those things where you like scratch your own itch, you know, knows like, okay, I need to get back into shape. And I wanted to train again at a high level that I was training. And then I didn't have anywhere to bring my daughter. There was, you know, the very large gyms that had daycare there, but I wasn't, I didn't feel safe, you know, leaving her there while I train, I couldn't focus. And so I designed a program where the moms could train and the kids could train at the same time and in a separate room, but under the same roof.

Ka'imi: (03:10)
And so that's where that came along. And that was about 13 years ago. That was more martial arts space, I will say. And so it didn't really it didn't help because what I noticed was in martial arts, it's about 95% men. And so the, the moms were dropping off their kids and then going and shopping and whatever else they needed to do. And then the, either the dads were coming in or just, you know, single men, whatever, you know, coming into train in martial arts. So it was like, okay, this is not working out. And so long story short, I ended up leaving the organization that I was with for the martial arts. And that was about, about three and a half years ago now. And then rebranded and brought in all of the different modalities that I had trained in, you know, with the yoga, the polite is the movement, like all of that.

Ka'imi: (04:11)
And I was like, okay, where is that meat? And cut this that again. So when we rebranded, it was with myself and my two partners is really Nolan. And that's when we really developed the simultaneous classes and it works this time. It's now I would say 90% women that come in at moms and they have their kids training at the same time. If there are men that come in, it's usually their husbands or their partners, you know, that are coming in and supporting. And it's really grown into this amazing, like empowerment culture, which I'm so proud of. It kind of, you know, went off and I saw that happening before and I was like, we need to switch this around. It's not where I wanted it to be. You know? And so that's, that's I guess the whole transition into making it authentic gym, and that was our rebrand about three and a half years ago. So that's where we are now has a fantastic journey and story. And I love how you started off being in that, you know, entrepreneurial mindset when you're 14. And it's so interesting, you say where you created something because it was a need for yourself, but it also sounds like, you know, it was a strong passion as well. Did what did your daughter think of the first classes you brought her to? She's awful.

Ka'imi: (05:44)
Oh my gosh, my little stinker. She would lay on the floor and do snow angels and she would just lay there. And from when I was, you know, I started training very young and there was just no option for something like that. There was hardly any kids when I was training it. Wasn't like, you know, it was like you line up and you don't say anything, you know, the whole difference, a way of learning. And for my daughter, she was just like moms. I don't care, you know, but now, you know, she's a teenager and it's really neat to see the transition. She has so many friends, you know, that we have a lot of teens in our, in our organization or in the classes. And so you know, it's just, it's her, her culture now. And it's really nice to see that and see her grow into it.

Ka'imi: (06:37)
She really loves going to the classes. She's like, I haven't, you know, I haven't trained, I need to get in there and train. So she's training at least I would say about four to five times a week. She comes in and now, I mean, we're doing zoom, so it's really nice to see that like, okay, if I just, you know, I keep, I didn't push her as definitely not as hard as I was pushed. You know, I just opened the doors. Okay. It's here if you want it. And then finally, you know, I would say right around the time where we rebranded about three, four years ago, that's when she really took on the classes and wanting to be involved more. So I can just imagine her over there doing snow angels on this story type thing.

Ka'imi: (07:32)
Oh gosh, that's hilarious. So I noticed that, you know, you like to call up some, you use the phrase like empowering moms through self-defense and functional movement. Could you share with me what the functional movement aspect of it means and how that ties into the self defense for moms? Sure. so we do, like I was saying a lot of the different modalities that way are, so they have let's, let's run through like a regular week for any of the moms. So they're doing Mondays, maybe a high intensity and a real training. And then they're doing a self defense class on Tuesdays. Then they go into like a yoga class on Wednesdays. So they have the, we even have hip hop dance. I'm sitting there as well and belly dancing. It was just awesome, you know, so that they have all these different classes.

Ka'imi: (08:30)
So you're not just going in one line. I found out as an athlete, if you go in a hundred percent in one direction, something's bound to break, you know? And so in this sense, we have it to where you're a well rounded person by the end of the course, you know, where the program you are definitely a well rounded person. We, we push to do all the different classes. Sometimes people come in and they say, I just want to do yoga. And then pretty soon they see, wow, there's Pilates. There's something else for me. You know, there's other things that I can intertwine into my days. And I feel that is the functional movement part of it. You have to go into different directions in order to become well-rounded. You have, like, if you're doing high intensity interval training all the time, you have to counterbalance with some yoga, some breathing, you have to have that yin and yang.

Ka'imi: (09:25)
So to me that is functional movement is when you are, you are moving and with your, your breath and with your mind as well, not just, you know, going, going, going the entire time. That makes sense. It's almost a like a holistic approach to having a lot of disciplines at your disposal. Yes. It sounds like you learned a lot from your multiple disciplines that you've combined together to create, you know, what you offer. And it sounds like that's, what's special about you know, authentic. So as far as you know, what's been going on in the last month and a half and how it's been, it's really affected the fitness industry overall, what was what has been one way that you addressed the leadership challenge of it with you and your partners and you know, how to how to approach things for sure.

Ka'imi: (10:24)
We first and foremost in this was, this was Israel. As soon as things started turning over he said, let's get on the phone and let's call every single one of our clients, you know, and, and, and the crew. And so we did that. We were on the phone, you know, it took a few days, but we called every single person. And I think that is number one is just the communication and letting people know that we have their backs and we're right there with them, you know, we are continually asking, what can we do better? And what more do you need from us? Do you want cooking classes, you know, to have like guests hosts come on and do, cause we're doing zoom classes now. So so that, that's been a huge thing is I would say number one is communication.

Ka'imi: (11:20)
And I think people respond well. As, as long as you're honest with them and upfront and saying, we're working on this together. Especially as business owners and in leadership positions, you, it's not about telling or demanding, okay, this is what you need to do. And you guys need to keep your memberships. And this is what we're, you know, this is what we're about. It's about community and really reaching out and saying, we're here for you. That's number one. And I think that really has helped us as a and for our team as well, to see that, I mean, as soon as that happened, we were like, Oh my gosh, every everybody was like, yes, we want to stay on board. We want to keep your doors open. So what can we do? You know, they were coming back to us as well.

Tiffany: (12:07)
So it's really nice to see that fantastic. And it, it completely aligns with what you know, I understand that you, your organization values is, is creating that community, that tribe where, you know you're there for each other and reaching out and just being honest with your team and your community, it makes sense, especially in light of right now, because you're at, you know, if you don't have the answers to everything or you don't know exactly how things are going to pan out, that's understandable people get that. I think it's just the fact that they can have some type of interaction, especially right now when it's so hard to have that quality interaction. Yeah. That's a really great example. So there's I took one of your Instagram classes that you held on a or you hosted on a, on a site the other day for PI yoga pants.

Tiffany: (13:12)
And I'll share the little screen capture from it because I love it so much. It was my first Instagram live, honestly, I really well, I had no idea. This is the screen capture from it. She looks awesome. Right. I don't know if I mentioned, but yeah. Kimmy is named one of the top 10 female artists in the world. So who wouldn't want to take that class, but I mean, what was it like for you doing an Instagram live class? As an, as a, an instructor? I mean, I know you're not shy, but what was it like doing something in a totally different channel from? Okay, so it was difficult. I was nervous. I'm going to be completely honest. I was nervous going into it because I was like, my, I am, I am very hands on with my students. I'm going okay. I want to see, I want to be able to correct.

Ka'imi: (14:12)
You know, whatever needs to be corrected, whatever, you know, so I am very much like a watching the individual when I am teaching. So this was hard because it was just, and it was different because it's alive. And so it's like, you can't cut, I'm fine, like being in front of the camera, but you can't cut and say redo that part, you know? And so that part of it was a little bit nerve wracking or my once I got going into it, I think it just, I had to visualize really those people in front of me in training, you know, and realizing that, okay, some of them, some people might just be watching it, having some wine. I remember someone commenting that I was like, great. Some might actually be learning from this. And it is challenging, especially in my world. I've had the challenge because of, of self defense.

Ka'imi: (15:10)
It's so important to me that it is done correctly. Because it's not just a fitness routine. I know my fight fit classes, kind of the the fitness aspect, you know, we do a lot of repetition and things like that. So you get your heart rate up. That's what the fight fit class was that you saw. But on the other side of it, with the actual self defense, it's a real life situation, you know? And so when I'm teaching people, I want to make sure number one, even in large, large groups, I ask that it's actually smaller. Or if we break it into two different sections, that way I can have smaller groups and really work with them because it's a life or death situation, you know, it's not just, okay, let's, let's burn some calories, you know, and know something might actually happen.

Ka'imi: (16:00)
And it has to a student of mine before she actually only took one course with me. This young girl, she was, I think, 18 or 19 years old and no kidding a week after the course, she was re jogging in the park and somebody came up in a car, there was two men. And a guy came out of the passenger seat, tried to pull her into the vehicle. Thank goodness she Elwood. And right in the nose, she like remembered something from the class and she was able to run away. It was just amazing, you know, to have that story afterwards. And to me really made me realize this is something that I'm teaching is tried and true. It's not you know, just again a fitness routine not to put down the fitness at all, but it's not about that.

Ka'imi: (16:51)
It's, it's definitely something that can be life or death. So I really want to make sure that people are doing things correctly. And that's the been the hard part with virtual, you know, is definitely being able to see people. Fortunately, we have zoom and we can still, you know, I still correct my students, like, no, no, you have to do this and this. So that's nice. And that aspect but as far as a live show, you don't know, you don't know if they're doing it right or wrong. And so the best thing to do is just to give them all the tiny details as much as he possibly can, you know, and that's what I had to do. And what was a little bit harder. It was just explaining every single thing, you know, to the, to the audience or to the camera, I guess.

Ka'imi: (17:34)
Yeah. And then it's understandable, like you said, it's a different it's a different end game, right? If you're teaching the, the defensive tactics class versus you know, someone really just coming on with the purpose of getting their heart rate up and, you know, doing some stretching for the day. So it's just different, different end goals. But, you know, I thought that, you know, this is something that, however long, this lasts that people will have to start to figure out, you know, like what how can we, you know, give feedback to people who are asking for it? What kind of formats can we do this in? It's also been, you know, an interesting concern in, you know, just education in general, where, you know, I work with a client where a lot of their training is in person and you it's the feedback it's give and take, and you kind of need to assess, you know, other people's small body language motions, right.

Ka'imi: (18:39)
Or, you know, their demeanor. And so, you know, that, that type of education based on one-to-one interactions really hard to do in zoom, but you know, for now, I think, you know, it's great that you you know, you share with people that, you know, that is a concern to you, and it's great that, you know, at least they can get some information. What I remember from the classes when you walked up to the camera and you kind of showed how to make a proper fist, you know, I had never actually knew that before thinking out, what do you mean by put your two knuckles forward? And I realized, Oh, okay. I actually feel so close all of my fingers first with them over. I did not know that. And so, I mean, I learned something and even if it was not everything that you should, I remember that stuff you're like, come here, Bernard, let me try this, wait a minute, the classes anymore.

Ka'imi: (19:39)
Oh gosh. You know, I think too within the training that I do, and then we do there's a strong point and this is so helpful right now in mindsets. I explained just a tiny bit of it, and that is something that is really nice virtually that I've been able to push out there, even with the kids. It's, it's really great at the end of class, we always end with a mindset. And it's all the, the key principles. I think we were talking about this before, but it's all your internal power. And learning how to hone in on that. I think more so than ever, people are needing that right now, you know, there's, I was talking to the kids the other day and I said, you know, a lot of times the kids need the breath work. They need the meditation side of it.

Ka'imi: (20:30)
They need that positive mindset because even though, you know, we're all in here together, you know, we're traveling together kind of trapped. I dunno, you decide that you're, you know, we're all together and it's there. The kids, like, you know, like anything else, they're just little sponges. And so whatever they feel from their parents all the tension or anxiety or stress that goes right into the children. And so now, so more than ever, I feel like that's, you know, our outlet is definitely fulfilling that part of it and bringing some breath, work meditation and changing that mindset in the home and in their environment. And so I'm seeing a lot of positivity, but I also know there's a lot of things it of, of what's going on and what's to come, you know? So this is equally as important as learning how, you know, how to do all the strikes and the elbows and the knees and all this, I think, is that more so than anything, especially right now.

Ka'imi: (21:37)
So that part of it has been really nice to be able to push out virtually as far as our classes and and hopefully on YouTube and everything soon. Yeah. That's fantastic. And I know it's definitely needed with a lot of kids being at home and just, you know kids not knowing when they'll be able to graduate, Karen's having to work side by side and trying to figure out if the kids are doing homework. There's just a lot of things that I'm sure are making people anxious right now. If you had one one tip you could give to you know, someone who's working at home with their, with their son or daughter and then they want to try some kind of a workout or a breathing exercise. You gather, you know, what, what do you think is an important thing for them to remember?

Ka'imi: (22:32)
I think the biggest thing is there's one thing that we always work on. It's the first key principle. It's keeping one point. So with this, it's nice because it's kind of like your calm within the chaos. It's learning how to hone in your energy. It's two inches below your belly button. It's actually your center of gravity structurally in your body. So it's not just a made up thing. It's actually in your bone structure and everything. That's where your center of gravity is. And so this is something and just a exercise that we could, we could do with our kids and ourselves and our spouses with tan. And I started this really young and she was able to do meditations. We started them at 10 minutes and then pretty soon she was able at like six years old to do a full hour of meditation with me. So it was really awesome. It was really awesome to see that transformation. But this is what we, what we do. So you place your hands, you can't really see me, but you're to sit over your one point is two inches below your belly button. And then you just fill up your belly, like a giant balloon, and then you pop balloon and exhale with an ha sound.

Ka'imi: (23:50)
So you do that three times. This is a cleansing breath series. So the ha sound three times, and then you do an S H sound three times. So it's Like that. And then you do an S sound three times from there, you put all of those three sounds together just once. So it's an H a S H S sound. So it sounds like this, Ah.

Ka'imi: (24:24)
And you press out all of that stale, negative energy out. You keep pushing from there, you hold at the bottom swallow, take a nice deep inhale, and then you let it all go and exhale. And so something very simple like that, and it's not going to take very long, pretty soon from there after all of that, you let them just sit and you let them just meditate. Maybe they're just thinking of their breath, you know, in and out. You don't have to guide anything any more after that. And I promise after doing that so much, it's going to really hone in and come back to your center. Something that I do with the kids is just a simple breath like that. We just place our hands over the one point and then just take three deep breaths. OK. And you're done, you know, so if you don't have all that time to do the cleansing breath series, maybe it's just three breaths that you do together.

Ka'imi: (25:19)
With some people that are, that are struggling at home. And there's a lot of chaos. We have, we have one of our, I'm going to call out one of her clients because she has six kids at home, you know, and I'm like, Oh my gosh, there's six kids at the house. And so it's so nice that they're doing the classes, which is fantastic, but every once in a while, you have to take that time in that moment. And what better to do with your entire family, that way everybody's on the same page. And then kind of like a blank start. We can, you can start over again, you know, so things get a little bit chaotic, come back down to the breath. And that's just a very simple, the cleansing breath series, something very simple to hone in on, but especially with kids keeping and maintaining their one point. So it's two inches below your belly button. That's it.

Tiffany: (26:08)
Thank you so much for that. I love it. And the last question I have for you is how do you think this a time where, you know, we're all in self-imposed, you know, shelter in place and social distancing, how do you think it's going to affect you know, the fitness industry?

Ka'imi: (26:34)
I don't know. I don't know. I think right now is the time for innovation, for sure. And learning and how to recreate this is where the as far as marketing and things like that go marketing and funnels, aren't going to be, you know, definitely going to be needed. I, I think it's going to evolve. I'm hoping that it already, it has. I mean, we went from going into the gyms and people very active. I mean, the fitness industry is huge right now. And so to see it, all of a sudden, overnight go virtual is it's an amazing thing to me to see everybody doing all these live, you know, live Instagrams and Facebooks. I was like, Oh my gosh, it's, it's so quick. You know, that everybody's changing, which is fantastic. I think I, I don't know what would come out of it, but I definitely do know that it is time to be innovative rather than just sitting and hoping that things are gonna open back up.

Ka'imi: (27:39)
I was listening to something the other day and it really resonated with me the the person that was speaking said, you know, you have to allow things in your head. You have to think as a business owner, my business will probably close. You have to start from there. And then you're able to restart, you know, as far as your mindset goes, because if you're constantly trying to focus on one thing and trying to, you know, keep it, then maybe there's not the other possibilities and, and the other, yeah, I guess just possibilities that come into mind. So I think right now is just the best thing is to be innovative and open your mind and go, okay, this part of it might be lost, right. We might have to close this part of it down, but look at all these other opportunities that are out there.

Ka'imi: (28:36)
So I think that's number one is just to start thinking outside the box and and definitely reaching out. I mean, I'm always going to come back to community. That is number one for any business owner right now. That's the, the best thing that we could possibly do is just to open up to our clients and to those that trust us and be there for them and say, you know, ask the question, what do you need rather than telling them what they need let's ask instead. So I think that definitely the time for being open and, you know, like you said, there's no shame in wanting to hold onto something it's just at the same time opening your mind to the possibility that it could change very drastically and not look the same once it's all said and done. But yeah, it'll be very interesting to see how the fitness industry more, I mean, it's really hard to even find fitness equipment. Now people have bought so much to work out at home, so we'll see, but it looks like, you know, all the Instagram live workouts, they're so popular now.

Tiffany: (30:04)
How can people get more info about Othentik gym or reach out to you?

Ka'imi: (30:11)
They can go to our website. So it's O T H E N T I K. It's the generic way I'm saying authentic or spelling it. And I also have an Instagram could Amy. Cool. Ha yeah, so those are the two ways that you can get ahold of us. You can also just reach out by email info and authentic jim.com. Or if you need to call, that's fine too. And I can give you all that information to plug in here as well. But yeah, anyway, just to get ahold of us we are offering weekly zoom classes and so that's what we're in our newsletter. We're just emailing all the links out to that. And if anybody wants to jump on board, they're more than welcome to. That was really fun.  And it was great chatting with you. We'll hopefully do it again soon. Hey, yeah. Thank you so much.Transcript:

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