“From Avocation To Vocation: How I Turned My Hobby Into A Career” With Dancer & Fitness Trainer Kaley Hatfield

An interview with Phil La Duke

Phil La Duke
Oct 31 · 11 min read

Take time for self care — when I first started my company I was working from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m, with no time for myself and quickly burnt out. It was and still is extremely hard for me to balance my work/ personal life. I hate admitting that I need to take a break. Silly me feels selfish for taking a timeout. But finding little things every day for me that brings me back to my high vibe self has helped me manage my stress and keep me in creative mode. It doesn’t have to be a week long retreat or a 10 day vow of silence; just walking outside for five minutes in the middle of a work day helps me way more than I could ever have imagined.


a part of our series about entrepreneurs who transformed something they did for fun into a full-time career, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kaley Hatfield. Kaley is a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer and Professional Dancer who combines nutrition, life hacks and multiple styles of fitness such as weight training, HIIT cardio, and TRX with elements of dance including ballet barre, jazz techniques and Hip Hop grooves, to deliver fast, long-lasting results.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

grew up in St. Louis, Missouri as a competitive dancer. I was always dancing — practicing for six hours every day on weekdays and traveling every weekend for conventions, classes and competitions. I had the drive to be successful at a very early age. It was tough to keep my drive going. I struggled to overcome the negativity around me growing up. For a long time, a very influential woman in my life repeatedly made me feel worthless and small on a daily basis. It was mental abuse. It was tough. But somehow, I kept dancing and working hard. I knew, deep down in my quietest moments that I was different. I was special and meant for greatness.

At 20 years old, I withdrew from college and decided to follow my dreams of becoming a dancer, actor, and model in Los Angeles, California. My dad and I packed up my Jeep Liberty with all of my stuff on a Thursday morning and road tripped something like 30 hours! By Monday morning I was all alone in my Los Angeles apartment thinking, “I’m here…now what?”

I couldn’t have done this without my dad. He always told me, “every morning wake up and set weekly goals to get yourself to where you want to be — in one month, six months, a year…” Well I have kept up this habit even now in my personal life, career and business. I share this advice with my clients too! I am so grateful for my dad’s wisdom, love and support. He always keeps me on point!

What was the catalyst from transforming your hobby or something you love into a business? Can you share the story of your “ah ha” moment with us?

Growing up dancing as much as I did, I never had a great idea of what was considered “healthy”. I struggled with eating disorders and body dysmorphia my whole life. When I moved to LA at 20 years old, I was buying the healthiest groceries I could afford which was borderline a step up from fast food. Not dancing as much as my body was used to, I quickly gained weight. As a result of this weight gain, I was rapidly losing the little bit of confidence I had left. I was figuring this out all on my own. I was alone. It was tough to be “healthy” in this crazy intimidating, giant city of Los Angeles. I had never been to a gym in my life! I was lost and terrified.

Then it hit me! I couldn’t bare to look at myself in the mirror. I started avoiding pictures with friends, I couldn’t focus on any of the steps in my dance classes; I was just tearing myself down in the mirror hating everything about myself. Finally, I woke up one day and knew in my head I couldn’t do this anymore. I didn’t want to loathe myself any longer. No matter how uncomfortable it was for me to be at the gym I mustered up the courage to walk in and just get on the treadmill. It was my comfort zone for awhile. Once I built up confidence there, I tried lifting free weights. Not until then did I really start to see and feel changes in my body. It was that immediate confidence boost when everything in my life from that point, shifted. I knew that if I could completely transform myself from the inside out, I needed to help people do the same thing for themselves — to live their best lives too!

I started researching all things health and wellness; what exercises to do, different styles of fitness, etc. I was putting together crazy compound exercises, always adding a dance, core, glute, or plyo element to everything. I pushed myself to do one more rep — it had to be one more than what I set out to do ha ha ha. I was stubborn but passionate. My workouts were full body conditioning. Everything brought it back to the fundamentals of dance. Dance became my foundation to creating unique exercises that connect to muscles in ways that distinguish me from other fitness programs.

I decided to become a certified personal trainer. I started training clients one on one — athletes, corporate executives and teaching classes all over LA. I loved being able to reach such a broad scale of clients but ultimately I came to the realization that I still wanted more. I wanted a global reach; to use my experience in the entertainment industry and help people from anywhere in the world. So I started my own health and wellness company offering a wide range of options — virtual one on one, group training sessions, online training, online programs, you name it I could do it!

There are no shortage of good ideas out there, but people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?

I think it really stems from your mindset and believing in yourself. If you truly believe you can offer value in what you want to do but not letting fear, doubt, or lack of self-esteem overshadow that, you can accomplish anything. I told myself I can change people’s lives and I still stand confident in that fact. I have a vision of where I want to go and how I am different from everyone else — I won’t stop until I get there. Negative thoughts do creep in but I constantly fight them off by setting goals, speaking them out loud and then working towards them every day.

What advice would you give someone who has a hobby or pastime that they absolutely love but is reluctant to do it for a living?

Whenever I am in a situation where fear is the thing holding me back, I take a step back and ask myself “What’s the worst that could happen?” You will never truly know unless you try.

Quiet your mind, really visualize your future and where you want to be. Start speaking it into existence and then set smart daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals to get you there.

It’s said that the quickest way to take the fun out of doing something is to do it for a living. How do you keep from changing something you love into something you dread? How do you keep it fresh and enjoyable?

When I first got started being an entrepreneur, I threw myself into the health and wellness field, working from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. I was dedicated and driven. I was taking in all of the knowledge I could, accepting every opportunity, never saying no or putting myself first. It wasn’t healthy and I quickly became extremely burnt out. I had to recognize that if I didn’t put myself first and fill my own “cup” up, I was never going to be able to fill up anyone else’s. I now make sure I take time for me. I unplug from my phone, laptop and social media to get creative and enjoy everything I’m doing.

Additionally, I listen to a lot of different podcasts and read health and wellness articles to learn more about the industry. I enjoy taking different fitness classes to keep my routine fresh and prevent stagnation with my clients and social media community.

What is it that you enjoy most about running your own business? What are the downsides of running your own business? Can you share what you did to overcome these drawbacks?

Running my own business is so rewarding! I love getting to work from anywhere and be my own boss. That being said, it can also be the biggest downside for me. I sometimes struggle with the thoughts of “what’s right or wrong?”

I try to overcome those thoughts by standing confident in what my ultimate message is. I want to help people live a healthy, happy life and feel their best from the inside out! Going back to that helps me see that speaking my truth and adding value to people’s lives means there is no right or wrong.

Has there ever been a moment when you thought to yourself “I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to get a “real” job? If so how did you overcome it?

Yes, all of the time! I sometimes tell myself that it would be so nice to work a 9–5, clock-in and out and not have to answer all of the questions. But then I take it back to how grateful I am to have the freedom and flexibility that I do.

Who has inspired or continues to inspire you to be a great leader? Why?

My dad is my greatest inspiration, he is the strongest person I know. We have had a lot of ups and downs and had to deal with a lot of loss in our family. Overcoming all of the hardships, he still manages to go into every situation in life with the greatest confidence, head held high, ready to work hard and learn as much as possible. I strive to go into every situation in my life the exact same way. We do very different tasks in each of our jobs but being strong leaders and changing lives every day is a main goal we both share.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I believe everyone can and should live a healthy, happy lifestyle. I help people every day make that happen! I will continue to strive to make everyone feel and look their best selves!

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

  1. Take time for self care — when I first started my company I was working from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m, with no time for myself and quickly burnt out. It was and still is extremely hard for me to balance my work/ personal life. I hate admitting that I need to take a break. Silly me feels selfish for taking a timeout. But finding little things every day for me that brings me back to my high vibe self has helped me manage my stress and keep me in creative mode. It doesn’t have to be a week long retreat or a 10 day vow of silence; just walking outside for five minutes in the middle of a work day helps me way more than I could ever have imagined.
  2. Quality sleep — If I don’t get sleep, I am no good to anyone. A lot of people underestimate getting a good night’s rest, but it is so important. Lack of sleep affects your decision making skills, memory loss, energy, mood, etc. Making it a priority was key.
  3. To relinquish control — Giving other people responsibility, was very scary for me to accept. I didn’t like giving up my control and letting other people make big decisions. So invested in myself. Hiring a team was the best decision I ever made. It’s the only way I was going to be able to grow and continue to help more people on a greater scale.
  4. Trust in abundance — Timing can be very frustrating and hard to wait patiently for. But stressing about not being at the finish line already won’t do any good for anybody either. The best thing I’ve learned is to trust that abundance is coming. If you keep putting in the work and really believe in yourself, all the abundance will come tenfold.
  5. Being grateful — Staying grateful is probably the biggest lesson I wish someone would’ve told me before starting my business. Being grateful for every day, experience, relationship, opportunity and everything in between is the perspective that will lead to success and abundance. I make sure anytime I’m stressed about what is coming next to think about three things I’m grateful for, and it changes my mindset immediately.

What person wouldn’t want to work doing something they absolutely love. You are an incredible inspiration to a great many people. 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 want everyone to truly know they’re worthy of love and happiness. I would inspire the “The Wild n Free” Movement, which would break you free from your own limiting beliefs. There is so much abundance in this world and I think people go to playing it safe and small because they’re lack confidence and don’t believe they can do it. Or are unworthy of having it “all”. If you set your mind to it, believe and nurture it, it can happen! You’re strong, confident and beautiful so let go and let the universe reward you beyond your wildest dreams!

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

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” — Wayne Gretzky

Not becoming successful has been a giant fear of mine. So if I didn’t try and let myself push pass the fear of not making it or looking like a failure, I would not be where I am today!

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? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Ellen Degeneres — I LOVE HER!! She is freakin hilarious, extremely strong, courageous, never afraid of what anyone else thinks and has always stayed authentic to who she is and what she believes in. I grew up watching her show every day and still stream it now. I love how she always starts her show with dancing and ends it with “be kind to one another” message. It inspires me to see how she brightens millions of people’s lives every day, I want to do that too! I truly believe having influential people like Ellen in this world would make it a more positive place to be.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

About the Author

Phil La Duke is a popular speaker & writer with more than 400 works in print. He has contributed to Entrepreneur, Monster, Thrive Global and is published on all inhabited continents. His most recent book is Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention listed as #16 on Pretty Progressive magazine’s list of 49 books that powerful women study in detail. Follow Phil on Twitter @philladuke or read his weekly blog www.philladuke.wordpress.com

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Phil La Duke

Written by

Author of “I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business” and “Lone Gunman. Rewriting the Handbook on Workplace Violence Prevention

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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