Lise Kuecker of Studio Grow: Why You Should Lust After Creativity

Alexandra Spirer
Jun 30 · 14 min read
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Lust after creativity. For me, joy and creativity are linked together. Every day I find time for my creativity from journaling to pulling out my canvases to dreaming up a new company plan on my giant whiteboard. Possibility fuels me and it ensures I never get complacent when it comes to my team and their dreams.

As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lise Kuecker.

Lise Kuecker is a multi 7-figure serial entrepreneur in the health and wellness industry. Beginning with her non-traditional corporate yoga and HIIT studios inside of Intel Corporation and expanding to five brick and mortar locations across four states, she’s now advancing the best business practices in boutique fitness while improving the way thousands of studios operate in 34 countries around the world. Since 2015, Lise has taught tens of thousands of fitness and mind-body professionals, working directly with over 1,000 clients in an intimate setting — all while juggling being both a proud military spouse and mama of two.

She is the founder and CEO of Studio Grow — a premiere boutique fitness consulting firm comprised of an award winning team (40+) of boutique fitness management professionals. The team uses well refined systems to coach clients on all aspects of their businesses, to include marketing, sales, and operations as well as the purchasing and selling of studios. Lise also created Boutique Fitness Coalition to help support the community while hosting a very popular podcast called Ready. Aim. Empire.

Thank you for joining us Lise! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

If you had met the six year old me, it was pretty obvious I was heading into entrepreneurship. At four years old, I started manning the front door of my grandparent’s hardware store, taking lists and using my oh so fabulous Army jeep to collect nails, screws, and anything else I could reach. By 12, my mother took time off from her company one afternoon a week to help me start selling supplements to karate studios. And by 21, I moved to Boston where I worked seven months for a company that taught me I wasn’t meant for a cubicle.

I had been certain I’d be a college professor, an 18th century Orientalist to be exact, but on a cold November night I walked into the Wang YMCA of Chinatown and took a Baptiste yoga class. The next few months of yoga changed the entire trajectory of my life. I founded a tech company, escaped the cold of Boston and moved home to NOLA and started managing the Pilates and Small Group Training program of one of the first boutique fitness studios in my state.

By the time I met my husband and moved to Washington State, I was teaching upwards of 20 classes a week and leapt at the chance to build a “non-traditional” studio inside of Intel Corporation. But, as an Army wife, staying in one place long enough to build a traditional boutique studio wasn’t in the cards.

So I built what I needed, a group of studios stretching across the country with locations near enough to our family that I had an excuse to head there anytime my husband deployed (which was often enough to open 5 locations in just a few years). Because I had multiple studios in multiple states, I needed to implement strong systems to grow revenue while maintaining a well-trained staff and efficient operation. Over time, numerous studio owners reached out to me asking about our operations. Because I really enjoyed sharing lessons learned and helping them improve their businesses, I decided it was time to package all the processes, systems, and knowledge I’d built and more formally coach others to do the same — and that led to the creation of Studio Grow and its signature programs The Client Cure and Revenue Remedy, with a team that is improving boutique fitness worldwide.

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

Our clients span 34 countries and while I’m based in the US, I had always wanted to hop on a plane for a whirlwind trip to say hello. Last summer, I did just that.

I started in Iceland, with my now 12 year old in tow. Our client Johann and Theodora own an amazing studio there, one of the first boutique fitness centers in the country, and we DOVE into all the culture, heritage lessons and land of 350,000 could bring.

We then headed to the Ukraine and landed in Kiev at 2 AM, hopped in a car with the amazing Oleg and spent a week diving into Eastern Europe’s largest health club brands. From there, it was onto Prague, where my husband joined us and five friends for a stuffed van ride through the countryside for a week. We finished in France, seeing studios in Paris and Normandy. These five weeks brought me more joy than you could ever imagine and reminded me that we create our lives and businesses that support them.

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?

My husband and I invested into our first studio every single dollar we had saved, knowing full well that we’d do anything to make it work. One week out from opening, we realized our contractor had forgotten to dig all the lines for cable, phone, and internet to our building — and our parking lot, which had yet to be poured, was completely flooded. My husband and I knew the only way to make the opening happen was our own two hands and a few blisters. He called one of his best friends from Minnesota who promptly drove down and in the midst of one of the biggest snow storms to hit South Louisiana in years, we rented construction equipment and made our opening happen.

I don’t know if I’d had more fun (or was more cold) driving a front loader for the first time or learning how to man a sump pump, outside mind you. It was the most imperfect, perfect way to start this adventure, with a reminder that sometimes the only answer is to roll up your sleeves and dive into the unknown.

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

Our current company Studio Grow is the largest boutique fitness consulting and marketing agency worldwide. That statement still shocks me. A lot of our success started with our podcast Ready. Aim. Empire. When I started filming it, I had no idea if anyone would ever listen…it was me, a microphone straight off Amazon, and an idea.

The podcast touched on subjects no one was chatting about in boutique fitness: the broken parts of studios, the numbers that showed how many were failing instead of building empires, and the processes and systems that were lacking across the board. For many people, including me, opening a studio was diving into a passion…the business part was secondary.

But I didn’t just own studios. I had built an empire and sold it for a multi-million dollar payday, all while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. The message is clear that you can build an incredible studio, support your employees and your community, all while creating a financial and transformational legacy. I’m extremely proud of what I’ve done and I know others can do it too.

Nowadays that podcast that I filmed in my dining room, when everyone was asleep, has nearly a million downloads. And, I had never been more tickled, when a woman walked into a speech I was giving, hugged me, and announced I sounded just like I did on my podcast.

Turns out someone had been listening and my little project had made a difference after all.

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

We are working on two major projects that are coming to life.

Last year, an incredibly successful studio group reached out and asked us if we could take over all of their sales. Keep in mind, they’re in Texas and our team was in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Idaho. Because our sales systems, promotions, and product creation is incredibly strong, we agreed to put a centralized sales system in place run by our team. Cut to five months later and we sold just over $697,000 in studio sales in addition to what was coming into their studios. We’re now rolling out this program nationwide, realizing that post-Covid, studios need to keep their in-studio employee numbers low (each employee takes up a client’s place for capacity rules, and some aren’t yet interested in returning) and sell more than they’ve ever sold before. This will allow them to do both.

Over the last four years, we’ve worked with thousands of studios in 34 countries and the biggest question has always been: “How can we continue to work with you and in the community with like-minded studio owners?” This fall we’re transitioning, “The Client Cure,” our core consulting and strategy program into a Mastermind. We find ourselves balancing an ideal life with an ideal {professional} studio. This Mastermind will be the culmination of that diving into new revenue streams (like live streaming and on demand platforms), the creation of digital studio programs, innovative marketing, profit margin reviews, and transformation and all the team, from training to comp plans.

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

Be brutally, kindly honest.

I never meant to “not” tell my team when their work wasn’t what I wanted it to be, but sometimes it was easier to brush over their mistakes or poor performance, and do the work myself. I found it happened with certain personalities more than others. I didn’t want to hurt someone, but I failed to realize that not sharing was doing a far greater disservice.

And, everyone, from the person I wasn’t giving complete feedback to, to my other team members knew that I was holding back.

Now, in the words of my team, I’m “brutally, but kindly honest”, willing to tell them when something isn’t up to snuff, but doing it with a hug and some encouragement. It’s my balance and my team thrives because they know exactly what to expect and what to deliver.

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

It never hurts to ask. I’ve consulted with thousands of female leaders and I often see them freeze when it comes to asking for more, whether it’s tenant improvement money, a raise, or funding for their startup.

I’m often asked why men tend to earn more, negotiate stronger deals or raise more capital. Oftentimes, it’s simply because they ask. They honestly told someone exactly what they needed and asked if the other person could meet them there.

Nowadays, I lead a large team of mainly women and everytime they come to me for something more, I make sure they ask for what they truly want. It doesn’t mean that I’ll say yes to everything, but it does mean they know they’ve been truly heard and I’ve considered every way to make their goals happen. And, that leads to very happy, very healthy teams.

That said, you’ll never be a perfect leader. You’re going to have conflict, challenge the norm and share criticism that’s painful. Having a mentor by your side, who truly will understand when those moments happen, is priceless to growing as a leader.

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?

My mother. She’s the rare combination of entrepreneur, therapist, change-maker, and momma-hen. I watched her start her first million dollar company in a spare bedroom of our home when I was six years old. When I hit double-digits, she was building her third company, manufacturing and designing specialty cases for the Navy Seals and Janet Jackson. She did it all from little ol Covington, LA and did it while being an extraordinary mom.

She stood alongside me through thick and thin. She’s the first to ask the truly hard questions and not just questions like, “Do you have a disaster plan (pretty crucial in South Louisiana)?”, but the hard ones, “Are you happy with what you’ve built?”, “How can you better support your team?”, and “What do you need to put down so someone else can grow?”.

The best lessons are learned from example and my mother set an extraordinary one. I watched as her employees studied for the GED on our kitchen table with my mom by their side, how she proudly and eloquently presented her work as the only woman in front of a roomful of male military officers, and how she showed up for my brother and me. She donated 10% of her revenues to charities that mattered to her and we sat beside her as she wrote out the checks and volunteered with her because time mattered as much as money. She made sure to give money to those who needed help and it ranged from education and programs such as the Desire Housing Project to scholarships to local schools, and she showed up in our community with a special focus on serving women of color, single mothers, and children in need.

Would I be here without her? Not in the same capacity. I am privileged to be her daughter and to have her by my side each and every day.

In addition to my mom, I’ve gathered mentors far and wide. You can’t change the world on your own, but they are the women and men who have helped me chisel change into my neck of the world.

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

When you grow up in one of the least healthy spots in the US and have suffered from auto-immune diseases yourself, it’s easy to recognize that health is an enormous gift.

We opened health studios in areas with a wide range of financial demographics and we wanted to ensure that anyone that needed our services had access to them.

Since I wasn’t running a non-profit we took a different approach (thank you Mom for the lesson learned). We took a percentage of our profits and provided free services for community members who needed them most. We wanted there to be NO financial burden between their health and their wallet. This let us reach 13 year olds with high blood pressure, recently widowed women pregnant with their first child, and men on disability struggling to recover from major illness.

Senior citizens are near and dear to my heart. When my Mawsey and Pawsey hit their mid-80’s I signed them up for personal training and a health club membership. They were *horrified* at the cost, but it provided them the strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular support they needed and they never missed a session.

Inspired by them, we provided free services to anyone over 85 and worked with many seniors on scholarship programs.

We’ve continued scholarship programs in our consulting business focused on supporting the businesses that are changing communities’ health throughout the US.

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

  1. You can’t do it all. One of the most important things my mother and grandmother taught me was that I would never be able to do it all. My mom relied on a team of women who assisted her in our home, with childcare, and in her office. And, she never shied away from that with my brother or me. Their help allowed her the free time to be a great mother and still be an effective entrepreneur.

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. :-)

Equality of Health.

I’ve worked in some of the poorest and some of the wealthiest parts of the world, and one thing is clear:

Health and Wealth go hand in hand.

I have big dreams for access to programs, products, training and support that offer the opportunity of health to everyone regardless of how much money is in your bank account.

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

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”

― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

The kindred spirits that have shown in my life at the least expected times have truly changed the trajectory of where I am today. When I started out, “suspicious” might have been written on my forehead. I was worried someone would steal my clients, my ideas, and my future.

When I realized that I was surrounded by amazing, kindred spirits who had the same dreams and hopes I did…

Well, it changed everything.

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 :-)

Aarti Kapoor. She’s led the investment world in the search for the next great thing in boutique fitness and I’d love to brainstorm what that’s gonna be.

How can our readers connect with you on social media?

There are a few different ways to check us out and be in touch…

You can find me on IG @lisekuecker

Ready. Aim. Empire podcast — https://studiogrow.co/podcast/

Studio Grow website - www.studiogrow.co and

FB page — https://www.facebook.com/studiogrowco/

Boutique Fitness Coalition — https://www.boutiquefitnesscoalition.com

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film…

Alexandra Spirer

Written by

I am an entrepreneur, publicist, journalist and event producer based in Sunny Florida. My passion is writing & giving back to others.

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.

Alexandra Spirer

Written by

I am an entrepreneur, publicist, journalist and event producer based in Sunny Florida. My passion is writing & giving back to others.

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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