How Relationships Pushed Me To Play Big

7 years of owning a successful gym, 5 of which I was diligently working toward a second location, and yet ANOTHER demon knocked me down. He stood over me, & said “NO. You’re not good enough. You don’t have the funding. There is no location within a realm of possibility. Accept failure.” I was sitting on the steps at my house with my husband (Mike), and a wave of frustration & anger washed over me. I’m stubborn as hell. When I am convicted & passionate about something I want, I find any way and every way to make it work. But at this point, a defeatist attitude crept into the positive. I told myself “It’s not this hard for other gyms. Think of all the others that had financial backing & multiple locations within only a few years.” It was then Mike said, “maybe this is God telling you that it’s not in the plan.”

Maybe he’s right, I thought, it’s not what is right for me… Oops, I mean us.

Guys, I am selfish as hell. It feels so good to finally confess that. The business, the second location… was about ME.

Don’t get me wrong… The success in Kadi Fit came from motivating and inspiring others to live their best life. We know (practically) everyone by name. We raised money as a community to build a school in rural Kenya, and then traveled there to break ground. My soul is happiest connected to others. BUT, I somehow didn’t even connect that to the ability to scale the business. The responsibility, burden, work & resources to grow were what only I could do.

It wasn’t until I was in, what I thought was a meeting about a photoshoot, with Duncan Littlefield (of The Littlefield Co.). He de-briefed me on his first experience at Kadi Fit — “from the minute the first beat of music played, & the whole room started clapping on cue, before you (the instructor) took one step.. I could feel it…COMMUNITY pulsing through the room. People preach it, but you guys breathe it”

Hello! It’s not even about YOU, Katie.

That’s where BLOC comes from (intentionally removing the “K”) – Building Lifestyle On Community.

For over a year we built our community by hosting free workouts in the park creatively dubbed “Kadi in the Park”. I co-led with another, rotating, fitness trainer each week, establishing roots & relationships in the Charlotte fitness scene (Kadi is in Lake Norman). Let me say, it doesn’t come naturally to link arms with your competition. I quickly learned that by spotlighting other people, the reward reaped by the whole is far more powerful. Relationships over opportunity.

It was a beautiful love story. The homeless in the park knew us by name, and often entertained us while we were keeled over in sweat. We spent our lunch breaks around a table at 7th Street Market, a wild group, of every age, hair color, and day job. Always new strangers stumbling upon us as we sweat in the park overlooking the Charlotte skyline.

As the group grew, so did the connections. As this wasn’t the initial intention of giving something to people for free, it became a wild investment! This crowd provided immense value for building of a BUILDING, with little funding. They SHOWED up. For 4 months we all literally BUILT bloc, by hand. Demolition (that was fun as hell). 35 coats of white paint. Literal laying, nailing, staining of floors. A community table constructed with our bare hands (to continue gathering). A second location would NEVER have happened alone. It wouldn’t have happened with the few who work here. It took a collective of volunteers, asking for nothing but giving everything because they believed in the “why”. I had to learn that no amount of pride, or guilt in asking for help, would get ME anywhere. But, allowing others to unify in purpose together, for something that ultimately was for all of us, was God’s plan.

“THE PLAYERS” WHO HELPED ME FINALLY ACHIEVE MY “PLAY BIG” DREAM showed up during the journey as well…

Rob Johnson: at this point, he was an elusive, superhero, leading a team of die-hard avengers at Stax. Intrigued, I asked him to co-lead with me at First Ward Park. The first tip off that we would be friends, was the fact he got the satisfaction of making people ape crawl as much as I did. But the second, most important factor of friendship, was coaching through mindset. He was as intentional, and (arguably) longer-winded in that category than I was. It was at this point that the park was serving as a magnet to others, in search of provoking greater thought and connection, through the acceleration of a sweat.

The owners of Green Brother’s fueled both at the park, as well as the sweat of construction. Josh and Stephie are an example of those who are insanely business savvy, yet under the radar giving & truly loyal. They now sweat with us daily at bloc & serve our neighborhood with wholesome goodness.

The infamous SweatNet, was also in their visionary stages at this time. I met with them at 7th Street after a park workout as they pitched the genius idea for their brand. There were obvious benefits on either end of partnering. But, they also happen to be good humans. They painted alongside us, & promoted the opening of the space during the “building of bloc.”

Whether you hammered a nail at bloc. or not. The story isn’t over. The space was built for you too, the future “us.” We have yet to meet all the “players.”

An intentional crew will elevate you. I never want to stop finding you. Whether “YOU” are a homeless person with music advice, or a mother of 2 with a new-found identity in boudoir. We all have something to provide. Whatever you’re doing to “PLAY BIG” that has you sitting on your stairs in a ball of tears, maybe, you just haven’t met the right people. And maybe, just maybe, those people will show up for you in a building at Camp North End.

PLAYING BIG EVENT: Combining forces with the other “dots” I made along the way (individuals & businesses), WE PLAY BIGGER & facilitate the same for you. By marrying our crafts & expertise, we have formed a wildly new & invaluable experience. We are shaking up the way things have been done. Let’s call a spade a spade and say, $100 is not a ticket price you see in this market. People will inevitably talk, but for the impact of the experience, we’ve chosen to make the details a surprise.

So, if you believe in the adventure of the unknown & are willing to invest in self, I hope you join us…

Head over to the events page and sign up here! 

@bloc.clt @kadikatie @robjohnson_fit