As the world seems to move faster, our time becomes even more precious. Getting in regular workouts is a familiar challenge.
Colleen Werner wants to change that. As the founder and CEO at LulaFit, Colleen aims to make health and wellness easy, even when life gets busy.
“It’s about recognizing what’s being asked of us in our daily lives and how we can build solutions to help you, me, and the people who are working really hard,” says Colleen.
As a wellness amenities management service, LulaFit partners with commercial offices and luxury residential buildings to manage the common spaces that typically go underutilized — including fitness centers and spas.Their wellness services range from diet and exercise to stress, sleep, and ergonomics.
With 44 partners in Chicago, LulaFit is about to expand to seven luxe buildings across Manhattan. Colleen visits us in-studio to talk tips on how to launch a hospitality business — and how her ballet background played a role in her success.
Dance your way to success
Colleen’s path to entrepreneurship is anything but traditional. At just 15 years old, she started her career as a professional ballerina. Colleen only landed in college after an injury prevented her from dancing.
“Going to college was kind of like a failure for me as a dancer,” she says. “But I’m so glad I did.”
Colleen first entered the wellness space after studying kinesiology “to learn how to fix myself,” she says. “And I decided to use it to help fix other people.”
She launched the first iteration of LulaFit while dancing professionally. But, Colleen says, the company has been “exploding” since giving it her full-time attention — while she still reaps the benefits of dancing.
“I get to use all the creative parts of my ballet brain to help fuel my business,” she says. “But I always say I’m probably the only entrepreneur you’ve ever met whose former career was harder and more competitive.”
Offer something for everybody
As a ballerina, fitness has always been a priority for Colleen. But, she recognizes that’s not necessarily the case for everyone else; she estimates that just 20-25 percent of tenants use their building’s fitness center.
That’s where LulaFit comes in: “It’s our job to figure out how to build a community and culture of wellness that incorporates 100 percent of the people.”
LulaFit makes good on that promise by offering something for everybody. Depending on a property’s location and budget, LulaFit curates customized experiences using trainers, group exercise instructors, wellness experts, dieticians, chefs, massage therapists, and estheticians.
“So whether that means you’re working out, or you’re only going to the massage therapy events and the healthy cocktail hours, we’re going to help meet you where you are.”
You read that right. LulaFit’s wellness events sometimes include alcohol.
“It’s social wellness; it brings people together,” she says. “And that’s a huge part of our philosophy.”
Let the experience speak for itself
Much like a social media platform, LulaFit measures its success on engagement. Are people engaging with the programs and utilizing the common spaces, or not?
“If it’s a good experience, you might come back,” she says. “If it’s an exceptional experience, you’re going to come back.”
So far, the people have been flocking to LulaFit-run common spaces. Colleen notes one case study at Chicago’s Ernst & Young building, where LulaFit helped increase the building’s amenities program six times over in just 60 days.
They accomplish results like that, she says, by “creating an experience from start to finish,” that offers laser-like focus on details. For example, in the spaces they manage, LulaFit might offer infused water and eucalyptus towels like you’d get at the Ritz.
They even clean yoga mats so that their tenants don’t have to. These details, Colleen says, is what makes LulaFit shine.
“We do no marketing and no advertising,” she says. “We are built on experience and on reputation.”
Be your own customer
Colleen also attributes LulaFit’s success to the company’s deep understanding of its customers. So deep, in fact, that Colleen jokes she built a business that caters to her own needs.
“Here I am,” she says. “Five years later and I’m the schmuck I was trying to help in the first place.”
Jokes aside, Colleen says she and her team truly benefit from LulaFit’s offering. That’s because, as LulaFit’s bosslady, she’s just as busy and high achieving as the tenants she aims to serve.
“We are our customers,” she says. “I use all of our services. I have a chef, I’ve got a trainer, I’ve got a dietitian. I use everything.”