Through Problem Solving
Ep. 101 ft. Helaine Knapp
“People are happier when they’re in the right seat.”
Founder & CEO of CITYROW
After spending years climbing the corporate ladder, Helaine Knapp left the world of publishing for tech start-up life. Group fitness was her outlet while working hard and taking on the hustle and bustle of New York City. Months of spin and boot camp classes left her with a lower back injury, however, and she began searching for a workout that was low impact, but super effective. After a friend suggested rowing, Helaine initially rejected it as something “my dad did in college,” but following a few workouts on a sexy machine, pairing it with total body sculpting moves off the machine, changed her mind and the concept for CITYROW was born.
With a mission of delivering a smart, fun, effective workout to all fitness levels, under Knapp’s leadership, CITYROW has grown from one studio in New York City to a national omnichannel fitness brand a top-ranked on-demand global program featuring at-home rowers and a fast-growing digital subscription business alongside 12 open studios and 65 franchises sold nationwide!
Knapp has yet to row on the water and has been featured as a business leader and a wellness expert on TODAY, Women’s Health, ABC, Harper’s Bazaar, Shape, Well + Good, Vogue, Yahoo! Finance and PEOPLE, among many others.
What problem plagues your daily life? Discover how the founder of CITYROW, took some messy action when she realized she needed a sweaty workout that also supported her body and it was nowhere to be found in the market. It’s an episode full of jumps, constant learning, and finding the right seat for your success.
If you have any comments or questions about the Be It pod shoot us a message at [email protected]. Or leave a comment below!
And as always, if you’re enjoying the show please share it with someone who you think would enjoy it as well. It is your continued support that will help us continue to help others. Thank you so much! Never miss another show by subscribing at LesleyLogan.co/subscribe.
In this episode you will learn about:
- Building CityRow based on a personal need
- Working out for the body’s health & longevity
- Taking a step forward, listening to feedback, and learning
- Determining what you are good at and finding the right seat
- Surrounding yourself with supportive people
Lesley Logan 0:00
Hey, Be It listener. So I believe so much in paying attention to what strikes your fancy?What gets your attention? What gets your mind thinking? And you know, it’s hard for our minds to wander in our our busy lives, like, you know, we have so much to do. And we’re always and thank you for listening this podcast on your walk or on your drive. But you know, sometimes we don’t even, we don’t have a lot of time just to think. And so I was driving with Brad cross country and he was asleep and I was listening to a podcast. And today’s guest was on that podcast, and I was obsessed with her. Like, I was like, “Oh, my God, this woman is amazing.” Like she is, she is not letting the things that I hear all the time, stop her. So her name is Helaine Knapp. She is the Founder of CITYROW. And she was not a fitness instructor when she started a fitness company. She was also not certified in rowing, which started this fitness company. She was a consumer who was solving her own problem. And I say that because some of you are, are busy working on something trying to make something work. And it’s, and it and it might actually not be the thing, the thing might be the other problem that you have that you have to solve. And we get a little hung up sometimes on, I’ve spent so much time on this thing. I’ve got to do this thing. This is where, this is where I got my degree in. This is where my resume says I should be. And what if you just followed the thought process of the problem that you have that you’ve been trying to solve for yourself? Well, I can tell you a little bit because actually Helaine’s gonna tell you in this interview, you’re gonna hear how she became the Founder of CITYROW, which is not a one boutique shop in New York. It is happening all over the country, in the States, and they have an awesome at Home app. And she’s freaking phenomenal and super inspiring. And her Be It action items are useful, unique, probably free, unless you unless you need to go hire someone to discover yourself, but I can’t wait for you to hear her voice and get inspired by her and her honesty and what she’s doing. And she’s eight years in on this business. And it’s not easy. It’s not easy, but don’t stop yourself before you get started. All right, so here she is Helaine Knapp.
Lesley Logan 2:17
Welcome to the Be It Till You See It podcast where we talk about taking messy action, knowing that perfect is boring. I’m Lesley Logan, Pilates instructor and fitness business coach. I’ve trained thousands of people around the world and the number one thing I see stopping people from achieving anything is self doubt. My friends, action brings clarity and it’s the antidote to fear. Each week, my guest will bring Bold, Executable, Intrinsic and Targeted steps that you can use to put yourself first and Be It Till You See It. It’s a practice, not a perfect. Let’s get started.
Lesley Logan 3:02
All right, Be It listeners, I have a very special woman for you, I might say special a lot. But this one, I actually listened to her another podcast while driving through Florida, which is a really long drive. It didn’t think it would be that long. But I listened and I was like, immediately DM-ing like going so I’m going past all the things to get a hold of her because I just had to have her on to talk to you about who she is and what she rocks at. So Helaine Knapp, thank you for being here. And taking time to tell everyone what you’re doing. So if you don’t mind, can you share with them who you are and why you’re amazing.
Helaine Knapp 3:36
Thank you what an intro. I’m very happy to be here and getting to know you and the entire audience. Yeah, so quick and dirty Helaine Knapp, Founder and CEO of a company called CITYROW. We are rowing based fitness, but really just smart fitness for the average consumer who’s trying to try to get it all in, cardio, strength, mobility, flexibility, stretch, you get it. How can we get that for you in 20 minutes? And so I ended up starting a rowing company that I’m excited to tell you a little bit more about.
Lesley Logan 4:04
Yeah, so first of all, I love that because my my my Pilates classes online are 30 minutes. And I’m like finishing is optional everyone, like you can just press play. And if you stop before it’s over, you still got your full body workout in the day. So I love that you’re like how do we do all of that in 20 minutes, because it is so hard to get have time to do all the things. So a way to solve the problem was a problem that you had or …
Helaine Knapp 4:26
Yeah, it was definitely a problem that I had. So I built my career and in the tech world in New York City and so that meant that I was running around like a lunatic, you know, selling, you know, talking to clients. I was, you know, taking in person meetings, I was hustling emails, I was trying to build my network and my career also have time for friends and a social life. And I loved working out. Something I fell in love with after college I was actually much of a bit of a chubbier kid growing up and going out school in the Midwest and did not helped me on my fitness journey. And so it was after college that I just fell in love with leading a healthy lifestyle and lost some of the college weight. And when I started working a lot more and seeing a lot more opportunity to, you know, make a larger career, get some commissioned sales. All of a sudden it was harder for me to leave my desk at the end of the day. And so I became a boutique fitness fanatic. As much as I could afford it. I was taking classes all over New York City, I had a personal trainer, like once or twice a month whenever I could afford it. And it was really kind of through, you know, I unfortunately I got an injury. Taking all these fitness classes and found myself with a really bad lower back injury that forced me to be sidelined.
Lesley Logan 5:39
Oh, I feel, I feel like that is kind of the thing like the injury to sidelines all of us, even those of us who are not famous Olympic athletes, like you’re your own athlete, and when you get sidelined and the things that you did to make you feel good, get you you have time to think and wonder a little bit. (Lesley laughs)
Helaine Knapp 5:55
Yeah, I mean, well, we’re not all Olympic athletes, yet …
Lesley Logan 5:57
Yet. We’re gonna be on that rowing team. (Lesley laughs)
Helaine Knapp 6:03
… I think that I we’d be better off with a couple other sports but we can talk about that offline. Yeah, I was, I would sidelined and it was so frustrating because in my mind, I was doing everything right. I I pride myself on being a conscientious human in the world. You know, constantly trying to do my best and trying to do what’s right and ended up with wearing a back brace like full on Romy and Michele high school reunion style. (Lesley: Well …) And yeah, yeah … Yeah, three herniated discs at 24, which really pissed me off, because I really thought that I was doing everything right. And working out like so much and taking these classes. But you know, the sidelining really forced me to look at what I was doing. And very quickly realized that not all movement was created equal. I don’t need to tell you that. (Lesley: Yeah) But yeah, it was just like, it was an eye opening, right. I think you have to kind of go along your fitness maturity to a certain point, when you realize that there’s not all movement is created equal. (Lesley: Yeah) This will get there on nutrition faster, right? Not all calories are created equal. (Lesley: Right) But not all movement is created equal. And I think when you’re first entering that fitness journey, all movement is good, … walk, elliptical, do whatever it’s going to take. And then when these are adding a lot of volume, and how do I work out 3 4 5 6 7 8 days a week, right? All of a sudden, you have to be a little bit more intentional with how you move your body. And it’s really easy to start breaking it down. And so what I uncovered is I was in my 20s and 30s. And I had an injury, and all my friends were injured too. And I was like, “How are we gonna do this guys? (Lesley: Yeah) You only have one body, like we got to be a little bit smarter.”
Lesley Logan 7:51
Yeah, I think I mean, like, I love that you bring that up. Because also, when you’re in your 20s, you do have this extra energy to do like, I used to take two hot yoga classes back to back. I can’t even go out in the heat in Vegas anymore. I’m like, “Oh that’s too much.” When I hear people doing hot yoga here. I’m like, “Are you kidding?” So I used to do like two or three hours at the gym because I worked there and I injured myself running. And you know, running is kind of like, it’s normal. It’s like, it’s not really that difficult to go out for a run. But of course, I broke my leg doing it, so (Lesley laughs) but I but I hear you like you there’s there’s there’s an element of needing balance and the proper amount of different types of movement. And then also, like, if you don’t have the core foundation to do all the things you’re doing and you’re young, and you’re able to do them, you can start to develop things that like three herniated disc girl at 24. That’s way too young.
Helaine Knapp 8:42
It was it was way too young. And I think it was just, it was so jarring for me because fitness had become a big part of my life. And I was taking all these spin classes and I loved it. I loved it. I loved that heat. I love the energy and then when when the music came on, I think all the discs just flew out of my back because I started aggressively dancing on the bike. And I didn’t have the strongest, the strongest core in the world and I was forgoing form, to be able to make sure that I hit every tap back perfectly and combination many other things too. I happen to be really tall, I’m super hyper flexible. You know, everyone’s body is different, but it really kind of was eye opening to me and in the notion of like, is there a way that I can get the cardio and the strength training I’m looking for. I always loved personal training, couldn’t always afford it that much time but like, loved and understood the power of lifting a weight. (Lesley: Yeah) Not just for weight loss purposes as a former chubby kid that’s always goal of mine, but also for his overall health and longevity. Realize how quickly how important it was but for women, especially …
Lesley Logan 9:47
Women, especially. Yes, ladies, if you’re listening and you’re not doing some weight strengthening like body body weight resistance is great, but you got to add, you got to add some heavy weights in there. I promise you it’s going to make like when I heard it makes menopause easier as like, throw me the weights. Where are they? Hold on, I’ve heard this as hell, where’s the weight? (Lesley laughs) (Helaine: Yeah) Let’s start now.
Helaine Knapp 10:07
I think we’re being realistic in that we’re not saying go lift 50 pounds, we’re saying like use five, use eight, get yourself up to 10 to 12 to 15 (Lesley: Yeah) over body, upper body, find the right, you know, coach through you with that. And that’s a huge part of what we do is also introduce people to proper strength training movements that are part of a hit class. And so I wanted the cardio, obviously, who doesn’t love cardio. (Lesley: Yeah) Right? Strength training. And then I wanted three other things that I found were traditionally being being really compromised in a lot of these high intensity classes in New York City. I wanted to have a positive impact on my mobility. (Lesley: Yeah) I wanted to have a positive impact on my flexibility in my stretching. And so to me, I went in with this really fucking high bar …
Lesley Logan 10:51
You’re like, “I need there has to have all these things.” So (Helaine: Yeah) so were you looking, were you like making a list to go look and find that it existed? Or were you thinking, “I’m going to create this is where …”
Helaine Knapp 11:02
So it started by me saying, you know, my doctor was like, “You need a low impact workout.” And I quickly learned what how important that was. And I was like, man, everyone needs a low impact workout. We just don’t know it. And then I was looking for a low impact workout that was also high intensity. And it was actually, it was right there that I got stopped that there was really nothing out there. That was both high intensity, meaning torching calories, really fun, great music, but that was also low impact on my body and my joints that did not exist. (Lesley: Yeah) And then I obviously wanted to layer on a couple other things. So I’m a bit of an overachiever. And so that was …
Lesley Logan 11:39
I see you. I’m over here. Welcome to the overachiever club. (Lesley laughs) We’ve been … recovering here, we’re trying to be in recovery.
Helaine Knapp 11:45
Yeah, I’m close, Lesley, you might be a couple couple steps ahead of me. But I really it was really that moment where I was like, “Man, there’s, there’s gotta be some better way.” I wonder if I can try and figure it out. Constant problem solver my whole life. And also, I was personally really sidelined. (Lesley: Yeah) I am a person that needs a high intensity workout. It’s mental for me as much as it is physical, and walking and doing, you know, light movements on a mat. Like were fantastic and really changed my body and my core. But my mentally like I needed something else. Like (Lesley: Yeah, I understand …) … that you’re on key. And so I was like, really quickly, I learned that rowing was this high intensity, low impact, not to mention total body thing …
Lesley Logan 12:32
Yeah. And I love this rower coz like, first of all, it’s I feel like I own, I feel like only recently and maybe when that maybe two who started it that like people actually got got into the rowing machine, because it’s so much fun.
Helaine Knapp 12:46
Well, that’s generous, Lesely. I don’t think it’s very fun. If I’m being honest with you … (Lesley laughs)
Lesley Logan 12:51
I’ve also never done a 20 minute version of it. I’m like, two minutes, 10 calories, boom.
Helaine Knapp 12:58
I think that that’s really what I saw in it. It wasn’t that I loved rowing. I’ve never rowed a day my whole life. It’s that I saw a vision for it to be this kind of anchor within this holistic workout that was gonna give me cardio and strength training and mobility and flexibility all in one. And it could anchor around the rower because it’s a power exercise. And so (Lesley: Yeah) CITYROW is actually it’s intervals, you’re never spending more than a couple of minutes on the rower, we were just using it to very quickly get your heart rate up. And to keep it up throughout all of your strength training and mobility and Pilates style work on the mat (Lesley: Cool) that you’re sweating nonstop. And it’s very dynamic. So it’s that heart pumping cardio that’s mixed in with everything else that makes it our secret sauce.
Lesley Logan 13:43
Yeah, so that’s super fun. So remind me how long ago, so you were injured at 24? How long ago did you come with this idea? How long did it take you to get started?
Helaine Knapp 13:53
So I the idea for CITYROW in 2013. And I launched my first studio in January 2014. I was a child.
Lesley Logan 14:00
Yeah, this is amazing. So 2013 I feel like was a great year. Everything bad happened to me and all that was so good. So so I love this year. Like just think of all the things that have been born in 2013. So that’s really fast. Now, because people always have to know I just went you were not a group, you’re not a fitness instructor. You were just a fitness person. You just loved fitness. And you and so you didn’t own a fitness studio. You’ve never owned a fitness studio. So how did you, how did you start something you’ve never done? (Lesley laughs)
Helaine Knapp 14:35
Well, I really, really didn’t know what the hell to do. But I was very, very confident in personally not having something out there for me. (Lesley: Yeah) And so it really started with this need in the market that I felt personally and that when I took a step back and looked at macro trends in the space, as well as talking to all my friends and realize that they were all injured in their 20s and 30s … (Lesley: Yeah) still pushing themselves. I was very early on in the notion of like, you really can’t beat your body down. (Lesley: Yeah) Like we take care of our one body. (Lesley: Yeah) And I just, I had that confrontation very early on in life. And so I felt the need. So personally, I saw it manifesting within others, even if they hadn’t gotten there yet. And so I just started talking about it. And I started socializing the idea and the concept, I like, quickly did a little bit of math, which in retrospect, was so wrong, but I had enough of an idea of like, how it could work. (Lesley: Yeah) And then I took baby steps, I got a piece of advice very early on from a serial entrepreneur, friend of mine, he’s like, “Just keep making one decision at a time that moves the company forward.” And so it wasn’t like people always asked me was there like,”One moment that you’ve jumped in,” and they’re actually, I can pinpoint one that was maybe like, you know, signing our first lease that was very jump in. But up until that point, I couldn’t do a lot without having to like, risk it all. (Lesley: Yeah) And I did it all while I was working at another company. And so one step at a time, let’s get a website up. Let’s assess demand, let’s get an article, let’s be included in like a Well and Good or Roundup or something like let’s just start doing it. Let’s take conversations and learn. And then eventually, it was time to sign a lease. And that took me you know, months and months and months and months. But one small decision at a time is really how, how I did it.
Lesley Logan 16:33
Thank you for sharing that because I do think that people go , “Okay, now I have to sign the lease.” And they don’t do the work beforehand. And that work beforehand, really does help you cultivate what it’s going to become. And also try out things like it’s like dating, you gotta like before you get married and sign the lease, you got to like, date it around and see how people are going to put it out there and see people ask questions, what questions are they asking, you know, like, all of that stuff is really important. So I do, I do love it. And also that I agree, like, I look back at some how the companies we started happened. And there was very little like grand hurrah. (Lesley laughs) (Helaine: Yeah) I think there (Helaine: Yeah) was one grand hurrah when we moved to Vegas, we are like, “This is huge. This is a big leap.” But but for us, it was just like doing one thing at a time. And I always had worked a different job and then made my side hustle the thing. And then what became the hustle that I could like, let go of something. So so you’ve been doing this since 2014. It’s almost 10 years or eight years in, and you have one location, two locations. How it has grown out since then?
Helaine Knapp 17:37
Oh, yeah. So we took a couple paths. I’ll answer that in a couple of different ways. But in 2016 2017, you know, after we launched our first location opened a couple more, we were kind of sitting there punching far above our weight class in terms of brand and who we were in the market. And we’re, we’re rowing for the general fitness population. That’s part of a more holistic workout. So we we happen to hook on the rowing train, but really, we’re just a smart fitness (Lesley: Yeah) solution. And our mission has always been how can we go and be available to as many people as humanly possible. We’re very, very female focused. So as mentioned, we’re three women that started the business, we only bring on female ambassadors and celebrities. (Lesley: Love this) But we’re also built for the female body, which is high, wildly different than the male body. (Lesley: Yeah) I think, I think I’m the only female founder in this connected fitness world, which is how we built this, which is insane. But hey, women’s bodies, like we need some different stuff. So, we …
Lesley Logan 18:32
Yeah, I agree. I don’t and it’s like, I was listening to a podcast where a guy was telling women about different things. And I’m like, “Why are we taking advice from a dude?” No offense, he’s very smart. But like, “Ladies, we need to know about how to train for our bodies, and we need to be the experts on it, not someone else.”
Helaine Knapp 18:50
It’s, it’s crazy. And listen, like I think as as a, as a female founder, entrepreneur, someone who’s raised a lot of money. We’re constantly navigating in a world that wasn’t built for us. But we are making small changes every day, to try and make the world work for us or to try and create a new world. That’s how I like to think about it. (Lesley: I love that. Yeah) So we stepped back in 2017. I was like, “Where do I want to grow the business?” There’s a lot of cool things happening, I could raise a lot of money and open more corporate locations, I could do a franchise model. Also, this digital thing is really interesting to me. And so when I looked at what I wanted to do with the business, I knew I wanted to grow our retail footprint and open more locations. The plan here was never to do just a couple. I come from the tech startup world. So to me, I was like, we’re on the fucking train. And we’re gonna go, and I really, really liked what I saw in the early days of digital fitness. And that meant that really numbers of the Peloton and some cool things that I was seeing there. And you also have to take a step back and say, “What are we uniquely positioned to win at? Where do we have an unfair advantage?” And I knew that for us that was going to be technology because my co founder and I met at a tech company. I love building technology. I also love monthly and annual recurring revenue. Not to mention, I knew that our modality of this growing hit class with strength training work was going to translate incredibly well into the ad home setting where the hypothesis was that we’re going to have a much shorter attention span. (Lesley: Yeah) And we can jam our Fab Five into a 20 minute workout. This is going to be perfect for the home consumer because nobody wants to go and do an hour long workout at home, at least I don’t and I am the consumer. I’ve never taught a class. I’m just the consumer.
Lesley Logan 20:39
But see I, you, I, you keep saying this. And I think it’s really important for people to listen to this part, you’re solving your problem, like everything you’ve done is solving your problem. And that is, you know, that is really the key. I think people think they’re trying to solve a problem for like, that’s what they see out like maybe think about or what they perceive. But it’s like, actually, if you to solve your own problem, if you can create that thing. You can there’s people out there, you’re not the only one. So I think it’s really cool and I agree. I do one yoga class a week online at home, and it is live, which is the only reason I could show up because I’m like, “This is an hour. (Lesley laughs) I, hold on, why are we savasana early? When is when is that happening? (Lesley laughs)
Helaine Knapp 21:23
I’m with you, we’re coming from the same plot. And like, to your point, we are not all that special, right? There’s a lot of people just like us that have similar feelings and needs and voids in their life. So that’s very much how I built the business. And so while I saw this early trend in digital, and I knew we wanted to get there early, and we did, we launched our first rower. But our secret sauce is really our content in our app. And so at our core, we’re a content creator. And so we have, we have on demand and live classes. (Lesley: Cool) Now we have 15 different class types circling around the rower because it’s still a vehicle for this perfect tech class, but also complimentary workouts, whether it’s yoga, Pilates, Bootcamp, more all rowing classes, because once you get into it, you kind of want to see what you can do on that thing. And it’s really really really good hard …
Lesley Logan 22:12
I love putting my hands on the floor feet on the on the seat and just like I there’s something about that. I feel like it’s gonna help me do a handstand someday, like a gymnast, I’m just going to pop up into it. I know, it’s probably not …
Helaine Knapp 22:21
You definitely could. I’m not sure that’s how the rubber should be used Lesley. But we can talk about that offline. (Lesley laughs)
Lesley Logan 22:26
Good point. Good point. Good point. So … (Helaine: Im’ so excited …) So that’s, so that’s really cool. So you did that in 2017. So you’re like, well ahead of like, people actually starting to use, you know, at home equipment as a thing like before the pandemic that is what I mean.
Helaine Knapp 22:42
Yep, so we were very much ahead of the curve. And so we had our first row, we’re in market with our iOS and Android app going into the pandemic. We also though in 2017, knew that we wanted to expand our physical studio footprint, and so partnered with a franchise development company, and we sold about 65 units across the country very quickly. And we had about eight or nine of those open, just open heading into COVID and so (Lesley: Wow) truly getting on this omni channel meet the customer where they are ethos into who we are. And so obviously, past two years have been super up and down in both areas of the business but the whole category is continuing to grow and that’s why our team, our investors are all pretty bullish on is that studios are coming back in a meaningful way and people are hungry huge for variances, in a good way.
Lesley Logan 23:33
Yeah, it’s … it’s insane. Sorry to cut you off. But like, because I coach so many instructors, the… obviously with the pandemic so many teachers went online, and now that things are opening up and like, I promise you, it is so much easier to build a brick and mortar right now. Because people are really, the people who loved in person fitness are hungry for it and they’re showing up and they’re and because they saw what happened to to in two years of not being able to do it they’re like not missing. It is really crazy and insane. So I’m, so have you been able to open up new ones since the pandemic or is it just the ones that you had signed on before? How’s that going?
Helaine Knapp 24:13
Combination so, you know, some of them didn’t make it through and really hard and challenging and I definitely shed a couple tears as these are people that I was really excited to build a business with. We also opened a couple, so for instance our Richmond Virginia franchisee opened her second location, Plainview opened during, Del Mar, California opened during the pandemic. And we’re going to continue to open a lot more stores over the coming years. And for us right now it’s how do we, how do we continue to build back up those studios in that community and in a meaningful way, and then figure out where we want to go next. All the while really integrating our digital community with that of be in person because a digital community is fantastic. But the second that you can go and touch and feel something in the flesh, you’re gonna have a much deeper and real connection to that. (Lesley: Yeah) And I, I’m, I’m the Meta Verse is here … read for whoever’s excited about that as am I in some ways, but there’s, there’s nothing that’s ever going to replicate. Right? Connected at Home Fitness was built because people need to figure out how to get the days 4 or 5 6 7 8 (Lesley: Yeah) into their week, or they physically could not get to the studio. (Lesley: Yeah) Right? But for most of the average consumer, they are not going to motivate themselves and push themselves as hard at home as they will in a room full of other people. Now, different psyches do better, I actually think that men probably do a lot better at home, just the way that their brains work than women. We love being around other people, right? We’re motivated by other people. (Lesley: Yeah) And we’re a little bit competitive. (Lesley: Yeah) Like, I’m the fucking owner of this company, I have a rower sitting right next to me, and I have never hit a low split time that I could possibly get in the studio. (Lesley laughs) … we’re human in the studio …
Lesley Logan 26:01
I hear you on that. Because, well, you know, I bought weights during the pandemic. And I was like, “Okay, I’m gonna work myself out. I got some programs. I’m doing some online stuff.” And I went like, “Oh, the dogs need breakfast. Oh, this,” you know, like, all of are so many distractions. So I do much better. It with a, like, they’re like I’m showing up at a time for something, even if it’s at home, but in person is still one of my favorite ways to work out with group classes. It’s just wait, it feels like a group class, because that’s what it is. So I have, so your I mean, like, it’s crazy, you’re 24 are like, “Okay, I’m gonna start this thing. It’s amazing.” And I love the confidence that a young 20 something has, so I can understand how you could be the CEO of a company, or something you’ve never done before. But now with there’s so many experiences, you’ve had to work this business through that no one had to, no one had to do a pandemic before. So that’s something different. And then also to go from like, one location to like, all these extra locations, all these new locations and an app. How, what is it, how do you like, talk to your, talk to yourself, and like becoming this next thing, running a company of something that you haven’t done yet? Do you know what I mean?
Helaine Knapp 26:31
So really started in like, before I even opened the first location, or even had the idea. And it all comes back to self awareness, and knowing what you are good at, but more importantly, knowing what you’re not good at. And if there’s like one superpower that I have that, you know, I was finally starting to realize in my mid 20s, that I’m a really, really, really good problem solver and navigator. And layer that in with an ability to network and find the right person to ask for help. That I just was ready to bet on myself, because I did not know what was going to be around the corner. But I knew that I could probably figure it out. Right. And that came from personal experience. It came from feedback that I got, you know, positive feedback from bosses and mentors throughout the years. And so I was ready to better myself and jump in. Right? You never know how cold the water is going to be or what’s going to be lurking below. But I knew that I was going to figure out how to navigate it. And so I kind of always come back to that notion. And now that I’ve been doing this for eight years, man have I navigated through some crap. And stuff that like is just mind blowing, like all of our credit cards were shut off. We’ve run out of money many times, like every problem you can possibly imagine from legal to personnel, we’ve been through it. And so now it’s a combination of that early confidence and betting on myself to be able to navigate it. But two, I yeah, I pull rabbits out of the hat. I’ve done it, I figured it out. Like this is just one more. This is just one more, we have a bigger team and there’s more people behind us. And so it’s constantly leaning on that. But the one piece of advice I would say would be not to pretend to be who you’re not. And to be very, very aware of where your strengths are and make sure that that matches to whatever the initiatives are that you want to embark on. And if you’re not then just be real about that. This is not for everyone.
Lesley Logan 29:09
Oh, that is so good. That is I love that so much. I it’s it’s something I think a lot of us don’t realize that we can bet on ourselves. I think, do you know what I mean? Like I think it’s not an option people actually realize is probably the best bet you can make because another guest on who is like you’ve survived every bad thing that’s ever happened to you if you’re listening to this, like you didn’t die. (Helaine: Ah) You have access to the internet and you’re hearing a podcast like you’ve survived all of it. And so, so I really thank you for, thank you for saying that because I think anyone who already bet on themselves just being reminded that of that, too is like that is a that is a magic tool. And you’re right we all have strengths and some of our strengths are better suited for different roles in our own business you know. Um, I last August, oh, no. Yeah. No, oh my gosh, it’s been almost two years. In August of 2020, I hired a coach. She’s amazing strategist, she’s actually out in your area. And she, she does strategy work for like trillion dollar companies and somehow, like through the network of life, like she loved us. And she’s like, “Yeah, let’s do a session.” And I was like, “Okay, great. I’m not a trillion dollar company yet, but I appreciate you. We’re gonna work with you.” (Helaine: Yeah) And she this whole thing. And she’s like, “I don’t know why you’re the CEO because you’re, you’re not.” (Lesley laughs) And I said, “I am not. (Helaine: Oh) I’m not the CEO of my company. I am the Visionary Officer of my company.” Like, I know where we’re going. And I know, I believe I can get us there. I like when you say rabbits, that I’m an ideas machine, problem comes up. I’m like, we just need to like, what out, what do we get what’s possible right now. And so my husband became the CEO, because he’s a natural at it. He’s so good at it. And when you when we switch those roles, and then I hired people around me, who actually had strengths that were my weaknesses, it’s, you’re unstoppable. And so you then you can just live in your strengths. And it’s easier to bet on yourself everyday. Because you’re not constantly living in the parts of you that are like, not not good at that. So we’re gonna make yourself feel not good.
Helaine Knapp 31:16
Yeah, and I think so many of us want to be someone that we’re not, or at least we start that way, right, as, as young young women trying to be someone else. But I think the most important thing you can do for yourself and your happiness and your career is to be like, “What am I really good at?” And I learned a great example of this from one of my first bosses when I was working at Conde Nast W magazine, and I was a, you know, $24,000 a year sales assistant. (Lesley: Somebody living in New York) … and not not well, like, it was like grad school in some ways. But I remember working for this badass badass sales woman. And I remember saying to her, like, “Kim, like, don’t you want to be the associate publisher? Like, don’t you want to be the publisher and run everything?” And she’s like, “No, I am really good at this. I make a great living. And I wouldn’t be a good manager.” And it was really, really, really eye opening, because I had been going on this notion that you got to keep climbing. But I’ve seen that play over many times in my career. And people are happier when they’re in the right seat. And not everyone’s happy, and they don’t see it all the time. But make sure you’re putting yourself in the right seat.
Lesley Logan 32:29
So beautiful. Oh my gosh, I’m gonna listen to that part over and over. Alright, Helaine, where do people find you, row with you, you got CITYROW’s sounds like all over and coming up all over. So how can they get more information?
Helaine Knapp 32:42
I’m a big Instagram fan. So highly recommend just find us on Instagram, at @cityrow c i ty r o w, get to our website, cityrow.com or go to cityrow.com or find me just Helaine Knapp on, I would say my two favorite social networks are Instagram, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Lesley Logan 33:02
Oh, amazing. Good for you on the LinkedIn. I am that’s a strength. That’s a seat that I’m not in. (Lesley laughs) I have been (Helaine: … where) out, it’s there. And I’m like, “You know, if someone really wants to get a hold of me, I think that they’ll go on my website.” (Lesley laughs) So okay, you are a wealth of knowledge. Be It Till You See It action item, so bold, executable, intrinsic or targeted things, people can do to, you know, be it till you see it, be in the seat there that is meant for them.
Helaine Knapp 33:33
I want to get to know yourself, right. And that means something different for everyone, whether you’re going to journal and maybe bring in a mirror coach at some capacity, but get to know yourself a little bit more and surround yourself with people that are on that same journey or maybe a little bit further ahead of you that can help be a support system on that. And then when you’re ready, just like jump in, jump in, but be aware that it’s not rainbows and butterflies. And so if you can jump in and know that the water is really cold, but also have the confidence that you’re going to be able to figure it out. Then you’re ready but don’t go in thinking this is going to be a breeze at any point you don’t even know what’s gonna happen yet …
Lesley Logan 34:17
Truer words have never been spoken like in my daily life. (Lesley laughs) (Helaine: Yeah) So oh my gosh, Helaine, I’m so grateful for this time. Thank you for letting me snag you and you’re amazingness for our listeners. I hope to be in New York soon and track you down so we can actually meet in person but I just feel like yes, woven from the same cloth and lots more to do in this world. So thank you for being here. Everyone listening how you want to use these tips this information in your life, screenshot this, tag @cityrow, tag @helaineknapp and the @be_it_pod so we can see what your takeaways are. And until next time, Be It Till You See It.
That’s all I’ve got for this episode of the Be It Till You See It podcast! One thing that would help both myself and future listeners is for you to rate this show and leave a review. And, follow or subscribe for free wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, make sure to introduce yourself over at the @be_it_pod on Instagram! I would love to know more about you. Share this episode with whoever you think needs to hear it. Help us help others to BE IT TILL YOU SEE IT. Have an awesome day!
‘Be It Till You See It’ is a production of ‘As The Crows Fly Media’.
It’s written, produced, filmed and recorded by your host, Lesley Logan and me, Brad Crowell. Our Associate Producer is Amanda Frattarelli.
Kevin Perez at Disenyo handles all of our audio editing.
Our theme music is by Ali at APEX Production Music. And our branding by designer and artist, Gianfranco Cioffi.
Special thanks to our designer Jaira Mandal for creating all of our visuals (which you can’t see because this is a podcast) and our digital producer, Jay Pedroso for editing all video each week so you can.
And to Angelina Herico for transcribing each of our episodes so you can find them on our website. And, finally to Meridith Crowell for keeping us all on point and on time.
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