Women We’re Watching: Eliza Shirazi of Fitness Movement Kick It By Eliza
During her college days at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Eliza Shirazi was looking for a way to creatively express herself between classes. So for fun she started teaching a kickboxing-inspired group fitness class to blow off some steam and connect with the community, dubbing it Kick It By Eliza®.
After Eliza’s graduation, the Kick It movement continued to grow—with 300+ certified instructors nationwide and a Fempire® of empowered women standing behind it. Eliza’s dedication to inclusivity, relentless hard work and commitment to helping her team succeed make her a Woman We’re Watching.
Can you describe the Kick It experience to someone who may have never heard of your class?
Kick It By Eliza is a 13-round fitness method that is music-driven and kickboxing-inspired. The goal of the class is to experience an intense and fun cardiovascular workout and end it by exercising your mind through a restorative and meditative cool down.
You started Kick It By Eliza® while you were in college. What was the process like launching something new as a college student?
Well, the beauty of starting Kick It as a college student is that it was just my form of creative expression! There was no pressure from the business end because I was doing this purely for fun. Connecting with my friends, making new friends, and staying well during college allowed me to really fall in love with what I had created.
Having that experience of nailing down the structure and brand with no strings attached during college was really helpful for post-college. After graduating, there were more distractions and responsibilities that came with, and certainly still come with, owning a business.
How did you take your brand from a fun workout class you taught in college to growing it into the nationwide brand it is today, with 300+ women certified? And how did you raise the funds in order to scale?
Hard work, creativity and believing in what I created. Those three things have allowed me to grow Kick It organically and authentically. When I started, I worked full-time at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the Cardiovascular Wellness Department and would teach whenever I could. When I realized that there was a demand for the class and also women who absolutely excelled in class, I created the certification to meet both of those needs. That was what really turned Kick It into a business.
Since then, the Kick It Certification has turned into a personal growth experience for women more than anything. Yes, you learn to teach the method, but you learn public speaking skills, self-confidence techniques, community building skills, and above all, you get connected to an amazing network of women.
The dollars that came from my first year of that certification helped me prove that I had something and it kind of spiraled from there. Bigger brands recognized what I was doing, local Boston publications covered it and people were just, in general, interested! This interest had a huge impact on making Kick It what it is today.
Your passion for dance, fitness and community shines through everything you do. Did you always have that entrepreneurial mindset growing up?
Maybe not an entrepreneur, but I have always been a creative. It is actually really hard to be creative and have a business mindset—those two hats are tough to juggle sometimes and it has been a big learning experience. I learn every day. It is the hardest part of what I do, but it’s important that I keep sharpening my “business hat” if I want this thing to run!
What were some of the challenges you faced early on when launching Kick It? How did you push through during times you may have wanted to give up or take the easy way out?
To be honest, I face challenges every day, but the three things mentioned above help me get through it: hard work, creativity and believing in what I created. This could be an entirely new post, ha! But just know that the challenges will shape who you are—they are not necessarily negative things.
Tell me more about your mission to empower females, which you refer to as the Fempire®. Why is that important to you?
It’s important to me, especially in the fitness space, because for so long women have been the underdog in fitness. It is notoriously known as a male-dominated field. Nowadays, fitness has been flooded with women—women who have been finding their strength, their voices, their courage, the list goes on… Fitness is a powerful tool that help women grow and shine in many different ways.
What’s been your proudest Kick It moment thus far, while building your business?
I have had so many proud moments, but I think my proudest moments all have to do with seeing the Kick It instructors succeed. There is nothing more gratifying than seeing or hearing people say they have had a great Kick It class with “so-and-so.” That is the absolute best.
From teaching classes, instructor certifications to growing your Fempire®, how do you prevent burnout? What’s something you do to help you unwind and regroup?
What helps me unwind is not feeling bad for resting. I used to be so, so, so hard on myself for taking a break—I would have anxiety while trying to rest, ha! How counterproductive. Now if I am tired… I just rest. I give myself a break because I know that if I was at my computer or working or teaching, I would be half-assing it anyways.
What’s your advice to other wellpreneurs who may just be in the idea phase right now? What’s the first step they should take?
There is never a right time to go after something, so make the choice to believe in yourself and GO FOR IT!
Interested in other women making waves in wellness? Check out our full interview series of Women We’re Watching.
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