The Inner Workout Journey

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published:
June 11, 2021
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Taylor here. If you don't know me yet, I'm the founder of Inner Workout. In the past couple of months, I've been tempted to say that Inner Workout is evolving. In reality, it's becoming more of what it was intended to be. There's a lot to be excited about as we look towards the future of Inner Workout, but I'm a big fan of looking back before we move forward.  This blog post does both.

An idea comes to visit

I've always loved the way Elizabeth Gilbert talks about ideas. In her book, Big Magic, she states:

“I believe that our planet is inhabited not only by animals and plants and bacteria and viruses, but also by ideas. Ideas are a disembodied, energetic life-form. They are completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us—albeit strangely. Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness, and they most certainly have will. Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human’s efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.”

And on a Sunday in March of 2019, an idea came to visit me. I was sitting on a yoga mat at a charity yoga event. A thought popped into my head in the moments before class began, "What if you built a self care class?"

I looked around. The thought came through so loudly that it seemed like someone was speaking to me. It wasn't a person. It was an idea, and I decided to partner with it.

That evening, I took a bath and started sketching out ideas. A workshop series? A regularly scheduled practice? In person? Online?

By the time the water drained, I had a sense of what I wanted to build. I wanted to create a mat-based practice that helped build the skill of self care. Not the surface level self care fluff, the ability to listen within and respond with love.

I knew I needed more knowledge and experience if I wanted to do this idea justice, so I enrolled in a nine month yoga teacher training program.

The idea takes root

Just a few weeks into my yoga teacher training program, I was introduced to the yogic concept of the koshas. Koshas can be translated to sheaths or layers of being. They're the parts of our whole: physical, energetic, mental + emotional, wisdom, and bliss.

Learning about the koshas felt like someone had given me words to describe something that I hadn't been able to express. In the early days of my self care journey, I focused on my physical body. I took baths. I got massages. I did facials. But those practices alone didn't cure my burnout.  Caring for my whole being is what made the difference.

The koshas inspired Inner Workout's five dimensions of wellbeing, and they became the core of the mat-based practice that I was building.  Inner Workout, the practice, blends movement, breathwork, journaling, meditation, and flow. It's a journey inward, exploring each dimension of wellbeing.

After testing the practice on myself, I decided to share it with other people. To use a very startup-y term, I spent the summer beta testing the practice. I tested it in person and virtually. I incorporated the feedback until I had something that felt ready to share.

Simultaneously, I worked with some incredible women to build Inner Workout's visual brand, and I got to work on the rest of our brand. I wanted Inner Workout to be the wellness brand that every woman could see herself reflected in. I was working towards a world without burnout while helping women reclaim their self-expertise. By the end of the summer, the idea was ready to be made manifest in the world.

Time to launch (and pivot)

Inner Workout publicly launched in September of 2019. At the time, I was building a practice that I hoped would become the Zumba of mental wellbeing. There would be classes in person and on demand as well as a facilitator training.

I hosted pop up classes around Chicago. In early March of 2020, I hosted a class at Alt Summit in Palm Springs. My plan was to spend the summer teaching the Inner Workout at events around the country and to host our in person facilitator training.

You can guess what happened next. COVID hit. Everyone wanted to talk about self care, and I quickly learned that I wasn't interested in teaching a ton of Zoom classes.

Instead, I launched Take Care. I wanted people to have an easy way to understand their self care needs and to take action. That offering resonated, so I created a complementary course.

Somewhere during this time, I ran Inner Workout's first virtual facilitator training. We've done three to date.

Then came the uprisings following George Floyd's murder. As a Black woman-owned business in a pretty white industry, Inner Workout started popping up on lists. Our community grew a lot. As I got to know the community and their needs, it became clear that if I truly wanted to work towards a world without burnout, the company needed to become more than a Zumba for mental wellness.

I couldn't do that alone, so I brought on Inner Workout's first team member, Deanna, to build the next iteration of Inner Workout with me.

Choosing a different path Instead

If you hang around Inner Workout long enough, you'll hear us say that feedback is love. I picked this up from a local non-profit, Chicago Scholars. I dug into any feedback or data that I could get my hands on: surveys, website analytics, comments, and DMs.

One night, I returned to the feedback from the first round of customer discovery interviews that I ever did for Inner Workout. These were before the company even launched. I noticed a trend in the feedback that I'd ignored in the past: these women didn't have time for self care.

Before, I brushed those comments off. I couldn't create more time in the day...could I? Well, sort of. I'd also heard a lot of women say that they were scrolling way too much. So my teammate Deanna and I set out to help people reinvest the time they spent scrolling into their self care instead.

More customer discovery ensued, and eventually we landed on Instead: A card deck for scrolling less. Inner Workout hadn't really done products at this point, so it seemed wise to test the idea before fully investing into it. We launched Instead on Kickstarter. The response? It blew us away.

Instead was fully funded in less than a week. It ended up being 260% funded. And the process forced me to do my own inner work.

I was resistant to selling products because they felt kind of like bandaids. It's easy to buy something wellness related and act as if it makes you well.

Instead showed me that products, made with intention, could create moments of care.

Your self care support system

So that brings us to the present moment. Inner Workout is so much more than a practice. It's your self care support system.

We're working behind-the-scenes to create more:

Practices - Opportunities to practice self care on your own and with a community. Wouldn't it be dreamy to have an in-person Inner Workout retreat?!

Partners - We want to connect you to coaches, healers, and practitioners who can give you the customized self care support that you deserve.

Products - We're building a curated collection of products to support your wellbeing across each of the five dimensions.

Inner Workout believes that you're your own best expert. We're simply here to have your back. If there's something you want to see from Inner Workout, let us know! You can always email takecare[at]innerworkout.co or send a DM on Instagram.

I'm so grateful that that idea came to visit me in 2019. Building Inner Workout is one of my greatest joys, and we're just getting started.

~Taylor

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