Colleen is the Founder and CEO of lulafit, a national leader in modern wellness amenity services, technology, and management.
As a former professional dancer, Colleen believes that our bodies are the most valuable and complex piece of technology we will ever own. She’s built a business around helping others maximize their health and performance, even when life is busy.
Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up, where did you go to school?
Prior to founding Lulafit, I was a professional ballet dancer for over a decade. Being a dancer helped shape my entrepreneurial spirit as the creative side of my brain pushed me to launch my own health and wellness company. I grew up in Michigan and went to the University of Michigan, where I earned a BFA in Dance and a BS in Kinesiology.
How did you get your start in the industry?
One of the most important disciplines you can have as a dancer is to manage your health, fitness and wellness, and I have always carried that mentality with me. Unfortunately, after an injury, I had to take a break from dancing professionally. I had been teaching fitness and wellness classes at different luxury condo buildings and offices across Chicago. One of my clients introduced me to the management of their building, and they hired me to run their entire wellness program. From there, I incorporated not only fitness classes into my offerings, but mental and social offerings as well, and Lulafit was born.
Today, Lulafit has a team of more than 50 people and works with some of the most prestigious developments in Chicago including The Old Post Office and 800 Fulton as well as in other major markets such as New York.
Did you have a mentor who helped you get on your feet, or is there someone you turn to now for support?
To say there has only been one person along the way who has helped me would be an understatement. I have a beautiful network of friends, family, fellow entrepreneurs, clients, employees, investors, and mentors who are consistently there for me through thick and thin. I learned early on that the only qualification for being an entrepreneur is being willing to fail. Everything else you must learn on your own. I decided to start collecting people, a team, around me to help me fill in the gaps where I needed assistance.
What does an average day in the life of Colleen Werner look like?
As CEO of Lulafit, my main role is to continue to define and lead the team towards their “north star.” As the world evolves and the company must adapt, it is my responsibility to ensure Lulafit’s team is focused on their key purpose: to help people work well, live well, and be well to empower them to make a positive impact. On a day-to-day basis, I am responsible for overseeing all aspects of the company including the fruition of many new initiatives such as a new digital app, the rebranding of Lulafit, new operational processes and procedures, and more. I manage the overall operations and resources of Lulafit, while maintaining strong business relationships with our customers. I also manage relationships with our investors.
What do you like most about your job?
I’m grateful that I’ve been able to dedicate my career to helping other people overcome their own wellness challenges. Our bodies and minds are the most sophisticated pieces of technology we are ever going to own. We must treat them as the high performance machines they are.
Looking to the future, what do you hope to achieve/work on that you have not already?
We have stayed strong in Lulafit’s mission to make wellbeing amenities accessible to everyone. With a goal to modernize wellbeing and to empower people to live better lives through holistic opportunities, we found that people living through the pandemic were in need of our services now more than ever. Lulafit continues to pivot to meet the needs of our clients.
We are looking forward to rolling out the Lulafit app to all current and future customers. The app offers accessible, effective content to meet the growing needs of tenants and employees. Users get access to a variety of live and on-demand virtual experiences from any device, any time.
Lulafit is also looking forward to helping more developments earn the WELL Certification. Our WELL AP assists building owners and property management teams in securing a WELL building credential.
What kind of changes do you hope to see in the industry in the near future?
The pandemic prioritized wellness in the physical environment. The built environment is the next frontier in wellness, and Lulafit is excited to help lead the real estate industry through WELL building certification.
We also launched a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategy earlier this year to hold the company accountable to DEI goals, further fostering a dynamic work environment today and for the future.
How do you spend your time away from the office?
All of my favorite activities are outdoors. Hiking, sailing, and skiing are my go-to’s, but since I just had a baby girl in March all of my free time is completely dedicated to her. As a wellness founder, people often expect that I must have an extremely balanced lifestyle. Often, I do not. To build this company I have had to oftentimes pour myself into work and not focus as much on my well-being. Right now, my world is completely consumed with work and baby. Yes, it’s important to take care of yourself, but we also live in the real world and it’s important to recognize the cycles we go through in life and ride those waves.