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Philly's Phinest: Meet Kasey Manwaring

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The sun is shining a little brighter for Kasey Manwaring these days, but that could not be said several months ago.  Kasey Manwaring with her parents, Dennis and Gina outside of "Goals Personal Fitness Center" in Manyunk.

The founder, owner, and operator of "Goals Personal Fitness Center" in Manayunk, Kasey was a victim of the job cutback epidemic that is sweeping the nation in October of 2008. After some serious soul searching in the weeks that followed her job loss, Kasey decided not to pursue a regular job. Instead, she followed her passion and ended up making it a reality.

As a result, Kasey Manwaring is doing right now what many people in this country may be extremely anxious to do, but don't quite know how to get there or where to start. Once you hear Kasey's story, you may just be inspired to follow your own dream.

Growing up in WestChester, New York (about 15 miles from New York City), Manwaring always professed a love for sports, having played basketball and soccer at Kennedy Catholic High School. However, it wasn't until she attended St. Joseph's University in the Fall of 1997 when Kasey really developed her love for fitness, thanks in large part to her sister Kristin, who participated in the 2000 Olympic Trials in Sacramento.

"When I got to St. Joe's, I wasn't really good enough to play basketball or any of the other sports so I started getting into running, and that's when I took it upon myself to get a fitness regimen started," said Kasey. Although I always ran to stay in shape for basketball and soccer, it wasn't until I got into college when I really started loving it. A lot of people thought I was actually on the track team, but I wasn't!," Manwaring laughs.

Kasey's love for fitness even took on more meaning when she returned from college one summer and helped a friend get back into shape who had gained a considerable amount of weight. "We would literally run up to one mile a day to three miles a day, so that kind of started my interest in taking what I was doing to another level," Manwaring said. "I thought I may even do this after I got married and had kids as a part time job. But when I started working in the field of fitness part time, I realized that I wanted to do this as a full time job, and the sooner the better."

After graduating from St. Joe's in 2001, Kasey took jobs in the fields of customer service and sales. Both of these jobs have helped her prepare for her new venture. "Obviously with customer service, you have to always please the customer. Then with sales, that has helped tremendously just with being creative, thinking of different marketing ideas, talking to people and asking them to give 'Goals' a try!" 

The foundation on which Kasey started her new line of work was laid on October 22nd, 2008. That is the day that Manwaring was informed she would be losing her job.

"I was a sales rep. There were ten sales reps and eight of us were layed off. They didn't give us a warning, but I knew it was coming because the company was doing bad," said Kasey.

Sensing that a change may be imminent, Kasey started becoming a personal trainer at nights, earning her trainers certification from the Triple AI Program at Temple University. Even though she had an alternative, Kasey did feel the effects of her job dismissal.

"I would say that the three weeks after I was let go were brutal. The Phillies won the World Series, and all of my clients that I had kept cancelling! Also, you have lots of time to yourself during the day and you kind of feel like you're in no man's land. So I went back and forth debating whether or not I should get a 9 to 5 job."

 Throughout this time, Manwaring was weighing out her options. One of them was starting her own gym, and taking the necessary steps to initiate the process. Her first step was renting out a small space from a friend of hers in town. "I didn't have huge savings and I didn't want to take a loan of any sort. I wanted to start something that was within my means and something I could afford," said Kasey. "Then my brother bought me the set of weights that we use. I originally used my parents treadmill that they used in their basement. Basically I used what I had: my friends and family helped me spread the word about my place. I run all over so luckily a lot of people from the area recognized me. I used word of mouth, walking around with flyers. To be honest with you, most of the time it was just myself trying to get the word out about 'Goals Personal Fitness'."

Manwaring's hard work paid off: Eventually there was enough consistent business to buy a brand new treadmill and she was able to move to her current location at 3997 Mitchell Street in Manayunk. Kasey's success is due in large part to her welcoming and outgoing personality, and her genuine concern towards helping her clients achieve their goals of a happier and healthier lifestyle for themselves.

The setting at "Goals Personal Fitness Center" is small and very intimate, which allows Kasey to give people she is training her undivided attention. Kasey's average  Clients of "Goals Personal Fitness Center" clientele ranges from the ages of 30-55. Lately though, she has seen various age groups come to "Goals Fitness."

The initial consultation consists of a free session ranging from 45 minutes to an hour "to see if I can properly motivate them", Manwaring says. "For the most part, I do a little bit of everything during the session: cardio, weightlifting, and stretching." After that, Manwaring charges $50 for a one hour session. She also offer packages (which the majority of her customers choose) of six sessions costing $270 ($45 dollars a session), and 12 sessions at $45 each.

As for the goals of her customer base, Manwaring cites two topics that are the most commonly asked. "Everyone for the most part wants to tone up and lose 15 pounds. That's what I hear all the time. Then I have another group of people that really want to get into running. That's probably just from people knowing me as a runner and seeing me as a runner."

Kasey just doesn't regulate her running to the gym and the local neighborhood. She also participates in several marathons during the year: including the Boston Marathon, which took place on April 20th. Kasey finished the race with a time of 3:12. She also organizes a Goals Fitness Running Team, which finished first in the Roxborough 5K run on March 28th.

The team is one of several reasons for "Goals Personal Fitness Center's" emerging success, and Manwaring couldn't be more pleased.

"My goal was to have seven people a day for five days a week in February. So it pretty much happened right about that time. People were pretty surprised that it's taking off and continues to take off, and that the economy isn't affecting things at all. I think people thought I would go back to a full time job for sure when this started."

When asked what she would tell somebody who has goals they want to pursue but are hesitant to take the next step, Kasey offers this advice:

"I would say start small. Give yourself a trial period with what you're trying to do and test it out. It may mean you have to pick up ten bartending shifts or take ten babysitting jobs. If that money coming in allows you to simultaneously do the job that you have a real passion for, definitely try it and you have to hustle. You shouldn't have to beg, but you have to get out there and just ask people to give you a chance."

Spoken like a true runner racing towards even bigger goals. If you follow her advice, you'd better get started. Chances are Kasey Manwaring is going to beat you to the finish line.

To start your training with Kasey, you can reach her at: Goals Personal Fitness Center. 3997 Mitchell Street Philadelphia, PA 19128 (610) 457-5424 or contact her at www.goalsfit.com  or goalsfitness@hotmail.com