Kate Spinner (formerly Rawlings) was out of shape and slogging away at a corporate 9-to-5 when she started CrossFit.
“Fast-forward three years: I qualified for the 2010 CrossFit Games. Somehow, I’m not really sure how it happened, but I walked away with a contract from Reebok,” she said. “I was 27 and didn’t really need a paycheck anymore.”
Rawlings decided to sell everything she owned and open her own gym: Coca CrossFit in North Ridgeville, Ohio.
There have been lots of ups and downs.
“Five years ago, my husband and I lost our daughter at 22 weeks. Obviously I was in a very deep, dark hole—while running the gym. It just wasn’t the same. We weren’t losing money, but we certainly weren’t making money.”
When the business started to ramp back up, Rawlings got pregnant with her son.
“That whole year—trying to transition to motherhood—dipped us down again because I was really unfocused. I didn’t have any systems in place. I had coaches, but I was not a leader.”
Then the pandemic hit.
“My husband is a part-owner of a bar. So he got shut down before I got shut down. We found ourselves basically at zero income as a household. We really had to take some hard looks: We either double down or we get out,” she said.
“I had my eye on Two-Brain over the years, but it started hitting my radar consistently; I started seeing more articles, more blog posts.”
When Kate and her husband decided to go all-in, they took the plunge based on trust.
“They’re like minded. It feels right. If we spend this money and it flops, at least we tried. But fuck it—let’s go.”
Kate’s mentor, CrossFit NIKA owner Ashley Haun, had her focus on formalizing SOPs.
“She made it clear that no one can help me if they don’t know how to do it.”
Coming from stuffy corporate America, Kate was wary of systems and policies, but she decided to give them a try.
“That made the biggest difference,” she said, “because coaches could come in and see the expectation.”
Becoming a CEO
Like many others, Kate struggled at first to stop wearing every hat in the business and move into a CEO role.
“The biggest challenge was getting out of my own way. I thought no one could coach a class the way I can, no one can clean the gym the way I can. … Now, I’m doing the least amount I’ve ever done as far as client-facing interactions, and it’s the best Coca’s ever been as a business, so clearly I was the limiting factor,” she laughed.
“We were averaging about $7,000 per month when we started with Two-Brain. Now we’re averaging $16,000-20,000. Some of that was mindset shift, too … . (The concept of) ‘pay yourself first.’ Everything that Two-Brain has recommended I do has worked. Now when Two-Brain makes a recommendation, I just do it.”
Trusting her mentor is key.
“She’s on Team Kate and wants to see me succeed. I consider Ashley a friend—family, even. She is that friend that you can verbally vomit on, and she’ll help you make sense of it. She’s been through it, too,” Spinner said.
Now, Kate is coaching less and has more time to focus on her vision: developing more perinatal/postpartum offerings.
“My coaches are doing a great job. Now, I have the ability to build new programs. … It’s nice to have the freedom to pick and choose what I want to do and not do.”