I woke up groggy at 4am after sinking into the middle of a deflated air mattress. It was the summer of 2008, and I was living with my future husband in an apartment in southeast Rapid. The air had seeped out so slowly we hadn’t even noticed until we touched the floor. The dysfunctional air mattress, a couch and an entertainment center were the only pieces of furniture we owned. Some nights we would refill the air mattress to get another couple hours of sleep. This time I decided to get up and start the day. I put on my green knit pants, pinecone embossed belt, and gray linen shirt, and I pinned on my gold badge before I began my 60-mile commute to Wind Cave. As a National Park Ranger, I experienced firsthand just how out of sync our relationship with Mother Nature has become, where, during the night, meadowlarks sing out to the glow of Rapid City, mistaking the light pollution from the city for the sunrise.
Later that evening, I gave a campfire talk about constellations at the park campground. As the sun began to set and the elk started to bugle, I put out the fire and concluded my speech. A young girl approached me and asked, “What happens if we don’t stop light pollution?” This was my AH-HA moment when my journey to become an eco-friendly entrepreneur began. I thought I had to do more than talk about light pollution; I had to do something about it. Even though she’s probably an adult by now, the question still sticks with me to this day. I now own a business to demonstrate firsthand that it’s possible to make a respectable profile and respect the environment all at the same time.
At Koko we design and operate with both the member experience and the environment in mind.
- We no longer using single-use plastic cups - we installed a water-bottle refill station.
- We no longer use single-use paper towels - we installed a Dyson clean air filtered hand dryer.
- We are a chemical-free gym – that means we clean the Club and equipment with essential oils and Norwex cleaning cloths instead of chemically-treated wipes.
- We are a breast-feeding friendly business with a fridge, extra sink, chair and private room for nursing moms.
- We decorate the Club interior with photography from local artists. And of course…
- We turn off our exterior signage at night to reduce light pollution.
Today 8 out of 10 children will never see the Milky Way from where they live. Light pollution obscures our view of the stars and inhibits our production of melatonin, the hormone that helps us rest, recover and reduce our risk of getting cancer. Light pollution is a public health concern. Learn more about why we need darkness to survive by watching my 2016 TEDx Talk.
So why Koko FitClub? I was hoping you’d ASK.
Koko FitClub is an eco-friendly fitness training studio that provides custom strength, cardio and nutrition plans designed by nationally-recognized personal trainers. Think of us as your personal fitness assistant, that’s fully automated! We pair leading technology with exercise science to give you an individual fitness plan. With Koko, you’ll achieve faster results in less time and feel better. Koko is a Japanese word that translates to ‘one to one’ - as in ‘individual’. I invite you to come check out my Club. We are your automated personal trainer providing custom strength and cardio training designed specifically for your OWN body with new workouts for you every day. Meet our staff, try our programs, get results. If we don’t earn your business in 14 days, we don’t deserve you as a client. By joining Koko, you’re not only doing something great for yourself. You’re also doing something great for the environment.
What is a word of advice you can offer to other women in business?
Welcome into your life those who seem to be your greatest competition. They can often times become your best referral source and even a customer. Hairdressers can’t very well cut their own hair; massage therapists can’t massage their own backs. The insights you get from welcoming in your competitors will far outweigh any customers you could potentially miss out on. For example, I belong to a fitness studio that’s not my own gym! Perhaps you have clients that just don't jive with how you operate. Consider referring them to your trusted colleague and they may do the same..
Why do you love The OWN?
Who doesn’t want a fan club, furthermore, a fan club that doesn’t blow up your in-box? Even though we are from a vast range of industries, we often experience similar set backs and successes. I cherish the OWNers that graciously their wisdom, words of encouragement and acts of service.
THANKS to all fellow OWNers for caring about the environment and reading through this ENTIRE story! Please enjoy 14 days of personal training on me. Book a session. No obligation. Still not sure? Just take a tour. I’ll leave the light off for you. Star gazing opportunities compliments of your eco-friendly and locally-owned gym.
Read more about Diane's work, and be sure to get in touch with her!