a celebration of hispanic heritage month with chicago community captain nik rodriguez
Hispanic Heritage Month, spanning from September 15 to October 15 in the United States, recognizes and celebrates both the contributions and the influence of Hispanic Americans when it comes to culture, history and accomplishments. We sat down with Chicago Community Captain Nik Rodriguez to learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month, his heritage specifically and what it all means to him. Let's hear what he had to say.
Can you give us a bit of background on yourself? How did you get into fitness and entrepreneurship? What were you doing before?
I grew up in San Antonio, Texas and sports ruled my world since the age of 4 and culminated with playing football at the University of Notre Dame. Growing up an athlete, I fell in love with the process of training and the relationship of "getting back what you put in." This love for training and a healthy lifestyle followed me past graduation into my career in advertising.
After a few years in corporate America I knew that I needed a career that I could truly live out with passion. After months of soul searching, I found myself at a crossroads between going back to school for my MBA or doing something with my passion for fitness.
Being in my mid 20s I knew this was the time to take a risk, so I got certified as a personal trainer and moved to Chicago in the spring of 2012. I hit the ground running to soak up as much experience as I could. I began working at 5 different types of gyms where I functioned as a personal trainer, group coach, front desk worker, manager, and even cleaner. This "crash course" educated me on the ins and outs of operating major fitness brands as well as mom and pop shops. Within my first 18 months, I went from an unpaid intern to owning 25% of a personal training boutique in downtown Chicago. I ran the facility as General Manager for 12 months, taking the concept from the red into profitability while doubling revenue by mid 2015.
This success opened the door to an opportunity to launch another personal training studio from the ground up in March of 2016. The operation was quickly successful and we developed into a $1 million dollar (annual revenue) in just 30 months.
These two first forays in business ownership helped me develop valuable, tangible skills and highlighted the importance of having the right business partners. Moving on from this operation allowed me to focus on the concept that has evolved into Train Moment. Train Moment is answer to the question I asked myself of ``how do I provide a personal training type experience in a group setting at a more approachable group pricing?"
I was blessed to be able to start this business with the best business partner ever, my wife, Kati Rodriguez, and some investment from friends and family. We opened November 2019 with a strong start, but just 4 months in we had to temporarily shut our doors due to the COVID Pandemic. This unprecedented time presented difficulties for most industries, especially in person service businesses like ourselves. But I like to say that the pandemic tested us and made us "grow up" fast. We molded and adapted with all the regulations creating digital and outdoor options, and making sure everything we did was with purpose.
I am grateful to report that we have been able to learn, adapt and grow through the curveballs of the Coronavirus and to say that we will be opening our second location next month in Milwaukee, Wisconsin!
Tell us a bit about Train Moment. What was the inspiration behind creating it
As mentioned above, I've had extensive stints owning and leading a couple of awesome personal training facilities. This taught me a lot but it also opened my eyes to the fact that most people getting solid strength training were people that had a good knowledge of training themselves (and the drive to do it on their own) or individuals that could and wanted to pay for personal training. That left out a lot of people but that's the very group that I believed we could serve with the right concept.
Cue Train Moment, our Strength Forward group training facility! We refer to it as "strength forward" as at least 67% of each session is focused on building strength through simple, effective and low impact strength exercises. Our bodies are built to push things, pull things, squat and hinge so we focus on training those movements! We also implement HIIT conditioning on the safe and low-impact VersaClimber. All of the programming that we implement is approachable and adaptable to a wide range of abilities and experience. Accordingly, we pride ourselves in having created a very diverse and encouraging community!
What does community mean to you?
You are born into a family, but community is the people you choose to do life with! It is these people that end up shaping our continued development as an individual. We must choose our circles and communities wisely!
What has being a part of the Rhone community been like and meant to you?
I am grateful to be aligned to a brand with a heart and true values; and as usual this is driven from the leadership. It has been a pleasure to get to know the Rhone CEO, Nate Checketts, a bit over the past couple of years and see how the person he is has influenced the company. I resonate with Nate from the standpoint of being a man of faith; and it's refreshing to see that both Rhone and myself understand that we are a small part of the bigger picture. Finally, it is an honor to find myself as part of the Rhone Captains Crew composed of individuals from around the country who are all driven, well rounded and conscientious. I think a common theme in the Captains Crew and the brand at large is a focus on enhancing the lives of those around you.
What does your heritage mean to you? How does it influence your daily life?
My Hispanic heritage brings me a lot of pride as I understand where our people, and more specifically my family, have come from and what they have fought for in this country. Though my 23 & Me report reads like a Baskin & Robbins menu, I identify mostly with my Mexican American roots driven from my amazing Momo (grandmother). She and a few of her siblings came to the States from northern Mexico as young teens. They made their way in an unknown country and were able to bring most of the family. Through unbelievable odds and adversity, they have established our family and paved our way to the awesome opportunities that this great country offers.
I don't know about you, but I could not imagine being a teenage woman in the 1950s, going to a new country where you don't speak the language and starting a new life. That is a mountain that not many people could even think of scaling, much less conquer. It couldn't make me more proud and confident that this is the same drive and blood that runs through me. If I think I am having a tough day or want to throw in the towel, I just have to think of Momo and the obstacles she has overcome to give our family the opportunities we have today.
It’s Hispanic Heritage Month. What does this month and celebrating Hispanic heritage mean to you?
It is an opportunity for people less familiar with Hispanic cultures to learn what makes us unique as well as to learn the common themes that course through all of humanity. It is also a great reminder to me of where I have come from and allows me to learn more about other Hispanic / Latinx cultures. We are a vastly diverse group coming from all continents and skin tones.
Are there any traditions you’ll be doing this month as a way to celebrate your heritage?
I am looking forward to a special training session and round table that we are putting together for some local Chicago Hispanic/Latinx creatives and entrepreneurs this month at Train Moment. A great thing about a lot of Hispanic Cultures is that it is so communal, but sometimes the individual gets pushed to the back burner especially in areas of health and wellness.
I hope Train Moment and myself can be part of changing that narrative and getting more of my Hispanic / Lantinx familia to prioritize their health and wellness. Maybe we can start some new traditions!
What does this quote mean to you? Does it influence the way in which you show up everyday?
"That’s the mystery of a MOMENT. It is small enough to ignore and big enough to change your life FOREVER."
Erwin Raphael McManus
Man! I don't want to miss my BIG Moments! And I know it is in the "smaller" and seemingly insignificant moments where I prepare and set myself up to reach and be ready for those monumental ones.
This quote really speaks to me about the magnitude of every moment and life in general. The power of each moment is what I gather from this quote which inspired the naming of Train Moment!