We had the good fortune of connecting with Yumi Lee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Yumi, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk taking equals taking a leap. It could be a leap of faith, love, passion, loyalty or determination but whatever the cause, you stand at that cross roads because you care and because the outcome matters to you. Whether it’s small, medium or large, when people think of “risks” they tend to focus on what they could possibly lose. Imagine a world where people would look at that opportunity as what is possible to gain. If you never try, you’ll never know. I studied Communications and Sociology in college with the dream that I would be an on-air news reporter. In my time, I wanted to be the next and new Connie Chung. Nearing graduation, a job opportunity to head a fitness program in a high-end Washington, D.C. gym was presented to me. I took the job immediately. I wasn’t thinking longevity of a fitness career or how much money I could be earning instead as a news reporter. Some called it “risky,” but I called it a leap of passion. Through the years as I stayed in the fitness industry and moved from Washington, D.C. to Florida to compete in fitness competitions, my family would continue to ask, “when will you get a real job?” and “how long can you have this profession?” I wasn’t thinking of what a “real job” meant or if my body would hold up, I was driven to compete and that was my leap of determination. I moved to Los Angeles in 2002 without a job lined up. Just several fitness connections I made through the past few years and an opportunity to work with Reebok as one of their Master Trainers. To begin working with Reebok, I would have to pay my way to their Headquarters in Boston and pay for the training to advance me to the next level. There was no guarantee that they would pick me to become a Master Trainer and I knew I was spending money that I didn’t have to take this risk. I didn’t think twice about booking my flight, I loved working in the fitness industry, knew that I was making a difference in people’s lives and took that leap of love. From then on my Personal Training business took off and I continued to travel with Reebok to train instructors and trainers for years. When the opportunity came up to open my own gym, I knew this was one of the bigger “risks” in my life. To open a large gym in West Hollywood, CA on a major and very expensive street with a 5 year lease was extraordinary. However, I never questioned the decision and moved forward with a purpose. Many people came to me with their worries of this “risky” venture. My consistent response was from the movie Field of Dreams, “if you build it, they will come.” And they did. The community my gym has built brings me joy every day. People come together to do something healthy for themselves, mentally and physically. So many friendships and business relationships have been formed because of my gym. And through COVID-19 while other gyms were shutting down and closing their doors for good, I kept my focus on reopening after quarantine. I knew how important it would be to feel safe, see friends and workout during the challenging time of this worldwide pandemic. This was and is my leap of loyalty to my community – friends who are now family. Taking risks and leaps have taught me not only how to be a better business woman but also how to be a better person.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Reebok LAB originally opened as a CrossFit gym. I was hesitant to partner with CrossFit because of a lot of negative reviews on injury, etc. Since I come from a very strong personal training background I felt that I could bring a balance of my supplemental training to the CrossFit module to balance the programming. This would help people understand that it’s not the exercises themselves, but the people to teach and deliver the exercises that make all the difference. I train all of the coaches with a system that we use for all classes. This allows our athletes to become well-versed in the terminology and movements so they can focus on form and quality. I program all of the workouts weekly to balance which muscles, joints and body parts are being used so we can prevent over use and over training. We had some setbacks with business partners, employees and other business challenges, just like any other business. Thinking clearly and simply helped me to resolve issues and move forward. Lessons I’ve learned along the way, some new and some gentle and consistent reminders: 1. If there is no solution, then there is no problem. 2. Always be professional, even when it feels personal. 3. When someone shows you their true colors the first time, believe it. 4. Less is more. 5. You never know what someone is going through. We pride ourselves on our ability to work with people of all levels. We will make them better, more confident and more physically prepared for life.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Of course if they’re my best friend, they exercise and stay active so we would start each day with a workout in my gym. Then we would either get breakfast at Toast, Blu Jam Cafe or Dialog Cafe. At some point we would also visit the Farmer’s Market at the Grove. I’m a big fan of SK’s Donuts on Third Street so that would be on the menu as well. Any best friend of mine loves animals so a trip to Runyon Canyon would be in the mix. We would have to take a trip to the different beaches since they’re all so different. Muscle Beach/Venice Boardwalk, Manhattan Beach and Malibu would be included in a couple of day trips. I’ve heard they have comedy shows in Pan Pacific Park which would be a fun outing one night. My go to for dinner is always Mercado on Third and Fairfax. Their guacamole and their cucumber jalapeno margaritas make for a dangerous combination.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First and foremost I want to thank my godmother. I would not be where I am in life without her. Second, I want to thank my dear friend, Alan Bloom. He is my guide through business, relationships, friendships and life. Third, I want to thank Reebok for believing in me all these years. They are an incredible company with dedicated values to the importance of community and support. And finally, I want to thank my Reebok LAB family – nothing is possible without all of us.
Instagram: @yumirbklab or @reebklab
Linkedin: Yumi Lee
Facebook: Yumi Lee or Reebok LAB
Yelp: Reebok LAB