“I learned that I can blend different passions together and that there are jobs for those blended passions.”
June 27, 2021 | By Alina O’Brien
Kelly Froelich is an alumna of Duke University, graduating with an Honors degree in Economics in 2013. She started working at Facebook right after college and pursued a variety of technical careers in the Tech space, most recently as a TPM at Ro. Just this January, Kelly co-founded her own fitness company, Balanced. She is very passionate about social entrepreneurship and we’re so excited to keep up with her as she grows her business!
What’s a fun fact about yourself?
While my 9-5 has always been in tech and business, my "5-9" has been in fitness. I've been both a group trainer and a personal trainer at a number of studios over the past 5 years, including launching my own virtual exercise over the pandemic called "LIIT" (low impact interval training). I had 100+ people in classes on the weekends.
Thinking back, what led you to join BOW?
Hard skills like financial modeling are important, but equally, if not more so, important are the skills around communication, career planning, self-advocating, and general introspection. I joined BOW to learn about the different business opportunities in a real, accessible, down-to-earth way and to understand more about myself and what I was looking for.
Tell us about Balanced. How did you get involved? What is your vision for the company? Anything you’d like to share.
Balanced started just over a year ago when the pandemic hit. I was able to maintain an exercise regimen as my favorite studios and trainers have gone virtual, however my grandmother was living in a senior living community and her limited access to exercise went to zero. And while there are 10 million chair yoga YouTube videos out there, I realized that engaging in physical exercise was just as much about the connection and the mental well-being as it was about the physical well-being. So my grandmother and I started working out everyday after work over FaceTime - from yoga, to strength training, to (our favorite) cardio boxing. I was catching up with a coworker of mine and mentioned I was doing this with my grandmother. She happened to be quarantining with her grandmother in California, and while they were cooking and reading together, she could do Peloton and her grandmother didn’t have a similar option. The idea clicked. From there, long story short, my cofounder and I launched a pilot this past fall while we were still working at our previous company together, had a successful six weeks in testing out the concept of live virtual exercise classes for seniors, and made the decision to leave our full-time jobs to pursue Balanced full-time this past January. We raised a pre-seed and are now pursuing our mission to bring the joy and community of group exercise to older adults in the comfort of their own homes. There is something magical that happens when you move together with other people, and we want to bring that magic to parents and grandparents everywhere.
What do you wish you had known at the start of your career?
I wish I had known that careers really aren’t straight lines. For me, starting a business only has made sense in the rearview mirror. My time as a personal trainer may have seemed really far from my time working in technology, but I learned that I can blend different passions together and that there are jobs for those blended passions. Also, I wish I knew that being the smartest or the most qualified person in a room doesn’t necessarily mean you are the best one for the job. Showing up, putting in the work, having a great attitude, being willing to work with other people, and being open to new experiences and challenges is 99% of a job.
What’s the difference between working for a large company and a startup? Pros, cons, changes you didn’t expect?
I really enjoyed starting my career at Facebook because, while it certainly was not the large corporation it is today, it had the infrastructure in place of career paths and feedback cycles. I was able to both learn from other people, because there were many other people in the company who knew more or had experienced more than me at that point, and I was able to learn what it meant to be a full-time employee and start to craft my career path. However, I really enjoyed working at start-ups because I was able to really craft my own job description and career path. But start-ups don’t have that structured support of career paths and review cycles so you really have to put in the work of advocating for yourself, crafting your own career path, and learning how to solve problems and answer questions without having other experts in the room because you are expected to be the expert. At the end of the day, I think I might always be a start-up person.
What’s something you’re trying to learn right now?
I am actually learning to speak Spanish! I took French in high school and German and college, but I really want to learn Spanish so I have a wonderful teacher who I take class with twice a week for an hour each session and she does give me homework (haha!). What I learned from taking Spanish is that I am able to really get into a flow state because there is so much brain power that goes into learning a new language, understanding what is being said, and crafting responses that I don’t have the brainpower to be thinking about work or other things. It’s almost like an active meditation for me and I come out of those sessions knowing not only that I improved a scale, but also that I was able to take time and step back from the sprint that is starting a company.