Interview with Steph Poelman: How to Achieve Your Goals and Grow A Successful Business In the Fitness Industry

May 19, 2024

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Health and fitness matters…we all know that. Multiple studies speak to not just the physical benefits but the mental and emotional ones too. And yet finding the time and motivation to get healthy can be hard. Especially when you’re busy doing all the things at work and at home. 


Personally, figuring out a routine to stay healthy and fit has been a journey. I’ve transitioned from team sports (netball) in my twenties and early thirties to needing to shift things up to do something else that fits in around my life with 3 kids and a business to run. 


The answer for me was joining a female specific gym: Pherform (here in Hong Kong).  My routine has become so much easier after joining a supportive gym environment, focusing on strength training and getting coaching to help me along the way. Not only do I feel physically strong, I feel the effects it’s had on my personal growth, self-awareness, confidence and habits in other areas of my life. 


The woman behind Pherform is Steph Poelman. She is an incredible human with a passion for empowering women to push their edges around their health, strength and well-being. 


Steph’s background is in HR, with experience managing over 9 multi-disciplinary fitness facilities around the world. 


Now living in Hong Kong, Steph is the owner and managing director of Pherform, a female specific strength and conditioning gym. She was voted as one of Prestige Magazine’s 40 under 40 class of 2023.


In this week’s episode of The Aligned Achiever Podcast with Steph Poelman, we’re exploring how Steph achieved her goal to own a gym within 10 years of setting her intention. She shares so many juicy nuggets of wisdom from her own entrepreneurial journey, how she balances passion and professionalism, the role of fitness and strength training in personal growth and building confidence, creating habits and finding accountability in fitness programs, and much, much more.

10 women posing at the gym after their workout

In this Episode We Explore:

  • Steph Poelman’s career journey to acquiring a gym in Hong Kong
  • The benefits of strength training and coaching for physical and mental growth
  • Why it was so important for Steph to create a safe space for women to exercise
  • Identity, community, goal setting, and accountability in the gym
  • Personal growth, self-awareness and values that have propelled Steph to lead with integrity




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Siobhan Barnes: All right. Hello, and welcome everyone to the aligned achiever podcast. I’m your host, Siobhan Barnes. And today, I’m really excited to be inviting a very special guest onto the show. Steph Poleman, who is the founder of performed gym here in Hong Kong. Hello, Steph, welcome.


Steph Poleman: Hello, Siobhan, how are you?

Siobhan Barnes: I’m super well, how are you?


Steph Poelman: Yeah, I’m good. I just want to say thank you for having me on here. Super excited to be able to share my story and even more, because you’ve been part of that story. So I think that there’s a great connection that you and I have had, and you’re able to actually experience kind of what we’re going to be talking about today. So it’s pretty cool.


Siobhan Barnes: Yeah, I’m excited to have you on. And as we were talking about just before hitting record, one of the reasons why you’re listening, I wanted to I wanted to ask Steph on to the podcast is because number one, she’s an incredible human being. And I am so curious about your story to start a gym here in Hong Kong, knowing that this is also not where you’re originally from. But secondly, Steph has such a passion for empowering women, seeing what’s possible for them pushing their edges around, you know, health and strength and well being. And I just think it’s a really important message. So I’m super excited to hear what Steph has got to share with us today.


And I think it’s really helpful to understand how different women make career choices, right? Like, we’re all here, we have different definitions of success, different ideas of what we want to achieve, and you know, what legacy we want to leave. And I think the more stories we can hear about women who are making these choices and how they’re making their choices, that just gives us some inspiration for what’s possible for ourselves as well. 


Starting a gym in Hong Kong, empowering women and career choices


Steph Poleman: I think the great thing is, you know, having resources like yourself, you know, I think that’s, it’s it’s important that we have a community of people around us, but people who guide and inspire, and also help storytelling. We’ve done it for hundreds and centuries, right? We get around and we storyteller. And the more that people can relate to an individual, the more inspiring it can be. So hopefully we get that from today.


Siobhan Barnes:  Yes, definitely a shared intention there. And I think that’s what you’ve done so well at the gym, stuff like that community aspect is one of my favorite parts about going to the gym. Because full transparency, I’m a solopreneur. I work mostly from home, I get to connect with amazing individuals, but it’s mostly via zoom, because they speak to clients in different parts of the world. And whilst that’s great, I miss that community. And I think that’s what perform is it’s such a great place to meet other incredible women, we’re all there to work out and what I love as well as in Hong Kong, it’d be like, see somebody at the airport or at the dentist? And it’s like, did you go today and had a little bit of connection, which I really love, so props to you for that.


So you are recognized by prestige as one of Hong Kong’s most successful, innovative and influential young people in the city, making the 40 under 40 list. And I’m curious to know the backstory, how did you land here in Hong Kong from the US running, in my opinion, one of the best gyms here in Hong Kong?


Steph Poleman: Yes, I would agree with you. I do think it’s one of the the best gyms here in Hong Kong, if not in the world. And that’s for several different reasons. But to kind of back trail on where I came from, originally from the US, my background is in HR. And, you know, I actually had a stopover between the US and before I got to Hong Kong. And so kind of looking back at that I worked corporate HR and I got into an account management role after that. And the opportunity for me to move to the Middle East, which was Kuwait was presented and to be very transparent. I was working at Lululemon part time at the at at the time, and they do a lot of goal setting. And one of the things was, you know, your one year, five year and 10 year goals, and I had written down in April of 2013.


So this is April of 2013, a one year goal of visiting another country and our five year goal of living in another country for at least five years and a 10 year goal of owning my own gym. Okay, so this is 2013 and in July, or August of that year, the opportunity came up where there was a gym in Kuwait that was opening their first CrossFit female gym and they needed someone to run it. And it was presented to me I had a Skype call. And I was like I know nothing about the Middle East. I know nothing about Kuwait, but I also don’t know anything about opening a gym. And to an end even though I had the HR background, I was always into CrossFit and I was involved in CrossFit specifically in the culture within that and so I had an idea of fitness I was very, I would consider myself a fitness enthusiast. Um but actually running a gym as I was, like, unclear yet.


Someone said to me stuff, what was the what was the purpose of you reading and your goals that you wanted to move to another country in six months. And if you really wanted to open another gym, here’s an opportunity for you. If you want to open a gym, here’s another opportunity for you to be able to do it. And so yeah, that October of 2013, I moved to Kuwait, I opened the first CrossFit CrossFit female gym in May of 2014. And then went on to open another seven locations of which four were female specific gyms.


So that’s a part that I normally is, it’s not something that I often talk about I do when it’s when it’s asked, but it’s not something that kind of just comes up in conversation, which is a great experience, because obviously, I had the opportunity to be able to run someone else’s gym and do what it is that I would want to do cultivating a community and setting up the standards. You know, there’s a concept, you know, we had a bar yoga and Pilates studio, we had a boot camp, which they essentially said stuff, I want you to come up with the concept, I want you to come up with the structure, the the procedure, the process, the programming, it’s basically your baby, this is what it’s this is a space, what are we going to do with it.


And so, you know, there was a couple projects I had dealing with that. And so, you know, I was given the opportunity to be able to do what I was passionate about, be paid for it. And then I got to a point where my my ex partner and I were looking at leaving Kuwait, and he happened to get a job here. So I started doing the research. And looking at Hong Kong, there happened to be a gym that was a female specific gym, I reached out to the owner at the time, and just started conversations with him and and ended up moving to be managing director.


So in December of 2017, I actually came to perform to be managing director and then the opportunity came about in 2021 of July, it was a little bit before that, where the owner continuously kept saying is, you know, I want to sell the business. And I never thought to myself, it would be me who would buy it. And it wasn’t until a friend said to me, Hey Steph, remember those goals that you made? Back then of you opening your own gym? Why is it that you have in your head that you want to open a gym? Why can’t you acquire a gym? And it was it. It was an aha moment.


And you know, you talk about the power of having someone hold you accountable. And the power of your sphere of influence of people that are around you that trust you know, you enough to challenge you on your your thinking process. And this friend is one of those and anytime I would have any hard decisions or you know, contemplating what I’m going to do next, you know, I go to him, and I would ask and he’s the one who sent it to me. And I was like, I never thought about it.


Owning a gym during the pandemic, balancing passion and professionalism, and creating a welcoming environment for members


Steph Poleman: And so I started looking at the numbers, I started crunching them. And then yeah, July of 2021 I purchased, performed and so it’s um, you know, I think what’s the Beauty for me is that I already had set the standard of what I wanted the gym to be like when I when I came here I had that experience from of Kuwait and running and starting gyms. But I think the hardest was the transition between what the culture was before I got here.


And how do I cultivate it enforce good policies, good positive enforcement, while also running a gym. And so when I purchased it, it was a very, very easy transition, because I was already part of the culture. I was the one who everyone knew, but I also had the standards that I had put in place at that time. So yeah, here we are three years, we’re coming up on the third year.


And I’ve it’s it’s been it’s been a dream, you know that when you talk to women who are looking at our career change, you know, I’ve had several and the really scary things is the what ifs, you know, what if this does not work out? Yeah, we play with that all the time in our head. And that’s the question that I’ve asked myself, well, what if it doesn’t die? What if it doesn’t work out? And granted, when I purchased it, we’re in the midst of the pandemic. I know.


So, you know, we already had the instability where the gym was closed for over 250 days at the 365 days, you know, so to me, it’s like here I am purchasing a business which I know that I’m going I have to pay for. I need to ensure that my staff are still being paid, they have their liveliness that are still being taken care of because I don’t want to take that away. You know, I still have members that I want to serve because the last thing that I want them to do is feel like they’re alone in this right and that they don’t have that place that we’ve always said is your your third home away from home and your work right.


You have three places. You have your work, you have your home and you have the gym. You know you Take that gym away. It’s like, how do you do? So how do you make sure that, you know, the the members will have that? And so there are a lot of things that I kept saying, what if it doesn’t work? What if it doesn’t work? You know, and I hadn’t really talked to myself, you know, is, but what if it does? You know? Yeah. And so, you know, having people around me definitely support me in that. But yeah, it’s, it’s been a journey up until this point. And I’m very fortunate that I have that passion with the professional side, that I was able to kind of yield together. And every day, I literally look forward, when I walk in the door, I get to see you guys. A, our job is to bring joy to you guys.


But in reality, it’s that joy that you guys bring to me that I get to walk in, and it’s like, I get to do this. This is my job. This is my profession. This is my passion. So yeah, it’s it’s been a long, long time coming. But um, you know, it’s, it’s something that I put that out there in the universe, it’s something that I said, this is what I want to do. And, you know, over time it it just, it happened, it happens. 


Siobhan Barnes: Oh, my gosh, there’s so much I know, I’m talking about you shed. And what I will say is I can feel your passion, Steph, like I always say before, is my happy place. Because it’s just, you know, go in there. And it’s like, everyone’s smiling. And obviously, you know, soft stuff is hard. But you know, you’re all the trainer’s are very encouraging, and walk out of there feeling ready for the day. So that passion, like, absolutely feel that from you. 


Steph Poleman: I will say on that is that something super important to me, you know, the gym, the gym is already an intimidating place. It’s a place that has always been perceived specifically by women, and I’m gonna talk a lot about women, it’s been perceived by women as this place where you only come to lose, you have to punish yourself, right. And so when it’s something that doesn’t naturally come to you, I want to make that environment that when you choose to show up, because that’s the hardest part is showing up. That is your happy place. Right. And that stems from front desk to the coaches, right is we may be having a shitty day, we may be having a bad day.


But it is our responsibility to make sure that it is the best hour that you have. And so, you know, that comes from positive reinforcement that talks you know, if that that comes from a smile, knowing your guys’s names, like those are all SOPs or standards that I expect our staff to be able to do. And part of that is the culture that you create, but also the people that you’re looking at hiring, right? I am, I came from that corporate HR background where I felt like there’s so much red tape between the employer and the employee. And while they want you to look out for the employee, it was never like that it was always protect the employer, right. And so when you’re doing that, you can’t sit down with someone and saying, What is going on that stopping you from being able to do your job, they may, you know, they may be going through a divorce, maybe something’s going on in their family, a child died or bereavement or something.


And yet, you can’t empathize with that person as much as you would like to you have to watch the conversation that you have to have, versus you know, running a smaller business I, I have the ability to be able to, to control that. But if someone’s like, I’m having a really crappy day, it’s like, you know, especially members will come in and they’re like, work work, work this, this and this, and it’s like, alright, guess what, you got 45 minutes, you got one hour, forget about that, you can think about it afterwards. Like for that one hour that you’re here, all I want you to do is focus on you. And that’s the big thing is I want people like you to come in who feel like, you know what, this is my happy place. It’s not a place that always is looked at, as upon positive, you know, negative, it’s always a positive.


And then from there, you’re like, right, I’m here, I’m going to do the work and then that progress comes and then it makes you Yeah, there’s so many, so many things that the the gym provides. It’s, yeah, it’s it. But it all starts from that culture that you kind of, you have to set the standard for you have to lead by example. And you have to make sure that the people on your team are on that same page and that, you know, the mission is being followed where every person that comes in and that’s staff, that’s coaches but that’s also members are all all all working together to kind of create that. 


Siobhan Barnes: well I think you’ll HR background clearly like I had no idea actually you didn’t have that background in HR but it’s clear that those polls that that thinking and that way of approaching things in the SOP is like that that’s holding up the structure of the culture because I definitely feel it as as a member. And I’m guessing that the listeners are like me feeling your passion like he it just sounds like you’re totally lit up by what you do. You love it and you know, get to create a culture that you want and you know, have the team and the people around you which is fantastic.


And many people listening to this are probably saying I want some of that. I don’t have that So, I want to talk about the gym in a moment. But I kind of want to backtrack a little bit and understand like, was fitness always a passion of yours? Or like, how did you transition from corporate HR to actually running a gym? Because it’s quite the switch?


Steph Poleman: Yeah. So fitness, I’ve always played sports growing up, you know, I went to college, you know, you had your typical what we would call on this stage, like your freshman 15. You know, you just get into the real and then I would find myself you know, at the the gym being on the treadmill. And, you know, I looked down at the gym equipment, I’m like, I have no idea what to do. So I’m just gonna stay up at the top. And it’s gyms or commercial gyms are still like this. It’s crazy. You have all the, you know, the cardio equipment up at the top and all the gym equipment at the bottom. And you just have people that are watching and, and, you know, I had a semester where I had a couple credits that I could, I didn’t want to take any, any major elective, but I could use them as these quarter electives, and there were, there was badminton, so I was like, Okay, I’ll take that one. And then they had one that was golf, then I took exercise, walking, then I took tennis, I play tennis. And then there was one that was a gym. And they taught you how to use a gym and I was like, Okay, I like this. So that’s kind of where I got into the actual gym.


And then when I moved from Wisconsin after college, I moved to Austin, Texas in Austin, Texas is a, a city that is known for its athletic, outdoor fitness kind of vibe. And I happen to be running one day, but again, I was running because I thought that that was the way that it was going to lose body weight, like I would eat, you know, at this time. There’s there’s a lot to unpack, which I’ll go into when I was in. So let me just finish talking about the fitness side. Quite good. So I was running. When I moved to Austin, I did have a job and I would just run. And I happen to be running by this gym. That was doing an outdoor bootcamp. And I was like, Oh, that kind of looks fun. And I said, How do I how do I join and they said, we’ll just come tomorrow, I went, I died didn’t even finish the workout. Like I literally was on the floor, it was under this pavilion, it was this place called atomic athlete, they didn’t even have a gym, they would, they would, they had this truck, they would bring all the equipment to the pavilion, they would bring it out, then they would put it out at the put it back into the truck at the end of the day. And I died.


Career transitions and the role of fitness in personal growth


Steph Poleman: And I remember the next day I came back, and I was like alright anymore. And that’s really what started my my journey with with fitness is the strength and conditioning, which is now a very successful gym, but they were the ones who kind of introduced me to strengthen conditioning, and then I got into the, the CrossFit space. And so fitness really, for me, was never about me training on my own, it was always being part of a group, it was the idea that I was in it with other people, and that we had a shared hobby. And so this hobby was something that I look forward to, when I got done with work is where do I go, I’m gonna go to the gym, you know, and then you know, and I was drinking heavily back then. And then you know, fitness, the last thing that you want to do is drink at night and then wake up in the morning and it feels like you’re sick or and or not feel like you can put your best effort.


So then I started changing my eating habits. You know, I started doing this thing called paleo and you know, nutrition was all over, I was experimenting with everything. You know, my my group of friends also changed because I wasn’t going out like I was before. And so I started hanging out with more fitness people I met my ex at the time through fitness, we would go to these competitions. And so that’s really what got me into, you know, the fitness aspect and understanding the power that group classes can have.


But what made what made me transition from corporate HR to fitness was I had left I had left HR to to be in this account management position. And the account management was because I was still able to have relationships and build relationships with people I already knew. And the position had actually transitioned from being an account management position to a new sales. And they said, you know, this is a direction we need to go in. And your responsibility now is to you know, cold call 50 people a day and I was like, Oh, this is not what…It was the worst transition. If I look at a lot of the things that I’ve done in terms of careers, it was a hard one for me. And it and they called me in one day and said stuff This isn’t working. And I got fired. Yeah.


And it was a blessing in disguise at the time, obviously I was the first thing that came to my mind was financial, like, how am I going to, you know, how am I going to support myself? But I was like, Alright, what do I do? What do I know that I’m really good at? I was like CrossFit. Okay, I started connecting with someone in CrossFit. And there was this guy who had a, a jump rope, and I said, Do you need help with doing your events on the weekends? And he said, Yeah, so then I started running these double under clinics, which is basically, you know, I would go around around the US leading these double ender clinics on the weekends. And so, and then I got involved with Lulu. And so, you know, this failure that of a job that I thought was going to work out, which then turns into something that was completely against what felt natural, to me, it’s just a cold, call these people, you know, and I really tried to go through the sales training, and I was just like, this is just not me. I am a wooer, I am a connector, right and put me in front of people. And I can do that, but put me in front of a brand new person. And I’m like, a statue. I just, it just doesn’t, it doesn’t come natural to me.


And so that failure of being fired is really the pivotal point of what allowed me to take the opportunity that was presented to me a it was a goals, but the opportunity, because if I had a full time job, and it was still presented to me and saying is, Hey, move to Kuwait, I probably would have been like, No. And like many of the women you probably talk about, they want to change. But there’s so many other things they have to think about their family. Right. Yeah. The financial situation, right, their home. So the basic needs is like, wherever I live in and the scary, you know, the the the the thought of being scared of what if it doesn’t work out? Yeah. Right. And so I was in a position where I didn’t have to make that decision, because the decision was made for me, unfortunately.


But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t be where I’m at if that didn’t happen. Yeah, you know, and then I think that every situation is given to you as a learning opportunity. And you can look at it saying, I wish that didn’t happen, or you can say is, hey, it happened to me, what did I learn from it? And I’ll never know what my life would have been. And I’m okay with that. Right? I’m here because of those situations. And so, yeah, it’s, it’s, it turned something that I was so passionate about that, in an unfortunate event made me to be where I’m at today, and being able to combine that fitness and, you know, a professional environment into one.


Career coaching and self-awareness


Siobhan Barnes: I love that. And thank you for sharing. So honestly, I think when people get fired or made redundant, they that there can be a certain feeling of like failure, like, oh, I failed, I did something wrong, but actually quite the opposite. What I’m hearing you say is that it genuinely wasn’t the right fit. And I’m hearing so much self awareness around. I’m not a cold caller, I don’t want to be meeting new people put me in front of different audience for sure, I can connect. And I think so many of my clients, unfortunately, they come to work with me when they’re at that breaking point, and they just can’t, something might happen.


Maybe it’s a redundancy or some kind of change. And I often say like, the status quo is the most dangerous place to be because you’re just cruising. And to your point, it’s like if an opportunity comes up, it’s like, well, I’ve got golden handcuffs, I’m comfortable here. Why would I rock the boat? Maybe this is safer. But you know, that’s not really fully living, if that’s really not letting your soul on fire, and you’re just kind of tolerating life. So I really appreciate you sharing that. So for others who are sitting at their desk jobs, and they’re like, maybe I could contemplate another career path, but it’s too risky. What would you say to them?


Steph Poleman: I would tell them to hire a coach. The end, again, I’ve believed in coaching and so much performance coaching happens in all aspects of life. You know, it happens in, you know, the work in the professional, but it also happens in the gym. You know, when when we talk about accountability, and being able to have that neutral party, that it’s going to ask you the questions that’s going to make you think, because we can all day long and I’m guilty of it. I’ll be trying to make a decision and I’ll and I’ll write it down and I journal quite a lot of decisions that I’m going to make. And I’ll ask myself, Should I do that or should I not? And most of the time, I’ll try to talk myself out of it. Yeah, versus having that person that you trust.


And I have a I have a mentor. I have a coach that I pay every single month, and it’s a professional, it’s a professional coach. I’ve had coaches I still attend group classes. Right. I and because I need that accountability. If I can’t get into a group class that I have to train on my own, I’m like, there. This says 60 seconds of work. 20 seconds of rest, like yesterday’s workout, I would have probably rested for 30 seconds. Yeah, maybe 40 seconds versus having a coach there hold me accountable. You know, I’ve had nutrition coaches throughout my life, you know, having I don’t, unlike you, I’m an entrepreneur, but a solopreneur was the word you use.


So, yeah, where I don’t have a boss, I don’t have someone I don’t have a leader to go to and guide me, right. And so having a coach, a coach, like yourself, you know, who can ask you the questions that you actually are thinking to yourself? Is this possible? And that’s realistically the thing that you need to ask yourself is, is this possible? And and what is it that I want? What life do I want to lead? Am I Am I comfortable? Okay, sure. But weighing out those options, and oftentimes, you need someone else to help you weigh out those options. Or else you’re kind of just going to continue to talk yourself out


Siobhan Barnes: of that. Yeah, it makes me feel so much better to hear you still say that you would like not go full out on a workout because you obviously do this


Steph Poleman: for a living? Absolutely not. Yeah, I do it. And again, I believe I believe in coaching, I believe in accountability. When I got someone there with me, it’s it’s a much, much more enjoyable ride.


Siobhan Barnes: Yeah, 100%. And I feel that I mean, I live quite far away from the gym, and it’s quite a commute to come in. But I know that if I go there, to your point, at the beginning, I’m going to make the most out of that 45 minutes or 60 minutes, whatever the classes because it’s like, I’ve just spent the same amount of time together, okay, I’m gonna make the most out of it. But also to like, speak to your point about coaching, but also specifically performance that you want to work with a coach, I am 100% on the same page to help kind of push your edges and push you beyond your comfort zone.


But what I love about coming to the gym is like, you’ll just subtly put like, the heavier weight in front or be like, Okay, could you do like push a little bit harder or go a little bit deeper in the squat. And it’s just those micro adjustments that make all the difference.


Steph Poleman: And when I call those, I call those subtle suggestions, subtle suggestions. I like those, because you can choose if I put it in front of you, right, you can choose to either go with the same weight or pick up the heavier weight. And I says coaches often know you guys better than you know yourselves. It’s true. And so when we say to you, Hey, what are you capable of? You say, Oh, 7.5 you know, and when I let say subtly suggest something and it’s saying, Well, have you tried, you notice? I’ll say Have you tried the tens? You know, what’s the worst that could happen? Yes. You know, it’s um, with my with my mentor with my coach, oftentimes will be on calls. And it’s a decision that I’m making it, you know, do we change this program? Do we implement this? And I’ll it she always laughs at me because she’s like, Steph, you know that you just made the decision.


You just needed someone to hear you talk it through. Yeah. And she goes, I agree with you. But you just need someone there to be able to voice the way in which your your thought process is going. And you know what’s right, you know, that decision? You just need someone to be there to guide you. Yeah, man. She’s like, Alright, so we’re moving forward with that. I’m like, did I just say that?


Siobhan Barnes: Yeah,


Steph Poleman: it’s a subtle suggestion.


Siobhan Barnes: I love that subtle suggestions. And what I really there’s a few things I’ve taken away from the gym from a mindset perspective, because I’m always curious, like, ah, like, to your point, like, I think, okay, it’s just seven and a half, seven. It’s like, I’ll try the 10s. But it’s like, Alright, do two reps or full reps, and then do a drop set, just do a little bit more. And there’s one concept that I’ve never heard of, which was like lifting to failure. I was like, what, you know, like, try and lift it. And if you can’t find you’ve tried or, you know, it’s not as many reps.


And I was just thinking like, in life, how often do we apply that concept of like, giving it a try, and maybe getting it wrong, maybe failing? And that was like, the aha moment for me in the gym. I was like, Oh, I can try and it might not work, but that’s okay. And then the next time I do it in three months time, maybe I can because I’ve pushed those edges. So I think what you teach in the gym, like applies to life as well, because when we do hard things, when it comes to our physical health or in the gym, like it translates into life. So I’ve noticed that I’m more courageous in some of the conversations I have, or I’ll, you know, make a bolder decision that I might not have made before because I might well what’s, what’s the worst that can happen? So yeah,


Building confidence in fitness through group coaching classes and positive reinforcement


Steph Poleman: I think being courageous and being confident can come from strength training. And I say this often is, you know, I’ll, I’ve been working in the female specific space for over 10 years and, you know, I will I pay attention to people’s body language. Right and expecially in a class, you know, every every brand new member who comes in who wants to do group classes, they have to go through a strength intro session. And I’m typically the one who leads it. And so whether you have experienced or not, you go through this, and we teach you the five major movement patterns. So you’re a little bit more acquainted for what to expect in a group class. And I’ll just see how people come in.


And I write, it’s, it’s this timidness that people have towards being in the gym. Okay. And so the goal is, obviously to walk them through, get them to open up a little bit more. And then when they get into the group classes, it’s alright, you know, we’re going to start you off a little bit, you know, at a 2.5, or whatever the lowest weight is, you know, and then they start saying, oh, okay, I can do this. And so then the coach gives them that subtle suggestion, hey, can you do you know? How about we try the five and then they’re like, alright, I can do this. And then you know, next time, hey, what about the seven and a half? I can do this. And it’s your money yourself, you know, is I actually started the 2.5. Yeah. Right. And now I’m at the 7.5. And so then, what happens is this confidence is when you walk in, I’ll say, Shavon? You don’t wait, you’re lifting? Yes. Right.


And you’re confident enough already to know what you’re capable of doing? Yeah. And so then you do. And then now what you do is you go to staff, hey, stuff, you start doing that same exact thing, right? And so it’s building that competence within your own capability. And then what happens is now okay, I can actually push up a 10 kg overhead. Now, when I pick up my luggage, can I do it by myself? When I’m in an airplane? You know, is I incapable of doing this by myself? Where before I didn’t have, you know, I didn’t have the confidence in myself to be able to do it, but now I do.


So this is when it transfers over to those other things. And so that, that courage, you know, to do the things that you never thought were possible. Yeah. Right, that to explore the areas in which you were like, I was kind of afraid, but what’s the worst that could happen? What is the worst that could happen? Yeah, right. I feel but I try again. And so you know, there I self belief, self confidence are things that I truly believe in a gym come out of it, when you have the support system, who is also giving you that positive reinforcement versus, you know, telling you, you can’t do that you suck. Why are you why are you doing that? You know, the way in which you speak to people also make also is how they show up. And so I say this is like, you know, that people walk in timid and meek and mild in their, their body posture, right? I’ll also listen to what they how they talk about themselves in the class.


So when something gets hard, do they now start telling themselves I can’t, this is hard, I need to stop. This is uncomfortable. And so also using those things as think about like, I’ll try to do this in the igniters, or the blasters is saying is like, pay attention to the thoughts you’re having yourself when things get hard. Because if you can make it through this, if your grip strength, your mental strength can add push past another 30 seconds of being on that assault bike, you’ll be able to get you’ll be able to get through anything. Right? And then you get done with that. 30 seconds. You’re like actually, I was able to do that. 30 seconds when I thought to myself that I wasn’t Yeah, yeah. So yeah, there’s a lot of transfer over to that, that confidence, that courage, that self belief that you know, starts creeping in on you when when your body starts getting uncomfortable, right.


It’s one thing for your mind to be uncomfortable when you’re in an uneasy situation. But you add that body uncomfortable, you know, your heavy breathing, your high heart rate, your muscular fatigue, it’s a whole different ballgame. You don’t have you don’t have just your mind going in it. You have your body that’s also saying is okay, can I keep up? Can I not?


Siobhan Barnes: Yeah, yeah. And we need those reps, right? We need that practice to be to get more familiar with the discomfort and to realize that, you know, you’re not going to die, you’re just going to be uncomfortable, but you will. Just you might feel like yesterday’s session. My goodness, that was really, I did think I would die at one moment. So let’s actually transition that into that like, obviously you’ve had experience with CrossFit. You open a number of gems in Kuwait and they were a female specific. What what is it specifically that draws you to work with women?


Steph Poleman: Yeah, I think the the industry itself is always been a male dominant area and I Fitness really transitioned, who I was, it transitioned, how I felt about myself. And we need, we need people in our corner that understand that, and that are willing to work with us. And women are a little bit different women are different than men. When it comes to or goal, we can have men in the gym as well, right? But it doesn’t need to be this place. And I mentioned this before, it doesn’t need to be this place where you’re constantly looking at punishing yourself. It can be a place that you can enjoy.


It can be fun, but it can be progressively hard. And so, you know, when it comes to women in industry, you know, it’s it’s always been taboo that women don’t need to strike train. Right? You look back at ads, oh, God, there is this ad that I saw the other day from the 60s, you know, and it’s, and it was this tummy tumbler. And it says belt that you put around the stomach, and you sit there in it, it moves. Now the crazy thing is, is there still machines this day that you can go to that essentially jiggle, and move. Or there’s electro stimulating pads that you put on your stomach that is meant to send shockwaves through the fat to break it up. You know, and that’s the part that frustrates me the most because it’s an easy fix, or people are looking for an easy fix.


And my goal when it comes to female is show that there’s a lot more than just the physicality that can come from strength training. But as women, there’s more and more research that’s being done in the benefits of why we need strength training, obviously from an estrogen, we’ve always known what happens when we hit perimenopause, menopause and on our estrogen, significantly decreasing, but we’ve never realized what happens to our body when that happens, when that takes place. And so, you know, there’s a lot more information and knowledge out there not only to us, but also to the general population.


And so, you know, when it comes to fitness, it’s fitness is a lifestyle, you know, it is about your health and longevity. And so, if I can create a space, my biggest thing is if I can create a space that women can feel comfortable in company enough to be able to do the things that’s going to better them to make them feel good, then I would 100% do anything to make that happen. And so with perform that is the ultimate goal is we want everyone to come in and feel good, whatever that reason is, right? We have the tools and the resources to be able to do it to lead you into a better life. But ultimately, health and longevity, that is really the thing because, you know, life we are living our life expectancy is significantly increasing. Women especially. You know, and so if if we can live longer and be mobile on our on our own, and be self reliant, the better off we all are. And right.


And when we have a space that we can go into, right, we have a space that we we feel comfortable. You know, we have people who support us, it’s also our tribe. And so you have several different things that we’re looking at, when it comes to female spaces, hey, I know that I’m going to go and I’m gonna get the work done. But I have people that are supporting me, I have people who are guiding me, I’m getting better. I’m creating more longevity and health benefits than possible. Because most gyms don’t have that space specifically for females. Now it is because it’s much more popular now than it was before.


And I think that’s a great thing. I think so the more awareness that we have, the more space that that women can go and realize, hey, I too can do this, the better. You know, and I think that it’s just making sure that people know it’s available. And my ultimate goal. Your ultimate goal would be if we get someone here perform, who we’ve taught them the mechanics properly the best form we’ve we’ve increased their their self belief, their self confidence when they go on vacation. They’re now able to train on their own.


That is, unlike anything, it is the best feeling in the world. And I’m like the thing that you would have never done before. You now realize, you know what? This is a lifestyle. It’s something that I can do anywhere that I go, it makes me feel better. It makes me feel good, right? It’s part of my daily routine just because I’m out of the thing that I do on a daily basis or that I’m out to perform but that I know what I’m doing enough to be able to do it on my own. Yeah, so yeah, it’s It’s we need more of those. We need more of those spaces Mine just happens to be a fitness you know area but you know there are other there are other communities that also cultivate like minded individuals that that yeah just want to better each other instead of putting us down.


Identity, community and goal-setting in the gym


Siobhan Barnes: Yeah. So important. I was actually going to bring that up Steph just passed this past Easter went to Phuket. And I did that exact thing. I went to the gym found a gym, like googled it and researched it. Yeah. Do workouts. That’s why I have another friend Steph, who you know, and I’ll send him pictures. I was like, Oh, I’ve done that workout today. She’s like, Yeah, today’s a good one. And it was I had a moment where I was like, I’ve kind of similar to you played sports growing up. So it’s like hockey and netball. And I my identity was I’m a team sports player. And I would do running because that was the thing you do in your 20s. But gym goer, that’s not me, I don’t go to the gym.


And I realized on this trip, I was like, Oh my gosh, like I am somebody who wants a gym. That’s me. I was like I said, I sent a picture my friends, definitely whoever I like, doing these things. And but to your point, it’s become a habit, I feel better for doing it. And what’s so great about the gym is like time is spent to teach will teach us how to do it properly. So we’re not going to injure ourselves. Because let’s be honest, like that experience you mentioned of going to the gym was exactly mine, like kind of going here. I used to play netball for the football club. And I remember going into that gym and all the rugby guys are there. And it’s just like, I don’t want to look like an idiot and pick up like two kg dumbbells. I’m just gonna use the exercise machines. And it was like, that’s not for me. So I think you’ve done an amazing job to like build, like someone like me, like my confidence to be like, You know what I know how to lift now. And during COVID, obviously, you filmed a bunch of classes, and there’s like, even those at home workouts that we can do as well. So there’s really no excuses. So yeah, I think that was pretty cool. Yeah.


Steph Poleman: it’s what stops most people is what are people going to think of me the perception? Yeah. Yeah. And so it’s like, oh, it, it’s a crazy concept. It’s a crazy concept for me to think of, because maybe I’ve been doing it for so long. But we should be looking at those people coming in and saying good for you for making the choice to come in. Yeah, exactly. And instead, we think, oh, people are gonna make fun of me because of it. And it’s like, where do we get to the point where the gym is meant to be a place where people want to get better? Right? And so if I’m choosing to come in help support me. Yeah.


So it’s, it’s really a hard one for me to wrap my head around is like, why do people? Why why is it so intimidating? Right? Why do we allow the the thought which we don’t even know, we don’t even know what other people are thinking. It’s not like, you know, the we can remind, and we walk in, and everyone’s thinking too, you know, it’s like, Why is she here? Or why is he here? Right? We just assume that’s the thought that’s going into other people’s heads, and it kind of stops us altogether. Yeah.


Siobhan Barnes: And I think that applies to making any decision, right? Like, oh, if I leave and do a different job, what are people going to think? Or, you know, if I break up with this person, what are they going to think, right? We worry about other people’s perceptions of us. And then it holds us back, which is why I think as I hear you talk, there’s like two main themes that I think are really coming through maybe a third as well first is like identity, like you really help people shift their identity in terms of who they think they are, to build self trust and to build self belief that they can do hard things.


The other is like community like actually being around a like minded community to support you with your goals. And when your identity changes, your community will change to right to your point about what you were like in your 20s. And the third piece that we haven’t really spoken about, but it’s like, actually the power of intention and goal setting as well. Like you, you set those goals, you set those intentions, and they have come to fruition because you actually drew a line in the sand and you said, Hey, this is what I’m shooting towards, which I think not many people do. So I think that’s really, really important. 


Steph Poleman: yeah, we we do that, you know, when when someone joins perform, you know, goal setting has always been something that’s I’ve always done, you know, and I’m, I had a really when I was in HR, I had a fantastic mentor and leader who was my my boss, and he taught me a lot and goal setting is always been something that you know, when you talk about performance, you know, evaluations, you always talked about what are you looking forward to or what do you want to accomplish in the next professional development right? What do you want to work towards? And that’s a goal setting on its own.


But people think it just professional, but there was never, you know, you never talked about what you want to do in life, it was always only what do you want to for work? Yeah. And what happens in life dictates how you can show up for work. And so, you know, here perform, one of the things that we do is goal setting, with brand new members, but also current members every 90 days, and we sit down and and obviously we do measurements, it’s a way of being able to do progression. There’s a variety of different ways that you can measure but saying is like, what are you struggling with right now? You know, and where can we help you get there? But it’s ultimately, what is it that you want to accomplish in the next 90 days? Yeah, you know, here, here’s what you tell me. Right? Here’s what you tell me you want? Right? What do you want me to say? When you don’t accomplish that? Because that’s the biggest, you know, is that accountability aspect. And then some people don’t want to have that 90 day, and that’s fine.


But I also say is like, what is it that they’re afraid of having? You know, because if we have it, then you have someone who’s holding you accountable? So you tell me that this is important. But are we making sure that on a daily, weekly, monthly, you know, objective, what we’re looking at those objectives and saying, Am I moving towards the thing that I said was important? You know, and having that having that accountability, having someone like a coach like you being able to walk you through? But yeah, they’re they’re very goal setting strategies, very important. If it’s something that you truly want, and are interested in pursuing.


Siobhan Barnes: yeah, yeah. And I think that’s what’s great about the gym, you give us that option. So it’s like it’s there, if we want it. And the fact that it’s a non judgmental space is super helpful. So it’s really interesting, as I hear you talk stuff, I’m like, reflecting on like, all the incredible things that you do at the gym, and really, you’re a culture changer, right within that gym space, there’s a disruption to how things are done, right, like, I perform, I know that I’m not just a number, I know that the trainers know kind of where I’m lifting and where I can be pushed. We know, we know exactly, that. Sometimes you’ll do their sneaky videos, and I’m like, What Are you videoing before?


Steph Poleman: But you know what you don’t want? It’s important. You know, I don’t I don’t, I film a lot, but I don’t post a lot. Yeah, but But ultimately, the goal is to be able to say is like, this is where you were, and this is where you are now. Yeah. Right. And you may not want to do that. But But, but oftentimes, we just need those reminders, you’ve come a long way. And you like, and it is, it’s like, you know, I love being able to be in the class as a member with you, but also be your coach. You know, and oftentimes, I love seeing the dynamic between stuff. And you because you both you, you both are not pushing each other. Versus before it was like, I’m gonna sit back and you know, I’m gonna I’m only do the weights in which I think I’m going to. And so yeah, it’s been, it’s been incredible to be able to be there. And obviously CEU, from where you started, which was, you know, as part of the eight week program. Yeah. Which was, yeah, very, yeah. It’s, it hides it. I just love it. I love it. I love seeing the progress that women women have from the time that they come in to where they’re at now. And, you know, it’s, it really does. Yeah, it just makes me very happy on


Siobhan Barnes: the programming and everything just works. And I wanted to speak to that that eight week program, because for any of you listening, who are in Hong Kong, I will I went through that program, I highly recommend perform, if you haven’t already guessed with how I’ve been speaking about it. But that eight week program, I think is really, really powerful way to get the ball rolling for people who aren’t used to exercise and aren’t used to starting a routine. So I’m wondering if you could tell us a little bit more about how that program works and what’s involved. 


Steph Poleman: so that that eight week program is something that we run once a quarter it runs, obviously, for eight weeks. And the goal is that you have a group of individuals that are all starting and finishing at the same time. And we’re really looking at creating habits. Right. And, and oftentimes, you know, we we’ve previously talked about the hardest part is getting started. And so you know, when you have people who are there to hold you accountable, but also, it’s essentially hand holding you through the process, right. But on top of that, it’s we’re showing you on a daily basis, the group classes, but we’re also sending tips and content to you and we’re asking questions, we talk a lot about accountability.


But we also talked about goal setting. We talked about habit building, you know, and then there’s the education around fitness and health in general, you know, is do you understand, you know, what happens in your menstrual cycle? Do you understand what happens when you know the type of foods that you’re in taking, you know, we give tips and tricks in terms of nutrition, you know, if people want a little bit more guidance on the nutrition, you can, but ultimately what we’re looking at is saying is like, these are the things that we’re defining for the first four weeks, and then defining for the next four weeks thereafter, and not feeling like you guys are overwhelmed.


But at the end of the day, it’s how do we create the habits in which are important for you then to succeed? Post eight weeks? Because oftentimes, we look at something and saying, Well, it’s only for eight weeks, well, just commit to something short term, and long term will eventually happen. Yeah, because if I were to say to you, before you started the eight weeks, Hey, did you know that two years later, you’d still be part of perform? You probably like never, yeah, that you are going to MCAD and working out at your own? Never. Right? And so we, you know, we wanted to start small and big. And so eight weeks is a good amount of time are people like right, I can commit to that eight, I think we’re starting now our 11th 11th program on June 10. June 10, is the next program that we run. It goes from June 10, to August 4. And so you know, we that small groups that are there 10 people, but even though they’re part of a group, they still have access to all group classes. So they still can access any of the group classes that we have throughout the day, which is around 10 classes, you’re still part of the community of other perform members, you just happen to be in a WhatsApp group, going through this process with you know, 10 other women or nine other women that are kinda in the same boat.


So it’s, it’s a space to, for you to be able to open up to, will ask you is like, what did you succeed in this week? And what are areas that you want to make sure that you improve for the next or what are you struggling with? Because oftentimes, like the things that people struggle with, they don’t want to talk about, and when someone opens up, they realize, actually, there’s more people that are just like me, who are struggling with the same thing, you know, is like, hey, last week, I had, you know, we have an eight week going on right now. And one of them was like I hit you know, I, I put a goal up for myself to do four classes this week, unfortunately, got to three, because of so and so. But next week, I committed again to four, right?


And so instead of saying I only made three, and then the next week, only two, and then maybe only one, it’s cycling back, we’re looking at, alright, it’s a new week, how do we make sure that you guys feel supported enough to get into the habit of showing up for yourself? And then when you show up for yourself, then it carries on? Obviously after the eight week, which we have, I think a 95% We’re about 95% of the people who do the eight week then join in membership. Yeah. And that other 5% was scheduled? Or, you know, we get a lot of people who leave Hong Kong. It’s just, it’s the nature. Yeah, it’s the nature of the city that, you know, people either leave for work pleasure, personnel, whatever it is. So yeah, it’s a it’s a program that has been very, very highly successful, and just getting people to create those habits on a daily basis through, you know, the three categories that we kind of just we focus on, which is training lifestyle and nutrition habits.


So yeah, it’s it’s a, it’s a really good program for anyone who’s kind of thinking about how do I get started? Where do I get started, and need some sort of formatting and structure? Right, and because we provide that we provide you, these are the classes, this is the type of structure, this is the formatting. We’re essentially holding you through that accountability, but also making sure that you’re showing up for yourself. So yeah, it’s a it’s a great program that we continuously run. And I’ve had a lot, lots of our members actually go through and actually prove to themselves as like, actually, this is, you know, prime example, as you as this is a program that I thought that maybe would be a short term, and it ended up being something that I truly enjoy, and now are a gym goer, for life. Exactly.


Finding a gym or fitness program with a supportive community


Siobhan Barnes: And I think, you know, you’ve done all the hard lifting, right, you like you’ve done the thinking behind it. And that’s what I love. It’s like, I come to the gym, and I know that I could go Monday to Friday, and I’m working all the different parts, and I’m not overextending my body. And like, I just, I just feel so well taken care of. And I think with that eight week, it’s just, you know, like anything, if you want to start a new habit or focus on a particular area of your life, there’s a bit of, you know, courage or like energy, you need to, you know, build up, but then entering a program like this, it’s like, let yourself be held, let yourself be supported and let yourself be held accountable in a group. And I’ll share one thing I don’t think I ever mentioned this to you.


I remember, I did some PT sessions with Bernie. And I remember saying to her, like quite sheepishly, but like I really enjoy gin and tonic on a Friday night and you know, I know that’s really calorific, and she’s like, enjoy your gin and tonics like That’s it. Let’s just enjoy them and that omit us like, oh, it’s not all punishment, to your point earlier about what we think health and fitness is it’s not about making these big sweeping changes in one day and like making our lives miserable. It’s what I found since doing the eight week is that it is that slow, slow change, suddenly you’re going to the gym more often than thinking about food, then thinking about what you’re drinking, and maybe, in my case, more mobility and stretching is the next step. So it’s like it’s a step process and a step change.


So for anybody who’s listening, I’ll pop a link to the website so people can check out their eight week program. And even if you’re listening to this, and it’s past June 10. You know, as Steph said, she runs this every quarter. So you’re absolutely welcome to join future future rounds. What about those who aren’t in Hong Kong? And they haven’t found? They haven’t found the impetus to start this? What would you suggest they look for in their respective cities and countries?


Steph Poleman: Yeah, if you know, there’s the first thing I would say is Google, right, go to Google and try to find a group gym. If you can find something that’s got group base classes, that’s going to be a lot easier for you to be able to transition into mini boutique. You know, if I, I would also look at boutique gyms, which we would consider the smaller gyms, not the commercial gyms, because they’re going to have a little bit more of an intimate setting where the coaches get to know you, but they’re going to have some sort of onboarding process. And so that onboarding process, or some call it on ramp, which is kind of be ours, as well, but that you set, the goal is to set you up for success. Yeah. Right. It’s, it’s there to help you transition into those group classes. So I would say, go on Google.


The other thing is, ask you’re in your workplace, ask people where they go. Yeah. You know, because referrals are the best way to find out if you have someone that you’re like, hey, you know, do you go to the gym? And they say, Yeah, it’s like, what do you do training group classes? And they say, Yeah, would you suggest this for someone to go to not me, but just say suggest? And if they say yes, then listen to them, if they say, well, and then they start saying, you know, whatever reasons, and I would say, probably stay away from that place.


So I think that, you know, heavily rely on referrals and the people that you know, in your your group of people have, where they go, you know, look at the smaller boutique gyms but but number one is, try to find a group based class. Now, again, let’s say, you don’t have the budget for that. Okay, there are plenty of online platforms that you can do. But again, you have that motivational factor. So there’s a bunch of different things that you can think about, right? You can, I don’t, I don’t have the motivation to train on my own, then find somewhere where you can train, but I don’t have the money to be able to do it, then fine, then then let’s find a lesser cost, right. But I, that lesser cost, I don’t have any money, then there are free outdoor boot camps, and running groups that are available in every city for free, you just have to do a little bit research.


So if you know that you don’t have that motivation, or that encouragement on your own, then find a way to be able to do it. If you don’t have the money to do it at a group, you know, in a gym, then find out what’s free, start there, to one time a week, to two times a week, you know, do some walking, and then gradually that starts but the biggest is just trying to show the hardest part is showing up. Right? And once you do that, you’re like, alright, I can do this. Let’s do another one. And so yeah, there’s there’s plenty of group based gyms around the world.


You know, and I like you did you wanted to Google, you found a gym, right? I do the same. I do the same thing. Any anywhere that I travel to, I’ll go on to Google, and I’ll say gyms near me. And I read the reviews. Yeah, I go to the gym, I look at the pictures, and I read the reviews. And if people are talking really good things, then I have an idea of all right. This is a type of environment that I would like to be in. But you have to be willing to try as well. Try out different gyms visits, see how the staff talk to you see if the staff recognize you. You know, if those are the things that are important to you, then you kind of have to try to find something that works for you.


Siobhan Barnes: Yeah, that’s great advice. Super great advice. And yeah, start small and have the courage to start. That’s really, really important. And if you’re coming through Hong Kong, but you know, definitely check out the gym here and get started training that would always be cool. Awesome. Well, thank you so much stuff. I actually wanted to begin to bring this to a wrap and I thought I would ask some fun lightning round questions because there might be some performance listening, who are curious to know So I’ve got the questions. Are you ready?


Steph Poleman: I am ready.


Personal growth, values and self-awareness


Siobhan Barnes: Okay. All right. So are you an introvert or extrovert?


Steph Poleman: Ah If I had to categorize myself as one I would say extrovert. Thanks for as one extra.


Siobhan Barnes: I know they can we can sit on the line. Okay, cool extrovert. Yeah. If you had to pick one gym playlist would you pick country or hip hop? Oh.


Steph Poleman: Oh, hip hop. Oh, that’s such a jump depends on the class. I know. I shouldn’t. I know. I need to pick one. Okay, hip hop, hip hop.


Siobhan Barnes: Hip Hop for high intent like high intensity gym for I mean, country knows something else it.


Steph Poleman: Hip Hop if hip hop for high intensity country if it’s a little bit more low key. Yeah.


Siobhan Barnes: Okay. Nice. I’ve been enjoying the country playlists. They’ve been really good. I know. What’s your stop sign?


Steph Poelman: I am an Aries.


Siobhan Barnes: Aries. Okay. Oh, yeah, it was just a birthday. Okay, yeah. And if you could have one superpower, what would it be?


Steph Poleman: Once in power, I’m okay, to transcribe my thoughts into words on paper. Okay, it would, it would, it would save so much time of being able to whatever is going in this head, write it down and and be able to read Look at that. I think journaling is super important. I guess you could do that through spoken words. But I think that’s a little bit different. When I as as I’m actually saying this out loud, there are thoughts that are going through my head where if it was written down, and I could actually see it, versus when I journal. I’m writing it out. But it may not be as fast as it would be if it could easily go from whatever I’m thinking onto paper. Okay, that’d be my switch. That would be my superpower. And interesting.


Siobhan Barnes: I like that one. That’s a good one. Three character traits you most admire in other people.


Siobhan Barnes: Integrity loyalty and empathy. There’s a good ones. Those are good ones. I like those. It’s hard to picture three.


Siobhan Barnes: But there’s a good way it is. Yeah.


Steph Poleman: And if I will tell you so my three my three values are? Leave a legacy. Yeah, lead with integrity and love with high vibrations.


Siobhan Barnes: Hmm. Beautiful. That’s really succinct. Have you been clear on that? For a long time?


Steph Poleman: The first two, which is lead, leave a legacy leader with integrity. The love of high vibrations came up within the last like three years. But yeah, it’s always been, it’s always been say as you do do as you say, your words, you know, your, your words or what you have to back you up words are impeccable. And so making sure that what you say is, is the way in which you want other people, obviously to hear but also what you say back to yourself. And then love with high vibrations has been one that it’s just been cultivating much, much more as I get older, a little bit older, is understanding the power, the power of love. Yeah.


Siobhan Barnes: Really beautiful, really, really deep and meaningful and very helpful to have those as your guideposts. Do you use them in your decision making?


Steph Poelman: 100%


Siobhan Barnes: Yeah, nice.


Steph Poleman: I like in everything that I do. Yeah, yeah.


Siobhan Barnes: that’s perfect. Really, really good, really clear. If you could recommend only one book for personal growth, what would it be?


Steph Poleman: So I’ll tell you the book that I’ve given the most to people, which is the Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz. Okay.


Siobhan Barnes: So be impeccable with your word, right. That’s the one.

Steph Poleman: one of the ones I got that when I was back in Austin. One of my old coaches. With this one I was part of that account management role is one of my coaches gave that to me, and it’s been a book that I’ve given probably 15 Different of my employees over, you know, the last decade, it’s been something that I that I, again, your life values, the way in which you lead your life as a way that you show up for everything and so, you know, personal growth, professional growth, if you can understand yourself a little bit more, it’s easier for you to be able to lead lead yourself but lead others in the Nice situation. And so yeah, the The Four Agreements, I would say is, is that book for me?


Siobhan Barnes: Awesome. Well, I’ll link to that in the show notes as well, for anybody who’s curious to know about that book. Um, but yeah, 100%, right. And I think that’s the thing, right? Doing the self development work, knowing your values. That’s how you can live more in alignment with your definition of success. And it’s really, really important. And I think you’re just such a beautiful demonstration of someone who’s doing that stuff. So thank you for sharing that today. And for like, letting us in on your stories. So we know what was happening behind the scenes to get you here. So finally, in closing, is there any final thought that you would like to leave our listeners with?


Steph Poleman: A final thought? Yeah, I think find people, find coaches, find mentors, that will constantly challenge you constantly push you, but also question you in the direction in which you want to live your life. We got one life. And if we can live with purpose, we can live with passion. And we can still enjoy it, then that is the way every person should be able to, to move forward with. So yeah, it’s, it’s super important to have a support system. And people like yourself in again, in what you do for other women, it’s incredibly important that people know that they have somewhere to go that and someone to talk to but also someone to guide them. So if if you were to do anything, find people who are going to help you move forward rather than staying stagnant because life is too, too, too good. It’s too good for you to just stay in the status quo space.


Siobhan Barnes: Really, really well said thank you staff. As I said, yeah, thank you so much for sharing so vulnerably So honestly, and taking us behind the scenes on your journey. I’ve taken away a lot from it like and the one question I’m going to ask for myself, like my nugget of wisdom from you is like what’s the worst that can happen? Like, to your point like it’s really good. What’s the worst that could happen? Yeah. Golden Nugget amongst others. And for those listening, I’m going to pop a link to follow perform to check out Steph and her amazing work. And in final closing, just please remember you’re here for a reason beyond merely hustling, grinding and merely surviving, you matter.

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