Kait Hurley of Move & Meditate on what inspired her to become an entrepreneur, why you shouldn’t take things personally, and more!
Describe your business in a few words?
The Move & Meditate app and website features classes ranging from high intensity sweat fests to guided runs to yoga flows to more restorative options. Every single practice ends with meditation—but meditation is far from an afterthought. It’s the heart of the experience. Mindfulness teachings and awareness training are woven into the movement portion of every class to help you get stronger, uncover more joy, gain clarity, build trust, and increase compassion.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
Eventually it became more difficult NOT to start my business. The more my meditation practice deepened, the more I felt like fitness alone wasn’t enough. The combination of movement and meditation was giving me all kinds of benefits—more energy, more compassion for myself, less stress in my daily life. It felt inauthentic to not pursue the dream of the business and at least try. At the end of the day, what motivated me was a deep burning desire to share the practices that have been so transformative for me with others.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
Prior to starting my own business, I worked for a fitness brand teaching group exercise. I also worked in marketing and branding.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Actually, no! I had no illusions about the stress of running a company and how much work goes into it. I also didn’t consider myself to be much of a risk taker. I loved having a steady paycheck and I actually saw myself growing within a company and staying there for a while. Everything shifted shortly after I took an 8-week meditation program with my mentor and teacher Kimberly Carson at Oregon Health & Science University. Meditation unlocked something inside of me I didn’t know existed. It shifted how I viewed the world and how I saw myself too. Suddenly, the main driver for me became, “How can others access the teachings and practices that have helped me?” Part of me felt like I had just stumbled upon the most insanely delicious recipe for chocolate cake, and I wanted others to have the option to eat it too.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
In the months leading up to when we launched our business, my focus was on building an audience. I collected email addresses and started posting on social media. I also planned a trip to New York and started reaching out to brands, influencers, and editors inviting them to join me for class. The first 6 months when our website was live, we were just testing it. We didn’t have high expectations—we just wanted to know if the practices resonated. Did people like working out online? Did they connect with the meditations? Did they feel successful and appropriately challenged? I spent a lot of time just collecting feedback and learning about members of the community. My goal was that everyone could feel a personal connection. I wanted to keep communication high-touch, like they were working out with a friend. Once we realized people were resonating with the classes and practices, we started making plans to launch an app for iOS.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
In 2019, I got hot on the idea to build an app for the Apple Watch. Something I didn’t quite understand was what was required to maintain an app for Apple Watch, both from a development and content perspective. In the end, I made the hard call to back off on the Apple Watch app and focus more of my energy, attention, and resources on the apps for iPhone and Android. At the end of the day, that’s what the community wanted more, and I have my hands full with those two apps.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
We’ve gotten some fancy press—like a shout out on the TODAY Show. Honestly though, seeing my name or the company’s name in the news doesn’t do much for me. It’s nice because it helps other people find us—so don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to get press—but what really excites me is hearing from the members of our community. One woman emailed me to tell me that while she was busting out a series of squats, she realized that her whole life, she felt like she was exercising with the goal of losing weight. In the middle of class, she had an epiphany where she realized that she was already great and that her body was already ok and fine the way it was. She told me she particularly struggled with hating her thighs, and during class she asked herself the question, “If my thighs stay the same size for the rest of my life, can I be ok with that?” Yep! Turns out she can. She made peace with her body in the midst of a high intensity sweat session. That’s the kind of thing I live for. Another cool story is from a woman in Pittsburgh named Jenna. She was out on a run listening to an audio class, when suddenly she felt like she was part of everything and everything was part of her. She experienced a moment of connectedness and pure grace. The mindfulness teachings became something she embodied for just a moment, and she tapped into something bigger than herself. It amazes me to see what surprises people discover when they practice.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
When I’ve interviewed people in the past, the thing I’ve looked for is passion and drive. Do they care about movement and meditation? Do they care about the members of the community? Whatever energy and enthusiasm they bring to work is going to come through to the community and in the classes. That’s what counts.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
The health and wellness space is now pretty much all online. Classes and experiences that previously were not accessible or available are now accessible and available for more folks. For example, next week, I’m teaming up with someone based in Denver to host an online event. Pre-pandemic, that never would have been an option unless I was planning to fly to Colorado. In this space, we’re seeing more collaborations, more class options, and just more stuff happening. At the same time, people are struggling. A subscription (like mine!) that costs $24.99 a month might be impossible for someone who’s laid off, underemployed, or just struggling with a tight budget at the moment. That’s why I rolled out a program to try to address some of the inequality in wellness. You can learn more about it here (https://moveandmeditate.com/pages/equity). My hope is that anyone who might benefit from these practices is able to access them.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
I’ve got dreams for the future, but my focus and attention is on what’s happening now, not what’s next. Covid has shown me over and over again that I can plan and strategize all I want, but anything can happen in any moment. I’m done with making long term plans. Instead my intention is to show up, ready to serve the community now with a new class offering each week. I’m keeping it ridiculously simple and honing in on connecting meaningfully with the community.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
The preciousness of life and how ridiculous it is to spend our time wishing we were different or our bodies were different. In the wisdom traditions, the body is a vehicle for living our purpose and it’s a means to experience the richness of life. Especially in the wellness space (as a collective in the West), we tend to think of health and wellbeing as tied to what we see in the mirror. How the body looks is not that interesting to me. What really pulls my attention is the magic that’s flowing through each one of us. How can we be brave enough to see that magic and let it move freely? How can we open our hearts and have clear enough vision to trust that what we need is already here? That’s what gets me fired up..
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
I wish I could tell my younger self that when the outcome isn’t exactly what I imagine or hope it to be, it’s still ok. I’m still ok. Don’t take things personally—because it’s not personal. It’s just what’s happening. Even when I’m up all night worried about something, I’m still learning and growing. This experience has been a massive process of self discovery.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
I’m not sure I have stayed grounded this year. In January, my beloved brother died unexpectedly. We were very close. Every day I’ve been working with massive waves of grief. My loved ones and my meditation practice have helped me stay present when there is no steady ground to stand on. I’ve gotten more comfortable being wildly uncomfortable. I’ve stopped beating myself up for struggling, and I’ve gotten really good at asking for help.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
For me, work/life balance has never worked. Despite the best of intentions, it becomes something I end up getting graspy with. In a nutshell, striving for work/life balance is another way I might strive for perfection. Neither work/life balance or perfection are real to me. They’re just creative ideas and expectations the mind has about how it thinks things should go. My benchmark is to just focus on doing the things I need and want to do to have a full, satisfying life. Am I moving my body? Am I meditating? Am I sleeping and eating three meals a day? Are my relationships nourished? That’s the baseline (not in that order of importance necessarily!). Work fits in around that. Work is an integrated part of my life.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I absolutely love F1, as in Formula 1 Racing. The Netflix Show Drive to Survive turned me into a superfan. I love how every single detail of every race matters—and how it takes a village to pull off a win. It blows my mind how a driver must not let their idea of how fast their car can go get in the way of how fast it can actually go. Basically each race feels like a giant spiritual teaching. It’s all a giant pointer back to mindfulness and the wisdom that has been passed down through the ages.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
- My 3 Ms are matcha, movement, and meditation. Starting my day with these three things really makes a difference.
- If I’m struggling to focus, I set a timer for either 22 minutes or 44 minutes (my favorite numbers), and I force myself to just sit without distractions and get work done. No breaks for texts, water, or for petting my cat. Just grind. The timer really helps if there’s something I’m resisting.
- Don’t eat lunch at 2pm. Eat it sooner. I struggle with timing meals sometimes because I get swept up in what I’m doing. Then I hit a wall. If I stop and take a break closer to 12:30pm, I’m so much more focused in the afternoon.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
It means someone who embodies the fierceness and the humility to stay in the game—especially when it’s hard. And someone who tries their best, no matter what. At the end of the day, being an entrepreneur is about providing a service and being in service to the community. I keep that top of mind each day.