IAM1989 – Co-Founder and Former Athlete Helps Her Clients Reach Fitness Goals

Podcast Interview with Christa Dalakis

In this episode, we have Christa Dalakis, where she shares her journey as an entrepreneur and the unique features of her fitness business.
Christa highlights the importance of creating an inviting and inclusive atmosphere in her gym. She also shares her insights on employee management and the role of a CEO.
She emphasizes the significance of basing workouts on scientific principles and individual goals rather than just making them hard for the sake of it.
Christa believes in creating a workout environment where everyone feels comfortable, regardless of their shape, age, or fitness level. This approach not only motivates people to achieve their fitness goals but also fosters a sense of community and support.

Key Points:

  • Background: Christa Dalakis was a two-sport division one scholarship athlete at George Mason University, participating in Women’s Fast-pitch Softball and Women’s Volleyball. Post-graduation, she played with the Connecticut Brakettes, a Women's Fastpitch team. In August 2002, Christa joined the Greek National Softball Team, winning GOLD at the 2003 European Championships B-Pool. In 2004, she was selected to be an alternate and assistant coach for the team at the OLYMPIC SUMMER GAMES in Athens, Greece. In 2005, she contributed to the team's A Pool Silver win at the European Championships.
  • Breakaway Fitness: Her venture, Breakaway Fitness, showcases her athletic prowess and ability to inspire and motivate her clients to be at the top of their fitness game.
  • CEO Hack: Use the learnings from “Good to Great,” a book by Jim Collins to manage employees and grow companies.
  • CEO Nugget: Christa suggests that everyone is replaceable and changes are inevitable. As a CEO, you will always be your best salesperson.
  • CEO Defined: She defines being a CEO as a bittersweet experience involving great responsibility and a lifestyle that is always ‘on.'

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Christa Dalakis Teaser 00:00

It's like you'll get people who just let me make the craziest, hardest workout I can think of. Well, that's not really helping anybody if you're not really basing it on anything scientific or what their goals are. It's and we always say this. It's easy to make a workout hard. But what are you doing to make that workout better for that person?

Intro 00:19

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkness values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I Am CEO Podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:46

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I Am CEO podcast, and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Christa Dalakis of Breakaway Fitness. Christa, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Christa Dalakis 00:57

It's great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Gresham Harkless 00:59

No problem. And what I wanted to do was just read a little bit about all the awesome things that Christa is doing so you can learn a little bit more about her.

Christa was a two-sport division one scholarship athlete in women's fast-pitch softball and women's volleyball at George Mason University. After graduating, she played with the Connecticut Brickettes, a women's major fast-pitch team.

In August of 2002, Krista made the Greek national softball team, which won gold at the 2003 European Championships B Pool. In 2004, she was selected to be an alternate and assistant coach for the team at the Olympic Summer Games in Athens, Greece.

In 2005, she helped the team win an A Pool silver at the European Championships. In the gym, Christa is known for her sarcasm and her ability to Christa people. To be Christa'd is to be suddenly find yourself doing something you had no intention of doing before, which is not a bad trick for being a trainer.

Christa enjoys spending her time with Jeff and their son, Gordon, and her twins, Alani and Farrah. She loves anything to do with being outdoors. Christa, it is awesome to have you on the show. Are you ready to speak to the I Am CEO community?

Christa Dalakis 02:08

Let's do it.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 02:08

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Well, the first question I had was to ask you if there's anything additional you want to tell us about your CEO story and what led you to kind of start your business.

Christa Dalakis 02:17

Well, I have an interesting story. I actually went to college not for what I'm doing now. So I wanted to be a sports reporter and I went and worked at ESPN after I graduated college and I was getting paid 6 50 an hour. No benefits. And I looked at myself and I'm like, I'm a college graduate. I'm getting paid 650 an hour and I am not happy here.

So I moved back down to the area from Connecticut, started working at news channel eight. And I had an epiphany. One day I looked around the newsroom and I said, everybody around me is miserable, including myself and the people who really weren't just love the kind of misery that goes on in the newsroom.

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So I decided right that moment that I was done and I was just gonna start doing training on the side and kind of pursuing a different career. That's kind of how it started. I started doing some training and teaching classes. I became certified. Clearly, I was an athlete my whole life. And so I have that background.

And then the irony is I got fired from my job and then so I was like, well, I guess this is the time. You know, I called my mom and I said, Mom, I just got fired from my job and she says, well, that's the best thing that could have happened to you. And then that's kind of how Breakaway Fitness started.

Gresham Harkless 03:34

That's funny. It's funny how the universe works in a way, but it's funny. that you mentioned that too, because I always I love sports so much and I love writing. So I always thought I would be a sports reporter too, but I too knew how low those wages were. So I said, maybe I should try to do something else.

So I feel your pain with that.

Christa Dalakis 03:50

Just to be clear though, I wasn't fired for, from what I did. I didn't do anything wrong. She was mad at who would now. was my husband. We worked together. He was my boyfriend at the time and he had quit. So then she fired me. So just to make that clear, I didn't do anything wrong.

Gresham Harkless 04:05

Yes, that's a good clarification is important. I appreciate you saying that. So I guess, could you tell us a little bit more about what you're doing with Breakaway Fitness?

Christa Dalakis 04:13

So we are a private personal training company. We have, you know, for the general population, we do training. And then also we have a strength and conditioning facility for athletes.

So we started our business 16 years ago with personal training and then strength and conditioning for athletes. We started that location nine years ago. So we've been doing it for quite a while. We actually have physical locations. We don't just go to places. We work out of our own locations. We love what we do.

It's a really fun job. Kind of get to hang out. We work out motivating others, have a healthy lifestyle and way to describe our gym. I always say it's the cheers without the beer. I don't know if you know, the TV show cheers. Whenever you walk in, everybody knows your name. It's just a really fun place, but there are serious workouts happening.

So it's not only Hardcore but fun.

Gresham Harkless 05:04

Awesome. Yeah, that's huge, especially for a lot of people that may not enjoy working out. You know, they kind of see it as something that they dread doing and knowing that it's important but not actually wanting to do it. But obviously having and creating that environment probably helps out a ton as far as getting people engaged and excited about being healthy and fit.

Christa Dalakis 05:22

Yeah, absolutely. I'd like to say that People always ask me to describe our gym. And you know, I say the cheers without the beer, but the other determining factor is what we've done with our business is that we make anyone feel comfortable. And I know that sounds crazy, but nobody cares in our gym. Nobody cares if you're in shape.

Nobody cares if you're out of shape. Nobody cares if you're young, you're old. You're a man. You're a woman. Nobody really cares about anything. It's just a very nice, free atmosphere. And that's why it works so well. And people who do care end up not staying because nobody cares.

Gresham Harkless 06:00

Exactly. That's important. So you might have even touched on, I guess, the part about, like, what kind of makes you guys unique?

Is it? Is it just that piece? Or you have some other things that you feel like make you unique?

Christa Dalakis 06:10

Well, yeah, I'd say it's that piece. It's a really inviting atmosphere. But also, I would say, all our trainers all kind of go through the same training. before they start working with clients. So no matter if you were to come train with us, if you were trained with me one day and Joe Schmoe the next day or whomever the next day, you wouldn't lose a beat.

We train all our trainers so that you can move your schedule around. Someone might have a little bit of different personality. Obviously not everybody's as awesome as I am, but that's that's a joke.

Gresham Harkless 06:40

I got it.

Christa Dalakis 06:43

Laugh along. So we do train our trainers and we base our workouts on science. I know that sounds like what everybody should be doing, but guaranteed not every gym is doing that.

It's like you'll get people who just let me make the craziest, hardest workout I can think of. Well, that's not really helping anybody if you're not really basing it on anything scientific or what their goals are. It's and we always say this. It's easy to make a workout hard. But what are you doing to make that workout better for that person?

Does that make sense?

Gresham Harkless 07:15

Yeah, it makes perfect sense. Makes perfect sense. That's awesome. And especially like you mentioned, like if somebody shifts their schedule around, it's like you're not gonna miss a beat because you can still continue with what you progress on before with the other person that you're working with.

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So It's kind of like, I guess everybody knows your name and also knows your workout too. So that's a, that's a joke as well.

Christa Dalakis 07:34

Yeah, there you go.

Gresham Harkless 07:36

So I went to ask you next for what we like to call a CEO hack. So this might be like a resource, a book or an app that you feel like you use on a regular everyday basis that makes you more efficient and effective as a CEO.

Christa Dalakis 07:49

So I was told by another CEO many years ago to read the book From Good to Great. I don't know if you've read that book.

Gresham Harkless 07:56

It's a great book.

Christa Dalakis 07:57

It's a great book. And for me, what I've always said, and I love talking to other business owners, and it doesn't really matter what business. All businesses go through the same crap.

It doesn't matter what your business is guaranteed you all go through the same crap. So when I was reading this book, and you know, they based the stories of this book on big Fortune 500 companies, but what I took away from it was not every employee is meant to be the CEO or the manager, or whatever you wanna say.

You kind of try to guide your employees to where their strengths are because not everybody's management material. Not everybody is, you know, just a worker be material. Some people don't even deserve to like be working that they should just be managing because they can't do the day-to-day operation kind of thing.

So that book really kind of took our business from just being, you know, a mom and pop shop to learning how to deal with employees and growing the business with the employees.

Gresham Harkless 08:57

Yeah. And that's, I mean, that's great insight because it's kind of like knowing thyself. So understanding where your strengths are, but also understanding your employees or contractors or people on your team, understanding what their strengths and weaknesses are.

So you can kind of put them in the best place to be successful.

Christa Dalakis 09:11


Gresham Harkless 09:12

So, the next question I wanted to ask you was for like a CEO nugget, and this might be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice or something that you wish that you knew as a younger business owner.

Christa Dalakis 09:21

I actually have a couple because I've learned the hard way. So I will try to be brave, but a couple of things are number one is everybody is replaceable. I used to think that this person couldn't be replaced, but I've learned that everybody is replaceable.

And when things change, it's okay because Usually it kind of works out for the better because this person left because they were unhappy or this person left just because they moved out of the area or whatever the case may be.

It usually works out. And I used to think, Oh my gosh, I can't lose this person. I got to throw more money at him. I got to give him this, do this. And really what I learned is the more I gave them, it never got any better. So everybody's replaceable and going along that route is You should always be prepared to replace someone.

Gresham Harkless 10:11

Yeah, that's huge. Just because, yeah, like you said, you know, you always have to be thinking ahead and understanding that you can't be afraid to, you know, maybe get rid of somebody or even probably move somebody in a different place if it doesn't work out and it might turn out to be a better situation.

And then, like you said, like people's lives change, people move, things happen, people get other offers. So you can't, you also have to be prepared for that person to leave as well.

Christa Dalakis 10:34

Absolutely. And the other thing I learned is just, you know, this is our business too, which is, you know, it is a sales business, but hopefully it sells itself is that if you're talking to any CEO and I've said this before, is that you as the business owner will always be your best salesperson.

I don't care who you hire to do any kind of selling. You will always be your best salesperson. It doesn't matter because you know your business. You believe in your business and you believe what you do, you will automatically sell your business better than anybody else.

So when you say I want to hire this, that or the other, you are always going to be your best salesperson. That's my other little nugget, I guess.

Gresham Harkless 11:14

Yeah, it's huge. And like a lot of people that start businesses or start startups and organizations, a lot of it is coming from a Passion. So that kind of spills over into the, like the sales arena where you're so passionate about what it is that you're doing and you saw maybe a gap or an opportunity and you want to kind of tell the world.

So when you bring that person on or you hire that person, they don't necessarily have that same passion. So it may not necessarily be able to kind of replicate that. So I think those are phenomenal points.

So one of the next things I wanted to ask. you, which we get the opportunity to have different types of CEOs on this podcast, whether it be startups or people that have big, huge Fortune 500 companies.

So I wanted to ask you, what does being a CEO mean for you?

Christa Dalakis 11:52

Wow. You know, what does it mean for me? No, I'm kidding. No, you know, it's a bittersweet place to be, right? So some days you just want to walk away. Like you don't want to deal with managing others.

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You're responsible for their salaries. You're responsible for people and their health benefits and this, that, and the other. And sometimes you just like want to escape. But on the other hand, it's again the same analogy. It's the beauty of that too, right? That you've created this thing and that you are responsible for other people and you are making other people's lives better.

And this is just as the CEO, you know, your employees, you give them, you know, great benefits. You make it a fun environment for them to go every day. So, I mean, would I have it any other way? No. Or some days you want it the other way. Yeah, you want to go home and not have to stress about Oh my gosh. Are we going to make it enough for to, you know, everybody's salary or, you know, do we need more clients or do we need to do a, B and C and you're constantly thinking about it.

And sometimes you, you just want to like go to work and then leave. Right. As you know, you're a CEO. Sometimes, you know, you're constantly going in and other people might not even realize they think, Oh, well they're not working. They're off doing whatever, but you were always working when you're a CEO.

I'm on my bicycle and riding my bike for my exercise and what am I doing? I'm thinking about my next thing or whatever I'm doing for work tomorrow, whatever it is like to help this, that or the other. And it's never-ending. I don't know if I answered your question.

Gresham Harkless 13:25

Yeah, I mean, I definitely think you did. I mean, about like the honest perspective of it because I've always seen it as like a roller coaster ride because there's incredible highs, but there's also can be incredible lows and it's definitely, you know, a nonstop roller coaster. So I definitely would agree with that.

Christa Dalakis 13:38

Yeah, and I've thought a lot of that, you know, you go through some tough times with like employees or whatever. And there have been times where I'm just like, I'm done. I'm just gonna go get a 9 to 5 job.

Yeah, those tough times. And sometimes, you know, you got to just push through and just keep plugging along, right? There's gonna be, you know, tough times with everything in life.

Gresham Harkless 14:01

Yeah, it's very true. And a lot of times the people that become the most successful aren't necessarily any smarter.

or have better skills, so to speak. They just have kind of persistence and they kind of stick with it and ride through the ups and downs and side to sides and everything else that comes with owning a business.

Christa Dalakis 14:17


Gresham Harkless 14:18

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Well, Christa, I truly appreciate you taking some time out of your schedule.

I wanted to give you the floor. or give you the mic, so to speak one more time to see if there's anything additional you want to let our readers and our listeners know. And lastly, how people can get a hold of you.

Christa Dalakis 14:33

Gosh, what else can I say about running a business in the fitness business? I will say this as I always try to tell trainers when they first come interview the fitness because I know you're doing a lot of fitness interviews.

The fitness business is not for everyone. And a couple reasons is, is that you are working all early mornings, all late evenings and on weekends. That's the business because people are working out when they're not at their office job, right? The other thing I would say, cause my husband and I run this business together.

If you want a family, do not go into the fitness business with your husband. And the only and I don't say that in a bad way in the sense that we can't get along. It's more of with these crazy hours. It is virtually impossible to have a family without hired help and family help to help you. get your kids to A B and C because they need to go to A B and C when you're training people.

It's really challenging to do it together. And I know that's very appealing for some. But I'd say, you know, if you don't want a family, more power to you. It is very challenging if you, if you want a family. My direct email is Or you can just find us on the internet and just reach out.

If you just want to talk shop too. I love that. I love talking shop with business owners. It is really fun for me. So I'm up for that as well.

Gresham Harkless 15:57

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Well, Christa, I truly appreciate the great and awesome things that you've been able to do and accomplish. And anybody that does want to follow up with you, we will have your information in the show notes.

But thank you so much again.

Christa Dalakis 16:08

Thank you.

Outro 16:09

Thank you for listening to the I Am CEO Podcast powered by CB Nation andBlue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at I Am CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community.

Don't forget to schedule your complimentary digital marketing

This has been the I Am CEO podcast with Gresham Harless, Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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