Mountain View fitness professional Candy Smolik was always comfortable at the gym. After 15 years in the industry, she believes she has succeeded at providing a space where others can learn to love their workout environment in the same way.
At Fit Theory, Smolik’s personal training studio at 2482 W. El Camino Real, she works one-on-one with clients, many of whom, she’s convinced, would not be getting exercise if her business didn’t exist. Many people don’t want to work out at a gym chain, Smolik added, for reasons including dirtiness, crowds and feeling intimidated.
“People or even other employees were bullies, and the hourlong personal training sessions can be daunting,” Smolik said of her previous experience with gym chains. “An hour (can seem) so difficult to fit into your schedule when you’re taking care of kids or dogs, etc.”
Fit Theory is routinely sanitized, and the number of people in the studio at any given time is monitored just as closely, because Smolik wants the space to be as inviting as possible.
“If someone is older or brand new to fitness, this is a great environment for them,” she said. “It’s something great for their health that they wouldn’t be doing otherwise. There are no people filming themselves and posting it to Instagram, there are no selfies. None of that happens here, and no one will be staring at you. You’re happier because you’re working to live longer when you’re here.”
Building a business
Raised in Texas, Smolik worked at her first gym job in college, and the personal trainers left their training manuals and handouts at the front desk for her to study. By the time she took the test to qualify as a certified personal trainer, she had an extra year of training compared to her peers. Smolik trained people until she moved to California for graduate school, and just afterward, in 2017, she opened Fit Theory at 4846/4856 El Camino Real in Los Altos.
“It was kind of a landmass issue,” Smolik said of how she found the Los Altos space. “I lived in San Francisco at the time, but I envisioned the concept of being able to get in and out of the gym (easily). If you’re training for 30 minutes, you shouldn’t be spending just as long to find parking. That won’t happen in San Francisco.”
Smolik searched for a nice, big open space and settled on the Los Altos studio. It was in the mix with residential space, which she loved. She set up shop and faced the cardio machines so people could look out the windows. In another room, she laid down green turf so clients could still feel like they were getting outdoors when it was raining.
She moved across the street to her new Mountain View studio last year after her landlord approached the city of Los Altos and was approved by its council to build the incoming Altos One housing complex. Although it’s a new space, Smolik took pains to preserve the ambience of the old.
“I had a whole room dedicated to plants, one that was full of plants and fake grass and had big, open windows,” she said of the original studio. “I’ve re-created that (at the new space).”
Smolik’s forced move enabled her to perfect her vision for Fit Theory. With her new lease, she won’t be moving for at least eight years. She feels like she has ironed out the wrinkles in her business plan and has finally hit a sweet spot.
“Running a business on my own has been really exciting and really educational,” she said. “The extra hard work that I’ve put in over the last few years is paying off through the positivity (present) in other people’s lives. … It’s hard, don’t get me wrong. But it’s definitely worthwhile.”
As a small-business owner, Smolik said she’s had to miss milestones like weddings and birthday celebrations, and stressed the importance of letting others help.
“Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it’s going to take a village to create a business,” she said. “It takes a lot of luck, a lot of hard work and a lot of help. Try not to wear all the hats. Find someone educated in each area. … If there’s something someone is willing to help you with, or you know they can do it better, let them.”
Last week, Smolik celebrated her March 6 anniversary with her “village.” As clients came in Thursday evening and Friday morning, she put out a spread and enjoyed the company of those who have supported her since she started her business.
“I’ve loved the hard work, but some days it’s been harder than it should have been,” Smolik said, referencing some of the personal battles she’s fought since filing for a business license. “Now, (approaching) the anniversary, it was like I had this breath of fresh air. All of a sudden, I came out from under the water.”
For more information on Fit Theory, visit fittheorystudio.com.