By Shelby Longland, ‘13

As a busy mother of three, Kellie Amberger, C’11, knows how difficult it can be to find time for exercise. “I personally needed to find the answer that was going to help me get in better shape,” she says. 

This led Amberger to open up Koko FitClub, a fitness center in Fredericksburg. Koko is a nationwide franchise, and the Fredericksburg location was the first to open in Virginia. She explains, Koko is “nothing like a traditional gym. It is the world’s first automated personal training studio.” It offers simple and quick workouts tailored specifically to clients’ goals. Amberger knew that if Koko's Smartraining System worked for her, it could work for others.

Amberger found much of her inspiration for this project from her classes and experiences at the University of Richmond School of Professional & Continuing Studies Weekend College program.

Amberger reflects that her classes were much more meaningful to her at this stage in life than they would have been 20 years ago with a “typical” college experience. “We read and studied many different subjects: economics, globalization, government, business and art to name a few.” All of the subjects pertained to her life, especially as an aspiring business owner. The knowledge she gained from these courses contributed to insight that she found useful when starting her business.

Amberger draws parallels between Koko FitClub and the Weekend College program. Just like FitClub is tailored to people with busy schedules, the Weekend College program is customized for working professionals. The classes take place on Friday nights and Saturdays, giving everyone an opportunity to earn their degree.

Like a fitness program, Weekend College is very demanding, Amberger explains. Although the professors were understanding of students’ situations as professionals and parents, the workload was heavy and time management was often difficult. But Amberger explains that she was “determined with her studies” and successfully emerged from the program with a newfound sense of optimism.

Amberger believes that if something is important, it can be accomplished in spite of all other obstacles. This idea helped her to persevere through the program because she recognized the importance of having a degree, regardless of its difficulty. Earning the Weekend College Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree gave Amberger the confidence to pursue her new business venture in uncertain economic times.

Amberger was optimistic about Koko FitClub because she recognized the universal importance of exercise for improved health and well-being. She believed that if people acknowledged the value of a quick, effective workout, her business would be successful, despite the bad economy.

Something as crucial as maintaining physical fitness, like the process of earning a degree, is worth working toward, despite the challenges.

Amberger wanted to earn her degree to set a good example for her children, but she also recognized the vital importance of having a degree in a competitive market. She explains that she never thought she would appreciate her education as much as she does now.

Amberger feels fortunate to have found the Weekend College program, which fit her schedule and gave her the knowledge and confidence to continue with her life goals. She says that continuing her education was one of the best decisions she ever made, and she hopes to continue reaping the benefits of her education by opening more Koko FitClubs in the future.