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Anna Alessi + Talia Pernice: Building Strong Minds, Bodies and Spirits for Clients

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Two Hearts, One Mind could be the name of the business partnership in which Anna Alessi and Talia Pernice have created a welcoming spot for those wanting to improve their lives and invest in their health through cycling, personal training or even both.

“One of the things that makes us different and unique at Cycle of Heart is that it’s not your traditional workout. It’s not just about building muscle and resistance,” shared Anna. “It’s basically creating a pure heart because it’s the condition of your heart that is the lens you view the world through. And so, it’s really that inner connection. Our logo shows three sections of that heart, which are mind, body and community, and we really view that as the secret sauce, the activation of your own heartbeat.”

“I took my first spin class shortly after Anna opened Cycle of Heart in October 2019, and I fell in love with it,” recalled Talia. “At that point I’d been a self-employed personal trainer for eight years. I wanted to be part of this community and reach more people. I approached Anna with the idea and she said, ‘Let’s do it.’ So I got my Schwinn certification and I started coaching for Cycle of Heart in December 2019.”

Talia and Anna have known each other since high school days when they worked at Beauty Brands together. Both women have had a life-long passion for athletics and fitness, and although their paths to this partnership have differed, they share the same mission: to empower and inspire others not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well.

Cycle of Heart
Cycle of Heart was established five years ago with Anna at the helm, but the dream began many years before the business opened. She had a successful sales career and family, but something was missing for her. She longed for a try at a cycling gym because of her life-long love of athletics, especially cycling, but self-doubt clouded her dreams. She says her epiphany came one evening after putting her daughter in her crib. Looking at her, she recognized she wanted something better for herself and her daughter. She knew it was time to make the dream a reality. Anna shared her thoughts with her husband, Scott. She expected to hear the reasons this was a bad idea, but he wholeheartedly supported her initiative and suggested she prepare her business plan to get things spinning.

“Cycle of Heart was born out of the desire to create a space that welcomes all bodies in all stages. We believe that a pant size doesn’t warrant the ability to find joy in the vessel that God has provided for you. We believe in sparking joy through moving our bodies. We don’t use any mirrors, we don’t use any metrics,” remarked Anna. “We exercise with dim lighting so we don’t create an environment of comparison. It’s about creating an environment that lets you activate the warrior inside of you. We also believe pushing into the resistance as you apply it onto the flywheel of the bike allows you really to speak to your own personal hills and your own personal mountains. We believe that when you have an authentic voice throughout the workout, it makes it easier to talk to those true mountain voices, that criticism, the comparison. It’s about being able to close your eyes and activate the voice within.”

Grit Fit KC
The same positivity is reflected in the goals held by Grit Fit KC. Talia Pernice has been a personal trainer now for 13 years and opened Grit Fit KC in Gladstone, Missouri, in May 2022; it had been a lifelong dream. “Fitness is my passion and Grit Fit KC was built on the foundation of living a healthy and balanced life, and to coach my clients to love the body that God gave them and take care of it. I encourage them to be grateful and empowered by what their mind, body and spirit can do when they work in sync together and believe in themselves. Body and spirit are exact when they believe in themselves. I have always labeled myself as ‘your every day LIFE trainer.’ Grit Fit KC doesn’t have a specific weight or body type that labels you as strong.

“Grit Fit KC stands for the grit that’s foundational to my coaching message for my clients. G: Growth. R: Resilience. I: Inspire. T: Transform. These four qualities and more are also my foundation, growing through the work, the blood, sweat and tears and refusing to quit, creating transformation from the inside out. Grit is what evolves you on the daily, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. My motto is Can’t Stop Won’t Stop. GRIT Fit KC is about being strong in mind, body and spirit.”

Growing Up With Sports
The partners each enjoyed sports as young adults, which enhanced their lives. But even with the bolster of self-esteem that athletics can bring, negativity also crowded into the picture. “I was an athlete my whole life and always felt like I was bigger in size and trying to constantly put myself in that comparison mode,” noted Anna. “So, as far as my body came, I never really felt comfortable and good in my own skin.”

“I was an athlete all my life but lost my way in my late teens and early 20s,” Talia recounted. “At 21, I weighed 187 lbs. and came to the harsh reality that it was time to make a change–a big one. My personal weight loss journey led me to be a trainer. My journey was long and hard but it sparked a desire in my heart to help others on their journeys, to be a support and let them know they are not alone and that they can do anything they set their mind to.”

Over the next 13 years, Talia served as a trainer at many facilities, creating an impressive roster of clients, many carrying special needs with them into training sessions. The hope was that they could improve their lives. “The unique thing about Grit Fit KC is it’s a private studio. My clients range from their mid-90s to their teenage years and the services they focus on are not only physical fitness; some seek rehabilitation from life-altering health conditions,” she noted. “I train clients who have had strokes and are learning how to walk again and balance. I’ve trained clients who are fighting cancer. I’ve trained amputees. When my clients come in to train, it’s just me and them and the weights. And that is what enables me to make their experience truly personal.” She also shows her versatility by teaching two cycling classes during the week.

“I come from a big, close-knit Italian family that means everything to me. My parents raised me to put God first and to trust Him in all things, to be strong, hardworking, to have a servant heart, and to always be kind to others,” Talia continued. “I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without them and the morals they instilled in me since I was a little girl.” She and her boyfriend, Josh, reside in Parkville, Missouri, and are parents to three dogs, Brutus, Hank and Charleigh. “I love my family very deeply. I am blessed with the best.”

Positive Choices
Cycle of Heart and Grit Fit KC, located in the heart of the northland, Gladstone, Missouri, offer a unique experience for their clients. The staff focuses not only on the outside but the inside as well.
“Each coach has their own style. We all have our specialty, our missions, and that helps us to reach so many more people because our clients are not getting a cookie-cutter experience that you find elsewhere,” commented Anna. “Here, your coach really speaks to you. This is not a traditional corporate gym. It’s really about the character of each coach and letting them develop their own language with the community. Our clients say this is a great opportunity to connect with a coach who’s completely different, with a completely different experience.”

“My focus on my clients enables me to make their experience truly personal. It’s more than just the physical workout. It’s therapy for the mind, body and heart. We laugh; we cry; we talk about life. My goal is for every client to leave with their cup a little fuller than when they walked in. You can’t find that kind of experience, in my opinion, anywhere else. We don’t have to work around people because this gym is truly private,” noted Talia. “People may think that they don’t need a personal trainer, but I have found that it is worth the investment if you’re going to take this seriously and really do a good job with trying to navigate your health journey.”

These two ladies, successful in solo careers and now co-partnering in a business, offer encouragement for those looking for a life-changing path. “For me, it’s believing in yourself and standing firm in what you built your business on. Never lose your fire and stay humble. A big thing for me and my business is to take time to truly get to know the people who come in and support me in my business. Listen and learn from your client base and make them feel like more than a dollar sign to you,” Talia advised.

“I agree wholeheartedly with Talia. Not losing sight of your customer, what are their goals, what are their desires. Then keep going back and measuring your business, customers and clients,” Anna shared. “As a business owner, it can get really lonely. It’s good to have a group of other entrepreneurs who you trust and you can bounce ideas off. You can call them and ask what they’re doing for social media or what’s working for them. It’s even more impactful in a group of entrepreneurs.” |