My name is Kristie Alicea. I’m a native New Yorker and proud Latina (Puerto Rican American) who has been in the fitness industry since 2011. I was born in Brooklyn, raised in Queens, and lived in Manhattan for about 4 years; I’m what you can call a “New Yorican.” I grew up dancing and went to a performing arts high school in Manhattan; LaGuardia Performing Arts. I continued dancing in college at Rutgers University. However, I graduated with a double major in Communication and Spanish. But Dance is actually how I got into my current career. I started taking Zumba classes so I could increase my cardio in preparation for backup dancing. But then it was a recommendation from the instructor to get a certificate in teaching Zumba that changed everything. That was the gateway that would open up my life to the fitness industry, which I have been in for over 10 years now. I have had the privilege of working at Gold’s Gym, New York Sports Club, Equinox, Barre3. Then in 2017, I entered my next chapter in the fitness industry and became a co-founder of a new boutique fitness studio in Brooklyn. In 2020, I started my new business baby, ABC Fit Collective where we work with women before, during, and after their pregnancies. When I’m not training clients, I love being outdoors and active. I thoroughly enjoy all things around food; cooking and finding great new restaurants. In 2021, after living in New York City for my entire life, my partner and I moved to Miami. I decided to ride the wave of change while down in Florida and pursue a sober lifestyle which I have really been enjoying. I feel like I hit the refresh button on my life! Link: abcfitcollective.com
Tell us about your childhood and where you grew up?
I grew up in Brooklyn, NY with two amazing Puerto Rican American parents. I went to a catholic elementary school where I was one of the only non-white students so I learned about race at a very early age. Both of my parents worked in Manhattan so I was basically raised by my grandparents. Both of my grandmothers didn’t speak much English, so at a very young age, I remember being a translator for them. I grew up very close to my extended family so I always had cousins, aunts, and uncles around. My sister and I got into dance classes as a way to keep us active (I had an insane amount of natural energy… and I still do). The dance ended up being one of the main themes in my life, using it to get into a magnet middle school; Mark Twain in Brooklyn. And then using dance to get me into NYC’s top performing arts high school, LaGuardia Performing Arts. Growing up, my parents always liked to travel so they took me and my sister all over the world. Traveling showed us how big the world really is and taught me how to dream. My mom worked in fashion and had to travel a lot for work and I remember being so intrigued by where she would be going on her travels. Both of my parents instilled a strong work ethic in me and both of my parents really inspired me to continue to break racial boundaries. My father, a Puerto Rican American, on Wall Street, and my mother, a Puerto Rican American in the fashion industry in the 80s and 90s. Both of them are so inspiring to me and continue to ignite my passion.
How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
At a young age, I always knew I would work for myself. I started working at the age of 14 because I was ready to make my own money. At the time, I didn’t have the slightest idea of how difficult it could be and I especially didn’t know what industry I really wanted to work in. But I knew that whatever I wound up doing, I would be my own boss. After college, I always worked jobs where you were basically running your own business within a larger business. For example, I was a recruiter and was responsible for acquiring my own clients. When I got into fitness and started my personal training career, I was also responsible for acquiring my own clients and taking care of my own business. After working as a personal trainer in NYC and helping to create a new fitness concept, I knew I was ready for something of my own. I started ABC Fit Collective as a solution to many of my pregnant clients’ needs, not realizing I was starting my own business.
What is one business lesson you would tell a startup founder?
People do business with people. Especially people who they can trust. It is important not to lose sight of who you are and what you stand for. Your work is what you do, not who you are and at the end of the day, people want to know who they are doing business with. Another thing I tell myself often is, if it were easy, everyone would do it. Running and operating a business is not easy, there is no specific manual to follow and there aren’t many people telling you “great job” at the end of the day so you have to be okay with all of that prior to entering this arena.