Melika Salvemini is the owner of Kaia FIT -Woodland, Arbuckle, and Vacaville and Oasis Club and Spa. A passionate advocate for women’s health and fitness, Melika is the real deal. Already a lifelong athlete (she was collegiate volleyball player too!) she was faced with an uphill battle after injuring her ACL. For many people an ACL replacement, although life impacting, doesn’t threaten their livelihood. For Melika, it was life and job altering.
Part of what draws women to Melika’s classes and her gym is her ability to physically do the things she asks of her clients. With this being challenged, she decided to do something she preaches; Just show up. Knowing she was bringing Kaia FIT to Woodland, she was fearful of her ability to teach the classes. So, she started taking Kaia FIT classes and found that through modifying the moves she was able to gain strength and mobility that were previously thought to never fully return. Within a short time period, she was back to her awesome, athletic self.
Melika is approachable, likable and absolutely talks the talk and walks the walk. She truly is someone who has gone through all the self-doubt and mental mind-games to come out the other side feeling better than expected. Through her own experience, she is an example of how patience and perseverance works.
Here’s my conversation with Melika.
When did you first think about opening your own business?
To be honest, I never planned on owning my own business. It just fell into my lap about 12 years ago. I started as a personal trainer and managed a gym, Main Street Fitness. I then became a personal trainer at Oasis. It was during a time when there weren’t a lot of personal trainers so, I was slammed busy all the time. The owner of Oasis at the time decided she wanted to sell and offered it to me!
When you were offered Oasis, what were the steps you took to become the owner?
As scary as it sounds, when I started I literally had no clue what I was doing. It’s been a learn as I go process! Looking back now, I just wonder, “How did I even do this?”. But I started going to Chamber functions and the best thing I did for myself was talk to other business owners. I asked a lot of questions. The first step I can recall was going and applying for my business licenses and meeting with the current owner and coming up with a business plan. I remember really trying to figure out what the next steps was, in particular with my employees and with my classes. It was bare bones but it was different than building something from the ground up. I took over an active business and made it my own.
One thing about Oasis is that we are the only women’s gym in Yolo County. That’s a perk for sure and I focused on that. I went to every health fair and event that the community held and I was surprised at the number of women who didn’t know Oasis was open, and we’d been open for 30 years! I advertised in the consumer guide, we didn’t have social media at the time, and I walked door to door and hung over 10k fliers.
Did you remodel or change anything right away?
When I took over Oasis it was on a downhill slope. I didn’t do a ton of remodeling but I did do basic interior updates like paint and flooring. Then I slowly, one by one, started replacing the equipment. That is something that I am still doing today. It’s so expensive, so piece by piece it began to turn around.
What is Oasis and Kaia FIT?
Oasis is a full-service women’s fitness facility. My main goal there is for it to be your one-stop shop for women. You can get your hair done, a massage, work out, yoga and you can even get a cup of coffee. It’s my little haven for women; There are no children, no husbands…just a place for women to go and enjoy what ever it is they feel they need to do for themselves. Kaia FIT is a branch of Oasis, and is a year-round lifestyle program with coached workouts and a nutrition plan. It’s a nice compliment to Oasis.
Tell me about why you decided to open Kaia FIT?
I had a full ACL replacement and the process of healing was super depressing, I mean this is my job! I did nothing, other than the bike, and I really felt I was never going to be the same. A friend told me about Kaia in Natomas and I started going every morning at 5. I remember my first day, thinking I was going to look like such a fool and fearing that I wouldn’t be able to do any of the workout. I was amazed because Kaia made it so I didn’t feel foolish and I was able to modify the moves. I couldn’t jump, but I was shown how to modify so I could go along with what the instructor was doing. I also liked that there were all kinds of women in the class, all at different ages and abilities. Within six weeks I felt like a new person.
There are people, including me, that are intimidated to join an organized, group workout after an injury or illness. What can you tell those who might be feeling this way?
Coming back from an injury is scary. I’m still scared about playing volleyball, it’s not like it just goes way. I think you look around and you see that we say, “Here’s a push-up and here’s what a balanced push-up, a strength push-up and a Kaia push-up looks like. Do what you feel comfortable with.” Our coaches are so good at helping, they’ve been trained that way. The certification was the hardest things I’ve ever done. Not everyone passes, even a few of our own coaches have had to take it more than once. It means that not just anyone can coach Kaia.
We’ve been trained to create an environment where you are comfortable working out but we push you in a good, healthy, safe way. That’s the difference between you going to Kaia and doing Group “x” at the gym. Through Kaia, we get to know the client and can assist in modifying the workout. It’s a lifestyle program, not a single workout that you go to once in a while. So, the coaches get to know you and what you can and can’t do. It is definitely personal training in a group setting. It’s cost effective, plus you have the camaraderie. I think that’s why it works.
Do you own only the Woodland branch of Kaia FIT?
I have the Woodland, Arbuckle and Vacaville franchises. There are over 60 Kaia FIT franchises open in Northern California, Texas, and Idaho. Kaia Fit began five years ago in Tahoe, where the founders are from, and is growing.
How have you changed the way you do business since you started owning your own business?
The biggest change is I now have systems in place. For years I was floundering because I didn’t have processes. For example, I have a procedure when I have a new employee or a new coach. Even for when I have to talk to a coach. I’m still working on it but the organization part of the business is important. I prepare two weeks out rather than scrambling for tomorrow. It’s one thing I like about Kaia, it every systematic. People are creatures of habit and so, I know the entire year is mapped out. Plus that comes with a set of tasks that I can now easily follow.
What’s your favorite time as owner of Oasis and Kaia FIT?
When people come back to the gym or Kaia and comment on how much things have improved, and that they can see how much we love what we do. You do this work because you love it and have the heart for it.
Being a mom and a business owner, how do you stay balanced?
You know, that’s always a balance. I think in general, with women it takes work. I’m learning to get over the guilt factor and know that I’m doing the very best I can. When I’m with my family, I focus on them. When I’m at work, I focus on work. I’m learning to divide that time and put 100% where ever I’m at.
What do you want Woodland to know about your business?
I would love Woodland to know we are about heart and making women feel safe, strong, comfortable and beautiful. We can make a program that will work for any female in Woodland. We have amazing coaches and a lot to offer to give women the foundation for a healthy, active lifestyle.
1240 Commerce Ave. Ste D
Oasis Club and Spa
1317 College Street