We had the good fortune of connecting with Maggie Ciechoski and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Maggie, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I’ve spent most of my life encouraging others to be happy and follow their hearts. I’ve always had this sense of responsibility for lifting others- which is the biggest reason I pursued my Master’s degree in Social Work. The ironic part is that for as long as I could remember, I was hyping up other women, but I couldn’t find the self-worth to empower myself. I would do everything possible to make someone else smile and feel good, and then as soon as I was alone with myself, I would pick myself apart. It was crushing, but I never knew how to love myself.
I think women can really identify with that concept. I was “successful” in other people’s eyes: I enlisted in the Army and was at the top of my class, moved to Asia for a year, got my Master’s degree, and everyone thought I was thriving. But I couldn’t feel that for myself.
After a few years of doing therapy and literally devoting my life to helping others feel better and change their lives, I realized that I was truly unhappy. My job was stressful and toxic, waking up each morning was a chore, and I was miserable all the time. I think the saddest part was that I bottled up all that stress and anxiety all day, and then I would go home and unleash it on my husband. I was watching my world unravel. Mentally and physically, I was the unhealthiest I’ve ever been. You know how they say change is terrifying? They’re right. But I was slowly killing myself on the path I was on.
I had an epiphany that was both life changing and terrifying… Yes, change is scary. But ya know what’s scarier? Looking back and realizing you’re in the exact same spot as before. I didn’t know exactly where my personal training business would take me, but I jumped all in.
Entrepreneurship is NOT in my genes, anywhere. I was raised to believe that a secure job is all that matters, even if you don’t love it. I thought I would love social work and therapy, but it burned me out. So even though I see entrepreneurs on social media every day, the concept was foreign. I was so afraid of failure, though I was more afraid of wasting my life in a career that made me feel less like myself each day. I grew up in poverty and should have been a statistic- so I felt like I didn’t have any reason to be my own boss. To go along with that, I grew up believing money was evil. We never had enough of it, so I grew to be scared of it. As you might imagine, that’s a really bad attitude to have when you run your own business. I had to really work through those limiting beliefs, and I still am daily. The great news is that it’s getting easier with practice!
I realized quickly that combining physical health and mental health was a game changer for everyone- including myself. In short (after a long intro!)- my thought process was that I needed to finally learn how to practice what I preach. I spent forever empowering others. I needed to learn how to empower myself. And so, I left my full-time job and jumped into running Team Prevail.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I take massive pride in being able to combine such a vast variety of skills and values and offer them to every client I have. Personal training requires so much more than just creating a workout program.
I am blessed to have extensive experience in both mental health therapy and physical training. I learned so much from being a therapist, and I also learned how to push through any obstacle thanks to my time in the Army. There’s a balance between being tough and being vulnerable- and I help my clients find that balance in each session. I’ve met many personal trainers, and I’m very proud to say I’m the only one I know that can bring the expertise of both mental & physical health to the table. I also only work with women and have a specialization in Women’s Fitness, so I can focus solely on how to train the female body.
I believe adversity builds strength, and I’ve had my share of adversity. I grew up in poverty, and I almost ended up stuck in it. I grew up watching so many people struggle with drug and alcohol addiction; it’s just what people did in my small town. I swore to myself that I would be different, but I ended up struggling with drugs and alcohol myself. Even while I was in college, I was binge drinking. I was suffering from anxiety and depression, so I used substances to cope. At one period in my life I felt completely helpless, and I developed anorexia. I was hospitalized, and figured suicide was the only way out. I was trapped…and looking back, it doesn’t seem crazy considering how I was raised. But eventually I found a small glimmer of hope to heal and recover. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done… but I couldn’t be more thankful that I was able to rebuild my life.
Overcoming serious mental health challenges is extremely difficult. I had to first understand WHY I was suffering. I believe that our trauma is not our fault, BUT our healing is absolutely our responsibility. At a certain point I realized I was the only person holding myself back. There were so many days that I felt like living was just impossible, let alone being “successful” in any way. But I pushed through. I thought about where I came from and how I never wanted to end up stuck like that. Moment by moment, day by day, I worked through the trauma. I don’t think anything worth having should come easy…and I am very proud of who I am today because I had to fight like Hell to become her.
I want the world to know there is always a way out. Nobody ever handed me anything. Statistically, I should be dead or addicted to drugs. And maybe someone reading this can relate. I believe the world is yours for the taking, but don’t ever expect anyone to give you a handout. My clients work hard every day in their training, and no one can do it for them. Knowing that makes the feeling of pride and accomplishment SO MUCH MORE enjoyable. I want every woman in the world to feel this power. I’m on a mission to help every woman, virtually or in-person, and you better believe I’m not stopping any time soon. “Team Prevail” came into existence because I know how it feels to have my back against the wall, and how it feels to be kicked when I’m down. Every woman I work with knows this feeling in one way or another as well. And yet, we prevail. Always.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I grew up surrounded by farmland, and now I’m blessed to be living in the Phoenix area. Even though I live in a metropolitan area, I still spend most of my free time outdoors. I can’t tell you about the “best” or “trendiest” restaurants, but I can show you incredible beauty out in nature. From kayaking on Canyon Lake to exploring the wilderness near Camp Verde- let’s get lost outdoors.
This is making me realize I need to explore the city more, because honestly, I spend most of my time pretty far away from the bustling city life!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I wouldn’t be here today without all of the guidance I’ve had from teachers and mentors along the way, and for that I’m forever grateful. I hesitate to think of where I would be if I didn’t have so many giant hearts and gentle hands guiding me. My parents and grandparents, of course!
But more than anything, I’d like to shoutout my husband, Paul. He’s been my biggest supporter and has never questioned my dreams. He’s my boulder- showing me the parts of myself that I couldn’t see and reminding me daily of what I’m capable of. I’m beyond grateful to have him by side each day. He’s my best friend, my soulmate, and my hero. I never thought life could be so incredible…thank you, my love.
And to my mentors that don’t even know they’re my mentors, thank you! Grant Cardone, Tony Robbins, Andy Frisella. I’ll share a stage with you soon enough!