Meet Smart Mama: Amy Leon

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Co-owner of CKO Kickboxing in Charlotte, NC. In 2013,

while still on her honeymoon Amy and her husband, Danny half joked about leaving their careers in journalism to start a franchise business. In January 2014, two months shy of their first wedding anniversary, the Leons opened the doors to North Carolina’s first CKO kickboxing gym. The following month, Amy and Dan found out she was pregnant with their daughter, Maya. She is what we call one bad mamma jamma!


How did you get started?

Dan and I were not really feeling as focused or rewarded in journalism. We both felt like it would be fun to do something else. We knew a colleague who was doing the CKO workouts and the idea struck us. When we returned from our honeymoon, we enrolled in a local CKO and loved it.  Shortly after that we met with a franchise representative and the rest is history.


How did you transition from the media industry to health and fitness?

I  have a BSW and I feel as though I have always been gravitating towards the health and fitness industry. I  have also struggled with body image issues and I just felt good about helping other people.


What does your day look like?

I try to slip in a workout at 530am, which keeps me sane. Then, I wake up Maia at 615am to prepare her breakfast. Today, I had to be at the gym at 9am for an hour long class I teach at 930am. Then, I telecommute on my second job from my office at the gym. I reopen the gym at 4pm and teach another class. When I have shorter days, I spend them with Maya. It helps that now she is at an age where she can attend pre-school.


Which do you prefer –  employer or employee:

I feel like on one hand we built in the flexibility when Maya was born so that we could witness all of her milestones,and then the business took a turn, so I got a second job to bridge the gap, and mitigate some of the pressure. Some days I am very happy being an employee and others I wouldn’t mind being an employee again.There is real estate development in the area and I am hopeful that business will stabilize. There are a lot of positives and we plan to stick in it for the long haul.


Is it hard to find time personal time for you and your husband?

That’s still a work in progress in terms of making more of an effort to spend time together as a couple. The routines are still evolving;Maya is still having potty challenges but her Grandmother is a great help.


What advice do you have for Mom’s thinking about starting a business?

I would say definitely be very thoughtful about your decision. I would suggest you start by figuring out what your ultimate goal is while keeping the end goal in mind, and know what you want out of it. You should decide what you are willing to give up early. Lastly, and most important, do your due diligence.


What is the most gratifying aspect of this venture so far?

As far as the people that we get to interact with, to hear them say that we’ve helped them. Seeing people get so excited about their lives. I love that there is something for everyone. There are all kinds of people and this is a place where everyone can come. It’s had its up and downs but we have worked very hard to create a sense of community in North Carolina. It’s a very communal group.


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