Richard Giorla : Living Proof of Purpose and Passion

Paradigm Shifters is a series of interviews with a select group of women and men from eclectic walks of life. It will highlight unspoken, real-life insights on how they have been able to turn weakness into strength. A naked soul point of view of how their breakdowns were really a preparation for breakthroughs. They are your quintessential paradigm shifters; internal shifts converted into genuine change.

Everything I have ever done has been focused on this underlying theme of shifting the paradigm because, "What we think determines what we feel and what we feel determines what we do." Hence, why Empowered by You takes lingerie, which has traditionally been seen merely as a tool of seduction and redirected that energy as a tool of empowerment.

I hope from these stories you will look at your own situations, struggles and accomplishments through a different lens. At the very least you will be more equipped with real life tools to change your own paradigm. At the end of the day, we are our own Alchemist turning the silver we were born with into the gold we are destined to become.


Richard Giorla - Founder & CEO, CARDIO BARRE

Can you tell me about your journey from a career ending injury, to creating the amazing Cardiobarre. Tell us more about this breakdown moment and how you were able to not only pull yourself out of the despair but create something beautiful and powerful from it?

Before Cardiobarre I was a professional dancer. I loved dancing and had a great career. I danced with Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, the greats!
I suffered a terrible injury which took me about two years to heal from. Two years became too long of a time to be out of dancing and the injury ended up ending my dance career, which was my passion and my life. It's said that all creation comes from two things: inspiration and desperation. I was a little of both, but leaning more towards desperation. I felt I had nothing to offer, I couldn't dance. What could I do with my life? I had no direction.
Although it was such a low point in my life, I can now step back and appreciate the fact that the injury changed me and pushed me into a new direction. Cardiobarre would have never existed if not for the injury. Cardiobarre, however, didn't happen overnight. I spent a lot of time after my career searching, thinking what is my next chapter? One day I took a workout class called "The Class". It was very low impact so I could do it but also had the difficulty and challenge I look for in a workout.
The Class went out of business in about a year so I decided to purchase the business from the owner. Keep in mind that here I am two years out of dancing and 80,000 dollars in debt. I didn't have a dollar to my name and my credit card bills were piling up. I had to beg all of my friends and borrow money to buy this studio. But it was an amazing concept, one no one had heard of before. The studio is a miracle, magical studio and really took off, we have 23 studios. A lot of my success lied in the way I ran the studio. I've done everything myself right now and I love what I'm doing.

Cardiobarre is incredibly successful. Ashlee Simpson, Dakota Fanning, and Janel Parrish are just a few of the celebrities that boast about Cardiobarre's amazing workout. When did Cardiobarre really take off and become the amazing business it is today and what makes it so special?

For the west coast I was the original barre class. Even now, where there is a plethora of barre focused studio, our studio is genuinely different. The bar is really the only similarity. I was reading some review and a client put it so perfectly she said, "cardiobarre is a class of its own".
Cardiobarre really took LA by storm. We focus on empowering women, Cardiobarre allows them to understand their strength and confidence through fitness, but in a feminine way. I think the success of Cardiobarre lies in the leadership and the personality behind it. In order to achieve success, I believe it's absolutely essential to have a powerful influence or charming personality, an "it" factor. My personality is very funny and exciting. It really draws clients in and during hard times truly got me through. The combination of having a magnetic personality, loving what I do, a little luck, and a little grace truly turned something into greatness.

Running your own business is an impressive feat. You have previously said you love the "freedom and autonomy" that comes with it but can you talk about the more difficult parts of running your own business?

As an owner you work at such a high level of passion and performance. You have a very specific idea of how things should be done. Now, getting others to operate on this level of high standards is extremely difficult. People are very creative and are going to do things their own way. But I have a franchise and that franchise is about following rules and doing the same system or the system breaks down.
Finding a team that is equally as driven with the same goals and values is incredibly difficult. It's almost unattainable because nobody is going to work on the same levels. Here I am, putting my dream in the hands of other people who may not share my vision for Cardiobarre. Because of that it doesn't come out the same way and sometimes doesn't succeed. Franchising is generally very difficult, but so important. But, for the most part I have been very fortunate to work with a great group of franchisees that do share the same vision, and together we share the same passion.
Education is also very important. When I was younger I was impulsive, wild and care-free. I could have slowed down a bit, been more patient. Because of my impulsiveness I've made many mistakes. But mistakes to me are just learning curves, and with each mistake I become stronger and better for the next time around. Mistakes are really just lessons. Regardless of the difficulties, I love what I do, I've made many mistakes along the way but I kept pushing. I've been through some really hard times and think, "I'm never going to make it through." But everything is temporary in life, and if you keep pushing through you will look back on that difficult period and say, "I made it through."

You say your mission is to help others, "live a healthier and more meaningful lifestyle," what to you constitutes a "meaningful lifestyle"? What are your guidelines for living a happy life?

Success can mean many different things to many different people. I personally believe success is about having a sense of achievement. This sense of achievement is derived from having a successful business but one that lights people up.
Financial freedom is great and seems to be the driving factor behind many people's career decisions but for me financial freedom is shadowed by doing the right thing. The money is secondary, it will come, but I'm purpose driven. I have to have a reason, and that reason gets me through the financial winters. Doing the right thing means contributing something positive in others life. I work to inspire a positive direction of someone's life. Most of the world lives in mediocrity, it's not for me.

What kind of legacy do you wish to leave behind?

I want to leave a legacy of contribution and changing lives. Those two things generate meaning in my life.
I want to elevate the culture of mankind and plant seeds of inspiration. If someone feels better after they leave my class then I have succeeded.
I want to leave knowing that I mattered, that I made a difference, and that I elevated the culture. I hope to make people happier. We all are on very different paths, I want to inspire my clients to be the best they can be.

If your life were a book, what would be the title for 2015? What about for this year?

I don't even know if they're different..."Staying away from mediocrity".
Life is so short and so precious. We're only here for this brief, brief moment and I don't want to waste one precious moment in being average or mediocre. I want fulfillment. I advocate for living your purpose, living your passion.
I love the saying, "the two most important days are the day you were born and the day you figure out why." You find out why you were born and you find your purpose, your calling in life. This purpose consists of the things you love to do and the things that are most important to you. Unfortunately, most people aren't doing that.
Cardiobarre is my legacy. Everyday is a reminder of how short life can be, I want to play full out in everything I do.