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This is why I train: Leslie Polizzotto
An interview with bande member, Leslie Polizzotto, as part of bande’s life athlete series.
"It sounds crazy, but it's true. Working out every day is the only thing I can control. With bande, I'm in a real class, and i'm going to push it as hard as I can."
Tell us who you are? What do you do in life (work, family, volunteer, etc)?
Leslie: I’m Leslie Polizzotto, for the past 8 years I’ve been an entrepreneur. I own a hand-crafted doughnut shop in the West Village in Manhattan. My journey is pretty unusual because I wasn’t a baker, I was an attorney practicing in California. My husband and I would come to NY a lot. On one of our trips, I met my business partner who told me he wanted to open a doughnut shop. I pulled out my phone and showed him pictures of doughnuts that made me feel happy when someone would bring doughnuts to the office. I’ve always noticed that people’s moods change, when someone brings doughnuts to an office - donuts make people happy! Period. I ended up leaving law and helping my partner open a shop. We had lots of PR early, and now our doughnuts are known all over the world. The success has been unbelievable! It was new to both of us. In the early years it was a challenge to stay alive. Now the business is six years old and I'm running it by myself. My husband has his own business so we're both very busy. We’re best friends and love to travel when we can. I stepped back in to run the business when the pandemic happened. I changed the business model, and it's never been more successful. I scaled back from two shops and 25 employees to one shop, the original location, and 4 employees. I decreased shop hours to 5 days, 5 hours a day. The products and creative marketing strategies keep people coming back every week. I do lots of collaborations and partnerships with other businesses and brands to create Weekend Specials which are available for 3 days only, then they’re gone forever. So every weekend, we have a new creation. The inspiration for our flavors comes from food and cocktails. Grown up stuff, not captain crunch and Oreos, more like beet and ricotta. We have 154k followers, and people come visit us from all over the world, Japan, Australia, every day.
Why do you train?
Leslie: I do care about being in shape, I’ve always been that way. Growing up I did ballet and gymnastics, and in CA I was really into yoga. Interactive yoga, 2 hrs, drenched, you could barely walk and I loved that. I came to NY, and yoga was like a nap! Then I met Bergen and was instantly hooked on her methodology and how she taught. I fell in love with her brand. I was one of the first to sign up when she went to bande. All of the trainers are amazing. I’m training to help me with my mental strength and stress release. If I didn’t work out I’d be a mess! Physically I train to be in shape. My business is very physically demanding, lifting, squatting, carrying heavy boxes to a downstairs basement. If I wasn’t training with bande, I don’t know if I could do all these things by myself.
What are the big challenges you face?
I have a business I do everything for. I don’t actually make the doughnuts, but I do most everything else. Kitchen, production, business, payroll, social media. 10-11 hr day on weekends. It was very hard in the beginning. I’m type A and have a never give up, do whatever it takes attitude. I don’t say no. If I’m faced with a challenge I don’t quit. It’s an innate personality trait that’s not for everybody.
How does training help you?
Leslie: I love training because I can control my success. I used to have 25 employees, now I have 4, so I’ve had to depend on others to do things. But I’m type A! Depending on others means you can’t control things 100%. Training is a pleasure because it’s all about me. I can make sure I’m successful in my class. As Bergen says, no one is doing this for you, YOU have to do this for you. It is up to me, only I can control my success. It sounds crazy, but it's true. Working out every day is the only thing I can control. And it’s in real time. I love it when someone tells me what to do because I’m going to do it and I’ll do it the best. I thrive on someone instructing me to do something and meeting the challenge. I think I could have been in the military or a pro athlete. I thrive on structure and climbing the ladder. And now I’m an entrepreneur and there are no instructions…you have to figure it out on your own. I’m a competitive person, so I like being in a room with other people who are interested in competing. With bande, I’m in a real class, and I’m going to push it as hard as I can.
What sets bande apart from other things you do?
Leslie: Bande is the only training platform I use. I’m still in a live class and my name gets called. You can find anything you want, HIIT, barre, yoga, strength and fit, levels of activities, can do bande anywhere. When I visit California, I get up at 5am just to be in Bergen’s class, that’s how crazy I am. I also did Bande classes recently while visiting London. Occasionally, I will work with the CrossFit brand for my business. A lot of my customers are peloton and CrossFit trainers, who follow us and come eat our doughnuts. People who are into physical health love to eat doughnuts as their cheat treat. We have a huge following of fitness personalities.
What are your favorite classes and modalities?
Leslie: HIIT, barre, cardio fit are my go tos. I do want to branch out into yoga to help me relax more.
What is your outlook for 2022?
Leslie: I’m very positive about 2022. My brand is doing very well. We are busy and I am so fortunate. So many food businesses and restaurants didn’t survive the pandemic. But doughnuts are a niche and people love them! Demand has increased since the pandemic. My following is growing and growing, people coming from all over on weekends to get my product. Someone said my doughnuts kept people sane, gave a sense of normalcy during the pandemic. We bring people happiness. I’m optimistic people will want that still. If you’re going to eat a treat, it better be a good one and my doughnuts are delicious!
What advice would you give to other women who strive to live life as an athlete?
Leslie: Schedule everything. Bande allows you to schedule workouts, and the more live classes you can do the better. It’s easy to cancel an on demand class, but live, you know the teacher knows you’ll be there, so you show up. Also, do what makes you happy. If eating a doughnut or having a cocktail makes you happy, then do it. This is your one life. Are you going to say I’m so glad I never ate treats on your deathbed? You have to live your life. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Nobody’s perfect. Train to make yourself feel good, not to be perfect. People think I do not eat my doughnuts (I do!) and ask me, "how are you so skinny?” I always say "I workout on bande!"