Torunn Ytrehus is a professional Norwegian basketball player turned lifestyle coach and founder of Improving Lives. She has over 900 clients in her paid monthly memberships and over 230 clients enrolled in her 8-week online course. She was the first person in Norway to create a women-only paid monthly membership business model bringing her over $20,000 USD in monthly passive income.
And Torunn worked for it.
Because it was her calling.
Improving Lives started with a single question Torunn asked herself – how can I make myself happy?
On the outside, it seemed like her life was perfect. But the reality was, Torunn was struggling with emotional eating and tremendous self-doubt. She holds a bachelor’s degree in health, personal training and coaching, and has a degree in nutrition. Torunn vowed to herself that if she could figure out the answer to her question, she would make it her life mission to help other girls feel more confident about themselves.
I caught up with Torunn who dialed in from the Dominican Republic.
Kay Makishi: I love your mission. Can you tell me more about your past experiences dealing with internal struggles and eating disorders?
Torunn Ytrehus: There’s pressure as an athlete that you have to look a certain way. I thought I had to always present myself as someone who was always happy. That pressure led to self-doubt and emotional eating. It was an all or nothing approach. I tried every diet. And thought I was the only one with cravings who couldn’t fix her diet.
I’d start a new diet and try to follow it perfectly. In one or two weeks, I’d buy everything. Ice cream, chips, candies, pizza. I’d go home, shut the door, eat everything then feel terrible afterwards.
You feel like you’re letting yourself down, holding yourself back. You don’t feel like you can talk to others about it. You feel like you’re locked in a cage.
Kay Makishi: How were you able to break free from that?
Torunn Ytrehus: One day I called my mom. I said that’s it. Something has to change and that started my journey of self-love. Once you’re an emotional eater, you always are. But you learn strategies regarding how to deal with it.
If I’m not mindful and meditate consistently, then limiting beliefs can come up and knock on my door. If it comes up, then I know there’s something in my life that’s out of balance. It doesn’t scare me so much now because I know it’s teaching me something and I can defer to my strategies.
Since then, I’ve been passionate about figuring out how women work, not only around food, emotional eating and hormones but to help women feel more confident about themselves in general.
Kay Makishi: Can you share how Improving Lives started?
Torunn Ytrehus: I was a personal trainer at the time when I met another girl and we realized we wanted to create something together. We ended up being business partners and launched our first online class on September 1st, 2014. We built everything from scratch. I started by slowly creating PDFs of free recipes, workout plans and a membership program using WordPress. We organically spent and made money to develop it through Facebook ads and word of mouth.
Kay Makishi: How did you learn how to build your online platform and market it?
Torunn Ytrehus: YouTube and Google! I feel like I did a doctor’s degree on online marketing through YouTube and books. I just geeked on it. It’s amazing what you can learn if you are just persistent and have a passion for it.
Kay Makishi: What are your main products and services?
Torunn Ytrehus: I have two products. A monthly membership program. This includes a workout plan, meal plan, community support, Q&A, monthly challenges, and videos for a healthy lifestyle which is through our webapp I launched August 2017. I also offer group coaching. This is an 8-week online live coaching every week which launched September 2018.
Kay Makishi: Can you tell us more about the webapp? What is it and how did you develop it?
Torunn Ytrehus: That’s where all the monthly membership content is. I hired an independent company to develop the app and micro-managed everything. I moved into their office for 6 months.
Kay Makishi: How many people are on your team?
Torunn Ytrehus: Just me full-time right now. I like to be independent and work on my own. I use freelancers when needed. It’s been a process to find the right team around me. I now how three girls that work part time for me, and the plan is that one of them will be working with me full-time by this summer.
Kay Makishi: What are some of your biggest challenges being an entrepreneur?
Torunn Ytrehus: Mindset. It’s huge. To know you have the ability to design your life. To create it how you want it. I work on my mindset daily through journaling and meditation. It’s like a physical work out, using it as an arena to grow and to build character.
I also struggled with loneliness. I didn’t have a lot of close friends and other women around me that did similar things. I’d feel bad for not being able to go to concerts and other social activities with my friends. But joining a mastermind really changed my life, meeting other women who works like I do. Some of my best friends that I have now I have met through that. I have an amazing boyfriend too who has helped me through this process.
Also two years ago, my business partner and I split up. We had a disagreement of values. I love membership and volume but my passion is helping fewer women, better. I didn’t feel like I could fully claim my spot and space when we were together. It was one of the hardest things I’ve been through but I’m proud of how we handled it.
From an operations perspective, I struggle with content. I haven’t created a structure yet. I try to connect with my avatar every day to be in tune with them. Instagram is where I’m most consistent but I want to be more consistent with my blog and Facebook as well.
Kay Makishi: What inspires you to keep going every day?
Torunn Ytrehus: My clients! My mission is to help as many women as I can to glow with confidence from within and to know that they are good enough. I love to help women the lifestyle that makes them so incredibly happy.
Everyone has a story. It’s good to be kind toward others because we’re all in this together. Whatever struggle you are going through – you are not alone. Reach out to someone. Who knows? Maybe he or she is struggling through something similar and you are both on the brink of a breakthrough.