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Meet Stephanie and Stephen Siraco of TheAthElite in Point Loma

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie and Stephen Siraco.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Stephanie, Stephen. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
TheAthElite is one of those businesses that started by happenstance. If you want to go all the way back, we can talk about how we ended up working in the health and wellness space in general. I (Stephanie) started my career as a nuclear engineer in the US Navy where I served for six years before getting out and working for a defense contractor as a software systems engineer for five years. During all of these years of technical work, I also competed in various sports like triathlons, duathlons, running, and physique competitions. In 2011, I decided I wanted to launch an online fitness business, quite my 9-5 and move to Costa Rica. I managed to accomplish all of those goals in 2012. Costa Rica was great and all, but I ended up moving back to the United States where I eventually met Stephen, my husband and business partner.

Stephen and I were both looking for a new sport and his friend suggested we try a Spartan Race. One race was all it took and we were hooked. We both decided we wanted to learn more about how to properly train for Spartan races, so we got certified as Spartan SGX Coaches. This really was just for our own benefit, but all of the sudden we started getting email inquiries about other people wanting to be trained. One of the benefits of being a certified Spartan SGX coach is that our contact information is listed right on the Spartan website so clients were coming to us. I had been training clients for their lifestyle goals for nearly a decade at that point and thought, “Let’s do this.”

What I started to learn rather quickly from training clients in person for obstacle course racing was that there were so many other racing elements that needed to be talked about. I had been hosting a podcast for my lifestyle training business for a couple years, so I decided to launch a podcast dedicated to obstacle course racing. Stephen helps me host the podcast when he isn’t deployed since he is active duty Coast Guard.

Stephen has an extensive training background as well including Spartan SGX Coach, CrossFit Level 1 Coach, CrossFit Olympic Weight Lifting Instructor, CrossFit Kettle Bell Instructor, and W.I.T.S. Personal Trainer. His ability to coach clients through obstacle technique is impressive and he is solely responsible for registering both of us for nearly 50 obstacle course races each.

Together we have been on NBC’s Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge, American Ninja Warrior, CBS’s Tough Mudder X, and CMT’s Broken Skull Challenge. I may be the face of TheAthElite and run the day to day operations, but Stephen is largely responsible for helping me to turn this hobby into a successful business.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Navigating obstacles is a big part of what we teach at TheAthElite and we have not been without business obstacles. As I mentioned, Stephen is active duty Coast Guard so he deploys. He deploys a lot. Just to give you an idea, since reporting to the unit here in San Diego, he has averaged about 200 days per year being deployed. We also had a cross-country move that took place last year, so while changing locations from wet Charleston, South Carolina to dry San Diego was great for training athletes outdoors, it was also challenging to keep up with producing podcast episodes and getting races in.

There were a lot of business lessons I learned and military leadership lessons Stephen knew prior to launching TheAthElite. These two factors have helped to make this business run relatively smooth. I knew when I quite my safe, secure, and very well paying job that I wanted to maintain a certain level of freedom which means I want very low overhead and very high location flexibility. I still struggle with things on a daily basis, but I struggle less than if I had higher overhead expenses.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the TheAthElite story. Tell us more about the business.
TheAthElite training services and podcast are very niche and only appeal to a certain kind of person. Our mission is to provide a relevant resource for the modern-day warrior – busy professional, stressed out parent, and someone looking for something to make them feel ALIVE again.

A lot of sports-related podcasts focus on interviewing the professional and elite athletes, and while they are inspiring, we don’t feel like always focusing on those interviews are quite as relatable.

What sets us apart from others who do what we do is that we have both had desk jobs, long commutes and shift work. We give the modern-day warrior what they need to keep winning at life.

We are most proud of walking our talk. We believe in hard work, grit, and strength of character and that is what we try to deliver in real life, not just online.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
We both feel like it was good luck that brought us together and we feel lucky to have found a sport and hobby that can help others and earn a living. We didn’t always have good luck though. We had both experienced a few years of bad luck prior to meeting each other.

We were also very lucky to have such a flexible schedule to race in so many races and become experts in a relatively short amount of time. The move from Charleston to San Diego has also been very fortunate. It has given us the opportunity to race up and down each coast so we can better prepare our clients for what they will encounter on the course.

Luck played a part in being selected for the four TV shows we have been on in the past couple years for sure. This kind of media gives us visibility that we otherwise wouldn’t have had.

The better choices you make, the better luck you seem to have. The same goes for hard work. The harder and smarter you work, the luckier you get.

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