Kasey Jo Orvidas has a PhD in psychology and used it to create a highly successful business for herself as a health and fitness coach.
“I get asked often how I got into blending these two worlds, especially to the degree that my psychology background is,” Kasey says. “People don’t just go and get PhDs for no reason and then also become nutrition coaches.”
And yet Kasey did just that, with her journey beginning in 2011 at college, where her focus initially lay within criminal psychology. However, a new passion began to develop during that time.
“During college, I started to fall in love with strength training and understanding nutrition and how I can change my body and make myself feel better,” Kasey says. “I got hooked on health and fitness quite quickly. That opened my eyes to an entirely different world.”
Kasey’s growth in the fitness world made her feel better about herself, and this newfound zeal for health and fitness sparked a sincere desire to improve the lives of others.
“Instead of going the criminal psychology route, I shifted gears at that point to answer this question: why aren’t more people, especially women, tapping into something like strength training and taking care of their bodies and all this stuff when it can be so beneficial to them?” Kasey says.
Kasey decided to pursue a psychology PhD in the world of health behavior change to better understand this question. Kasey knew nutrition and exercise were not the answers alone, and she wanted to learn more.
Kasey’s degree program focused on health behavior change with exercise and healthy eating. She soon learned about mindset science through a mindset lab at North Carolina State University (NCSU). Kasey saw the class working on obesity and health behavior messaging from a mindset perspective and became highly fascinated with the focus of mindset. At NSCU, Kasey helped lead some research on mindset and health behavior change.
While working toward her PhD, Kasey spent a great deal of time researching and publishing her findings on mindset, specifically on growth versus fixed mindset and how that affects healthy habits.
Kasey also began working toward becoming a certified nutrition coach with the intention of having a side job for herself while still primarily focusing on her PhD in psychology. Kasey started her part-time business as a fitness coach in 2015.
Once Kasey completed the PhD program, she pondered where she should take the next phase of her career with the knowledge and experience she gained.
Becoming a professor did not appeal to Kasey. She considered working for a major company in the health and wellness industry, but the corporate atmosphere did not work well for her, either.
After a few fruitless interviews, Kasey stopped to consider the potential of what her small business could become.
“At the end of the day, I have a PhD,” Kasey says. “I can fall back on and find some other job working for someone else. Let me try this entrepreneur thing. So I did, and I’m so glad I did.”
By combining her roles as a fitness coach and psychologist, Kasey has created a two-sided business. Half of her company focuses on clients’ nutrition, fitness, wellness and mindset coaching. The other side of Kasey’s business focuses on training other people to become fitness coaches through her 13-week health mindset coach certification program. Kasey also offers one-on-one mentorship programs.
There is no typical work day for Kasey, and she loves that aspect of the job.
“I spent some time in the corporate world part-time in a nine-to-five position, and I hated feeling tied somewhere for that period of time,” Kasey says.
Kasey’s workdays can be described as anything but mundane as her tasks change each day. These tasks include dedicating time to her mentees, interviewing with various media companies, training other coaches, creating media content and doing one-to-one coaching with her many clients.
“There is a big emphasis on strength training because so many women don’t do it,” Kasey says. “It’s like untapped potential, so getting women into that and getting them to fall in love with it is one of my favorite things.”
Still, Kasey understands that many women have no interest in strength training. In these cases, she is more than happy to create personalized programs to fit each of her client’s personal needs.
When training other coaches, Kasey teaches many essential aspects of health and fitness, which include psychology. Her coaching program includes teaching the foundation of behavior change, the psychology behind fitness and health, habit formation, self-control, stress, mindset, motivation and communication.
Kasey’s success stems primarily from self-motivation. She received little support from family or college advisers when she decided to turn her side job into a full-blown business. However, her boyfriend, who also has his own business in health and fitness, encouraged Kasey to take a chance and focus on her company after graduation.
Inspiration also came from a job offer Kasey received from a summer job at a pharmaceutical marketing company. This company offered her a full-time job but had no intention of paying Kasey what she was worth, considering she now has a PhD.
“I put all this time and effort into becoming this person and being this expert, and I know what I have to offer,” Kasey says. “I don’t want to settle for something because it’s my first job, my first stepping stone. It was a little bit of a slap in the face and did push me towards giving myself a shot.”
Success came to Kasey quickly. A year after completing her degree, Kasey’s first launch with her coaching certification program made her more money than she could have ever imagined.
“I thought it would be really cool If I made the amount of money I was offered with that salary within this one certification launch, and I doubled it,” Kasey says.
For other women looking to start their own business, Kasey offers this advice: “First, accept that there’s going to be a little bit of a grind time, and that’s OK. There will be times when you have to work later and you’ll have to work a little bit harder, and that’s OK.”
To Kasey, “she can be both” means “empowering women to make their own decision” and “breaking the mold of what society has told them they need to be.”
In fact, Kasey proves women can be both in her marketing by breaking the stereotype associated with the professional psychologist role.
An advertisement for her business shows Kasey wearing ripped jean shorts while showcasing five free lessons she is offering, which include behavior change and psychology. This combination of jean shorts and psychology left one Instagram user doubting Kasey’s skill.
The Instagram user told Kasey, “Yes, the ‘daisy dukes’ just scream top-notch psych advice.”
Kasey politely responded, “Who knew you can’t wear jean shorts and also have a PhD in psychology?! Not me!”