kai boyerKai Boyer, political science ’17, endured lots of sleepless nights during her quest to get her fitness business up and running while simultaneously earning her undergrad degree. But as a former nationally-ranked tennis player, the opportunity to challenge herself in a new way was too good to pass up. Now, less than two years (and countless cups of coffee) later, she’s a successful entrepreneur with a growing list of clients in Orange County and around the world who sing the praises of her nutrition and training programs. Turns out a little caffeine is all it takes to fuel this incredibly driven Anteater.

Boyer was always dedicated to the world of health and fitness, but starting a business was far from her mind when she began college. A top recruit who earned a full-ride scholarship to play tennis at UC Santa Barbara, she had dedicated most of her life to perfecting her game and her focus was on winning. However, this path came to an abrupt end when she suffered a career-ending hip injuring following her freshman year.

It was devastating for Boyer to have to give up not only the scholarship she earned, but the sport she had poured her blood, sweat, and tears into for 15 years. She moved back to Irvine (where she had lived since she was a teen) to heal and reevaluate her goals. But even though she lost one passion, she soon ended up finding another.

“I began to research and learn how to rehabilitate my injury,” Boyer says. “That’s where I found my passion for helping people through fitness and wellness.”

It turns out that the quest to mend her own body was the beginning of her helping others. By the following summer, Boyer became certified as a personal trainer and started a job at a local gym. She was accepted to UC Irvine, and began her work toward a political science degree while using all her free time to train and build a solid clientele base. It wasn’t easy - morning classes at UCI meant training clients started at 5 a.m. most days. Then she was on to school all afternoon, then back to training clients until 9 p.m. (not to mention homework in between). Needless to say, coffee was her friend during those non-stop college years. 

“The best word to describe my undergraduate career was coffee,” Boyer says. “I had started my business when I was in my second year in school in addition to taking extra courses every quarter to graduate a year early … That schedule was full of excitement and energy every day and I could not have done it without coffee!”

Aside from the lack of sleep, Boyer says there were other challenges when it came to making her dream career a reality. Being so young and with such big ambitions, she had a steep learning curve and had to work to prove that she knew her stuff. But, she said that just pushed her to study harder and learn as much as she could to help her stand out from the sea of Orange County personal trainers.

“Establishing a reputable business takes a lot of energy, effort, and patience,” she says. “In an area loaded with competition it took a long time to become well known and gain the trust of the community.”

But gain the trust of the community she did. Just months after completing her political science degree, she had expanded her business, Kai Boyer Fitness, to the three facilities in Irvine, Newport Beach, and Corona del Mar where she currently trains. And a lot of her business’ success is due to her humanistic approach to health and wellness. Instead of solely focusing on huge goals (like significant weight loss or major strength improvements), she breaks progress down into smaller, more achievable goals so that her clients don’t get overwhelmed. The benefit, she says, is that clients are more likely to stick to their training plan when they see consistent and attainable results. The training philosophy, Kaizen (Japanese for “improvement”) also stresses the importance of working toward improving all areas of one’s life, not just physical fitness. In that way, Boyer hopes to not only help her clients live longer and more fit lives, but also happier ones.

That same philosophy is helping Boyer live her best life, too. Though the work of an entrepreneur is never over, she is thrilled to be doing something she loves and is looking forward to continuing to expand her business. Right now, she’s focusing on her clients, her work as a brand ambassador for several companies, and on mentoring up-and-coming trainers to expand Kai Boyer Fitness. She’s also planning to beef up her online business so that anyone, anywhere, can access quality health and fitness routines.

“What I love most about my career is having the independence and the freedom to grow and expand myself and my business wherever my passion takes it,” she says.

We’re sure she’s got plenty of coffee to help her keep up with her plans.

-Bria Balliet for UC Irvine School of Social Sciences


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