Albuquerque Business First
By Sal Christ, Reporter
December 24, 2015
Making a career change after 20 years isn’t an easy feat. For Melanie Velasquez, a longtime Albuquerque banker, that transition took three years and only became complete last month.
Velasquez, who spent the last three years as as vice president of commercial lending for Citizens Bank and spent seven years with Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) as assistant vice president of business banking, recently opened a brick-and-mortar location of her company, Titanium Fitness.
Launched in 2012 as an outdoor, mobile bootcamp, Velasquez formed the company with Brian Boulware, a personal training and fitness expert with more than 15 years in the fitness industry. The doubling of their client volume after moving their bootcamps indoors last year motivated the move to a permanent facility.
Located at 2731 Broadway NE, the leased 8,300-square-foot space was a “shell of a building” that Velasquez and Boulware had designed for functionality and includes locker rooms, showers, open workout space and more. Although total costs were not disclosed, the two invested about $75,000 in new equipment alone.
We asked Velasquez about why she jumped from commercial lending into fitness and what advice she has for other professionals looking to change careers. Here is what she had to say.
You had a very long career in banking — what motivated the change of careers?
Being in business lending for almost 20 years, I worked with entrepreneurs the majority of my career and at one point, I realized I was living vicariously through my business owner clients. I always found it to be interesting. … The economy in Albuquerque has been a struggle [in recent years] and [my job] wasn’t fulfilling me in life. I didn’t feel like I was making a difference or an impact in lending. It was an “Aha!” moment.
I started my fitness journey after having my daughters and was just in a slump. I gained something like 70 pounds, so I focused on fitness and nutrition to keep my balance. We opened our business three years ago, so I was balancing my career with the demands of running the business and about a year ago, I realized it was just time to take that leap of faith to do it full-time. I went back to school last year and got my nutrition degree. … It’s been exciting.
What was especially helpful for you in making that transition?
I am able to make the transition because of the expertise, strength and credibility of my business partner Brian Boulware. His primary role is the personal training. He has developed and implemented a successful program that allows us to lead the industry in group training. We are results-driven and our brand would not be where it is today without his hard work and commitment to the business. I am able to focus on the business aspect and nutritional coaching. Knowing our distinct roles makes for a successful business model.
What advice do you have for others looking to switch careers?
I think, especially in Albuquerque, we are relationship driven. I’ve always had a really strong commitment to following through with relationships and many of my relationships have walked through the door to support me and become our clients. … Our competitiveness in opening our business and being financially savvy allowed me to be very financially sound with our business and having ownership of the business. … You have to just have a leap of faith. I’m not a risk taker, but I took the risk of doing this. You can sit on the sidelines and admire those who do it or just do it yourself.