Alyssa Sawinski (she/her) is a Chicago based HR recruiter originally from Minnesota. A former dancer, performer, and teacher turned entrepreneur and fitness advocate, she has spent the majority of her life in the dance studio or on-stage. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in 2015 from Winona State University, Alyssa moved to the Windy City to begin her journey as an artist and performer. Through many trials and successes, Alyssa’s dreams of dancing shifted to helping others discover their dream careers. The countless hours spent in the dance studio evolved into hours sitting at a recruiting desk. Though this transition was a tough reality, Alyssa was able to take her passion for movement and fitness and share it with others through coaching. Since 2021, Alyssa has risen through the ranks and is an active instructor and coach with national fitness brand, Row House. She uniquely blends movement experience with her newfound leadership and people engagement skills to create a dynamic physical strength and cardio training class for new and reoccurring members as they discover their own fitness journeys. Having stumbled into the human resources world just four years ago, Alyssa has an impressive track record of success, where currently at Frazer Jones she drives high volume candidate acquisition and best-in-class engagement in support of her clients’ hiring needs.
What have sports meant to you?
Growing up with two older brothers who actively played football and basketball, sports have always been a part of my life. Like most kids, my parents put me in many different activities as a little girl until I found the ones I enjoyed most. I tried little league soccer, basketball, and softball. At the age of 10-16 I played competitive volleyball. But the sport I loved the most was dance. Taking my very first ballet class at two, my mom knew immediately that the studio was where I belonged. That one ballet class quickly grew into five, six and then seven plus classes a week. I was dancing competitively through a local dance studio and through my high school. Dance consumed all of my downtime outside of academia, even on the weekends. That type of schedule remained throughout my college years as well. Dance grew from a hobby to a passion and I dreamed of having my very own dance studio one day. This sport pushed me out of my comfort zone in so many ways. Introduced me to new cultures and people. Took me to England where I got the opportunity to train under some amazing professionals. Challenged me both mentally and physically. But most importantly, dance made me who I am today. After graduating in 2015, I got the opportunity to give back and teach to young aspiring artists like myself. Working with kids as young as two all the way up to 18, I was able to share my skills and passions with so many amazing students. As I settled into adulthood I noticed a shift in my goals and passions. I began to find new ways to train and move my body outside of dance and I found myself falling in love with sport all over again. This transition motivated me to move out of the dance world and into more of a corporate setting. Even though I am not dancing anymore, I am still heavily involved in sports training. Sports started out as a hobby, grew into a passion and now is a strong constant in my everyday life.
What characteristics do you think female athletes possess that translate well to leadership in a corporate environment?
Determination, dedication, patience, communication, collaboration, time management and responsibility. Being a leader can translate across disciplines. If you learn to be a leader in sports, you can be a leader in a corporate environment too.
What lesson have you learned the hard way?
Dreams change and that’s okay. As a little girl I dreamed of being a professional dancer. While in college I dreamed of owning my own studio. Then I got the opportunity to work at a dance studio where I learned the ins and outs of owning your own business. The closer I got to managing and supporting this studio, the more I realized it was no longer my dream. The hours I used to spend training and taking class, quickly transitioned to hours training in a gym or running. My motivation and determination was still there, but it was no longer centered around dance. One of the hardest decisions I have ever made was deciding to put my ballet slippers away and choose a new career path. Stepping into an entry-level role to prove myself within the corporate world was challenging not only because it was a major transition but because I was always the oldest individual in the office. I constantly felt like I was starting over at too old of an age. That I wasted time focusing on dance instead of a “career”. That I made the wrong choice and it was too late for me to find success.
Thankfully I still had my love of sport to carry me through this transition. I found new ways to channel this passion whether it was independently working out in the gym, taking a fitness class, or helping friends and family with their fitness. Paving my way through the corporate world, I can happily say that I am currently in a successful recruiting role where I can take what I learned from sports into my growth as a professional. In addition, I am also a boutique fitness coach for Row House here in Chicago where I get to train and motivate others on their fitness journeys. In ways my dreams have changed but my passions have remained the same and I am beyond grateful that sports and fitness are still a large part of my life.
What is the main lesson you have learned from the sporting world that has contributed to the success in your corporate life?
The appropriate way to win and lose. There is no better feeling than winning a game, competition, or in the business world a “deal”. What some athletes tend to forget in those moments of pure excitement and joy are their opponents that lost. I learned at a very early age how to celebrate an accomplishment and how to cope with a loss. Being my own worst critic, I am very hard on myself when I fall short of any goal. Rather than being a sore loser or a greedy winner, I try to focus on the accomplishments that got me to either result. If I fell short or lost, where can I grow or improve so that I do better the next time? If I reached my goal or won, how did I get there and what goal can I set next? Regardless of the outcome, we can always find ways to improve and we can always find opportunities to learn from each other.
Do you have a go-to quote that gives you inspiration in your sports and/or professional life?
I have two quotes that inspire me. One I take with me daily and use while coaching:
If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.Courtney Black
This is the simplest yet most effective quote I share with my class while on the erg. If we never put our minds and bodies through healthy challenges, we will never grow into a better version of ourselves. You are your strongest and weakest motivation. You control how you grow and by choosing the challenge, you will come out stronger on the other side. If we are setting goals and not reaching them, then we aren’t challenging ourselves to reach for those goals. This is the same for my professional life.
The second quote I carry with me is:
You can do anything you want, even if you are being told negative things. Stay strong and find motivation.Misty Copeland
Again, we are our own motivators and in light of all the negativity in the world, we need that motivation to carry us through to our goals. Remember what brought you to those goals and remember why you started.
Please note that all commentary and opinions provided are those of the individual, and not the organization/company.