Xplorer Amber Croghan
Performing on Broadway, coaching Barre, and creating lasting fitness communities.
What do musical theater and boutique fitness have in common? They were foundational pieces that led Amber Croghan, a Customer Support Specialist in Fitness & Wellbeing, to joining the Xplor family.
Originally from Milwaukee and the oldest of three, Amber developed an early love for musical theater – and from the age of 12 and up, she was in shows non-stop. Thankfully, her parents (having no background in theater at all) were extremely supportive.
“My dad, who had always assumed his kids would play a bunch of sports like he did, prepped me for auditions like he would prep my brother's football team,” she said. “When I was auditioning for Annie, we would drive to my middle school and he’d ask, ‘Who are you!?’ and I’d say, ‘I’m Annie!’ over and over again.”
That prep work paid off, as she went on to perform nationally, regionally, and off-Broadway in her 20s. But then, an injury changed the course of her pursuits: a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). Luckily, she had a side job at a front desk of a boutique barre studio, so she was able to take classes for free, which was helpful for her ACL tear recovery. Little did she know, this would unlock an undiscovered career path.
“After I tore my ACL, I was so lost. I was constantly taking classes, but I felt like I would never get back to what I used to be able to do,” she said. “[The head instructor] must have seen how hard I had been working and really took me under her wing. She really encouraged me to take the leap into Barre training and auditioning to be on staff at the studio."
Plus, after a year of rehabbing her injury, Amber started to realize what it took to be a great coach. So, she thought, “Well, if I’m here all the time anyway, why not train myself?”
“A year after that, I was on the schedule coaching Barre. Fast forward a year more, and I’m coaching Barre and Lagree Method full time,” she said. “I coached around 20 classes a week. I bounced around all the neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn.”
Studio Operations seemed like the natural next step from coaching full-time; Amber had already worked at the front desk and behind the scenes in management at two different major NY studios, so she felt confident applying for Studio Manager positions in her new home of Chicago. She ended up hitting the jackpot and getting to open Wicker Park [solidcore] from the ground up – and yes, the [solidcore] brand name is always written inside square brackets!
“During the pandemic, I helped with the shutdown of the studio as well as the re-opening of all five [solidcore] Chicago locations. In January 2021, I was able to open a new studio in a new market [solidcore] Milwaukee.”
Now, as a Customer Support Specialist in Fitness & Wellbeing at Xplor, Amber says her experience working in studio operations on an SMB level for a big brand like [solidcore] helps her connect and empathize with the clients she currently works with – because she’s been in their shoes.
“I feel like I can untangle their requests, questions and comments in a way that they will understand because my brain likely works similar to their way of thinking,” she said. “Speaking ‘tech’ is a hard language to understand, and so often our studio managers and owners have no background with what we try to explain. I like to think that I can translate this in a way that is helpful."
Beyond her expertise in customer experience, Amber says she chose to work for Xplor because of the flexibility they offer – which makes sense, seeing as how traveling with her family growing up made traveling a passion she currently enjoys with her husband.
“This has allowed me to spend more time with family, travel more, and explore (pun intended!) a world that I truly knew very little about previously,” she said. “I chose to work here to continue to be a leader in my field of expertise, the boutique fitness world, but in a greater capacity too.”
When asked what advice she has for younger people following in her footsteps, Amber emphasizes learning and adapting as you go, and having a great attitude along the way.
“Go with the flow. Prioritize the people around you who support you, and yourself. Allow expectations to change and the definitions of what you want to continue to evolve. Take every opportunity to continue to learn, have fun, and focus up! Stay positive in your outlook but be critical in your thinking.”
With so much support from her family and her colleagues throughout her life, it’s no wonder, then, that the Xplor value that most resonates with Amber is creating lasting communities. “This resonates with me wholeheartedly. Everywhere I have worked I have found that if the community is strong, the business can thrive."