Running two businesses is tough — don’t be fooled into thinking otherwise. But it can also be a joy. For Michelle Birschbach, the good definitely wins out.
“It sounds all like rainbows and unicorns, and 99 percent of the time, it’s all good,” admits Birschbach, an attorney and partner/owner of Steimle Birschbach in Manitowoc and owner/instructor at Vida Fitness in Kiel.
While juggling two jobs can be a challenge, Birschbach feels being an attorney and fitness center owner allows her to give back to the communities that mean so much to her.
“I feel like it’s a responsibility (to be involved) when we have either time or talent,” says Birschbach, who grew up in Kiel. “It’s just so important. It just means whatever is meaningful to you.”
Mandy Kraemer, fitness instructor at Vida Fitness, agrees.
“She seems to really care about who has helped her along the way in life and wants nothing more than to support local business owners and people right here in her local communities,” Kraemer says.
An attorney for 20 years, Birschbach grew up wanting to be an attorney even though the law doesn’t run in her family. The Marquette Law School grad became fascinated with the profession while watching “Perry Mason” on TV with her grandfather.
Birschbach started her Manitowoc law firm in 2009 with her law partner, Andrew Steimle. Both previously worked at a larger firm in the region before branching out on their own. The firm, which focuses on business, estate and real estate law, also has an office in Sheboygan and was named Small Business of the Year by the Chamber of Manitowoc County in 2014.
“We felt really good about it,” Birschbach says. “We hit the ground running with a lot of clients. The bulk of our work comes from referrals from accountants, financial advisers and other clients.”
Birschbach says making an impact on clients’ lives is the most rewarding aspect of her practice.
“I’m helping people at some pivotal points in their life … when you get the chance to meet with a family and do good work for them and make a good impact for them,” she says. “It’s extremely satisfying to help that family meet that goal. It’s very humbling.”
The hardest part of running both companies, however, is time and resource management, says Birschbach, who is married and enjoys traveling, kayaking and connecting with other Corvette owners in her free time (she and her husband, Mark, are members of the Kettle Moraine Corvette Club).
Obviously, fitness is also a passion. In 2016, she and her cousin, Shayla Anderson, bought a building in Kiel, did some renovations and opened Vida Fitness, which offers group exercise classes.
“I, like a lot of people, struggle (with) all those things we should be doing. It’s hard to get in the healthy habits,” Birschbach says. “In the Kiel area, there weren’t a lot of options for people to get together to go on this fitness journey together.”
Birschbach, who is a certified Drums Alive and ACE group fitness instructor, says owning Vida Fitness actually “forces me to work out. It forces me to surround myself with positive people, (and) I’d like to think we’re making a difference.”
Kraemer says Birschbach’s strength is her optimism.
“She cheers people on in life and is always there with a positive comment,” Kraemer says. “Her fun and upbeat personality is an added gift of knowing her.”
When Birschbach started Vida, she was honest about the time commitment she could give to the business. In addition to her law firm, Birschbach is active in several county bar associations as well as serving as a board member at Holy Family Memorial Hospital in Manitowoc, member of the Sheboygan County Estate Planning Council and founder of the Lakeshore Protecting Animal Welfare Fund.
And while she doesn’t teach juggling at Vida, Birschbach has gotten very adept at juggling all her commitments.
“You obviously have to be passionate about (whatever you’re doing),” she says. “I don’t want to commit to something unless I’m willing to commit to it.”
Side hustle: Vida Fitness & Wellness Center
On the web: vidafitnesscenter.com