Studio owners and instructors alike know just how competitive the world of fitness can be. Standing out among the rest of the landscape is key, whether you do so through the uniquely tailored classes you’re offering to clients, your top notch customer service, a new way of approaching a classic fitness trend — or a mix of all the above.

When it comes to entrepreneurs that are really pushing the envelope to approach the fitness world in new and different ways, there are a few players in the space that you’ll want to keep your eye on. These forward thinkers are constantly striving to make a positive impact, whether it’s through creating a much needed product, or starting a new fitness trend. Read on for their inspiring stories.

Sara Moylan, founder of Shefit

When IFBB bikini pro and fitness buff Sara Moylan couldn’t find a sports bra that was comfortable enough to wear while nursing her newborn daughter, she made one of her own. “I cobbled that first idea together from other items and fabric scraps,” she says. “It wasn’t until I had so many women in my life — my friends, my family, random women at the gym — asking me to create them their own ‘Frankenstein bra’ that I realized I had created a business in the way of a solution to the common problem of breast bounce and pain.”

Enter: The Shefit Ultimate Sports Bra. The only adjustable sports bra on the market, it features a 10” Velcro band you can adjust around the rib cage to give support from beneath, as well as adjustable straps to give the right amount of lift.

As far as future plans for the brand, Moylan’s goals are bold. “I plan to take over the women’s athleticwear industry with products that support women in all walks of life,” she says. “Whether her goal is to run her 100th marathon or to walk around the block for the first time, I want women to be confident that Shefit is there to support their goals. In the meantime, I’ve got plans to introduce three or four additional products built on our adjustable fit technology in the next 12 to 24 months. I also have a few ideas for better fitting, better performing pants, shorts, track jackets…so many things!”

Chavonne Hodges, Founder of Trap Aerobics

A solid track list is a must-have for any successful workout class. But until Trap Aerobics hit the workout scene last spring, there was no workout dedicated to tapping into the distinct beats of Trap music, and pairing it with a routine. “There were a few core inspirations for Trap Aerobics, says Hodges. “The lack of resources for people of color who struggle with mental illness (and the fact that exercise serves as a natural and free alternative to antidepressants) being one; my love of working out to trap music, and my co-instructor, Fiona Harvey’s passion for public health.”

Taught by certified instructors, the 45-minute high-energy aerobics class burns 400 – 700 calories in one session. What’s more, Hodges makes sure that the music she features in every class fits with her requirements. “We are strict about using trap music and underground artists in our classes,” she says. “Every month we add new choreography, share health tips and highlight music from underground artists in our monthly newsletter. Our class members come from all over the United States, from Seattle, Washington to Los Angeles, California to even international countries like Thailand and Turkey. It’s is all about building community, championing the underdog, celebrating diversity and intertwining culture and fitness.”

And they’re not stopping there. “We want to scale by partnering with like-minded brands and collectives who want to influence culture,” Hodges says. “We also want to work use Trap Aerobics as a vehicle for combating mental health issues in lower income communities.”

Stacy Schwartz, founder of Ketanga

Fitness retreats are having a moment. Looking to head to an island for a week of yoga poses and morning meditation? There’s a trip for that. Wanderlusting for a more active destination that takes you on challenging hikes through scenic mountains? Done. But if you don’t fall into the outdoorsy hike or yoga on the beach type of workout category, you’re going to have a hard time finding a trip for say, boxing or HIIT. Schwartz noticed the need for more diverse offerings in the space, and created a company to help fill in the gap. “Yoga retreats have dominated the wellness tourism industry for years,” she says. “But what Ketanga does differently is focus less on a narrow type of fitness and more on the compelling themes, or fitness/wellness professionals who have something unique to share and offer.”

Since the company launched in 2014, Ketanga has led hundreds of fitness enthusiasts to see a different side of travel, whether it’s boxing and salsa dancing in Puerto Rico, running the streets of Havana, HIIT training and surfing in Costa Rica, or boot camp and horseback riding in Mexico. As far as future plans go? “Without giving away too much, we have some exciting partnerships in the works with airlines and hotels as well as new additions to the Ketanga team,” says Schwartz, “with some extremely talented and well-respected fitness and wellness professionals!” 

Emily Cook Harris, founder of EMPOWERED

When it comes to achieving fitness goals, the term “lifestyle” change often gets thrown around. But few facilities offer coaching of your overall lifestyle to help make those goals a reality. Emily Cook Harris created EMPOWERED to bridge that gap, offering not only personal training services, but a whole body and mind approach to achieving a healthier lifestyle. “We take a 360, holistic approach to health,” she says, “focused on personal training and lifestyle coaching. We use fitness as the foundation to your best self. That includes your weekly exercise, nutrition, sleep, hydration and spirit. We work to build an entire lifestyle of health through habits that you can do consistently — not just a quick fix program that you’ll try for a month and then go back to where you were before.”

EMPOWERED designs personalized programs based on interests, fitness level and goals, and offers one on one coaching along the way to keep clients on track. “It began as a side hustle with one client, then two, then three, and now full-time,” Cook says. “I’ve recently relocated to L.A. to expand our personal training and lifestyle coaching program.” Future plans include expanding the brand’s digital offerings to help more clients using EMPOWERED’s unique approach. “It ultimately comes down to wanting to help as many people as possible harness the power of health and fitness to be their best and transform their lives,” says Cook. “So we are exploring options within that realm to share our EMPOWERED ways.”