If there’s one year in recent history where we needed strong females to look up to more than ever, it was this past one. And, true to form, these 39 incredibly inspiring women—all studio owners—didn’t let us down. Not only have they created safe, empowering, motivating and peaceful sanctuaries for us to let loose, tone up, strengthen and flex our muscles and become better versions of ourselves, but they also show us, on a daily basis, that your sex does not defy what you’re able to accomplish in life.
If there’s one thing they’re teaching us (other than how to properly squat, lift, burpee and deadlift), it’s that the future is certainly female. Here are their inspiring stories of what lead them to entrepreneurial success:
Tessa Leon @tessmocha
Owner of Power Living Adelaide
After spending the better part of her youth struggling with body image issues, Tessa found yoga as a means of accepting and appreciating her body and mind. But it’s not only strengthened her physically, it’s also strengthened her mentally and given her a great deal of happiness that’s spread to other areas of her life as well. These perks that came along with yoga are what inspired her to create a studio—one that wasn’t simply a space for people to practice yoga, but also a community that could come together to support one another. Her vision, from the beginning, was to create a place where people could learn, grow and transform themselves in a non-judgmental society consisting of like-minded and supportive people. For Tessa, the best part about opening her own studio is the privilege of offering what she’s learned in her own practice and sharing it powerfully with others.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “Knowing that I sit on the pointy end of all the decisions carries with it a certain weight. I think my ability to say what I think and make clear choices has changed for the better. Before becoming a business owner, I didn’t think it was for me—everything seemed so heavy and daunting. But it really just required more learning, and it forced me to ask more questions and turn to others for advice and help.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Decide that you want it more than you’re afraid of it!”
Up next? She’ll be taking advantage of as many training opportunities as possible so she can stay inspired and share that inspiration with the yoga community she’s helped build in the area.
Tara Joiner @pinkbarrestudios
Owner of Pink Barre Studio – Virginia Highlands and Emory Point
Tara was always very athletic and interested in health and wellness, running marathons, participating in triathlons and attempting every fitness format available in the New York City area. She went on to pursue her master’s degree in physical therapy as well as her Pilates certification. It wasn’t until she started taking barre classes that she noticed a significant change in her body. She felt stronger and healthier than ever before. She found barre to be the perfect marriage of strength training, Pilates and physical therapy to tackle all of the areas she was most interest in focusing on: alignment, strength and form. This inspired her to create a format of barre that focused on physical therapy and injury prevention and her own studio so she could share her technique with Atlanta. She’s also a proud mom to two daughters and a son who she hopes to inspire to start their own business someday.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “How many hats you wear and how much you grow through the process! I’m so blessed to surrounded myself with amazing instructors and clients who make this journey so rewarding and worthwhile.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Make sure you follow your passion and the rest will follow.”
Up next? She hopes to open more Pink Barre studios and empower other women to open their own!
Chelsea Moore @chelsmoore_
Owner of Rō Fitness
While she always loved athletics, it wasn’t really Chelsea’s thing. While she was a child and up until she was a teen, her form of fitness was primarily chasing after her older sister, Leah, and striving to be better than her in some way, shape or form. But when Leah joined the rowing team in college, there was no way Chelsea wasn’t joining with her. Thanks to her height (and a ton of hard work), she found success on the team and gained serious physical and mental strength. Eleven years later, she’s full-blown obsessed with rowing. Though it was never her intention to do so, the opportunity to start her own business presented itself and she knew she had to take the leap. It all started with a conversation in passing with the right person at the right time, and then a friend’s cancer diagnosis reminded her that life is for living. What sealed the deal were an approved small business loan, a team of friends who wanted to coach classes and business partners who believed in her capabilities even a more than she believed in her own. She quit her cushy, corporate job and jumped in head (or arms) first.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “My passion for rowing initially drove this business, but the clients I’ve served along the way have inspired me in ways I never expected. I was stressed and anxious opening the first location—I pulled from my savings, quit my job and really had no safety net. But I took a breath and told myself that if I change one person’s life for the better by opening my own studio, it would be worth it. Each time I hear that Rō Fitness has a positive impact in a client’s life, it really lights a fire in me. After three years and so many success stories, the progress and hard work of my clients truly make this business what it is today.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Don’t be afraid to be a considerate ‘bitch.’ The word gets thrown around a lot as a female entrepreneur, but you must have standards to which you hold yourself and others. If you make conscious, level-headed decisions and someone considers you to be a b-word, so be it. If you don’t stand up for yourself, who will?”
What’s next for you? She hopes to open more locations when the time is right!
Kim Quinn @charles_st_barre
Owner of Charles St. Barre
Kim’s fitness journey began in the 80s, but it wasn’t until after raising a family and having a 30-year career in sales and marketing that she decided to pursue it full-time. After developing a fascination with barre, she opened a Pop Physique in downtown Baltimore. Her goal was for it to encourage and help women maintain a healthy body images by developing core strength, long, lean muscles and, of course, a tight derriere. While selecting the 300 block of Historic Charles Street as a location was a risk, it was the best decision because it helped create and develop a community who believed in the benefits of barre. She saw so much success that she left Pop Physique behind to start her our own Charles St. Barre. Her goal was to increase the exposure of dance art and bring a needed rehearsal and performance space to the neighborhood.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “Being a female business owner is more complex than I anticipated. I think the most important thing is to make sure you have the funding you need, as expenses can ebb and flow and you need to make sure you have what you need to cover costs no matter what. This is how you stay afloat.”
Up next? Her goal is to expand her exercises so that men and women can do them right in their own homes.
Jessica Fracalossi @jessiefrac
Owner of The Handle Bar
Jessica fell in love with group fitness in college, so much so that, upon graduating, she took a job with a start-up activewear company selling yoga clothing to instructors and studios in the area. After one year with them, she decided to open her own studio that consisted of diverse cycling classes with a welcoming, inclusive environment that harnessed positivity at its core. She built a business plan, raised money and opened The Handle Bar South Boston. In the last four years alone, she’s opened two additional studios in Fenway and Harvard Square.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “The difficulty of juggling interpersonal relationships, while at the same time being a fair, objective, level-headed business owner. As a woman, I’m highly empathetic and have this innate desire to keep everyone happy and be perceived as warm and kind. But making everyone happy is not a reality of effectively running a business, so it’s a constant effort balance it all.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Do good work and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Focus on today and accomplishing what’s on your plate right now—no shortcuts!”
Up next? She’ll be launching a nonprofit movement called Handle With Care, which will support mental health awareness and battle the stigma associated with it. It’s a cause near and dear to her heart and has high hopes that the rider community will be able to make a huge impact.
Leisa Leon @leisaleon
Owner of Yo! Yoga
Leisa was always a sporty kid growing up, mostly playing team sports and long-distance running. But when she injured herself while overtraining for a half marathon, her life took a change for the better. She discovered yoga and hasn’t looked back since the very first time her foot hit the mat. Pretty soon after, she jumped at the chance to do teacher training and quickly realized she had found her calling. In order to create her own community, she knew she wanted her own space and studio. after two years of planning and hard work, Yo! Yoga began.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “That other women genuinely want to support you. I’ve made some amazing connections in the last year with women who reached out offering support and providing me with guidance. As newbie business owner, it’s been really humbling and inspiring to see that we’re just trying to help one another.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Do your research—plan, create that vision of what it is you want and then hustle everyday. Also, don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done. It’s not easy starting something from scratch. There are good and bad days, but seeing your creation come to life is the most amazing feeling in the world.”
Up next? Leisa has big visions for Yo! Yoga, but they start with growing the brand in Brisbane and hosting more events for local yogis.
Liz and Clary Hilliard
Owner of The Hilliard Studio Method
Liz dove head-first into the latest research on exercise and cutting-edge workouts, traveling across the country to learn the most powerful techniques taught in a variety of studios by a variety of disciplines. She returned with what is now called Hilliard Studio Method, also known as “Pilates on Steroids.” It wasn’t until she helped her daughter, Clary, prepare for her wedding day that the idea of opening a fitness studio together came to fruition. Since then, the mother-daughter duo has grown the brand to include a flagship studio in the Myers Park neighborhood of Charlotte, offering over 40 classes a week taught by a team of highly trained HSM-certified trainers, a satellite studio in Davidson, N.C., a subscription workout video service, a product line of branded apparel, partnerships with local and internationally known lifestyle and fitness products as well as a signature smoothie.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “In our opinion, we’ve found no difference between being a male or female entrepreneur. We have fun, work hard and can’t imagine it being any different.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Failure isn’t fatal, and success is not final. This short mantra can power you through a variety of life and business events.”
Up next? The Hilliards recently launched a brand-new subscription video platform that allows clients to access the workout wherever they are in the world. They’re also working hard on expanding the offerings on that site and finding other ways to share The Method with women and men outside of Charlotte.
Ziba Lennox & Marisol Sarabia @mazidancefitness
Owners of MaZi Dance Fitness
These two sisters-turned-business partners grew up as professional ballet dancers. After retiring from the ballet world and taking on corporate jobs in finance and engineering, they realized something was missing from their day to day: dance. They knew that their background in ballet, other dance influences and the mutual respect they had for each other was something special and decided to try their luck at opening a world-class dance and fitness program that welcomed everyone. In 2009, they opened their first studio in Chicago’s Wicker Park and, since, two more have followed in the Loop and Lincoln Park. They love combining their passion for dance fitness and female empowerment at MaZi Dance Fitness because they’ve seen so many people reclaim their love of dance or discover it for the first time.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “The satisfaction and fulfillment we get from our job. Also, the power over oneself—you’re the only one who can stop you from achieving your dreams.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Being a business owner is not comfortable. On any given week, you’ll experience failure, success, betrayal, unconditional support, surprises, falling flat on your face, greatness and joy. If you don’t have a framework to deal with those things, you need to build that first so that you can believe in yourself no matter what.”
Up next? The sister duo will are committed to finding new and exciting ways to expand the empowered feeling they get during class. Hint: They’re researching how dance can reduce stress and fear!
Nancy Cushman-Brown @studio_b_wellness
Owner of Studio B Wellness
After graduating from Capital University with an interdisciplinary degree in Health Science, Nancy has dedicated her life to the fitness industry. In addition to being a competitive gymnast for many years, she’s a NSCA-certified personal trainer and a PhysicalMind Institute-certified Pilates instructor. It wasn’t until 2006 that Nancy began studying barre exercise with Suzanne Bowen, who was classically trained at at the NYC-based Lotte Berk Method Studio, and Leah Sarago, the founder of Ballet Body in Nashville, Tenn. She’s also completed studies with Tracey Mallett, world-renowned fitness and wellness expert and creator of the Booty Barre, and Baron Baptiste, founder and creator of Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga. For the past eight years, Nancy’s been almost exclusively teaching ballet barre with a strong Pilates influence. Her classes are small and hands on, with emphasis on form and precision of movement for maximum results and safety.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “People are so encouraging, kind and supportive. It’s beautiful and unexpected.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Find something that you really love and start small, but be ready to make the jump when the time comes. You’ll know when you’re ready, so don’t be afraid. Believe that you can and surround yourself with positive people.”
Up next? She’s gearing up to celebrate Studio B’s 5th-year anniversary this May.
Owner of Beyond Studios
Marianne got her start in fitness as a Kilgore College Rangerette, a renowned Texas-based college precision dance team, which set the stage for my entire professional fitness career. This experience taught her how to set goals and work hard and persevere no matter the setbacks. After managing and directing more than 90 instructors and 4,700 classes annually for the Concourse Athletic Club in Atlanta, a top-10 club in the U.S., she decided that to focus her energy on providing a personal touch to clients in a boutique setting, focusing specifically on Pilates and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how my clients at all three studios were sincerely eager to improve every aspect of their own wellness, especially their physical fitness. They allow my team to direct their fitness journey, which is very gratifying!”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Decide what you want to do, then go for it! Don’t be timid or let your fears hold you back. I sold my home in Atlanta, said goodbye to my friends and moved to Dallas to assume full operational and ownership responsibility for three BEYOND Studios. I never looked back. Best business decision of my life!”
Up next? Marianne has hopes to expand the studio’s current offerings and then look for opportunities to open new studios in the Dallas area.
Torrey Newman @torreynewmandill | @fierce45denver
Owner of Fierce45
Torrey grew up studying ballet and has been passionate about movement and fitness every since. When she stumbled upon the Lagree Fitness Method, a light bulb went off in her head and she knew she had to bring it to Denver. She loves helping people heal and get stronger physically and mentally and hopes that the workout community she’s built will change lives and help people find their inner fierceness.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “The best surprise has been seeing how our students and teachers have come together to create such a supportive and vibrant community that translates outside of our studio walls.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Go for it! Meditate and visualize exactly what it is you want to create and then start taking action. It can be super scary jumping into the reality of owning your own business, but if you lead from your heart, people will feel it. It’s what leads to success.”
Up next? Raising her little eight-month-old dude and building the Fierce45 brand!
Christa Toarmina @DefyPilates | @WhatsUpSunshine
Owner of Defy Pilates
Christa’s journey to opening her own studio is less fitness-oriented and more entrepreneurial. She taught her very first group fitness class (Pilates) three years ago and opened Defy Pilates one year ago in May. Along the way, she’s created, owned and operated, her own various projects for 17 years, but Defy is by far her biggest project. She says she’s her happiest, most balanced version of herself when she’s able to instill health and happiness in others and when she’s creating. Her biggest inspiration are the women who come to her studio—AKA Crew Defy (#CrewDefy). In fact, Christa says having such a wide network of strong, supportive females who believe in one another brings tears to her eyes and gives her goosebumps. It’s no secret that she considers them the heart, soul, brains and beauty behind Defy Pilates.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “The platform it’s given me to reach out and touch the lives of women and men alike. I’ve found that being an entrepreneur, in general, commands attention. But being a female entrepreneur has the ability to give you a big voice. You just have to know how to you use for the greater good.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Be uniquely you in the pursuance of everything you do. If you believe in something that you consider to be great worth pursuing, go for it. Don’t wait for society to give you the green light. Don’t wait for permission from the world. Take that extremely capable self of yours and just go for it! If you fail, so what? Failure can make you stronger, smarter and more prone to future success. Oh, and be kind… no one likes a mean girl boss.”
Up next? Christa has big dreams of becoming a venture capitalist and hopefully giving other young, hard-working and talented people the chance to make their dreams come true.
Darby Brender @fusionfitnesskc
Owner of Fusion Fitness
Darby grew up as a competitive gymnast and athlete and has always made taking care of her body a high priority in her life. Watching her father, who is a double amputee, learn how to walk again and struggle to endure simple, daily tasks, like getting dressed, taught her not to ever take health and the ability to exercise for granted. She quit her corporate job to start her own fitness studio and has never looked back.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “Nothing, really. I think male and female business owners are the same. I do find, however, that women are very supportive towards one another in business. I do love the ability to encourage other women to ‘go for it’ in the business world.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Be smart. Do your research, set your goals, pursue what makes you happy, but be realistic about your expectations. You’ll wear every hat, do every task and work around the clock, but when it’s something you love, you never grow tired of it.”
Up next? Darby’s planning to expand Fusion Fitness globally via video and online classes.
Jessica Rabbo @jessicarabbot | @corethepilatesstudio
Owner of Core Studios
Born in Madrid, Spain, Jessica began Flamenco dancing at an early age. She moved to Las Vegas at the age of 12, when her father was transferred through the Air Force. She stayed in Vegas, dancing Flamenco professionally, and attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she majored in business with a minor in dance. She started taking Pilates classes and instantly fell in love. After getting certified in 2001, she opened her own studio six years later and is now a proud owner of three locations. She oversees a total of 25 instructors. One of her biggest role models is her mother, who came to this country not speaking one bit of English, yet always encouraged her to succeed beyond her wildest dreams.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “Whether you’re female or male, owning a business means putting in a lot of long hours outside of the day-to-day work. I like to think that I’ve had no difference in the success of my business because I am a female. I’ve worked hard, put in my time and have gotten the same result as male business owners. My gender has not held me back one bit in my life!”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Take some time to think about whether or not business ownership fits the lifestyle you want for yourself. Every instructor wants to own a studio, but they don’t understand how much work is behind the scenes. Start small, spend wisely and pay well. Growing slowly is better than failing quickly.”
Up next? Jessica’s ready to get back to teaching clients, which she misses more than anything else.
Niki Rein @barre_core
Owner of Barrecore
When Niki moved to London in 2009, she noticed there were hardly any dance-based fitness studios. As someone who’s always loved exercising, she felt inspired to open a barre-focused studio. She set up shop in a tiny little mews house in London’s Chelsea area and within a short period of time, with virtually no marketing, word caught on about Barre Core and classes were quickly oversubscribed. The need for a barre-focused studio became the obvious next step, so Niki’s expanded to what will soon be nine studios across the UK with more planned for 2017!
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “It’s incredibly inspiring seeing so many mentally and physically strong women spearheading the fitness industry in London.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Know your strengths and hire your weaknesses. You can do it even if you only have part of the skill set.”
Up next? Niki’s excited to move into a more creative role with Barrecore, as she just recently hired a fantastic CEO to lead business development.
Los Angeles/Orange County
Jessica Rosen @onedowndog
Owner of One Down Dog
Jessica grew up dancing, both competitively and for fun. Throughout college, she joined a few gyms, took the occasional fitness class and tried her best to stay active, but noticed nothing really excited her. While she was working on getting her master’s degree in psychology, her parents found a yoga studio they couldn’t stop raving about. At first, Jessica felt reluctant to try it because she thought yoga was boring, easy and not challenging enough, but it was this one class in particular that changed her entire perspective. The music was phenomenal, she was challenged both physically and mentally and she felt connected to the people around her. Since then, she’s completed two yoga teacher trainings, managed a yoga studio and opened her own space in 2013.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “How fun it is! On the other side of the coin, though, I was surprised by how much sexism there is in the business world. I’ve really had to prove that I’m a boss bitch every step of the way.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Set goals that are concrete, measurable and specific and then be prepared for things to pan out differently than you planned. Get creative and figure out how to get what you need in unconventional ways. Never stop hustling, don’t take no for an answer, say yes when opportunity presents itself and ask for help when you need it. Connect with people who can help you with your vision. Fight your fears and go for it! I was denied loans, asked if my husband would be joining me to sign my lease and was told no so many times before my dream of opening One Down Dog was realized.”
Up next? One Down Dog is opening their third location in Echo Park, just northeast of downtown Los Angeles.
Owner of Reformation Pilates
Andrea was a yoga fanatic for 15 years, but only recently added Pilates to her fitness obsession about two years ago. The combination of both exercises has proved beneficial to her body and mind, which inspired her to open up her own studio so that others could reap those same perks.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? ”People are super supportive and it’s great to lead by example and motivate others.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Create a great vision for what you want to achieve. If it’s something you keep thinking about, don’t ignore what’s calling your attention—get excited about it! Put as much positive energy into it as you can.”
Up next? Another venture is on the horizon, whether it’s more Pilates studios or something in an entirely new direction.
Aliza Bixon and Shana Kruger @pilatesonthebeach
Owners of Pilates on the Beach
It’s not every day that someone finds a silver lining in a back injury, but for Aliza Bixon, that’s how her journey started. After spending most of her early years as a dancer and choreographer, she stumbled on Pilates as part of her physical therapy rehabilitation program. Amazed and inspired by its benefits, she immediately told her good friend Shana and her physical therapist that the three of them had to start their own studio. They opened Pilates on the Beach in 2008 and Pilates on the Grove in 2010.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “The sense of empowerment that if we set our minds to something, we can achieve it. We’re so thankful to live during a time where women can live out their dreams.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Up next? Aliza and Shana are working hard on growing the business, so stay tuned for what comes next!
Rachel Tessalone and Paula Warford
Owners of The Barre
Upon moving to Minneapolis from New York in 2010, Paula was shocked to find that there wasn’t a single barre studio in the entire state of Minnesota. Her sister-in-law Rachel was still living in New York and was equally passionate about barre classes and the amazing effects they had had on the bodies and minds of those who practiced it. Rachel had been wanting to move back to her native Midwest for a while, so this created the perfect opportunity. She followed her heart and passion and joined her sis-in-law in Minnesota, opening their first studio in Wayzata in 2011. They were the first barre studio in the state and have enjoyed an amazing five-plus years sharing their passion with new communities.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “We’re so humbled by the praise we receive from clients and others for opening our own studio. We love and appreciate our clients, so to hear that come appreciation and love come right back at us is just an amazing thing.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Work hard, know your purpose and follow your passion! It’s not easy nor is it comfortable being a business owner. ‘Regular’ work hours go out the window, so be sure to pursue something you’re passionate about.”
Up next? Rachel and Paula are proud and excited to have just launched their “Online Barre,” which streams classes so their clients who can’t get to the studio (most popular reasons: they’re home with a napping newborn, are working late or traveling) can still get their barre fix.”
Rebekah Ramquist @weimquist | @barreampednash | @studio51stnashville
Owner of BarreAmped Nashville and Studio 51st Nashville
Never excellent at sports, Rebekah started exercising at a pretty young age, quickly falling in love with group fitness. She started teaching nearly every single kind of exercise, but when she found the BarreAmped method something clicked. She was asked to become an instructor by the method creator who was phasing out of studio ownership and planning to close the very young Nashville studio. Since Rebekah had experienced such change and empowerment through this barre method in particular, both physically and emotionally, she felt she had to do whatever it took to be able to keep it alive in the city of Nashville. She made plans to take over the studio in 2012, just a few months after it opened and everything that’s followed has been an absolute dream. She now has three locations and an amazing team.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “The same things that surprise me about being a female adult. It’s a lot of work—and mail! Mostly I dislike that not everyone takes you seriously.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Be decisive and try not to get bogged down with the emotional energy of every decision. Always pursue more knowledge, too, because you can always get better.”
Up next? This year Rebekah’s goal is to become a stronger teacher, manager and decision maker.
New York City
Leanne Shear @leannekellyshear | @upliftstudios | @upliftstudiosla
Owner of Uplift
For Leanne, working out has always been fun, exciting and invigorating—never a chore. Ironically, however, she never saw herself starting up a fitness studio. She was a writer for most of her career and started doing some running coaching and training on the side, mostly with friends and just for fun. One of the editors she was writing for caught wind of her passion for fitness and asked if she could do a story on Leanne. Overnight, she had hundreds of new client inquiries, which helped her connect with her original Uplift co-founders. She always says that even if she wanted to pursue fitness on the side, the universe wouldn’t have let her, since so many doors kept opening, leading her to where she is today.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “How every female entrepreneur I know in the broader health, wellness and fitness space is not a competitor, but a true friend and collaborator.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Anyone can (and should!) start a business, but it’s important to be lead by passion. A business owner is going to work crazy hours and be under a lot of pressure to succeed. But when you’re in love with what you’re doing, the crazy-passionate founder in you has endless energy and is rarely tired. Passion mitigates burnout!”
Up next? Leanne has plans to evolve Uplift into an empire of empowerment. Thought she started in NYC, she’s developing a small and growing presence in LA, and has big dreams of helping women in many cities around the country.
Sayshie Poynton @raftersaerialperth | @exhaleespresso
Owner of Rafters Mind Body Air
Sayshie was always passionate about anatomy and physiology, and even studied science at university. But fitness was always her first love, so after graduation, she became involved and certified in aerial arts, calisthenics and Pilates. At the time, there were no studios in Perth offering aerial fitness, so she sought out the opportunity to fill in that void. Her vision was to fuse her love of yoga and Pilates, which led her to create a wonderful Hybrid Studio.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “That it can be difficult to juggle family life and being a mum while running a successful business. Balance is the key, but this can be extremely difficult to achieve. I really to work really hard at not working!”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Dive in! Do your research, talk to people and, most importantly, listen to the advice and constructive criticism of others.”
Up next? “Stay tuned! With the opening of their coffee shop in 2016, who knows what’s on the horizon?”
Jillian Dreusike @allongeetechnique
Owner of Allongée®
Jillian’s fitness journey began as a classical ballet dancer in New York and Philadelphia. She started realizing the serious need for a cross-training regimen for dancers that incorporated cardiovascular endurance training, so after graduating from The University of the Arts, she decided to make her “pet projects” her full-time focus. She opened her first flagship studio in Philadelphia in 2015 and has enjoyed sharing her love for classical ballet ever since. Jillian says her two idols are Gloria Steinem and Misty Copeland because, while both have had uniquely different professions, they’ve each shown the world that women are strong as hell and not going to let anyone tell them no.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “Seeing so many lifelong friendships being formed at the studio.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “It might never seem like the right time, but if you’ve have a passion for something that can benefit others, why not share it with the world?”
Up next? Jillian has quite a few plans in the works, but all she can say right now is that we’ll be seeing a lot more allongée® in Philly and abroad!
Owner of Barre3 – North Scottsdale and Paradise Valley
Karie’s always been involved in fitness in one form or another. As a child, she used to hike every weekend with her mom and dad and played a lot of tennis, and as a young adult she tried almost every fitness craze out there. But it wasn’t until she was in her late 20s and early 30s that she found it difficult to incorporate a fitness routine into her life as an elementary school teacher and mom. She tried Barre3 online and found her fix. It combined everything she loved about fitness into a 60-minute class—toning, lengthening, burning calories and improving posture—and allowed her to workout from home, before her kids woke up in the morning or after they went to bed in the evening. She craved the workout so much that it inspired her to open her own studio. At the time, there wasn’t a single barre3 in all of Arizona, so she saved up, researching the company and searching for real estate for about a year until she found the right fit and opened her first studio.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “The community of women (and men) at our studios is unparalleled. There is so much love, support and encouragement for one another.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Learn to delegate and relinquish control of things you don’t necessarily have to do. Prioritize early and often and set boundaries. It can be a 24-hour job if you let it, but life is all about balance.”
Up next? Karie’s expecting her third child this April!
Stephanie Richen @purebarreportlandlloyd
Owner of Pure Barre – Portland Lloyd
While working at the University of Washington as an anesthesia technician, Stephanie craved an outlet that would relieve the stress and pressure put on her from working in the operating room. She tried yoga, bootcamp, running and, while all of those exercises were great, they didn’t inspire and motivate her the ways she was looking for. She wanted more variety and an exercise that made her want to come back the next day instead of feeling more like a chore. After taking classes at Pure Barre, Seattle, she fell in love with barre so much so that, when she and her husband moved to Portland, it was one of the first things she checked to make sure it was in the neighborhood. When it wasn’t, she decided to email corporate to see what it would take to open her own location. A few months later, after a trip to South Carolina for the interview process, she was approved to open her very own studio! She quit nursing school and took a chance on what’s turned out to be one of the best decision she’s made.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “How much of an impact our studio can have on our community. I was diagnosed with breast cancer October 2015 and the amount of love that’s been bestowed upon me this last year has been so amazing. I lived my cancer journey very openly while teaching and taking class, and many clients have come forward with their own struggles. It’s been difficult, but having such a loving and supporting our community behind me has been so inspiring.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Don’t overthink or overanalyze it. If you’re passionate enough about something, you’ll find a way to succeed. Opening my own business made me realize I don’t have all the answers, but for every failure (and trust me, there have been a zillion and still counting), I grew in some way.”
Up next? Stephanie hopes to open another studio location in the near future.
Tori Fox @barre3raleigh
Owner of Barre3 Raleigh
Tori’s always loved bouncing around between different exercise programs. She started running in college to clear her head and later added toning classes, like Pilates and yoga, to her daily routine. But, after having children, she had less time and needed an efficient workout that included all four: toning, yoga, Pilates and cardio. That’s when she researched and found Barre3. She did it online for a while and even visited a few studio classes in D.C. and Knoxville, and knew she had to bring it to Raleigh.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “Females work together and get things done! I’ve met so many rockstar women in the studio. We’ve built a network and help each other out whenever possible. It’s one of the best parts of being a business owner.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Don’t let your fears keep you from achieving your dreams. I almost backed out right before signing my franchise agreement because I was afraid of failure. My husband called me out, which pushed me to move forward. I’m so thankful for that push because my life is so much richer now.”
Up next? Tori is enjoying the moment and soaking up every bit of “now.”
Owner of The Dailey Method
Sandra grew up figure skating, skiing and playing multiple sports, but nothing quite captivated her like the Dailey Method. She quickly turned her passion into becoming an owner of three studios and has been working at the barre for eight years now.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “Being a mother of two boys and a studio owner of three locations can sometimes feel like I have five children. Juggling everything can be overwhelming at times.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Go for it and take the risks. Don’t let fear get in the way of going for it.”
Up next? Sandra’s currently working on a health and wellness book.
Co-owner of Powerhouse Pilates
Brigette has always been active, even teaching her first aerobics class at the ripe age of 15! In her own words, she’s a bit of a workout junkie. She loves the feeling she gets from a really good workout and credits it with helping her escape from the hustle and bustle of life. While she’s pretty much tried all types of exercise at this point in life, nothing holds a candle to her passion for Pilates. She’s been hooked since 2005.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “The amazing support we’ve gotten from clients who really want to see us succeed. We’re so grateful to be part of such a great community.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? ”You’ll never know your true potential unless you try. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to other business owners and be ready to do a lot of work!”
Up next? Brigette plans to open another studio in the near future.
Leila Burrow @thepadstudios | @epicurean7
Owner of The Pad Studio
In 2008, Leila and her longtime friend and co-founder of The Pad Studios, Lily Riesenfeld, felt a calling to return home to the San Francisco after attending college in Los Angeles. They both knew they wanted to address the need for a yoga and Pilates studio that was fresh and unique and often joked about how fun it would be to go into business together. So when Lily came to her nine years ago and asked her to start up The Pad, it took no time for Leila to say, “Let’s do it!”
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “The terrific women I get to work with inspire me more than anything.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Go for it! Make a plan and work at it. Get clear about your motivation and passion and stay connected to those two things. Surround yourself with people whom you respect and it will never feel like work.”
Up next? Leila’s working on building her retreattothefarm.com, a weekend retreat program located on her family’s beautiful farm just 90 minutes outside of San Francisco.
Owner of The Grinning Yogi
Jamie’s yoga journey began as a means to support her training as an athlete, but she had no idea at the time how it would also support her heart and health. Through yoga, she found a sense of self-acceptance and ease that helped her recover from an eating disorder. She decided to open her first location in Seattle after attending a particularly toxic fitness class that focused too narrowly on weight loss. On a mission to create a more accepting environment that focused more on the heart, she started The Grinning Yoga. At TGY, everything is rooted in the belief that you are already great as is, and your body has a wisdom to know what it needs.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “The in-fighting amongst women and never quite shaking the feeling that I need to somehow ‘legitimize’ myself…”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Reach out. We are in this together. Don’t let the insecurities put you in competition or keep you from connecting to the amazing women in your community.”
Up next? Jamie has a new baby on the way and has exciting plans to open up two more locations in 2017.
Brooke Meek @plnkstl
Owner of PLNK STL
After having her three children, Brooke became a boutique fitness devotee. She fell in love with CrossFit and every barre class available in St. Louis. While visiting her brother in Kansas City, she took a class of the Lagree Method and quickly fell in love with its combination of high-intensity moves. After she returned to St. Louis and realized there weren’t any studios offering that technique, she knew she had to open one herself. Serendipitously, one of her closest friends was looking to close her studio. So, after months of negotiation, she signed a lease and opened PLNK STL in July 2016.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “The support of our local community and the connections I’ve made through the studio inspire me most. People truly want us to succeed.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Do it! If you don’t, someone else will. Find your passion, harness your courage and take that leap. It’s far more work than I ever anticipated, but, it’s so rewarding.”
Up next? Brooke is planning to open more studios soon.
Jackie Alexander @humming_puppy
Owner of Humming Puppy
Jackie has always lead an active lifestyle, from walking, running and going to the gym to swimming. But nothing really stood out apart from the bunch until 2008. After undergoing a reconstruction surgery on her left knee, Jackie turned to yoga to help regain mobility and flexibility. While it her took few years to completely surrender to the practice, once she did, there was no turning back. Yoga gave her an opportunity to understand how her body worked, how her mind affected my body, and how her mind impacted my spirit and overall state of being. She was inspired to open her own studio so she could share her love of yoga with those who never thought the exercise was for them.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? ”The support, encouragement and inspiration I get from my partner, family, friends, staff and students. When things get a little crazy and hectic it’s nice to know I’m not alone and that they have my back!”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Be passionate about what you do, focus on one thing and do it well.”
Up next? Jackie’s planning to take Humming Puppy global and share her love of yoga with the world.
Michelle Gobea @cyclepimp
Owner of SOHO Cycling
Michelle’s biggest workout motivations include spending time with friends, enjoying a great glass of wine or that extra margarita and taking vacations. The “good things” in life push her to work out even harder. After bouncing from California to Philadelphia to Arizona, taking tons of spin classes along the way, Michelle landed in Tampa, where there was a serious void for an independent studio. Disappointed with spin in big box gyms, Michelle wanted to bring what she loved so much about cycling to her new city and home.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “How much a workout can mean to people. I’ve received some very heartfelt letters from riders who’ve lost a child, gone through a divorce, helped a loved one battle cancer or even battled it themselves. It makes me so happy to be able to give them an hour of stress-relieving, endorphin-boosting exercise. Their struggles are what motivate me every day.
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? ”Just do it, but give 110% and make sure you have a true passion.”
Up next? Stay tuned! 2017 is looking to be a year of expansions for SOHO Cycling.
Micheline Wedderburn @quadspin
Owner of Quad Spin
Micheline has been spinning since the dawn of the trend, when everything thought it would only be a waning fad. When she moved to Toronto from Los Angeles about 15 years ago and knew she had to open her own studio, which became the first spin gym in all of Canada. It’s the love of spin, the satisfaction of creating amazing instructors and the challenge of staying relevant in the fitness market that have driven her to succeed beyond her wildest dreams.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “The acceptance and support I receive from the Toronto community. Canadians love an underdog and so do I!”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Embrace help from the people who offer it to you. The idea of standing alone and doing it all by yourself is a pipe dream. Let the people who love you and your brand help. And remember, you’re only as good as your weakest link.”
Up next? Micheline has been heading Quad Spin solo for the last 15 years, so she’d love to see the brand grow and stand on its own two legs.
Fatima Capitao and Kristi Anderson
Owner of Body Balance Vancouver
Interestingly enough, the duo both came from a non-fitness background: Fatima came from the corporate world and Kristi had owned her own business before. But the one thing they both had in common was their love for fitness on the side, specifically barre. So when they got the opportunity to open their own studio, a beautiful partnership was formed. Ever since, the two have been working hard at mastering their craft and sharing their joy of fitness with as many women as they can.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “The support and encouragement from the community of women at the studio.It’s wonderful to watch our community grow, friendships develop and know people are genuinely interested in making the studio a success.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Be passionate about what you want to do, because it’s all-consuming. Do your homework and take advice, but at the end of the day go with your gut. Stay strong. You’ll have ups and downs in business, just like life, so be realistic and stay positive. Women are so much stronger than they recognize, they need to find that strength in themselves.”
Up next? Fatima and Kristi will be continuing to strengthen and grow their community and business at Body Balance.
Jane Brodsky @janebrodsky
Owner of Biker Barre
Just before turning 30, Jane learned that she had osteoarthritis. For her, this meant no more tennis, which was her sole exercise up until that point other than an extremely misguided attempt to run a half marathon two weeks before her wedding. For a few months, she didn’t exercise at all, with disastrous results to her mental and physical well-being. Then, in 2009, a friend recommended barre. Though she’d never heard of it, she says it was love at first tuck. Within one year, she gave her notice to her day job as a communications director on Capitol Hill and made plans to open her first studio.
What has surprised you the most about being a female business owner? “My business partner Katie and I are an awesome team. Having someone by your side who is strong in the areas that you could work on, and vice versa, has been critical to our success.”
What advice would you give to women who want to become entrepreneurs? “Go for it, but have a plan. Being an entrepreneur is definitely the most exciting thing I’ve ever done other than being a mom to two little girls who are pretty thrilling, if I do say so myself. That said, you need to need to know what to expect. What is your tolerance for learning on the job (which you will do)? Are you flying without a net? If so, what do you do if you have to pivot? There is no way to prepare for every outcome, but going in with your eyes open is critical to success because it will mean you will make better decisions across the board.”
Up next? Jane plans to make Biker Barre even more awesome. How, you ask? Wait and see!