We continue our series on Women In Business where we highlight a wide variety of businesses that are owned and operated by women all around the country. Our goal is to learn from, inspire, motivate and celebrate this strong, unique, and diverse group of women.
Our spotlight today is on Amy Feltus, owner of FIT4MOM Phoenix Scottsdale Here’s what she told us.
What is your company?
I own FIT4MOM Phoenix Scottsdale, which is a franchise location of FIT4MOM. At FIT4MOM we strive to provide fitness for all stages of motherhood, as well as to help moms find their fit when that comes to motherhood, community, and fitness.
When was your company founded?
FIT4MOM was founded by Lisa Druxman in 2001, in San Diego, CA, under the name Stroller Strides, which was our first fitness program. As the company expanded and involved to include other fitness programs for moms, it was rebranded under the FIT4MOM name in 2012. The first franchisees were sold in 2004, and the one I now own was one of the first. FIT4MOM Phoenix Scottsdale has been operated continuously since 2004, and I’m the third owner. I purchased it in December 2013.
What inspired you to purchase your own company?
As a new mom, I found myself a little lost – I’d taken an extended leave of absence when we adopted our first child and I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with myself all day, or who I was supposed to be at that point. I discovered Stroller Strides classes as a client, and it was so important to my mom life that it inspired me to want to provide the same kind of connections, community, and fitness for other moms.
What is the best part of your job?
The moms and kids! I love seeing them in classes, I also love when I help a mom reach a fitness or health goal.
What is the hardest part of your job?
Balancing it with the rest of my life. Working for myself, from home, it makes it harder to create the lines between business and family life. Also, like all moms – just finding the time to do everything I want to with the business. I definitely almost always feel ike I’m either failing at the business or failing with the kids.
Have you found that being a woman business owner has helped your business?
I think being a company run by moms for moms definitely makes us a place that women look to for fitness. But it can also be a bit of a double-edged sword. Sometimes we don’t come across as having workouts for women looking for a lot of intensity (and we do – we offer a large variety!).
What are some obstacles that you’ve encountered being a woman business owner?
I’m not sure I’ve had any other than my own self-imposed ones – running out of time, not always having the financial resources to outsource things I probably should. Things like that.
What is one piece of advice that someone gave you early on that you found to be invaluable.
To remember that saying yes, is also saying no. Every time I say yes to someone or something, that means I am saying no to something else. Early on I had to learn to prioritize my “yes.”
What is one piece of advice that would you give to someone that is thinking of starting their own business?
Make sure you have a clearly articulated “why” for what you want to do. Get help with a business plan as needed. And break down your goals into things that are time bound for completion.
What is one mistake that you made early on that you would re-do if given the chance?
Trying to do too much too soon. When I bought my franchise, it was only offering Stroller Strides. In the first 6 months I tried to add in other programs and new and more locations for Stroller Strides. I should have focused on one thing at a time. Either expanding the existing, or adding new – not both at the same time.
What is one future goal that you have for the business?
To reach more moms! I know that not every mom is my client, but I’m always disappointed when I meet someone and she says “oh I wish they had had that when….” and it turns out we did, but she didn’t know about it. My goal is to make sure that moms know about us, even if they don’t choose us.
Who has inspired you the most in your business?
When I was a new franchisee, and also prior to that, when I was a FIT4MOM instructor, I was lucky enough to be trained by Farel Hruska, FIT4MOM’s former Fitness Director. To this day, I don’t ever teach a class without using something I learned from her, or thinking of her. Farel taught me that people need to see themselves in fitness classes, and if they can’t see themselves there, they won’t come. So I try always to be teaching a class that appears accessible to anyone viewing it. I don’t want any mom to ever feel she’s not enough for our programs.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
How hasn’t it? It’s been an interesting year. During the initial stages of the pandemic, starting in March 2020, we had to pivot and take all of our classes to a virtual platform. This was not something I was set up to do! Fortunately, in Arizona, we have a strong franchise team who came together to provide a full schedule of virtual classes available to clients in all the franchises. We are at almost a year of offering classes over Zoom now. We were also able to return to in person classes in June 2020 on a limited basis, and have been able to offer a hybrid schedule ever since. Our outdoor, in person classes look a little different than they did – we space the clients out, following social distance guidelines, instructors are no longer tickling other moms’ babies, or picking them up as needed, but at least we can come together and workout. We are committed to continuing to offer both virtual and in person formats for as long as it takes.
On days that are particularly hard with the business, what keeps you going?
Knowing how important our classes and other events are to new moms. Knowing how much value it added to my life, and hoping I am continuing to do the same for others.
If you were not a FIT4MOM franchisee and instructor, what would you be?
If I wasn’t a FIT4MOM franchisee and instructor, I’d be practicing law. That’s what I did for 8 years pre-kids, and what I had planned on going back to.
Where do you see your business in 5 years?
I am hoping over the next 2-4 years to identify the next owner of FIT4MOM Phoenix Scottsdale, and help her with that transition! Right now I’m working on rebuilding our client base as we hopefully come out of the COVID pandemic, and just enjoying my last few years!
What would you like people to know about your business?
That we are more than just Stroller Strides. So many people know us as Stroller Strides, and not as FIT4MOM. We offer prenatal fitness, stroller fitness, mom only HIIT boot camps, run clubs, classes to improve running….so many things that you don’t need to be the mom of a baby or toddler for.
What is something that everyone told you/warned you/shared with you about owning your own business that is not true?
I can’t think of anything.
Were people supportive of you when you went out on your own?
People were very supportive of me. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by great friends and supportive family.
What do you say to the naysayers if you’ve ever encountered any as related to your business?
At the beginning, I had a few people tell me that there was going to be too much fitness competition as boutique fitness expanded, and that I wouldn’t be able to keep or attract enough clients. I have always said that there are enough clients to go around. Different types of fitness appeal to and work for different people. And especially now, many people come to a variety of fitness programs and classes. I find locations, hire instructors, and we teach great classes – the people always come.
How would your clients describe you?
I think that’s evolving. When I was an instructor with my own kids in the stroller, I was more one of the gang. Now, unfortunately, I am frequently just the woman on the other side of the email that they don’t really get to know. I do my best to get to classes regularly, but I can’t be everywhere all the time. I think the clients who do interact with me at the classes I teach would describe me as tough but supportive and encouraging. I usually teach our high intensity interval training classes!
What has been your most favorite thing you’ve done with the business to date?
As hard as it has been, the last 11 months has been my favorite, or is at least what I’m most proud of. The way the Arizona FIT4MOM franchisees came together with each other to continue to provide fitness and community in a safe manner during a pandemic has been amazing. I’m not sure I would have predicted our ability to do this, and we have.
What is one random fact about you that you would like people to know?
I was scared to go to my first Stroller Strides class as a client. All my kids are adopted – at that time I only had 1 – and I was worried that somehow I wouldn’t been seen as a real mom, or that there wouldn’t be a place for me in this fitness space for women with babies they had given birth to. But I will always be grateful I pushed past that fear and went, because I was wrong, and it changed my life.
You can find Amy and FIT4MOM Phoenix Scottsdale here: