Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mariana Santos, Founder and CEO of Brazily Fitness Inc., located in Ottawa, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We offer instructor certification programs to help instructors build stronger connections and transform people's lives from the inside out through Brazilian music, dance, fitness, and lifestyle.
Tell us about yourself
I was born and raised in Canada and grew up feeling very insecure about my body and really lacked confidence in myself. As a teenager, I moved to Brazil, where my parents are from, and was quickly hit with massive culture shock. I had to learn a new language and make new friends, and I was suddenly in an environment where people took an extra amount of care when it came to their health, appearance, and wellness. At first, it was a huge struggle! My insecurities increased, and I felt like I didn't fit in at all.
Things started to change when I joined a gym and got introduced to Brazilian music and dance and the unique Brazilian approach to fitness and lifestyle. I started feeling more confident in my own skin, had more energy, became less shy, and eventually decided to dive into the fitness industry as a Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer once I returned to Canada.
At 25, I decided to move back to Brazil again and further connected with my Brazilian roots and fell more and more in love with the Brazilian culture and vibe. I also met the love of my life, my husband Andre, who had also worked as a Dance Fitness Instructor for years. Our mutual love for Brazilian music and dance definitely created a very strong bond between us! We eventually moved back to Canada to start a family and now have a beautiful daughter named Bella.
And we came back with a mission – to teach as many people as possible about the Brazilian approach to fitness, dance, and overall lifestyle. Because one thing became very clear to me while I was living in Brazil – that if you have as much fun as possible and enjoy the little things in life, there's no limit to what you can achieve! Also, making yourself a priority by living a healthy lifestyle and doing things you love is the furthest thing from selfishness! This mindset shift was life-changing for me, and I now want to show people how amazing life can be when you learn to truly love yourself from the inside out.
Brazily™ Fitness aims to get rid of the toxic "no pain, no gain" mentality and instead focus on taking care of yourself first, unapologetically, by using fitness and dance as tools to live a life you love. Oh, and by making sure you have as much FUN along the way as possible!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Since we are still in our launch phase, I'd say our biggest accomplishment so far has been our resourcefulness in order to get to this point. As a startup with no investors so far, we have managed to progress slowly but surely and have been successful at generating interest around our brand using a mix of organic and paid strategies and by building sincere relationships with other amazing professionals in the industry.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
I think the constant battle with your own fears and self-doubt! Just making sure you continue to build momentum, even on the days when you feel defeated.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
When you have a big dream, it can feel overwhelming and even impossible some days. I think that as long as you have absolute clarity on what it is you want to do and who you want to serve, the right doors start opening at the right time. Once you have that crystal clear clarity on what you want, don't let anything stop you! Because you will be challenged over and over again, and you will need to consistently prove to yourself that your goals are stronger than any momentary setbacks. And last but not least, make sure you're doing things for the right reason. If you're in it just to make a ton of money, people will sense that and won't be drawn to you and your brand.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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