Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Chantel Oakley, CEO of Chantel Oakley Holistic Fitness, located in Billings, MT, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I own a fitness/wellness company that provides fitness consulting and programming for fitness tech companies.
Tell us about yourself
I played college basketball and wanted to be either a high school or college basketball coach. My husband and I got married young and started a family young, and my dream of coaching was put on hold. When my oldest boys were just little, I looked into becoming a fitness instructor at a local gym as a way to make ends meet for our family financially.
I quickly realized that being a fitness instructor was very similar to being a coach. I developed a passion for helping people realize they are strong. They can do hard things, fitness is a journey, and they are not alone on their journey. After working in a local gym teaching for ten years, in 2020, I decided to branch out on my own and started a company that provided local and virtual health coaching and fitness programs for individuals and corporations.
During this process, I found a niche in the world of fitness tech as a consultant. I have worked with international corporations such as the 30 Day Fitness App and US/Nike Sports helping to create and develop virtual fitness programming that is engaging and sustainable for users. Recently I have begun to work with two different corporations providing AI and mixed reality fitness consulting with the intent of building into Metaverse fitness integration.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I might be unique in that I don't gauge my accomplishments by financial reward/success (although that is always wonderful when it happens) but by the lasting impact, my work has on the lives of individuals. In 2021 I created and directed a holistic fitness program for US/Nike Sports. This was a six-week virtual program designed to help participants become stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally.
A woman named Corielle from Burbank, California signed up for my program, having never really made fitness a consistent part of her life. She was overweight, which made some movements hard for her, but through the messaging of the program, she stuck with it. I talk a lot about having a "just do something" mentality...choosing to do "something" active every day.
Corielle really embraced this concept. One day she was around the park where her daughter had soccer practice. She was feeling good and decided, "I'm going to try and run," something she had NEVER done before. She started running, feeling grateful for her body and how strong it was getting. The training she had been doing through my program had helped her develop strength and endurance. She kept running and running until she ran a MILE.
She went from never running before to running an entire mile! After she finished, she thought to herself, "that felt amazing, and I think I could go even further next time." My life's goal is to remove the narrative of shame and guilt from the fitness journey, motivate through HOPE, and remind people that they are strong, they can do hard things, and they are not alone. With that in mind, I consider stories like Corielle's my biggest business accomplishment!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
For me, the biggest challenge is shutting off my brain and disconnecting from work mentally. I LOVE what I do, I'm a dreamer, and I have a strong drive to make my dreams a reality. And, that can get in the way of me resting and having fun, something I am very aware of and have to work VERY hard at!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Identify your resources - what are you good at? Who around you can help you? What are you passionate about? Where do you see a need?
- Allow yourself to dream BIG. Remove the limitations of finances and time and dream about what could be.
- Don't give up. The view of being an entrepreneur as a journey or an adventure. Constantly be aware of where you want to go, choose to take the next best step that will move you forward on your journey, and don't be afraid to make mistakes.
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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