Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jesse Elkins, Founder and CEO of Full Sun Fitness, located in Charlotte, NC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Full Sun Fitness (FSF) is a physical activity leader in LGBTQIA+ spaces, dedicated to activating, illuminating, and educating communities through various movement modalities backed by rigorous research. Our expertise in personal training through resistance movement, yoga, and embodiment practices allows us to offer a progressive and sustainable toolkit for everyone.
I founded FSF in Charlotte, North Carolina, and have recently moved from in-person to online offerings as I continue to grow and access global Queer communities. This transition has enabled me to develop and co-host yoga and Pilates retreats throughout Greece alongside Mykonos Active.
FSF is driven by the fact that we are all beautifully unique with stories and experiences that have the power to bridge and connect the world and one another in kind, wholehearted ways. FSF exists because there can no longer be a one-size-fits-all approach to wellness. All people deserve to be able to show up just as we are: all sizes, opinions, genders and non-genders, moods, efforts, income levels, abilities, races, professions, sexualities, all everything that is authentically us. Beyond this, we must be able to take what we need and leave what we don't. We must have the freedom and support to express what we need and what we want to illuminate and activate in our lives, and that includes the ways in which we move and relate to our bodies.
Tell us about yourself
My background as a competitive swimmer inspired years of exploration to deepen my mind+body connection. I studied ballet and modern dance, taught dance to people living with disabilities at the Sydney Dance Company, and practiced (hot) yoga for 12 years. I am certified in hot sculpt yoga, nutrition coaching, personal training, and corrective exercise. My goal is to bring breath, awareness, and self-compassion to exercise and to help people illuminate and sustain their individual wellness. I am committed to deconstructing harmful fitness trends, and I believe that the FSF should be able to "come as you are, not how society says you should be."
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is maintaining absolute integrity in every choice that I have made. I have never taken an administrative step, 1-1 training role, or collaborative partnership with or for anyone or any idea that I did not absolutely align with. I believe it is vital to recognize when we sacrifice our mission or our offerings to take the path of least resistance, and this is something I've remained cognizant of. I am wholeheartedly okay with every high and low of operating my business because I believe in the choices I've made for my business.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Saying no. However, like any good habit, my ability to utilize this boundary without emotional despair has gotten stronger. Saying no to opportunities when I've felt overwhelmed, saying no to initiatives I do not align with, and saying no to customers, vendors, and partners, when it is time to part ways, takes quite a bit of personal and professional gusto.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
In order of importance from my personal experience:
- Write every idea down. 99% of these ideas will be torn away from your creative genius simply because of how life changes... but that 1% remaining will be absolute gold, and that gold is your business.
- You must enjoy your process (including laughing at yourself and understanding that roadblocks are part of the humor of life). Sure, there will be hard tasks and moments, but you must move from joy. If you're filming for social media, you must also do it because you enjoy doing it. If you are offering a service, you must be immersed in that service. If you are collaborating with other organizations, you must wholeheartedly believe in those organizations. If you are not in love with the ways in which you move and provide services, you must have the bandwidth to hire someone who is (if you intend on continuing such a service).
- Recognize that revenue is not you. Revenue is not your whole business. Revenue is important, but there will always be low moments, and I believe it is important to continue building, growing, and deepening other non-earning aspects of your own professional practices in the meantime. Not earning? Create. Not earning? Say no to what isn't working. Not earning? Reach out for advice. I didn't want to say, "pivot,"... but not earning? Pivot.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
My opinions and experiences, self-help books, unsolicited advice, blogs, and playbooks are all simply tools. There is no perfect way to build your business. As in our individual wellness practices, we must take only what speaks to us and leave the rest behind. Our individualism is what drives our capabilities as entrepreneurs.
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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