Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in the health and wellness business but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Julia Long, CEO, and co-founder of F.R.Y. First Responders' Yoga, based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Julia was a practicing litigator.
Tell us all about your business...
F.R.Y. is a toolbox for First Responders' mind-body wellness, tailored to First Responders by First Responders. Did you know that studies and interviews show that First Responders experience five times the musculoskeletal disorders than general workers?
They suffer from sleep disorders due to shift work, experience anxiety, and an inability to relax or "let go," and 30 percent of First Responders develop behavioral health conditions such as depression and PTSD? It is important to note that these statistics are from BEFORE the past Pandemic Year. We hope you and your loved ones never need the help of First Responders. But when you do, do you not want to make sure that they are at their best for you? Enter F.R.Y. The APP. A toolbox for First Responder mind-body wellness, available anytime, anywhere, when needed. All First Responders have intelligent phones on them at all times.
We heard three significant complaints from First Responders in interviews:
- Time for self-care was challenging to find due to non-work obligations and sleep time required after night shifts;
- Timing of public classes did not fit in with their erratic changes; and
- First Responders have to access multiple sources to get guidance on relaxation, meditation, functional, movement, and mind-quieting techniques, which are not even specific to their circumstances
F.R.Y. The APP is the virtual representation of the F.R.Y. Th Method, developed and outlined in our Book, available on Amazon. F.R.Y. The Method and F.R.Y. incorporate corporate data from literature reviews of studies on First Responders' mind-body injuries correlated with our physical fitness and yoga studies, anatomy and nervous system training, plus First Responders' lived experiences. Tools include breathwork, relaxation techniques, mindfulness & positive affirmation techniques, trauma-informed functional movement (both energetic and passive), and pauses in meditation.
What's your background and motivation to grow as a solopreneur?
I am no stranger to a stressful life, a practicing litigator, completing my law training in Toronto, Canada. I have practiced primarily in personal injury and motor vehicle accidents, and emotional family law cases. I have witnessed people so caught up in life's material, dynamic and transactional nature that they created and fueled stress within themselves. I have seen people's lives destroyed while they obsessed on a case.
The practice of law was an adversarial environment, a hostile environment. Everyone wanted to "get the other guy." Opposing counsel would stab you in the back the first chance they would get. I would win and feel sorry for the other side who lost everything. Me, like others, had to balance her personal life and professional life, all the while meeting the expectations laid upon her by clients, the community, and family. Eventually, I felt the need to close her practice to focus on personal life with family. It was when my family life violently fell apart that I dove more fully into yoga, with her first formal training in 2012.
I have now had over 1000 hours of yoga training and wish to share the knowledge and expertise she has acquired so others need not suffer. I hoped that I knew what I know now earlier in life. I am an Advanced Sivananda Yoga Teacher, a certified California College of Ayurveda (C.C.A.) Yoga Nidra Teacher Trainer and a Kundalini Yoga Teacher based in Ottawa, Canada. I have been teaching and providing C.C.A. Yoga Nidra sessions in groups and privately for many years. I am currently the only Classically-based Yoga Nidra Teacher Trainer in Canada (CCA-YN). I was also a certified Canadian Fitness Professional (CanFitPro).
I have over 1000 hours of yoga training, including trauma-informed movement. I do have two sons who are First Responders, which spawned the creation of F.R.Y. I have seen and heard how their duty has changed them and increased their stress levels. The demands of their jobs are impacting their physical and non-physical wellbeing. I am a Registered Yoga Alliance Instructor (RYT-500) and a Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider (YACEP). Connect with me on LinkedIn. I have classed myself as a "mobile yoga provider," traveling to talk, teach and study. I have been writing and publishing in various journals on topics of wellbeing.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
There have been two significant milestones in F.R.Y. so far. First, “F.R.Y. First Responders’ Yoga. The Book”, a self-help book, was published on Amazon. Second, in response to the lockdowns during 2020, we developed F.R.Y. The APP, to deliver tools to First Responders anywhere, anytime when needed. First Responders are on the front lines, putting their lives at risk, and are always ready to serve and help. It is an honor and privilege to help them for a change. We dedicate our efforts to give back to them the help they are giving to us. Giving back to those who serve!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a solopreneur?
While the work is very fulfilling, one of the hardest things to do is temper expectations and create reasonable timelines on all the advances we wish to make. For example, certified yoga teachers in F.R.Y. The Method to lead sessions across Canada, First Responders to lead to their peers, and both through our F.R.Y. The APP hires and trains additional F.R.Y. Educators to lead our specialized in-person workshops in First Responder workplaces.
What is the top tip you'd give to anyone looking to start, run or grow a small business today?
If I was to give tips in running and growing a business, these are the top 3:
PLAN - look forward to the year and set intermediary goals for each quarter. This provides a business with owner successes and accomplishments throughout the year for encouragement and incentive AND also provides a gauge to measure if you are on track. Otherwise, days turn into weeks, turn into months, and time passes, and all of a sudden, the year has passed, and there are no accomplishments.
DOCUMENT - as a business owner, the value of your business is truly the ability to recreate itself. Record HOW you do things, step by step. This becomes a process manual for others to follow to ensure consistency. As the business grows, the business owner will need to rely on others to do the work so that a process manual will guide the employees. Also, as an exit strategy, should the business owner wish to sell the business, we cannot sell what is in our heads. But we can sell a business with documented procedures.
ASSESS - Not all opportunities that present themselves will be in line with your planned trajectory of the company. It is ok to say “no thank you” to options that may take time away from activities you need to keep your business on track and meet your quarterly goals. In our case, we have been invited multiple times to present and to serve a target audience unrelated to First Responders. At the same time, we are happy to share our knowledge and the uniqueness of F.R.Y. The Method, we discerningly decide which opportunities to follow.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
A few closing comments. First, do what you love. Running a business requires time and effort. A lot of time and effort. Believe in what you do. The motivator cannot be only financial gain. When we do what we love, it does not seem like work. I am honored to give back to those who serve. Second, take time for yourself. Remember the advice given when you board a plane. Don your oxygen mask first before helping others. You can be of no help if you do not take care of yourself.
Similarly, schedule YOU TIME daily. It can be as simple as walking outside to refresh, exercise class, meditating, cooking healthy food, or doing yoga! Remember, you too are important.
Where can people find you online?
Phone: 519-770-YOGA (9642)
Email: info@FirstRespondersYogaCanada.com, Julia@FirstRepondersYogaCanada.com
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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