Runners-Up: $5,000

Fort Worth Fit Body Boot Camp
Fort Worth Fit Body is a superhero factory disguised as a small group personal training facility. Our 30 minute workouts have enabled over 300 clients to lose over 4000 pounds, an incredibly important achievement in a county where 66% of adults are overweight or obese. But that’s our cover story. In reality, we build everyday superheroes and provide a place for them to care for themselves and others. Our annual Burpee-A-Thon has raised over $15,000 for a local cancer nonprofit. Last Christmas, we helped a client and single mother put gifts under what would’ve otherwise been a bare tree. Last month we raised $3100 and scheduled meal deliveries for a coach who needed emergency surgery. When a young coach’s apartment was destroyed in a fire, we raised over $6000 and coordinated furniture donations. From donating 400 pairs of shoes to inner city youth to gathering over 11,000 canned goods for our food bank, our superheroes continuously flex their goodwill muscles for the community and each other.

Recent years have brought unprecedented pressure. 2023 saw our lowest membership growth in ten years. The cost of living crisis is forcing clients to choose between paying for groceries and their membership. Memberships on hold have increased by 20%. With revenue decreasing, there were weeks I wasn’t sure I’d make payroll, and many times I’ve gone without a paycheck.
Clients are dealing with more stress, anxiety, and financial pressure, demanding a different skill set from our coaches. And though we pay staff over three times the minimum wage, hiring and retaining quality staff has been a challenge.

As a small business owner living with Multiple Sclerosis, I can dig deep in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. To keep this pillar of the community open and active, I invested in significant personal development coaching for each coach and increased pay. Role play activities, empathy exercises, and courageous conversation training has replaced our standard workplace training. Planning and leading a team retreat allowed us to bond, get real on problem areas, and reinvigorate our passion for building superheroes. Prioritizing staff’s physical and mental health with sound baths, alcohol free happy hours, and massages has improved morale. For growth, we’ve changed our numbers-focused approach to a relationship-focused one. We prioritize developing meaningful connections with clients, going beyond “how was work today,” to things like, “how is your husband recovering from his appendectomy?” Every client is known by name. We’ve shifted a large portion of our marketing to the second and third degree connections of our current clients. Friends and family events, for example, build membership and community. And while we still celebrate clients’ weight loss, we’ve increased our focus on life’s other celebrations that come from a continuous fitness routine: marathon finishes, pain-free hiking with the grandkids, and the ability to get off medications.

The pressures from the economy have been immense. But immense pressure, under the right conditions, creates diamonds. With creativity, perseverance, and grit, this superhero factory continues to shine.