Courtney McCarthy is an Elite Mompreneur member based out of Guelph, Ontario. She is the Owner and Founder of Loyobo FIT — Love Your Body Fitness — a boutique fitness studio that isn’t your typical gym (and loves it that way!). You won’t see pages of ripped, shredded bodies, before and after photos or “lose weight quick” promises on Loyobo FIT’s website or social media. Courtney and her team believe strength comes in all shapes and sizes and they don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all model for health. Loyobo FIT celebrates body diversity and wants to help members to see movement as something positive and fun, rather than punishment or something you have to do to be perceived as beautiful. Loyobo FIT offers small group fitness classes, with over 20 options every week; everything from Zumba to Tabata, Yoga, and more. Specialty offerings include a weekly group coaching format for mindset support and a Friday Happy Hour which includes Burlesquercise, Self Defense, Pound, Bellydancing, and more! Courtney’s goal is to create a safe space that allows people to connect with their bodies, to be a part of a community, and to feel strong, worthy and capable. We are so thrilled to be sharing Courtney’s Success Story!
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I started this studio after my own experience and frustration teaching at a variety of different gyms. I didn’t feel valued, members were frustrated and didn’t feel listened to, and most of all – the spaces I was working in didn’t feel safe, especially for women. There was no education, there was no relationship building, no community. I wanted to prove that there was a better way to do fitness. A model based on putting people above profits, one that focuses on long term lifestyle change, and that emphasizes empowerment and education. So, I decided to start offering my own classes! From there, it has naturally evolved and expanded. We are so happy in the new space and I am so excited to continue to build our offerings.
What is your “WHY” behind your business/being an entrepreneur?
Through my own health and weight loss journey, I discovered a love of fitness through Zumba. With the incredible support and encouragement of an amazing instructor, attending Zumba classes helped me to find my self confidence and a connection with my body when I was unhappy in my life. It became the gateway to discovering how to love my body and feel strong. I started teaching because I wanted to give people, and specifically other women, the same feeling that the instructor gave me. I want to help them feel safe, to feel connected with their body, and find a love of movement that teaches them how to feel strong, worthy and capable. Through fitness, I want to help change people’s lives for the better!
What’s the best part about owning your own business?
I get to have fun, challenge myself, and do something different every day! I am always learning, always discovering something new and I get to surround myself with people who share my values, ethics, and love of life! It is also awesome that I finally have found a type of work and that I’m building a company which is aligned with my view of the world: that people come first, that long term sustainability and thinking of the bigger picture is par for the course, and that aims to do better, rather than just maintain the status quo. Before, if I was frustrated or felt trapped by a boss or manager, I was faced with the decision to stay or quit that job. Now, if I feel frustrated, I can make changes and fix it! It is a huge responsibility, but it honestly feels amazing.
What impact did other people/experiences have on you, and how did they help you get to where you are in your business today?
When I made the decision to quit my full time job to pursue my fitness career, I took a job as a sales associate at Grey Rock Clothing Co, a fair trade/ethical clothing store in Downtown Guelph. The owner of the store, Beth Timlin, taught me so many things about running a small business and really took me under her wing. I gained so much experience and Beth had an unwavering belief in me and my own business. She continues to act as a very close mentor and constant cheerleader for me. I would not be where I am today without her! There have been SO many others, almost too many to name. The most valuable lesson Beth taught me was not to be afraid to help and reach out to the community to get them involved. I did just that when I opened up the new studio location. So many people came out to help paint, to show their support by coming to classes or attending our opening events, and other business owners I had made connections with took part by participating in the day, donating door prizes, or swag bag items… or even just friendly advice! I am so grateful to be surrounded by so many people who have been rooting for me and my business since day one!
What values do you believe in and live by, and how do they shine through when it comes to your role as a business owner?
I believe that everyone deserves to feel strong, worthy and beautiful! I aim to to lead with love, making choices that embody a spirit of inclusion, positivity, joy and fun! I believe that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and treated like a friend and member of our family when they walk through my door. I don’t believe in the word “can’t”. I embrace challenges and am constantly striving to break down my own fears to reach higher. I want to help others do the same, whether it is my members or my team of instructors. With hard work and perseverance, you can achieve wonderful things – which is how I ended up where I am today! I believe in collaboration over competition. Of lifting up other woman, especially female entrepreneurs. It is important to me to shop local and establish relationships with other small business owners wherever I can. Especially supporting other start-ups or new instructors the way others have supported me. And finally, I believe that business can be a force for good in this world. We can do better, be socially responsible, be environmentally conscious and have a mission to be sustainable, looking forward to a future of sustainability. This requires putting people before profits and being accountable for my choices and the impact they can have. This has impacted everything from the choice of products I buy in the studio, to the business policies I have put in place and my interactions with other businesses, my members and others within the Guelph community.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your business/being an entrepreneur?
I am proud of my members and what we have accomplished together! My happiest moments are seeing the changes that they are making in their lives, to see them breaking through their fears and insecurities and finding a new sense of confidence to try things they have never tried before. I determine my own success by my ability to help others and spread the message of Loyobo FIT: that fitness can be a positive thing and people can define their own vision of health.
What does the future look like for you and your business?
The future looks bright! There are so many exciting opportunities on the horizon and I am filled with so much hope and ideas for the future for how we can grow, bringing new value to our members and the Guelph community at large. Our goal in the near future is to continue to grow, expand our presence in the Guelph community and create partnerships with other local health and wellness professionals. We are planning many workshops, special events, retreats, fitness challenges: the list is long! I am beyond thrilled and I can’t wait to get started.
Any tips for women thinking of starting a business?
The greatest gift you can ever give yourself is a good business coach and many different mentors, right from the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey! It is so easy to get lost in your own head, your own fears, and your own biases that might end up holding you back or making certain milestones unnecessarily difficult. At first, it seemed like an indulgent, very high priced expense that was more of a luxury than a necessity, but my coach Jennifer Trask has saved me from myself in a number of ways! Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy, and a coach makes it easier to get through those moments and brings an amazing perspective in your start-up days. Having different mentors from different industries/backgrounds/experiences is also extremely valuable to bounce ideas off of and to avoid making costly mistakes! So get out there and network.