The Pandemic Leads Carly Britton to Her Purpose and a Fitness-Focused Business
By Jenny Taylor
Carly Britton is the recipient of a micro grant from My Founder Story, a program dedicated to providing resources to female-identifying founders. Since 2018, more than $220,000 in grants and services have been donated to women business owners. To learn more and apply, visit our grants page.
Carly Britton glanced at herself in the mirror and had the biggest smile on her face. She was wearing her favorite tank top and leggings and standing in her newly organized home gym—mat and free weights in place, her sons’ toys neatly tucked away. She was slightly out of breath after leading her co-workers at the art museum through their first 30-minute workout via Zoom. But the reflection staring back at her was positively glowing. She felt a sense of accomplishment like never before. As she laid back down on her mat, took deep breaths, and her heart rate returned to normal, Carly reflected on what she’d just experienced. Her teammates had enthusiastically followed along as she led them through a routine of planks, push-ups and squats. She felt a sense of pride that everyone gave the workout their best effort. And everyone had gushed about her abilities as a coach. Carly wasn’t exactly a coach—she specialized in nonprofit fundraising events—but she loved to exercise. In that moment, she knew she was being called by a higher power to turn her passion for fitness into something more.
Days earlier, when her boss at the museum first asked Carly to lead a virtual workout, it caught her by surprise. It was the beginning of the pandemic, and most of the world was adjusting to life at home. Carly’s team had only recently begun working remotely, and at the time many thought COVID-19 would only last a few weeks or months. Everyone was enthusiastic about the idea of being active together on Zoom, and Carly missed the camaraderie of working out with others at the gym, so she agreed to try it. She did have some concerns though. She had never formally taught a fitness class and wasn’t sure she was qualified to lead. She also worried about her co-workers’ reactions. Would they think the sessions were too hard or find them boring?
Despite her inexperience as an instructor, Carly was a lifelong fitness enthusiast. As a little girl she begged her parents to let her participate in gymnastics. It eventually led to a love of track and field and a scholarship to the University of Michigan, which Carly believes changed her life. Because of her training in college, health and fitness remained a priority even after she graduated and went on to have a career in the nonprofit sector and start her family. She continued to work out regularly, focusing on strength training and running.
After that first virtual session with her co-workers, Carly began leading the group through workouts three times a week. Once other members of the staff and their friends and family caught wind of the virtual sessions, the class size and frequency increased. When she wasn’t working or leading classes, Carly pursued formal certifications in personal training and prepartum and postpartum fitness coaching. Attendees began insisting on paying for her classes, and her husband encouraged her to turn it into a business. That was just the push Carly needed to officially launch Diligent Fitness.
Today, Diligent Fitness is a growing online community of women who support each other while working toward their individual fitness goals. Carly helps clients set those goals, and her training programs offer flexibility so they can achieve them and feel proud of their accomplishments, regardless of their fitness level or body type. She keeps the classes short to demonstrate that exercise doesn’t require a lot of time to be effective. And with her gentle but firm coaching, Carly helps others learn to love themselves no matter where they’re at in their fitness journey.
Carly is driven by the impact of the work she is doing—the emotional and physical transformations her clients experience as they work on their fitness and their confidence soars. For now, she is maintaining her role at the art museum. But Carly envisions Diligent Fitness growing into a community of thousands of women committed to their wellness and hopes to eventually take the leap to full-time entrepreneur.
Photo: Diligent Fitness
About the author: Jenny Taylor is a marketing strategist and freelance writer who enjoys bringing inspirational stories to life through the written word. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and three kids.