Fit University | Get up and Do Something
It was February that I wrote my first blog post – I had been stuck in my dorm room all day because of a snowstorm and I had been sitting in front of my computer all day. I finally asked myself, “What are you doing? Get up and do something.” And that’s what I did, I got up and wrote my first blog post.
After working with a personal trainer, getting on a regimented diet and exercise program, Sarah had adopted this new fit lifestyle and mindset. She starting blogging during her sophomore year at Northeastern University about her experience of her new lifestyle. Her blogging slowly became a way to motivate and encourage other college students to be healthy.
Now a recent Communication Studies graduate of Northeastern University, Sarah has taken her passion for fitness and turned it into a business of her own – Fit University. She motivates and helps college students stay fit and healthy while having fun in college. Online, Fit University provides content specifically geared to help college students live a healthier life in an easier way (think recipes to make in your dorm room, workouts to squeeze in before class, etc.). Offline, Fit University builds health and fitness communities on college campuses through Fit University chapters, currently at thirteen universities across the country. The Fit University community is what makes it so unique – Chapter Leaders organize and lead workouts on campus while Ambassadors contribute to the abundance of original content on the website; everything is for students by students.
When did you adopt this healthy/ be fit lifestyle and what’s your lifestyle now?
The summer after my freshman year was when you could say my “fit lifestyle” began. I started working with PJ Braun, a well-known trainer in the bodybuilding industry, and lost thirty-something pounds that summer and into the first few months of my sophomore year. I was on a bodybuilders diet – very strict, timed out meals with perfectly portioned protein, carbs and veggies. The diet was great in the sense that it made me zero in, but I developed an obsession without even realizing it at the time - if I was going to miss a meal or workout, I would freak out. While I was developing a “fit and healthy” body, I was developing an unhealthy mindset towards health and fitness. It took about nine months until I started realizing how obsessed I had become, and that’s about the same time that I started the blog. Now my diet is pretty balanced – I try to have a protein and veggies at every meal, and a carb or healthy fat with it. But I indulge when I want and it’s all about balance for me now.
When you started writing, how did you come up with topics?
I never had a set posting schedule. I would just write what came to me, whenever I wanted. It was just a collection of my thoughts and healthy recipes. There was a period of time while I was training for a bodybuilding competition so I was documenting my progress for that fir a but. At that point, the blog was mostly focused around myself and what I had accomplished. But now, it’s all about other students and how they are living a healthy lifestyle.
How did you have this realisation of turning it into a business and how did you come up with the name Fit University?
The original domain was “SJGFit” – my initials. I think I hashtagged #fituniversity on one of my first posts and it just stuck. My Big from my sorority told me to call the blog Fit University when I transitioned from tumblr to Wordpress. Thanks Katie!
My senior year, I started Fit NU, Northeastern’s first fitness club and what is now the pilot Fit University chapter. As I was getting closer to graduation, I knew I wanted to continue working on Fit University but I didn’t really know what that looked like and I didn’t know how to make into a sustainable business.
I don’t know how it happened but it honestly just clicked while I was lying in bed one night - Fit university is a college student’s go-to source of all health and fitness. We have our site online and our chapters on campus. And to tie it all together, we connect fit and healthy students to fit and healthy brands.
Were you scared?
No I was so excited. It felt so right.
What do you mean by “connect” fit and healthy students to fit and healthy brands?
Connecting health and fitness brands to the college market through unique content and meaningful experiences. Whether that be a customized article on the site or event sponsorship, we help build authentic relationships between brands and the college consumer.
There are so many articles, fitness workouts, apps, etc. that surround the fit lifestyle - how did you decide there was a problem/need?
After talking to some of the students that were using the website and coming to Fit NU workouts, I learned that many of them were active in high school, came to college and got off track. Or, they were simply students that were looking to get fit. And while so many resources exist to help people get in shape/lose weight/stay fit/etc., no resource online or off caters to college students - taking into consideration their busy lifestyle, budget, or anything like that. So that’s what Fit University does – cater directly to college students’ lives and how it can directly impact it.
How do u like being an entrepreneur?
I love it. I can’t imagine not doing this and working for somebody else. At the same time, I know that I’m still very young and that you need to be realistic in your entrepreneurial endeavors - I know that there’s a chance that this won’t work out. But there is nothing better than waking up everyday and being so passionate about what you are doing. I tried to quantify how much time I spend “working” in a day and I couldn’t even really tell you because I don’t think about it necessarily as working - its just part of what I do. I eat, breathe, live fit university.
What is your day to day like?
Everyday is a little different but most days, I wake up, get in some sort of workout, have breakfast, then sit down to work - Overall my day involves spending lots of time on the computer, working on social media, coordinating with different people, sending out emails, and meeting with different people - I spend a lot of time in coffee shops. I also babysit and am ambassador for Quest Nutrition which takes up a portion of my day… gotta make money somehow!
What is the hardest part about running a blog?
I think looking at analytics because you always want your numbers to be higher…I’m constantly checking my page views. Some people are addicted to checking Facebook, I’m addicted to checking my page views ;) probably check my page views every three hours.
What are some marketing efforts that you do?
Social media is the biggest chunk of marketing that I do for Fit University. Instagram is huge and is an amazing platform to connect with students; I often ask people how they heard about Fit University and I’d say 50% of the time it’s from Instagram. The other 50% is a combo of other social media platforms (mostly Facebook & Pinterest) and word of mouth!
What advice would you give to other young women entrepreneurs?
If you have an idea, go for it. Do whatever you can to make that idea come to life and be persistent with your efforts..