The health and fitness industry is still catching on, and CEO of Evlo Fitness Shannon Ritchey is determined to make this a priority.
Positioning Evlo Fitness as the “gentle approach” to fitness wasn’t easy, but successful branding and customer experience have put Evlo at the forefront of the fitness revolution.
Spotlight: Seeing the “no pain, no gain” movement in fitness replaced with a more healthy and personalized approach to training is refreshing. Do you recognize this as a potential fitness trend in the industry?
Shannon Ritchey: I really hope that we are moving away from "no pain, no gain," as it's so damaging. There is a hustle mentality around exercise that makes people think it's "normal" for their fitness routines to wear them down. I think that mentality does one of two things: it discourages people from starting or normalizes destroying your body in the pursuit of "fitness."
I will say that I'm noticing a shift in the fitness industry, which seems promising. Walking, Pilates, and lower intensity workouts seem to be trending, indicating that people are looking for ways to stay active but more gently. People want to feel good while still having their exercise be a high payoff; this is where Evlo comes in.
How did you manage to earn customers’ trust with Evlo Fitness when you launched it? Were they skeptical of this approach to exercising?
In the beginning (and still now), I was very hands-on with my members. I was constantly talking to them via Instagram and email to learn what they were struggling with and what they needed. This helped me truly understand their gaps in education and gave me an opportunity to provide value.
I also have a personal story that helps me relate to my community because of my history of chronic pain from overexercising. I've been my own client before, and I know how it can feel to be hopeless and resigned to the idea that to be "fit," you also have to feel like you're falling apart. I often feel like I am climbing an uphill battle to re-educate about all the fitness misinformation that's swirling around the internet. The deep-wired conditioning that fitness needs to be "grueling" to be effective makes people skeptical that a more gentle approach, like Evlo, could actually work.
This is one of the reasons we give away so much free content. People can learn the "why" from our educational content on Instagram, the podcast, and our blogs. This sparks their curiosity. Then they take the free classes and FEEL and SEE the difference. It's a 360 approach to truly changing people's relationship to exercise and their bodies.
We've found that our members usually consume our free content and take the free classes for about three months (or sometimes longer) before they actually join. But once it starts clicking for them, we notice that they don't go back to their old workout ways.
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What was most important to you when determining how to brand Evlo Fitness correctly? Were there particularly challenging moments when you felt ready to give up on this entrepreneurial journey?
One of the things that was important to me was that I wasn't the "face" of the business forever. Initially, it had to be since it was just me running everything, but I knew I wanted to grow this into something much bigger than myself. Admittedly, I'm not good at the "aesthetic" part of branding (which is where Digital Silk and our branding team member Allyson come in), but beyond that, I had a few values that I wanted Evlo to reflect.
Number one, I wanted our members to feel like the trainers were normal people - not some unattainable figure. I think we do a good job of this by teaching live, not making our classes overly produced or perfect. We talk about when we are having an off day or when we aren't feeling 100% in our workouts.
Secondly, I wanted our members to feel educated. I always say, "I want you to feel like you have a master's degree after you take our classes."
And lastly, I wanted Evlo to feel like a lifestyle. If and how you exercise is a reflection of your self-view. If we can show up for ourselves with gentle compassion more often, it will keep us consistent. Our motto is "gentle consistency," which can truly be applied to any area of your life. I think Evlo gives you a safe space to practice that.
As far as having moments where I wanted to give up - yes. A few times. Hearing not-so-nice feedback from strangers over a screen was tough for me. I've asked myself if it was worth the pain many times and half-considered quitting. But I've since adjusted my attitude because I know critics are an inevitable part of running an internet business.
What does the Evlo Fitness program aim to solve in the health and fitness industry?
I want to prove that exercise can build you up without tearing you down. Plain and simple.
You are both the owner of Evlo Fitness, and a regular trainer of the program. What steps have you taken to balance and be most effective in both of these roles?
Anyone who owns a business knows that time management can be a struggle. I use a calendaring system where I make a master list of my weekly to-dos and time block every little thing into my calendar. It allows me to get a ton of work done while blocking off valuable free time.
I also prioritize my mental health. I get coached twice a week through the Life Coach School membership, and that has changed my life.
But the business has grown so much more now that I've hired a team to help me. We have our first full-time employee, Payton, who is also a former physical therapist. She has taken a lot off my plate and adds immense value to the business. There's no way I could do it without her and the rest of our team.
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Amidst the busy lifestyles that most of us have, where we are always on the run, why is the “Evlo” approach the future of fitness for workout enthusiasts?
It drives results, saves you time (most workouts are around 30 minutes and can be done from home), and makes you feel better. One of the most common comments we hear from our members is, "this is the first time I actually look forward to my workouts." This gentle consistency means your health improves, your joints don't hurt all over, and it's something that feels seamlessly integrated into your life.
What’s your best advice to readers who plan to launch a business in a competitive industry like health and fitness?
Talk to as many potential clients as possible to see what they need. Then educate yourself on those needs. Provide free content to give them results ahead of time. Once they become a paying client, overdeliver on your product.