Lauren Caggiano knows intimately what it takes to begin a path toward a healthier lifestyle. In her late 20s, she decided to start working out regularly, eat healthier and adopt some new habits. As she became more familiar with workout options near her Fort Wayne, Indiana home, she noticed there wasn’t a gym that catered to beginners – so she filled the gap herself. The result is New Heights Fitness, where Caggiano offers one-on-one and small group training classes. Despite pandemic setbacks, and a brush with cancer, Caggiano has found success in the last few years.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.
Tell us more about your business.
I saw a need in my community for a gym that accommodates people who were just starting their fitness journey and were looking for privacy and one-on-one attention. At the same time, I wanted to make it affordable. New Heights Fitness was formed to help people from all walks of life get on the path to a healthier tomorrow.
How is your business different from others in your industry?
My own story colors every aspect of the business. I was overweight for several years and I decided to take control at age 29 and commit myself to change. I lost 50 pounds through diet and exercise and gained a host of healthy habits and a community of people who championed my cause. As someone who’s “been there” I now guide people in making lifestyle transformations and do so with an empathetic ear. Also, while some trainers focus on “quick fixes,” I’m all about sustainability to get results.
What is your biggest success so far?
I was able to have my best year ever in 2020, despite a global pandemic. I grew my business by 100% that year.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
I was diagnosed with a common form of breast cancer in December 2021 and had to decide if I was going to continue training clients. Fortunately, I tolerated treatments well enough that I was able to continue working and never missed a session. I couldn’t have done it without my clients, who were very encouraging and supportive.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
My husband was laid off in May 2022 and this has caused a lot of stress as I am now the breadwinner. I don’t currently make enough with the business to invest in resources to take it to the next level. I’m confident this is a temporary setback, however.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People want you to succeed!
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
I remind myself that I have managed to overcome a lot over the last seven months and brighter days are ahead.
Who is your most important role model?
My father, though deceased, taught me everything I know about business. ◼