Small Business Spotlight: Six Foot Fit

Armani Lanier of Raleigh concentrates on walking on his hands for a wheelbarrow race, one of several fun activities at a Six Foot Fit class with a “Let’s Make A Deal” theme.

Brenna Doyle had a decent job working as a group fitness coach, but she never felt like she could express her true self. The pandemic — and a resulting layoff — gave Doyle the push she needed to launch her own business.

“Being an entrepreneur lets me explore the truth inside of me. I hated being a corporate cog,” she said. “I couldn’t be creative or go over the top to help other people live their best lives.”

A personal trainer since 2018, Doyle launched Six Foot Fit in March 2020. The outside-only group fitness business specializes in unconventional workouts that appeal to a variety of skill levels. Her classes are different from what you’ll find at conventional gyms, and that’s on purpose, she says. Held at Cary and Morrisville locations, the classes focus on fun and mutual support.

Brenna Doyle

Doyle recently described her fitness philosophy and the rewards of working for herself.

Can you explain how Six Foot Fit works?

I looked at what the traditional gyms or fitness studios are doing and said, “I want to do as many things as possible the complete opposite way.”

This is where the idea of the Anti-Gym comes from. So many people feel shame, intimidation or guilt when they enter a gym; I wanted to make sure none of that exists. Another big goal of this Anti-Gym mindset is to be creative with our classes. Working out doesn’t have to feel like work. We have so much fun while still providing great results.

We get people moving and sweating in so many unique and creative ways by using equipment you wouldn’t normally think of as fitness equipment. We use scooters, Skip-Its; we have water gun fights; we’ve hosted game-show-themed classes — “Let’s Make A Deal” was incredibly fun.

Dave Phillips of Raleigh lifts a dumbbell during an outdoor class with Six Foot Fit.

What are the challenges of being outside? How about the benefits?

Exactly what you’d expect: hot summers, cold winters and unpredictable weather. But the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

It was a transition for people who came from conventional gyms, but now most of our members love the freedom to move around, the fresh air, and the change of scenery. Some people in our classes take pictures of the beautiful sunrises in our morning classes or sunsets in the evening and post to social media with the caption: “What does your gym look like?” It’s awesome!

When it got hot, we invested in huge industrial fans, and we do laundry every day to provide our members with ice-cold towels. For the colder months, we bought jet-engine-style kerosene heaters, and we adjusted our workout to be more fast-paced to keep people moving. When it rains, we use shelter areas.

The awesome part about being outside is the flexibility we have and our ability to help people achieve their wellness goals in an open-air environment — no stale gym air smelling like body odor and chemicals here.

A game of Limbo keeps the back muscles flexible and works the core.

Why do you offer fitness classes specifically for beginners?

We started offering beginners classes a few months ago for one big reason: The fitness industry ignores those who they see as “unfit.” This means that people who want to start working out for the first time or who want to make a change in their life have nowhere to go that isn’t flooded with people who are already in full swing.

Gyms can be incredibly intimidating and judgy. We wanted to create an experience for people that removed all of that and helped people focus on what really matters, being healthy and happy. I am so proud of our beginner class. Proud of what it represents, but more important, proud of the people who have committed to making their health a priority. We have so much fun together, and no one is ever left to feel like they are behind.

Outdoor fitness classes, held at different western Wake locations, are intended to be fun and challenging.

What’s been the best aspect of owning a business?

The best has been the opportunity to connect with so many different people on a real and authentic level. …Our members are way more than just members in my mind, so I am constantly thinking about ways to be even better, ways to add even more value to their experience. This might sound cheesy, but to me, they aren’t just members, they are my family. I think we all have that desire to make our family proud. That’s what I feel every minute of every day.

Goofy costumes and props add to the fun during a total body high intensity interval training class at Thomas Brooks Park in Cary.

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