Shannon Bryan - Founder of Fit Maine

What is Fit Maine?

Fit Maine is a website dedicated to cool ways to work out and fun, active things to do in Maine. (There's no shortage of either of those things, which means I'm always hearing about and discovering new stuff to check out, write about, and tell others about. And this makes me happy!). There is also a newsletter and an events calendar, plus Fit Maine Facebook and Instagram, all for the purpose of letting other people know about lively weekend activities, running groups, races, moonlight paddles, circus arts classes, easy hikes, etc. That's the whole point - to tell people about this really fun stuff (and encourage them to go check it out for themselves).

What inspired you to create Fit Maine?

I love doing active things in Maine, whether it's taking a kickboxing class, sweating it out at an outdoor boot camp, or finding a stunning new hike or easy-going paddle. I'd go do these things with a few friends and post about them on Facebook (that's what Facebook is for, right? Posting our wonderous adventures?) and I'd get questions from other people wanting to know more: "Where was this class? How much was it? Was it hard? Is it beginner friendly?" I realized there was no resource for this kind of stuff - a single place where you could find about new workouts or running groups or get tips on places to hike or paddle or trail run. So, two years ago, I decided to create it. Add to that the fact that I get a huge kick out of getting other people to go try new things. It makes my heart swell to hear someone say, "I read about that class/hike/group on Fit Maine and went and tried it and had a great time!" That's why I keep writing. These kinds of experiences are life-enhancing. They get people out of their comfort zones. On top of being a ton of fun, this stuff is good for our bods. Sure, some folks prefer to run on a treadmill at the gym, but for folks who'd rather paddleboard or do aerial trapeze, I've got you covered! (I also have a penchant for the kinds-weird stuff, like kitten yoga and goat hikes!)

What are one challenge and one lesson you’ve learned from your experience as FM founder?

One challenge I face is figuring out how to support the site financially. For the first couple of years, I've funded the site myself (I do make some money by selling "Maine is my gym" tanks and tees). And that worked because I believe so much in what I'm doing that I didn't mind spending money to do it. But it also means that a good chunk of my time is spent doing work elsewhere that does make money (and I've been supremely lucky to have work that I also really love doing). So my ability to focus on Fit Maine is limited, although my dream is to be able to do it full time. And I have little experience with sales and monetizing websites, so it's been a challenge to adopt a new skill set that'll help me talk to businesses about Fit Maine and why it's so fantastic and why supporting it has value for everyone (those who read it and the events/studios/gyms/trainers I write about). But I'm embracing the chance to learn new things! 

One lesson I've learned is to know my audience. Early on, I wrote a piece about beginner yoga classes and workshops (I know a lot of women and men who are curious about yoga but are hesitant to show up to a class), so this story was one I believed would be really useful. But I included a photo of a woman in crow pose, which is a fairly advanced hand balancing pose. And that clouded the message I was trying to convey - that these classes were for beginners. The photo wasn't of a beginner, so it was confusing, and a dumb move on my part. But that's the kind of thing I think about a lot now: Who am I talking to? What am I talking about? Do the words and images align? 

What are your top 2 favorite FM memories?

Just this spring, I went on a hike at Ovens Mouth Preserve in Boothbay and posted a photo on Instagram of a super-cool spot on the trail, where there's a wooden bench overlooking the tidal waters. Someone posted a comment to the photo asking if the trail was kid and dog-friendly, and I said "Yes! Saw kids and dogs on the trail today!" The very next day, that same woman posted a photo on Instagram of the same spot and tagged me in it, saying "thanks for the tip, we had a great time today!" Thinking about that still, makes me grin. I'm overjoyed that I got to help someone find a neat new adventure (it's even better when I get a report back that they liked it!). 

Another favorite memory is from last summer when I attended a Bike & Brews event in Gorham. These events have guided mountain bike rides for all levels and end at a brewery. I'd joined the beginner group for a ride on the Gorham trails, and afterward was talking with fellow riders at Sebago Brewing. One woman, I was chatting with found out I wrote about active things to do in Maine and mentioned a speed skating club she's in. My response? SPEED SKATING?! Tell me more! A couple months later I was on the ice in a pair of loaned skates, learning proper form and having a grand time. I love that Fit Maine is an excuse to go do cool things, but it also allows me to meet new people all the time AND learn about other cool stuff I didn't even know about. It's the circle of Fit Maine life! 

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote?

"Do epic shit." I saw it on a Facebook meme, with a kid in a superhero cape. And while "epic" might conjure visions of base-jumpers or Everest climbers for some people, I think epic is relative. Taking a surf lesson, trying paddleboard yoga for the first time, mountain biking in the woods all afternoon or hiking in some stunning, new-to-you place can be pretty epic, too. The point is to welcome new adventures, to be open to trying new things and even being kinda bad at them. How expert you are isn't the point. Learning something new is thrilling. Exploring Maine, doing things that make you feel strong, engaging in something that's worth talking about over dinner is what matters. 

In one word, describe yourself:


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Tom Hooper - Co-Founder of Six03 Endurance in New Hampshire

What is Six03 Endurance?

SIX03 is a team of fun, healthy, and athletic people who share a passion for the outdoors and the social community. Our members range from people looking to run their first 5K to National Ironman finishers to 100 Mile Ultra Marathoners.  We really emabrace our tag line, Not one sport... Every sport. 

What inspired you to become a founder of Six03?

It wasn't really planned. It just sort of happened organically. We thought it would be just a few of us having a few beers after a race and the next thing you know, we have 600 members all through out the state of NH. I guess there was a niche and it just all came together. its been amazing.

What is one challenge and one lesson you’ve learned from your experience as a founder?

The Retail clothing deal is for the birds! You never can guess how much you need or what will be hot. Something that you take a chance on all of a sudden takes off and you can't get enough of it, or something you think will crush it, sits in a box.

What are your top two Six03 memories?

Thats too tough to answer. I have personal memories for my own accomplishments but I also Love seeing these guys go out of there comfort zone and try new stuff. Watching some one else conquer a hard mountain / trail race for the first time is amazing to watch.

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote?

"Don’t fear failure. — Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.”

In one word, describe yourself:

I don't think one word can describe anyone.

Tom Hooper

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Staci Olson - Program Director of Girls on the Run-Maine

What is Girls on the Run?

GOTR is a unique life skills development program. Volunteer coaches lead teams through interactive lessons that include dynamic discussions, fun activities and creative running games. Throughout the 10 week season season the girls make new friends, learn new skills, build their confidence and celebrate what makes them unique in a safe and supportive environment.

What inspired you to become the Program Director for Girls on the Run?

I first got involved with GOTR in the winter of 2012 when a Steering Committee was formed to bring Girls on the Run to Maine. At that time, Maine was one of a small group of states that did not have a council so a group of volunteers worked together to make it happen. I worked as a volunteer for about a year and was able to help build the foundation of the council. In my role as Program Director I now help communities start teams in their area, recruit, train and support the coaches, visit with the teams throughout the season, and help to plan the Celebratory 5k at the end of the season. This season we have 700 girls at 38 sites across Maine with over 200 volunteer coaches. We look forward to continuing our growth and reaching more girls!

Working for Girls on the Run has had a significant impact on my life. The work that I do is so fulfilling because I have such a strong connection to the mission of our program of empowering girls and helping them to grow and reach their goals. I also feel so grateful to the amazing co-workers and volunteers that I get to work with each season. 

What is one challenge and one lesson you've learned from your experience as Program Director?

One challenge that I have faced is that every community and every team is different so what might work well for one site, might be completely different at another, so we have to build connections with all of our coaches to make sure that they get the support that they need.

One lesson that I have learned actually stems from one of our core values which is to "assume positive intent." We are all involved because we want to have a positive influence on the girls and though logistically sometimes things don't always go according to plan, we should assume that their are good intentions behind the actions.

What are your top two GOTR memories?

I have so many amazing memories but there are a few standouts.

I was visiting with a team in Western Maine and as I was completing some laps with one girl, we were having fun and chatting and then unprompted she looked at me directly in the eye and said "Thank you for bringing this program to my school. I love being a part of it and I am so proud of myself." We know the program is having an impact but to hear a 9 year old girl share her sincere gratitude was a special moment.

The other top memory is one that I have seen multiple times at our 5k events At the end of the 10 weeks, the girls participate in an untimed, celebratory 5k. When the girls enter the final finish line chute they typically get a burst of speed. I love watching that moment when they see their goal in sight. They hear the cheers and support and fly through that finish line. The look in their eyes is one of joy and inspiration and I can never get enough of it!

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote?

"The only requirement of having a dream is believing in it." - Molly Barker

Molly Barker founded Girls on the Run in North Carolina in 1996 with one team of girls. Since then the organization has grown to serve girls in all 50 states and more than 1 million girls have participated. She is a true inspiration to me by demonstrating that one person really can make a difference. For many years I was unsure where I was headed in terms of a career path and the moment I first learned about GOTR was a truly life changing experience for me - I knew this was something I had to be involved in. Because of Molly's initial effort, she has given me (and so many other woman), a place in this world to have an impact and to be a part of the mission of inspiring girls to be joyful, healthy and confident.

In one word, describe yourself::


Run with us in support of the 710 girls participating in the Spring 2017 season! OR sign-up to volunteer!

Run with us in support of the 710 girls participating in the Spring 2017 season! OR sign-up to volunteer!

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