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Physically Fit and Mentally Strong: The Amazingly Positive Story of CORE FIT

Q&A with Samantha Friedman, Founder of CORE FIT


Samantha Friedman has always been passionate about fitness. From a student at Virginia Tech to an HR Generalist at LivingSocial, she has always found a way to weave fitness into her life. “I just love working out and I love helping people,” says Samantha. She was well known for her weekly workout program at LivingSocial that earned her the affectionate nickname, the Widowmaker, from her co-workers. So when her fiancee was assigned to the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in New Bern, North Carolina, she saw an opportunity to pursue her passion in fitness, hoping to make it her full time job. “I am so happy to be pursuing something I truly enjoy,” she told me. This is her story.

Tell me what inspired you to start your own business?

It’s always something I’ve wanted to do, it just took me some time to figure out the what and how. From the time I was in high school I always felt committed and passionate about working out. Over time I started exploring different forms of fitness.

In college, I started finding different aspects of fitness that were interesting to me through classes and working with a personal trainer. At this point, I started toying with the idea that I should do this as a career, but I was already deep into my studies, was not sure how, and doubted I would be able to since I did not play a sport competitively. I just was not there yet. So instead, I started to find ways to build it into my life. At LivingSocial, I started teaching a boot camp. It was Wednesday Workouts. I never missed a day in over two years. I wasn’t paid for it, I just loved it. After my fiance was assigned to Cherry Point, I moved to North Carolina to be with him. I started thinking about how to do this as a career, so during his first deployment I decided to dig in, study and take the exam to become a Certified Personal Trainer.

I also have a passion for helping others. Growing up, I always thought I wanted to be a psychologist and help people. Over the years, I have learned teaching fitness and wellness allows me to do that. I have come to realize how much mental wellness goes with physical wellness. That’s actually where I came up with my tagline “building strength from the inside out.” Anyways, that’s what keeps me coming back for more. I have seen firsthand how when someone breaks through barriers in the gym it carries into other aspects of their life. It’s a sense of accomplishment. If I can help someone to achieve discipline driven by realizing their self worth it’s a win. I have seen and felt it in my own life, and I want nothing more than to share that with others. You probably read the story on my blog about my friend who didn’t think she could run a mile. I knew that she could, I just needed HER to believe that she could! So we went to the indoor track in the gym at Virginia Tech and I encouraged her lap by lap and she ran her first mile! And I saw her go from running a mile to wanting to do more. Helping someone to make that switch is powerful.

Tell me about your business

I run an in-home gym, but my services are expansive. You can just do personal training if you would like, but if you need something more than that, I provide those services as well. It’s a lifestyle coaching studio where you can come and get whatever you need from exercise plans, meal plans, or small group training. I have also started working with remote clients where I prepare monthly workout and meal plans. My newest venture has been working with local businesses, helping them to build a healthy culture and providing fitness classes.

We offer basically everything that you can find in your local gym, without the annoyances, crowds, waits for machines or judgmental stares. And we offer a customizable program that helps people succeed. CORE FIT has an intimate one on one approach that many people need and want. I am 100% available to my clients. Whether they need daily or weekly check-ins I am easy to reach via, phone, text, email, gchat, hangouts or any other means you can think of!

How’s it going so far?

The business is going really well! Parts of opening your own business can be scary, thinking about the transition from a full-time job to being your own boss for one. But I’m so passionate about it and I know I’m the type of person who will make it work. CORE FIT opened in January of this year. It took some time to do the back work, but I was just so excited about it, it kept pushing me to do more. It is constantly on my mind, thinking of what’s next, how can I be better, what can I do to make this work — and that’s what so exciting — it is all up to me! In the past I have worked for other people and have no problem putting in whatever is needed to get the job done, but this time it’s my own and something I am truly passionate about — and it’s such a great feeling!

It’s taken me a bit by surprise, but I’m very happy with how it’s going. People who know me would say 100% that Samantha loves working out. It’s something I truly embody in my day to day life, which is part of the reason I think it’s been so successful. Also, my town in North Carolina has a lot of military spouses looking to get in or stay in shape as well as a large retired population looking to stay active and healthy. I have met some incredible people! Moms will come in at 5am just to get in their hour for them, because they know the value it will bring to their family. I have women who are in their 70’s who are exceeding their own expectations! Right now I’m building up my clientele, taking on clients one on one, and I also launched a bootcamp. I have so many ideas just whirling in my mind I can’t wait for what’s next!

So what motivates you about fitness?

Being at my best, helping others to be at their best and that sense of accomplishment when you push yourself or someone else to do something never thought possible. Also, watching someone who chooses to invest in themselves, really commit to living a healthy lifestyle, watching it flow into every aspect of their lives. Suddenly, they feel great about themselves, they are trying new things, have more energy, which in turn makes them happier moms, wives and people!

A lot of people ask me if I was a college athlete. No I wasn’t. But you don’t have to be an athlete to make a commitment and an investment in yourself. It does not matter what level you are on or what your experience is — you just need to know you are ready to make a change for yourself.

What are some of the influences or experiences that prepared you to become an entrepreneur?

I’ve thought about this a lot. I grew up in a family where my parents both had professions that helped people and I got to see what it means to make a difference in someone’s life. Not only through their professions but in their personal lives as well, my parents are the go to people. I can’t tell you how many people my parents have helped throughout the years, and the thing is they always do it with such grace — they truly just want to help where they can. In high school and college, we did volunteer trips to Ecuador and helped to build a community. We built homes, schools, taught classes, and ran a medical clinic while we were there. That’s where I started to recognize the need and want to help people. That experience helped lock that in for me. Then I had to find an area I was passionate about. And I really enjoy working out. Then you add in my background in psychology and how mental and physical fitness relate to each other. So CORE FIT allows me to fuse all those things together into one.

A lot of entrepreneurs talk about the influence of their parents in shaping what they do. It seems yours did as well.

Yes, my parents as well as my family — they are just so driven. My parents fostered an environment for both my sister and I that taught us the importance of helping others but also striving to reach your potential. They always had the attitude, that whatever we wanted to do we could do, there was always a way to figure it out.

My fiance, Bobby has been super supportive. He gives me honest advice, and picks me up when I am down. It’s a great feeling having someone in your court, constantly rooting for you. He listens to all my wild ideas and helps me figure out how to make it work. He is very smart and able to lend a different perspective than I may have at times. He is also very creative and drew my logo! I told him my idea and a vague picture of what I was thinking and that night he sketched it out!

Also, my sister started her own business and she is killing it! It has been so neat to watch her grow, and we talk daily — she helps me with strategy, ideas and we just dream together. I have always looked up to her and in the months when I was making my plan to launch CORE FIT — she was digging into her new business. She left a great job in NYC, moved to DC and started her own thing! I yearned for that! She has always been my #1 cheerleader and always knows the right thing to say to keep me on track.

Oh, and Oliver, her fiance — my soon to be brother in law has been a huge influence on me. He is the epitome of an entrepreneur and is one of the most dedicated, hard working people I know. I do not even think I realized at the time, but for years he has been grinding around the clock building his company. Literally nothing will stop him from getting something done — and he has definitely had some obstacles. He is so successful, and always just reminds me I can do it. He is also a great sounding board because his motivation is contagious.

There’s a lot to be said for just being around people who are so driven and so supportive. It’s who you surround yourself with. Are you with people who are talking about things that are engaging and talking about things that matter? Are they talking about things that are important and challenging you to grow? It’s so important and luckily my parents did that for me.

What advice do you have for others who want to start their own business?

If you truly feel passionate about something and it keeps you up at night what are you waiting for? Jump into it and do it. You still have to quiet the fears but that will always be there. Start small and figure it out. It’s much more fulfilling to do something you’re passionate about than to sit in an office every day for something you’re not.

Finally, I have to know. They called you the Widowmaker at LivingSocial. How did you get that nickname?

Ha! It was a bit of a joke, really. Andrew Dolan, one of my coworkers at LivingSocial, came up with it after one of my classes. We had a particularly intense workout one day and one of the guys, no names, it kicked his butt. He had to leave the class. Not all of my workouts are like that but we had a pretty tough crew there.

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