By Lajeune Hollis
Debra Fountain has been in the fitness industry for over 25 years. Previously a personal trainer, group fitness instructor and fitness coach, she now owns LIFER Fitness Studio in West Hartford, Connecticut, where she offers cardio, strength training and yoga classes.
But, she wasn’t always so laser-focused on fitness. In fact, she once held a corporate job in New Jersey before leaving to become a stay-at-home mom 26 years ago. It was during those early days of parenthood when she felt that she needed to get back to her “old self” and improve her fitness.
After one day popping in a workout VHS tape that guaranteed results in 10 days or less, she started on her journey to her new identity, with fitness at the forefront. She started working in her home basement as a full-time personal trainer for what eventually led to helping a group of 60 middle-aged female clients reach their fitness goals. She loved her new career path, because she could stay in shape, raise her four children, and help her clients. She even managed to enter and place in two body-building competitions!
Fountain was inspired to create a lifestyle that empowered women. “If you feel strong on the outside, you'll start to feel strong on the inside,” she shared.
Her business name, LIFER, was inspired from the group of her 60 clients in Washington, D.C., who coveted her 6:00am personal training appointment. “Clients would come for their goals and they did not want to give up that spot,” she shared. “They called themselves ‘Lifers’.”
Today, LIFER Fitness Studio employs six fitness instructors who “love what they do and care about their clients,” according to Fountain. She selected each one of them because, as she says, she “worked long and hard enough in the corporate world to know how important it is to nurture and care for the people who work with you and for you.”
Fountain credits God for being the impetus behind opening her business seven years ago. She was content at the time, working in the fitness industry and not having small children to look after. She shared that it was a good life, and she was comfortable. But, “God would not have it,” she shared, and she felt compelled to do things a little differently and start her own business, even if it was tough. “Growing may be painful and there may be suffering,” she said.
She faithfully obeyed and opened her own studio during a milestone birthday year.
“Fitness will give you the best quality of life you can have.”
Fountain prays before each class. “It sets an intention for what I want my class to get,” she explained. Some people have likened her classes to church, from what they describe as intense feelings while working out.
Life – or should we say LIFER – was good, business was humming along and then the pandemic of 2020 hit.
Attendance slowed for her in-person classes, so Fountain started offering Facebook Live classes from March to June 2020. Then she took the classes outside where she could safely offer kickboxing, barre and cycling. After Thanksgiving, LIFER was forced to go completely virtual, so Fountain took the time to invest in virtual equipment to make her clients’ experience better. In April of 2021, LIFER resumed in-person classes, keeping safety measures in mind, like masking and air flow in the studio.
For Fountain, the silver lining of the pandemic was that it allowed her plenty of time to slow down and think about her “why” behind the business.
“I needed to check back into myself,” she explained.
She’s remaining focused on helping people live their best lives and to make fitness a lifestyle.
“Keep trying to find something – running, cycling, walking, swimming. You may not love it the first time but keep trying to live the best possible life on this planet,” she urged. “Fitness will give you the best quality of life you can have.”
LIFER Fitness Studio is located at 20 Jefferson Ave, Suite 6 in West Hartford, Connecticut. The studio offers Unlimited Monthly Memberships for a flat fee of $175/month, which includes unlimited classes from any of their five fitness areas, LIFER Class Packs, consisting of 10-class passes for $165 or 5-class passes for $85, drop-in classes for $17.50, and LIFER Virtual Workout Library, which offers virtual classes for a nominal fee.
Learn more about LIFER Fitness Studio on their website, on Facebook or Instagram.
BROWSE THE SHOPBLACKCT DIRECTORY: