Seo Kelleher doesn’t believe in success stories. And she’s not interested in a predetermined end point.
“I think life is a journey, and we constantly make turns and adjustments as we go,” explains Kelleher, a marketing pro turned fitness and life coach. Before launching CO2Fit, her growing fitness company in Richmond, Kelleher was focused on earning an MBA, landing a good job, and racking up promotions.
“One day I realized I was trapped as a well-paid, well-travelled, well-respected, yet miserable and completely dis-empowered woman stuck in a rat race,” recalls Kelleher.
What she did next would dramatically impact Kelleher, along with hundreds of other women she has trained since. She left her corporate job and launched a business defined by a core purpose: to empower women to take full responsibility of their lives.
“Often women, even the highest performing, hardest working, most accomplished ones, struggle with the sense of not being good enough or putting their needs first,” says Kelleher. “My goal is help women identify the area in their lives they would like to make transformation in, then help them get there.”
Over the years, CO2Fit has grown as word of Kelleher’s fitness model, which goes far beyond physical activity, has spread. Based out of Turn Cardio Jam Studio in Scott’s Addition, Kelleher has built a tribe of high-performing, strong women looking to find balance and wellness in their lives. “I realized fitness was only one aspect of it,” says Kelleher. “Often how we think, feel, and interact with ourselves and others is more important that fitness and nutrition, so I have since incorporated life coaching. Now I work mostly with women in various areas of life, wellness, and career.”
As Kelleher was expanding service offerings, she recognized the need for a wellness program for plus-size women looking for significant transformation. Called Just Start, this program includes fitness videos, affirmation audios, and coaching support, which she hopes will empower those who are often excluded in the mainstream wellness and fitness industry.
Kelleher says the program grew out of a gap that she noticed in traditional fitness and wellness programs while working with Ryn Bruce, a client who has lost over 100 pounds since their first session. Both Bruce and Kelleher admit that they had concerns before starting to work together. Bruce, a Richmond-based creative director, worried that she wasn’t going to be able to keep up. And Kelleher was worried about injuries.
“It’s hard to imagine climbing Mt. Everest when you don’t even own a pair of hiking boots. That’s kind of where I was – and I think that’s where a lot of people are – in their own lives,” explains Bruce.
Quickly into the relationship, Kelleher realized her new client could do all the exercises with the right kind of modifications. “She could squat, lunge, push up, crunch, and so much more,” says Kelleher. “We made a series of modifications for safety and ability and in three to four weeks, Ryn was boxing with me! She turns out to be a totally natural boxer.”
Kelleher points out that Just Start is not a weight loss program, but rather a way to encourage women to make whatever small first steps they need to improve their wellness, whether it’s mind, body, or both. Weight loss is simply a byproduct of choosing to just start.
“I think my advice to anyone out there who’s peering up at their own Everest would be: Stop it. Look down. Look at your feet. Figure out your first steps, and then your next. Stop looking at the climb. That will unfold naturally,” insists Bruce.
As Kelleher expands her fitness community, Just Start is only one extension of her movement designed to reach all women, whatever their weight, age, and race. In 2017 she will travel to Costa Rica to host a wellness retreat for women from 30 to 60 years old. Kelleher hopes the excursion will be a life-changing experience as participants spend a week in a beautiful location, working on nothing but self-care, nurturing oneself and one another, and connecting and building friendships.
In addition to upcoming wellness retreats, Kelleher is focusing her attention on women who may be in physically or emotionally abusive relationships. In the coming year she will work to include women-only self-defense and empowerment workshops led by just women. Her goal is to teach self-defense techniques and situational awareness coupled with mindset, self-worth, and empowerment coaching.
“The beauty of building a community of other empowered, loving, supportive women is that they constantly remind me to stop and let others help, love, or nurture me,” says Kelleher. “It’s a wonderful feeling to have this kind of sisterhood behind you. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”