One of the best parts about running Boxed GR is getting to know fellow local business owners. I'm always curious to know how they got started on their path to entrepreneurship and sometimes, if I'm lucky, they'll even share little nuggets of knowledge or give me sage advice. Entrepreneurs come in many different packages - young, old, personable, intense, shy, wicked smart, driven, and some are downright wacky. My favorite entrepreneurs are the ones who are so damn passionate about whatever they're doing that their excitement rubs off on me and makes me feel more motivated just talking to them for a few minutes.
The best way to describe Cari Draft of EcoTrek Fitness is to say she is a force. She's bright, fun, energetic, always smiling, and she's smart and motivated. She's one of those special entrepreneurs who make me want to do bigger, better things - and faster! Also, she makes me want to possibly do a few pushups. Possibly.
While Cari was always interested in health and fitness, her early passion was graphic design. In high school she would airbrush murals and all the cool guys at school would ask her to do lettering on their jacked-up trucks' tailgates. She later studied design at GVSU and worked at Eberhard Foods and then the advertising department at Meijer. Once she had a child, she wanted to be home with him more and did freelance work for several years. When her son was in kindergarten she began studying for the personal training exam and contemplated ditching her graphic design career, since it no longer felt as fulfilling as it once had.
Cari didn't always have aspirations of starting her own business and never minded working for other companies because she learned a lot from her experiences there. Her desire for a flexible schedule so she could spend time with her family coupled with her passion for health and wellness inspired her to begin working as a personal fitness trainer, and then in 2006 to start EcoTrek Fitness.
With EcoTrek Fitness Cari and her team of fitness professionals hold a variety of outdoor fitness sessions all over West Michigan (and also in West Virginia!). Each session combines strength training, cardio and flexibility in a 75 minute workout. All the sessions are different so the workouts never get boring. Each session is held outdoors in all kinds of weather, and according to Cari, "There's really nothing better than using your outdoor environment as your gym while exploring the parks and trails near where you live. You'll be guided along on an invigorating workout...and you won't even have to think about what to do. Each individual works at their own level. so you're never involved in a competition or feel intimidated."
Not only does Cari have her long-standing successful fitness workshops and personal training business - she also has her own line of whole food bars! Her personal training clients kept asking her for a packaged nutrition bar she could recommend, and she kept saying, "JUST EAT REAL FOOD. You don't need a nutrition bar and honestly there isn't one I feel comfortable recommending." Later she developed the EcoTrek Fitness Whole Food Bars, which was something she could feel good about recommending to her clients. Once she decided to take it to the next step and get the bars into retail locations, she ended up landing the coveted shelf space in all 200+ Meijer locations and business just exploded from there!
These days when Cari isn't running workouts or at meetings, you can find her riding around in her Jeep with the top down and music blaring or dressed head-to-toe in leather riding her motorcycle on some long, curvy Michigan road. She's an absolute inspiration and one of the coolest entrepreneurs I've had the pleasure meeting.
Cari has a collaboration going for a Stand Up Paddle Mini-Series planned for June. It was a big hit in the past and she's bringing it back. If you would like more information about Cari, EcoTrek group workouts, personal training, or the EcoTrek Fitness bars, you can reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.