FORT COLLINS — Graduate students at Colorado State University are putting their passions and educations to work with the successful launch of Smart Fit Chicks, spun out of the Venture Accelerator Program in CSU’s College of Business.
Chrissy Chard and Kellie Walters decided to start their own health coaching company by women, for women, and with the mission of using research-proven techniques to empower others to create healthy lifestyles – both in body and mind.
Through the Venture Accelerator Program and Charge!, CSU’s crowdfunding site, the two women were able to raise enough money to start Smart Fit Girls – a sister organization – in Colorado, Wyoming and South Carolina.
The company is a Web-based service focused on motivational interviewing, goal-setting and behavior implementation, with clients working with coaches to set their own health goals with coach support, education and accountability.
Smart Fit Chicks coaching packages range from one to three months and accommodate a variety of needs for support and guidance.
“Our approach is a very client-centered way of promoting behavior change,” said Chard, now a faculty member in the Department of Health and Exercise Science and the Colorado School of Public Health.
“What we know is that individuals are the experts in their own lives. They know what they want to achieve. We simply provide guidance and support them in their journeys toward healthier lives.”
After working with adult females, Chard and Walters said they began to realize that challenges with self-esteem and body image start much younger and created Smart Fit Girls in 2014. The 10-week after-school program helps middle school girls feel mentally and physically strong.
Smart Fit Girls is set to attain nonprofit status in the next six months, and the team is planning another crowdfunding campaign to raise money to establish more SFG sites across the nation.
“I think the reason we’ve been so successful is that we’ve been really open,” said Walters, former director of adult fitness at CSU. “The more we talk about our organization and get other people talking about it, the more we are able to build.”