Elizabeth Mooney, Founder of Country Fusion
Elizabeth Mooney slid into our inbox and shared a quick overview about herself and how she started her growing business. After reading through this, we were definitely inspired, and we hope you will be, too!
Read her #Girlboss Spotlight below:
You are a professional dancer. Is this something you always wanted growing up?
Yes, I always wanted to be a professional dancer and choreographer. I’ve been dancing since the age of two and never stopped. I went to Nassau Community College as a dance major and always knew that dancing made me tick and there is nothing else that can make me the feel the same way. I’m lucky because I was able to take two of my passions – dance and fitness – and turn the lifestyle into a career path. I’m fortunate that I can wake up every day and do something that I truly love.
What was your "ah ha" moment that made you decide to leave New York and your off-Broadway career to pursue Country Fusion?
While I was living in New York during my off-Broadway and acting career, I went through a divorce. The divorce was a turning point that made me switch gears and begin to change my focus to dance and fitness. At the time, I had a lot going on and I was teaching one class when I threw in some country songs into the mix and my client’s reaction was so positive. They all loved it and were excited because it was something new and different. It was at that moment that I realized, THIS IS IT! Country music has always been great and has always had a following, but over the past few years, country music has been growing rapidly and is gaining a huge following and becoming more mainstream. I realized there was no dance fitness program offering a country fitness theme, so it was then that Country Fusion was born. I started putting my idea into action right away.
During the time that I was starting Country Fusion, I was also in the process of moving to New Jersey. I left New York because it was time for me to explore somewhere new and discover a place where I could find peace and where my dogs could run – but also a place where I was still close enough to home and the City. Despite moving, my heart is always in New York and I’ll always be a New Yorker.
As an East Coaster, why country?
My background is hip hop, Latin, ballroom, jazz and burlesque, but since I was a little girl I’ve been going to a dude ranch called 1000 Acres in Stony Creek, NY. My family started vacationing at the ranch when I was six for one week every summer. I would wear my cowboy boots, ride horses, dance to country music and that is when I fell in love with the laid-back country life style. So, the love of country has always been in me. As the newer country music started coming out, some of the songs began to give off a sexy vibe and that got me hooked on the country music scene – the newer music was something that I could dance to and it increased my love for the country lifestyle. I love the music, the line dancing, the competitions, the boots, the cowboys and now I love spreading Country Fusion and bringing country into the fitness industry.
Starting something from scratch can be difficult and you've had great success. Can you share some insight and advice for those, especially young women entrepreneurs, looking to start a business?
When I first envisioned Country Fusion, I was determined to bring the idea to life. I believed in myself and I believed in Country Fusion. Through my experience of previously owning a dance fitness studio in New York, I knew I had to open my own business and in order to do so, I would need to get a tax ID, copyright my brand, package it correctly and choreograph my fitness country dances and design my fitness concept. Once I developed the business, I had to advertise it and gain a clientele. This took time and diligence. I had moved to New Jersey, took a huge pay cut in order to teach at gyms, and build up my local clientele. So I still had to work in New York to make ends meet while I was developing Country Fusion and getting it up and running. I had to start at the bottom and work my way back up. Throughout the whole time, I had to keep my eye on the goal. After five months of working at the gyms and creating relationships it was time to search for a space to rent in order to grow Country Fusion and make it its own stand-alone program. Through hard work, long hours, determination, drive, diligence and lots of sweat and doubts, I kept pushing forward and didn’t let anything stop me. Within the first year and a half Country Fusion has grown to 500 clients and 20 instructors and has moved into gyms and dance studios in New Jersey and New York.
Country Fusion also became an approved provider of CEU credits through NASM and AFAA and was a featured presenter at the ECA 360 Fitness Inspire Conference in New York City this past March. I was also able to put out a Country Fitness DVD and part two will be coming out this summer. My dance partner and I recently competed in the Line Dance Showdown in Boston, MA in the beginning of April, where I was able to also showcase my choreography. In New Jersey, Country Fusion has been growing into events as well. Country Fusion Line Dance Lessons are being offered at various restaurants as part of country night and has been taught at fundraisers for Antler Ridge Animal Sanctuary, Sussex County Association of Realtors, Sparta Elks Lodge and Autism Awareness. This summer we were requested to kick off the summer season at a local farm with a country line dance night. This is only the beginning and there will be so much more to come as the demand for Country Fusion fitness classes and events continues to grow.
What about for those looking to get into the fitness world who find it hard to stay motivated in today's society?
For anyone looking to get into the fitness world, I would recommend trying various classes to educate yourself on whats out there, learn technique, anatomy, socialization skills. Hire a few different personal trainers to learn different ways to workout and see what you will like to take with you and develop your own program. Learn your different muscle groups, muscle recovery, nutrition basics, and modification skills. Talk to other professionals in the industry to get their insight. Become certified in personal training and group fitness. Get your CPR/AED certification and personal insurance for yourself. Remember that you are your brand, know it inside and out, be the best that you can be and make sure it is conveying the message you want to present. Put yourself out there and network! You need to have full knowledge of your field, so take continuing education classes, go to fitness conventions, and get certifications in the programs that interest you. In the fitness industry, there is always something new to learn. Give yourself time, stay on track, and don’t give up!
What is next for you, Elizabeth, in addition to Country Fusion?
I look forward to certifying at least 100 instructors by the end of this year, bringing Country Fusion into more gyms and fitness centers, while also bringing Country Fusion into people’s home. I plan to make a second Country Fitness DVD later this year and compete in more line dancing competitions and enter my own choreography in competitions. I would also like to start a family of my own.
To learn more about Elizabeth and Country Fusion, you can go here.
Introduction by Chary. Interviewed by Emily