The idea for Go Go Fit came to Sue Teoli in July, in the days after she closed Fitness Together on East Avenue, a business she’d owned as a franchisee since January 2009.
Honoring her clients’ remaining sessions by lugging her equipment to their homes (“backyards and basements”) or meeting up somewhere else in New Canaan for her trademark small-group (two to four people) workouts, Teoli saw a new one-woman business take shape.
Last week, she set up a new fitness studio in the 550-square-foot space at 162 Main St. (formerly Betty’s Teas), opposite the library and next to Le Boudoir blow dry and beauty bar.
Refreshingly down-to-earth (“Listen, exercise is awful for most people”) and realistic (“I know there are 1,000 fitness places here and 2 million trainers”), Teoli is seeking to carve out a niche in the fitness landscape of New Canaan, where she’s offering individual attention, variety and fun in an intimate setting.
“[Exercising] has got to be interesting,” Teoli, a Stratford resident, said late Monday morning from the cozy studio opposite New Canaan Library, medicine balls, body bars, barbells, kettlebells, steps, jumpropes, mats, free weights and boxing mitts lining the walls and arranged in corners. “Even when I exercise on my own, I’m like, ‘I need a TV, and I have to do it quick.’ It’s difficult, and I get that. So it’s got to be fun, I’m here and I’ll play any kind of music you want, like we put on the oldies station for my older clients. I think that’s what makes it so different. I’m not etched in stone, ‘My way or the highway,’ because I want to hear what you want or what you particularly like.”
New Canaan Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tucker Murphy said she was “thrilled” that Teoli was able to relocate and noted that “this area of Main Street is fully occupied with terrific businesses.” (In addition to Go Go Fit and Le Boudoir, there’s Sokushindo foot reflexology and the recently relocated New Canaan Cleaners around the corner, down East Maple.)
A Wilmington, Del. native who in 1986 took a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Sacred Heart University that she’d never use (“I wanted no part of that degree”), Teoli had a life-changing experience in 1990 when she was involved in a serious car accident up on the Route 25 connector in Bridgeport that claimed the life of a friend and left Teoli herself with a traumatic brain injury.
She turned to health and wellness at what was then a Gold’s Gym in Fairfield (now that Fitness Edge not far from the highway), developed an interest in nutrition and earned a master’s degree in exercise human performance from Southern Connecticut State University a few years later.
Teoli (a dog lover and owner of Izzy the pit bull, “She is the greatest thing ever to happen”) kept one foot in personal training while working full-time jobs at places such as the Home Depot and Federal Express—at one point she was a partner in a commercial and residential cleaning service business—then bought Fitness Together about five years ago.
With a staff of trainers and payroll, rent and royalties as a franchisee, Teoli yearned for a less complicated way to make end’s meet and more direct avenue toward working with clients, the true joy of the job for the 50-year-old.
Brightly lit and with ample parking, Go Go Fit is ramping up (Teoli is seeking approval for her outdoor sign at Tuesday’s Planning & Zoning Commission meeting) and Teoli said she’s eager to build her client list to a point where she’s training every hour of the workweek. Most of her clients are women, though she trains many men (their ages range from teenagers to people in their 80s, she said), and at this point all of them are New Canaanites.
“I like this,” she said. “I enjoy coming to work. It’s happy, positive.”