Q&A: Graduate Student Finds Community in Opening New Gym

Grace Burton, a  master’s student in nutrition science at UGA, franchises and manages F45, a new training facility in The Mill District in Athens. Comments trimmed for length and clarity.

Q: How did you first hear about F45?

I was a coach at their gym that’s within their recreation center there at N.C. State in Raleigh, and I started out just as a coach and doing the workouts as well. And I did that all throughout my undergrad years. 

And then I started coaching at my hometown F45 in Winston Salem, North Carolina, between my transitional summer between undergrad and grad school. I coached there for a little while, and that’s where I really learned more about F45 because it was a real studio, an independent studio, whereas the N.C. State studio was a part of the college. 


Q: What would you say to any students who are interested in opening their own business?

There are so many things that it’s just not possible to learn just from class. Actually getting into the field and doing it is the only way you’re going to learn. The biggest thing is the passion. The only way that this is possible for me is because I’m so in love with the brand and so in love with F45. I wouldn’t have done anything else. F45 is the reason I opened a business. 


Q: What has been the biggest challenge in bringing F45 to Athens?

Getting brand awareness was definitely a big challenge. We’re slowly but surely getting it out there. 


Q: How did you help promote your business to the Athens community?

We definitely used social media as an outreach platform. We had ads running. We used our own social media platforms. We put flyers out in the community. 


Q: How has the response from the Athens community been since you opened?

It’s been more than I could ever imagine. The community has been so rewarding already. 

People are hanging out outside of the gym already. We’ve had so many socials. We’ve had local businesses come to us and asked to work with us and asked to partner with us. The community here in Athens is insane, and that’s why I was so excited to open up F45 here because F45 is all about community. 


Emily Neece is a junior majoring in public relations and political science at the University of Georgia.


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