Female Entrepreneurship at Treadfit


Courtesy of Treadfit Inc

Pictured Treadfit Instructors from left to right: Kellianne McDonough, Jennifer Harkins, Caitlin Harrigan, Dawn Courtney, Colette Fitzgerald, Cathy O’Grady

Grace Clancy '21, Writer/ Features Page Editor

In August of 2015, the nearby neighborhoods of Beverly and Western Springs were given the oppor-
tunity to take their health and fitness to the next level with an innovative workout program known as
Treadfit. The facilities are located in both Beverly and Western Springs, two very Ignatian populated

At Treadfit, customers enjoy 50 minute, high intensity group sessions that combine anaerobic intervals on the treadmills with strength training.

These workouts are advantageous for everyone including walkers, joggers, and runners. Each session is taught by one of the ten certified instructors who come ready to share their motivation and fitness knowledge with every class.

Not only are these experienced instructors passion-
ate about working out and helping others to workout, but they are all women.

Jennifer Harkins is the founder and owner of Treadfit. She has been running for a very long time and has completed five marathons. Fitness has had a huge impact on her life, as she believes “Fitness in
general for women is so important.” When asked about her inspiration for creating Treadfit, Jennifer talked about how despite her many years of distance running, she realized as she got older that strength training was very important to pair with running.

She began to work on strength training with Treadfit instructor Colette Fitzgerald. After experimenting with her combinations of treadmill workouts and strength training, Jennifer saw a lot of changes going on with her body and felt the need to share her success with others.

“I wish I had a place I could go to with awesome
music and equipment and someone to coach me through,” said Jennifer.

Colette Fitzgerald has been with Treadfit for more than three years and was the first instructor to work
with Jennifer at Treadfit when it opened. Treadfit and fitness in general has had a “tremendous impact”
on her life. She ran the 2010 Chicago Marathon and has helped a lot of people as a personal trainer, including Treadfit owner Jennifer Harkins.

Colette is a firm believer in the importance of strength training and made Harkins more familiar with it. “Strength training is important because it helps you squash calories, it helps you speed up your metabolism. When you do cardio, you burn those calories right when you do the cardio, but when you
do strength training, you burn those calories up to 24-30 hours after.

“As you get above the age of 25, your lean body mass starts to drop at an accelerated rate. When you do strength training, it helps you speed up that metabolic rate so you can continue to have that fast metabolism so you can eat and enjoy the things you like. Strength training is also important for women
because it builds the calcium and phosphorus in your bone, so it helps you stay strong,” Fitzgerald said.

At every class Colette teaches, she motivates all with her original line, “Own every second. Now only
comes once. Own every second!”

Dawn Courtney has also been involved with Treadfit since their opening. She was a client first, but has been working as an instructor there for over a year. Fitness has been very instrumental in Dawn’s life, as
she says “That is the one thing I do every single day is I work out. I enjoy working out. I workout for my
health and for my own well- being. It’s the one thing a day I do for myself.”

Her favorite part about working with Treadfit is the people she gets to work with. When asked about
working with a business that is run by all women, Dawn said, “I think that it’s great. I think most of us
are in the same boat, most of us have kids, most of us are married, so we all have a lot going on… I feel like
because we’re all women we all understand how hard it is to be moms and wives and work and maybe have
a second job besides Treadfit, so I feel like we all help each other out a lot.”

Caitlin Harrigan is the Treadfit manager and has been with them since November of 2016. She’s always
been an active person, from playing sports in high school to coaching girls basketball to being a fitness
instructor. Caitlin considers herself a more positive person because of her work at Treadfit, and girls
involving themselves with fitness is very important to her.

She believes that girls today find themselves stressed about their body image, and she feels that teaching girls to workout at an early age gives them confidence and makes them feel better about themselves, regardless if they’re seeing that stressed over “model or actress” image in the mirror.

Caitlin also talked about working with a business run by all women. “Working with all women is so
empowering. In my opinion, women are the best role models and make the best business owners. We are
constantly working together as a team to make sure we are doing the absolute best for our clients.
“When we are working together, it isn’t just a paycheck. It’s all of us putting our energy together to be the best versions of ourselves as well. You see a new level of work ethic when you are surrounded by women. If it isn’t right, women will make it right,”Caitlin said.

Owner Jennifer Harkins says, “I’ve been so blessed with Treadfit, not because of the success but because of who I have working with me. I won the lottery with the women who work at Treadfit. They’re all supportive, encouraging, and knowledgeable about working out.

“They’re a group of really strong women. It’s like when you’re surrounded by such great people you don’t have a choice but to try and improve yourself. That’s how we all feel. Everyone brings their ‘A game.’ We all want to continue to do better…. I am a firm believer that you become who you surround yourself with. This is the best team and I feel so lucky to have them.”