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How Being Working Mothers is Helping Bonnie Micheli and Tracy Roemer Innovate in the Increasingly Popular Fitness Space
The Shred415 co-founders turned their passion for fitness into a rapidly growing system of studios.

Today, Bonnie Micheli and Tracy Roemer are known for being the co-founders and innovators behind one of the hottest brands in the rapidly growing fitness industry, Shred415. But fitness was a passion for the friends and business partners long before the boutique studio trend took over the industry.

Micheli first fell in love with the gym during college when she discovered that interval training burns the most fat while gaining the most muscle. Backed by a personal training certification from the American Council of Exercise, she started teaching group fitness classes back in 2009. Roemer has also always made fitness a priority—she developed Gorilla Sports’ Kwando program and has served as the managing director of a multi-unit fitness club in addition to being the director of weight loss and nutrition for a large national gym. But despite their backgrounds and expertise in the industry, Micheli and Roemer saw that there was something missing in the industry. That’s when the idea for Shred415 was born.

“We both felt like there was a big hole in the fitness market in Chicago. We wanted to create a place where busy working mothers who loved fitness—like us—wanted to work out,” said Roemer. “We kept looking for a great cardio workout that also included strength training and other perks that we wanted like great instructors, great music and an on-site kids room. But we couldn’t find it. So we decided to create it.”

Since its first studio opened its doors for business in 2011, Shred415 has experienced rapid growth. Its instructor-led, interval training classes that incorporate both treadmills and strength training on the floor have become fan favorites for people across Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis—there’s no shortage of customers signing up for a $27 drop-in class on any given day. And that growth is expected to continue in the months and years ahead. With its ninth studio set to open soon, Micheli and Roemer are on the lookout for future expansion opportunities.

But as Shred415 continues to grow, Micheli and Roemer are equally focused on staying true to their brand. They started Shred415 to create a fun and effective fitness solution for busy working moms, and they want to make sure that they’re still in their studios on a regular basis teaching classes and doing what they’re passionate about. That commitment to staying actively involved in the Shred415 brand is what continues to make them successful. And according to Micheli , it’s a lesson that they want to pass down to their own daughters, as well as other aspiring women entrepreneurs.

“We both have daughters, and there’s nothing we are as proud of as the example that we’re setting for them day in and day out,” Micheli said. “Women are incredible entrepreneurs, business owners and leaders. We hope that we’re setting an example that helps our daughters and other women think about how they’re going to be successful in the workplace, rather than if they can be successful in the workplace.”

As that message continues to be taught to the next generation of entrepreneurs and leaders, Micheli  and Roemer believe that there will be even more women-led brands like Shred415 successfully operating in the fitness industry and beyond. Because business is constantly changing, leaders have the ability to tap into new growth potential as it makes itself known.

“Everything is constantly evolving, for women in business and otherwise. We anticipate and love that constant change,” said Micheli . “Throughout our careers, we have both seen leadership roles for women increase and female executives become more visible, especially as brand owners. We hope to see that trend continue—women have so much to offer. As the world shifts to a more inclusive, supportive place for gender equality, we’re looking forward to seeing what is next.”

While building Shred415 and getting it to where it is now hasn’t always been easy, Micheli and Roemer say that it has absolutely been worth it. At the end of the day, launching the fitness brand came down to following their intuition and believing that there were other busy working mothers out there like them who could benefit from their idea for a different kind of fitness studio.

Roemer said, “We always trust our gut. That’s the best advice that we can give to other women in the workplace. Know your vision, know who you are and trust your instincts.”