Emily Buckingham wants you to strive through the chaos. She is the owner of F45 Studio, which she started with her husband only a few months ago. Moving to and starting a business in a new community with a young family is tricky, but with set guidelines, a strict schedule and help from new neighbors, they are making it work.
Q. Tell me a bit about yourself.
A. I’m from northern Minnesota. Living up there, I was able to be part of a lot of extracurricular activities, which is what sparked my interest in sports and sports medicine. We didn’t have an athletic trainer who was there regularly, but we had one that traveled. That sparked my interest in the body and sports medicine.
I went to school at the University of North Dakota and completed their athletic training program. I thought I wanted to go on for physical therapy, but was undecided. I moved to Wyoming and then California, working with students at both stops. I also worked with professional athletes in a biomechanics research lab. I fell in love with sports medicine and got to really see the whole spectrum of age for athletes. When my husband proposed, we moved back to Wyoming, then we went to Colorado. We really state hopped for the last few years. He got a job offer to move to Texas, and I figured our bags were still pretty much packed so we might as well! I took time off work, because you have to take a test for every state you practice in, but an opportunity with the National Athletic Trainers’ Association came across my desk. I got to work on the business side of the sports world there, and I really loved that. When COVID hit, we tried to figure out how to travel to see family, and we had been talking about how every place we’d lived there was an F45 studio and we thought it would be great to own one. We figured Fargo would be a great location because it was between both of our families, and there wasn’t an F45 studio up here. Q. What is F45? A. F stands for functional and 45 is the amount of time you do the work for. A friend and I had been gym hopping and trying out a bunch of free trials for different places, and we fell in love with the F45 studio. It’s like rehab on steroids. It’s what we would do with people for sport performance. It was such a unique concept and such a sustainable way to work out that I fell in love with it. The brand as a whole’s tagline is “Team Training, Life Changing.” When I was home with our son, I had the time to really figure out what I love about sports medicine and what my passions are. I just want to help people be the best version of themselves, and to be that you have to have a happy and healthy life. You have to wake up and feel good and know how to move your body right. Community is a big part of that, too. F45 encompasses that. We are so excited by the response we’ve gotten from those in the community. The diversity of ages and people who come into the studio is really great to see and really eye-opening. It’s still super brand new. We soft opened in April and officially opened in May, but having been open for only a short period, we’re super happy with what we’re seeing. We had a guy come in with a resting heart rate of 90 beats per minute and now it’s at 60 beats per minute. It’s so incredible to see how people’s bodies and confidence and abilities have changed since coming in. The company also has a “no mirrors, no microphones, no egos” policy. You take the pressure off of yourself, and it helps make what you learn here applicable to the rest of your life.
Q. What was it like to open a business in a community that you had just moved to?
A. Initially, it was pretty scary. But the community in Fargo is truly so incredible. The person we reached out to, to be our realtor, gave us great insight on who to connect to on the build-out. We got involved with the chamber, and those members have been so supportive with the new business process and making introductions. Right away, it was scary because we had no clue what we were doing and didn’t know many people. Everyone we’ve met has been willing to help and give advice, and we’ve learned a lot through word of mouth. We’ve been so appreciative of how, in true Midwestern passion, we’ve been welcomed here. Q. Tell me about your experience opening a franchise. A. F45 as a franchise is great because you get a ton of support and resources. With a franchise comes a lot of rules and regulations, so they’re very strict on how the studio looks, how the build-out looks and even the striping on the walls has to be a specific height off of the floor. Everything has to be perfect, which is great because it’s a consistent product. F45 is in 65 countries globally, so if you walk into a studio in Canada, they’re doing the same workout we’re doing today. So, for the community, it’s great to have that uniformity, but it’s difficult as the owner to have to get approval every step of the way and meet those criteria. It helped us get off the ground quicker because we didn’t have to figure out the technology or any of the back-end things that you don’t really think about. There are two sides to it.
Q. I imagine it takes some of the creativity out of the process but also takes some of the pressure off as a new business owner.
A. Definitely. F45 is great at allowing us to be creative. I do all of the social for us. They give us parameters of what to post, but we solely own and operate those channels how we want. You can get creative about how to run the business.
Q. Especially for small business owners and for women, it’s so hard to strike a balance between personal and professional. I assume with your family being so involved with the business, those lines are even more blurred. How do you set boundaries and make sure you’re caring for yourself?
A. It’s tricky, especially with a newborn. I get incredible support from my husband and he’s great about taking the kids if I need to take some time for myself. I grew up in the country so being in nature is how I recharge. Being able to go for a walk and go outside is what helps me fuel up for the next day. One thing I did early on in my career was create a habit of time blocking my day. I set up from this time to this time, I work on this, and then this time to this time, I work on this. It helps keep me organized and sane when it’s pure chaos and you just have to strive through it.