The Net Exclusive Feature
Story by AshMarie Boyd
Photography: Elroy Johnson IV
Before I even stepped foot in GRIT Fitness, I skimmed their Facebook page to catch a couple of opinions and reviews from the public. I was greeted by testimonials of women that buzzed with words such as energy, culture and positivity. Immediately I was intrigued, wondering if they were paying their members to say nice things because everyone knows working out is a total chore.
I walked into the fitness studio around lunch time on a Friday afternoon. I’m not sure what I was expecting but what I encountered left me inspired and suddenly aware of my femininity. The studio is pink, white and chic. There are figurines of strong and fit women drawn on the walls. A neon pink light that read, “No Grit, No Pearl” hangs directly across from the entry way.
After wrapping up her class, which looked like a combination of yoga, high intensity workouts and an 80’s party, Brittani Rettig floated into the lobby like a melanin goddess.
“Hi, I’m Brit!,” she exclaimed.
“Oh, God,” I thought. “She’s so perfect and fit. I hope she can’t tell from this interview that I know nothing about fitness.” My own insecurities rushing in to meet her as well.
She graciously welcomed me.
“Thank you for coming? Ash, right? Did you find the place alright? Where do you live? Was it far? Where do you wanna do this ?” all the while never breaking her smile.
Immediately, I thought back to the Facebook reviews. Her energy was contagious.
For someone who had just led a group of women in mid-day exercise, Brit looked surprisingly refreshed. She wore neon pink shorts, black Nikes and a tank that read “Straight Outta Excuses.”
As the interview took place, I could see this was the basis of her life. Taking care of business and doing it in style.
Comfort vs Calling
Rettig grew up just east of Dallas in the suburbs of Mesquite. She was a graduate of Mesquite Poteet High School and headed to Cornell University for college. After attaining her BS in Industrial and Labor Relations, she went on to pursue her MBA at Harvard University.
She began to gain weight as she settled into a comfortable lifestyle as a corporate consultant. Thirty pounds, to be exact. To tackle her weight, she started a blog of her journey to a stronger, healthier Brit. Grit by Brit became a tool of accountability, a source of inspiration and a resource for mental and physical health awareness. While she initially set out to lose the weight and achieve a healthy lifestyle, Rettig would discover her purpose, passion and life’s calling.
After maintaining a fitness blog for a year and a half, she quit her long-term job and picked up a part-time gig at a local gym. It was there that she says divine intervention took place. She got her instructor certification and taught a few classes. She was approached one day by a gym member asking if she’d considered opening her own studio. She hadn’t. But shortly after a seed would be planted that grew into GRIT.
With much planning and the support of her parents, siblings and a couple of friends, Brit opened up Dallas Grit Fitness in East Dallas, in January 2015. It only took six months to realize that her popularity had outgrown her space. By July 2015, she began to draw up plans for expansion. Last month, Rettig opened her second location in the Design District, a newly renovated 5000 square foot, studio complete with enough room to host two classes at once and a full cycling studio that houses thirty-one bikes. GRIT offers forty classes a week at both locations, twelve of which Brit teaches herself.
“We’re a one-stop shop now,” she says.
Rettig is currently the only African-American woman to own a fitness studio in Dallas. During our interview, she shared an intimate look into her life, business and dreams.
Raising a Dream
AB: What exactly is GRIT?
BR: GRIT is just hustling and taking care of business. It’s that mental determination you get when striving to achieve a goal. That’s GRIT.
AB: Do people know that you’re black? Is that a weird question?
BR: No, they don’t and it’s not because they don’t even realize that I’m the owner. They say things like “I’ve never known a black woman to own a fitness studio.”
We really wanted to create a diverse culture and that’s the number one thing our members give feedback on. They love the fact that women of all colors and ages can come in and get better together.
AB: What’s it like being a young business owner?
BR: Being an entrepreneur is a lonely journey. It’s your baby. You’re raising this dream alone. And once you realize that that’s okay, you’ll be fine watching it grow up.
AB: What made you choose to open a business here in Dallas?
BR: My family is here. My parents are close. My sister and I live about five steps from each other. This is home. Dallas just feels right.
AB: How do you implement health and fitness into your life outside of the studio?
BR: It’s hard as an entrepreneur to turn off your brain but I’ve learned to take time for myself. I like to read and travel (although I don’t get to do that much). I’m currently reading Shoe Dog. It’s a memoir by Phil Knight. He’s the founder of NIKE. And next week, I’ll be in LA spending the day studio-hopping and trying out other routines. I’m interested in learning how instructors run their studio.
Also, I love Simply Fit Meals. I have a great working relationship with them. I also eat regular foods sometimes. I love Manny’s Uptown, I could eat Mexican food everyday. I also like going to Ascension, Oddfellow’s and HGC Supply.
And wine… I enjoy wine.
AB: What makes GRIT different from other fitness studios?
BR: We have a great relationship between the staff and our clients. They give us a lot of feedback. It leaves an open door for constructive criticism and positive change. We’ve created a great personal connection.
We also focus on becoming strong here. Words like “weight loss, diet and calories” have no place here.
AB: What have you learned about yourself throughout this journey?
BR: I’ve learned that this isn’t a business. It’s a ministry. It’s my way of helping people and ministering through health, strength and fitness.
Even before I knew what I wanted, I knew what success and happiness would feel like when I reached that point.
This is what it feels like.