Today we’d like to introduce you to Emily Cook Harris.
Emily, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve been a certified personal trainer, fitness instructor, and coach for the past ten years. I grew up with a passion for dance; it was my introduction to the power of movement. I felt strong and confident as a result of moving fiercely and learning to take up space on stage. I graduated with a B.S. in Kinesiology from LSU as fitness was another growing passion of mine and a way to help others tap into their innate power and individuality through movement. I’ve gained experience in a variety of fitness settings from the local YMCA in college, to an internship at the NBC Fitness Center in NYC, to corporate wellness, boutique group fitness, and residential personal training. I’ve also been fortunate to dance professionally – touring with a musical, performing for a recording artist, and training at Broadway Dance Center in the heart of NYC.
I founded my fitness & coaching company Empowered back in 2010 as a way to see fitness represented in a way that resonated with me – that movement is far more than aesthetics but an incredibly powerful tool for transformation. I’ve seen firsthand that when you take care of yourself through healthy lifestyle habits, you take charge of your life with new confidence and determination. You give wings to your greater goals and dreams. The brand has evolved over the years but the heart of helping others ignite that spark within remains the same. I’ve loved sharing my experience as a speaker, an international instructor, and as a consultant working with brands to bring original fitness content and events to life. It’s been a constant evolution of following my interests and what feels fun, and it’s been one helluva ride.
Three years ago we made the move to Los Angeles (hello sunshine 🙂 ) and it’s been the best decision both personally and professionally. I love L.A. and I’m thrilled to call it home.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Of course not! But it’s all been worth it.
I’m big on taking leaps when you feel that pull to pivot – whether it was the first big move to NYC, changing jobs, pursuing dance professionally, navigating injuries, starting my own company and building a business in NYC, or making the cross country move to Los Angeles with no real plan other than it felt like the right time to go for it – they all had curveballs. But I’m a firm believer that you have the power to move your life forward. You don’t need to have it all figured out, you just have to trust yourself enough to take the next best step forward. That’s it. A big, expansive life will require you to dive into the uncomfortable, over and over again. It’s a decision you have to make – that your dreams are worth taking risks for. Honestly, there is no other way for me. Yes I’m human and still get nervous or worry that things won’t work out, but I’ve taken enough leaps to know that I am always better off going for it. The things that light me up are there to guide me, like street lights on a dark road, and it’s up to me to follow them.
The more you take action towards the things you love, the more you know deep down that it’s the only way to live.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
As a fitness professional and entrepreneur, my work has evolved over the years along with my own journey. When I first founded Empowered at 23 years old, it was just me – hungry to help others adopt movement into their lives as part of a healthy lifestyle. I did personal training all across NYC and grew the business one client at a time until the demand for sessions was greater than the time I had available. Then I began hiring additional trainers to keep up with the growing clientele. The business grew to 6-figures with a full-time schedule of sessions. I had achieved my goal: to pave my own way in NYC doing what I loved, helping people transform their lives through movement. Thus it was time for a leap to continue growing. The East Coast to West Coast move has allowed me to reconnect to my own creativity and dream bigger for the next season of my career. I’ve had the opportunity to dive into more consultant work and I love sharing my expertise with global brands and corporations. Ultimately, I want to inspire and equip the world with the tools to rise up and take ownership of their lives. I see movement as the powerful spark to this transformation.
One of my proudest aspects of Empowered and the entrepreneurial journey has been the commitment to supporting education. Since the company was founded, I donated a portion of proceeds to education nonprofits every year as our way to pay it forward and empower the next generation. That later evolved to creating an entire event series called FitWeek where fitness classes raised money for local and international education. I proudly produced FitWeek for five years and that combined with our other grassroots Empowered efforts raised over $45,000 for education, sponsoring over 50 girls in developing nations as well as equipping local public school teachers with essential classroom supplies. Some of the organizations we’ve supported include She’s the First, One Girl, DonorsChoose.org, Reading Partners, Health Class 2.0, and Care.
This year, Empowered got a fresh new look to better reflect who I am now and what I hope to accomplish in this next chapter (you can learn more at emilycookharris.com). I want to create environments for people to have a positive, powerful interaction with movement – through pop up events in the community, within corporations, through digital content, and more. Because when you have an experience that makes an impact, you can take that inspiration and turn it into momentum for change. I want every individual that interacts with the brand to feel educated and empowered to move their lives forward through a mindset shift and daily habits that are in alignment with their goals.
What were you like growing up?
I’ve always been full of energy, optimistic, and a big dreamer. I’ve loved dancing since I was young – the combination of music and movement makes me feel alive. I also really enjoyed school growing up. The structured environment plus learning to balance all my extracurricular activities taught me discipline & focus. If I wanted something I knew I had to work hard for it, but I also learned that I could handle it. I’ve always been pretty ambitious, whether it was wanting to place first in the national dance team competition, getting straight As, or nailing the big internship. I’ve wanted to push the limits and see what I was capable of. School was also seen as something of great value in our family and I think that’s a big part of my passion for education. My degree in Kinesiology is what literally set me up for success to move to NYC for fitness, so I’ve felt firsthand how education could be a powerful foundation to your dreams. Give someone a chance, empower them with knowledge and support, and they can do the rest.