Today’s non-clinical spotlight focuses on Brianne Grogan, who leverages her physical therapy background as a YouTube influencer and entrepreneur at FemFusion® Fitness!
What is your full name and title at your current job?
Where did you go to PT school, and what year did you graduate?
I attended Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. I graduated as a Doctor of Physical Therapy in 2006.
What did you do when you first finished school?
I have always loved spending time with elderly people, and so it was a natural fit for me to specialize in geriatrics when I first finished PT school.
Although I had energy and enthusiasm for my work, I soon learned that the skilled nursing facility setting wasn’t a good fit for me and I only “lasted” about a year.
The requirements for productivity and efficiency felt stifling, and I started to feel like a machine, just churning out minutes with my clients to mark them off for documentation.
Furthermore, it was emotionally challenging to work with individuals who were in quite a bit of pain and who often did NOT want to be seen for therapy. I became pregnant within the first year of my work, and despite my best body mechanics, the physical demands of the job became too much for (what turned out to be) a complicated pregnancy.
My complicated pregnancy—and postpartum period—was ultimately what prompted me to shift gears and move into the wide world of women’s health PT!
What did you do after that, and for how long?
After my son was born, I transitioned my career focus to women’s health physical therapy.
I secured a position at an outpatient orthopedic clinic that specialized in women’s health/pelvic floor physical therapy while making my way through the first three levels of the APTA’s section on women’s health coursework. The majority of the patients I served suffered either from pelvic pain (specifically vulvodynia or pain related to interstitial cystitis), mild prolapse, and/or urinary incontinence.
I loved working with this population as I had personal experience with mild pelvic organ prolapse, and two things I heard from my patients on a near-daily basis bolstered me:
- “This is really gross and I can’t believe I’m telling you this, but I’m SO GLAD I have someone to talk to about ____…”
- “I can’t believe there’s HELP for this condition! I had no idea!”
It felt so good to be able to normalize my patients’ conditions, to help them realize that they were not alone, they were not flawed, they were not “gross,” and that there was so much that could be done to help them move forward!
The biggest win was when one of my patients with dyspareunia, who had previously been unable to have sex with her husband, returned after approximately one year after being discharged from our sessions and brought along visit her new baby. She credited me as the reason for being able to get pregnant. This was LIFE-CHANGING for me; I never believed I’d be able to have such an impact on the world with my work.
When did you go non-clinical, and why?
Although I loved my work at the outpatient clinic, I still felt a bit stifled. This time it was not as much by productivity requirements; rather, it was related to creativity!
I felt stuck inside the box of traditional treatment modalities for the patients I served.
In my personal time, I took a variety of dance and fitness classes and marveled at the way they activated my core. I knew that it could help my patients, too, and would be SO MUCH MORE FUN than the traditional “therapeutic exercise” I’d been prescribing!
Based on my experience with yoga, Pilates, barre fitness classes, and dance (specifically bellydance, pole dancing, Latin dance, and African dance) I pieced together workouts that I used for myself AND for my patients. I choreographed the routines to upbeat music, and starting in 2009 I started teaching at local studios in Portland, Oregon. I called my classes “FemFusion Fitness” and had success with this little side-venture, being featured in local news articles and on local television stations.
When my husband accepted a job that moved us halfway across the world, I thought my FemFusion days were over…but the best was yet to come!
What are you doing these days?
Our move to Germany (for my husband’s job) put a bit of a wrench in my plans to grow my new fitness venture. We had an entirely new community, an entirely new culture to integrate into (not only the German culture but also the US military culture) and I was the mother of a preschooler.
I decided to stay home, let go of EVERYTHING I’d been doing, and focus on motherhood.
While this was appealing at first, I have always been quite dedicated to my work (particularly the women’s fitness aspect of my work), and so FemFusion drifted back into my life. Word got out about what I’d been doing, and the bug to teach fitness classes returned.
I decided to focus solely on my creative endeavors via my “business baby,” FemFusion Fitness, teaching classes in-person and branching out into the online world in order to reach a broader audience.
Little did I know, I had a steep learning curve ahead of me as an entrepreneur. In PT school, I certainly was not trained how to market myself, and technology had never been my strong suit!
Ultimately, I overextended myself from too much teaching, choreographing, training, and STRESSING about how to make this “online thing” work. In the wake of a real low point (from physical and mental overload), I took a break from everything to focus on my health and mental well-being.
This resulted in my book, Lady Bits: Understand Your Body, Elevate Your Health, and Reclaim Your Spark Naturally.
Publishing my book opened my eyes to the idea of passive and residual income via royalties, and more importantly, to the idea of reaching women on a more global level. I loved the idea of promoting pelvic health awareness to women all over the world, and while the online courses I had created were great, I wanted to reach even MORE people with this information… And for free.
I turned to YouTube, growing my channel quite rapidly from under 1000 subscribers in 2016 to 90,000 subscribers (and 10 million views) at the time of this article’s publication!
Pelvic health is for EVERYONE, as I often state in my YouTube videos!
Why did I experience such rapid growth after a long period of stagnation?
Finding my niche as a pelvic health expert was key! At first, I was just one amongst a sea of other YouTubers teaching core fitness until I really started talking about pelvic floor health. That’s when I saw my channel start to take off…when I started talking about the “weird stuff” to a larger audience. People were hungry for it, and it has steadily grown from there.
What are you up to these days with FemFusion® Fitness?
These days, I still offer online courses and occasional live/in-person events, but YouTube is my primary focus for public service, creating community, and ultimately, marketing.
My videos improve the “know, like, and trust” factor that’s essential for any type of business to grow, and my free videos on YouTube ultimately drive people to my more profitable business ventures, including sales of my book, affiliate sales, and my work as a dōTERRA Wellness Advocate. I do earn some income from the ads that are on my YouTube videos, as well.
Are you still treating patients, or are you solely non-clinical?
I’m solely non-clinical, focusing entirely on my YouTube channel, writing the second edition of my book, and growing my essential oils business. I am absolutely dedicated to the idea of holistic wellness and lifestyle practices, and helping women heal themselves naturally.
Did you have any mentors or specialized training on your path to becoming a women’s wellness coach?
One of my biggest mentors is Jessica Drummond, founder of the Integrative Women’s Health Institute (IWHI), who started IWHI from the ground up. I’ve been with her from the beginning, graduating as a part of her first class of certified women’s health and nutrition coaches, and have marveled at her growth and the quality of education she provides her students.
She is an avid researcher and so beautifully weaves together the worlds of medicine and holistic health and functional/integrative nutrition.
How did people react to your unconventional career path?
I started FemFusion Fitness (my group fitness classes) in 2009, when pelvic health awareness was basically nil. The pelvic floor certainly was NOT a buzzword like it is today!
My friends and colleagues advised me to focus on the tummy flattening and booty lifting aspects of my exercise classes, and to SKIP anything that would smack of pelvic health because it might “weird people out.”
While this might have been good advice at the onset of my business, I think ultimately it slowed me down, since growth happened once I confidently advertised the fact that my routines were designed to be core and pelvic floor friendly and spoke openly about conditions such as diastasis recti, urinary incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse. However, this might be more of a sign of the times than anything else.
While my family and friends have been supportive along the way, they certainly don’t have the passion for my business that I do!
This is to be expected and something that I think any entrepreneur can relate to, which is why I’ve befriended other entrepreneurs (even if they are not in my career field) so that I can have a group who understands my dilemmas and who can help lift me up when the going gets rough. I pay for business coaching, and I also rely on my dōTERRA business as a fulfilling outlet for teamwork since the rest of my work is relatively “solo.”
Lastly… Because I’m not working as a clinician, I have felt a bit of judgment from my colleagues in the professional world.
I feel that I have been passed over for interviews, summits, etc. that I would be quite qualified for, although how much of this is “in my head,” I don’t know! Self-confidence is something I continue to work on for myself. Basically, I felt that I was not taken seriously when I started focusing my career on my non-clinical endeavors.
I comfort myself with the awareness that while I might not be a clinical provider, I have done a lot to spread the word about the importance of pelvic floor health and promote women’s health PT to my online community.
I provide broad strokes of education to my clients and community, and encourage people whenever I can—via comments, email communication, or in my videos and courses themselves—to consult with a women’s health physical therapist for individual evaluation and treatment.
Hundreds of women (and men!) have thanked me, stating that they had no idea WHPT was even an option before reading my book or viewing my work online.
What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you? What types of tasks and responsibilities fill your time?
Every week is different, but as a general rule, I time block to manage my time better since my hands are in so many different pots. Every day I prioritize two main tasks, and anything else I get done is “gravy.” Usually, one of my daily tasks has to do with growing my side business, and the other daily task has to do with nurturing my online following (i.e. writing an email newsletter, scheduling social media posts for the week, responding to YouTube comments, filming and/or editing a new YouTube video).
While I’d love for my work hours to be 9-5 like in a “typical” job, they’re just not. I work late (often until 9 or 10pm) 3 days per week due to time zone differences.
I use an online scheduler to schedule appointments, and for interviews with people in other time zones. Before using my online scheduler, I was spreading myself too thin, having evening calls sometimes every night of the week. It was really starting to interfere with family time, but now only three evenings per week have the potential to be a late night.
The most important aspect of my schedule: Every day I build in time for a workout and/or yoga session, because I am a firm believer in walking my talk.
I believe that strong, healthy women are the backbone of a thriving society, and in order for me to inspire more women to be healthy and strong I need to lead by example.
I also schedule a “CEO Day” once/month where I completely disconnect from work and do something for myself. My best ideas come during these days!
What are some of the challenges of your role? What are the rewards?
For me, the biggest challenge has been loneliness as an online entrepreneur. I crave a team to bounce ideas off of and to support me in new business ventures. My husband is encouraging, but it’s different than having someone there who really understands what it’s like to work in the online space.
The other challenge was—and continues to be—the comparison trap. This is a tough one, as comparison likes to sneak in and tell us crazy things!
The main bugs in my ear:
- Other people are so much better than me at broadcasting their message
- I’m not doing enough on social media
- I don’t have the right website
- My filming equipment and editing stinks, etc.
It can be so easy to throw a pity party! Thank goodness for yoga, meditation, my daily walk, and the team of entrepreneurs that I surround myself with.
For me, the rewards far outweigh the challenges. My greatest rewards are the freedom to be completely creative and to have my own schedule. I’m also rewarded daily by letters from women around the world who now have access to information that they didn’t before, due to their location and/or finances.
I feel blessed to be able to give so much away for free, and while I make clear that I can’t “cure” people or solve all of their problems, I can certainly help them learn more about their bodies and empower them to learn SIMPLE steps to take care of their health naturally via my “eat clean, move every day, shine brighter” philosophy.
Roughly speaking, how are the hours and pay compared to patient care?
Thus far, the hours are longer and the pay is less than when I was working for someone else.
Because I love what I do, I have to force myself to turn off “work mode” especially when it’s always available to me, in the form of my cell phone. There is no “leaving it all at the office” unless I physically turn off my devices!
My income stream is a combination of multiple sources including royalties from sales of my book, sales of my online courses, YouTube ad revenue, and income from my network marketing business. The upside is that if I continue this trajectory, there is NO glass ceiling. There is no cap to what I can make and ultimately the time freedom that I can acquire.
To be honest, I do not have a mind for business or any training in business, and everything has been self-taught and bootstrapped.
Although my recent YouTube growth has been quite rapid, my overall business progress has been slow, and sometimes I feel a bit envious of those who seem to have overnight success. Mine has been 10 years in the making since the first FemFusion Fitness class I taught in 2009… But I’ve learned so much along the way, and I’m finally starting to see the fruits of my labor!
What type of person do you think would do well in your role?
I am not particularly detail-oriented. I tend to throw myself into new projects, knowing that I’ll figure it out as I go.
I feel that more organization would have served me better; however, I might have chickened out along the way if I were an over-thinker! I believe that courage, persistence, and the ability to “just do it” are important traits to cultivate for an online entrepreneur.
You must also be comfortable with being alone and focusing/prioritizing your time. I only recently learned to treat my online business like a “real job,” which is key!
At first, I felt like I needed to grow my home-based business but also keep the house clean, do all of the grocery shopping and cooking, etc. every single day. Now I acknowledge that while I work from home, this is my full-time work and I don’t have to do it all, all by myself!
My family helps with chores and grocery shopping, and I often have to turn down daytime coffee dates and outings with friends. I treat my work like a regular job, hour-wise, although it’s far from (what I consider to be) a “job.” It’s my passion.
Did you read any books, take any courses, or do anything special overall to help you grow FemFusion® Fitness?
I went through the APTA section on women’s health levels 1-3, Integrative Women’s Health Institute Women’s Health and Nutrition Course, 200 hour yoga teacher training through Sun Salute Yoga, and Yoga with Kassandra Online Yin Yoga Teacher Training. Plus the school of life! Between health-related podcasts and books I have listened to and read thousands of hours of trainings.
What is next for you? What do you want to do with your career long-term?
I plan to write a second (updated + revised) edition of Lady Bits, and I am partnering with a colleague to create new online courses specific to different age groups. Otherwise, my plan (for now!) is to continue to create free content on YouTube and to promote my passion for natural wellness via my essential oils business. It all ties in with my “eat clean, move every day, shine brighter” philosophy!
I’m extremely comfortable and satisfied with my non-clinical work.
While there is certainly a need for specific tests and measures and the individualized treatment that is done in a clinical setting, I feel that people can gain SO MUCH from moving more, getting to know their bodies, and learning how to tune in to their own personal needs. I’ve always felt that getting folks moving and learning how to relax are the key factors in healing, plus letting them know that they’re heard and that they’re not alone. I may not use a goniometer anymore, or apply electrical stimulation or ultrasound… But I still get results.
Do you have any special advice for others who want to follow in your footsteps?
The four keys to creating an online business like mine:
- Find your niche
- Be CONSISTENT with posting your content
- Lead with FREE (and provide massive value!)
- Cultivate relationships with your audience (respond to emails and comments, develop a community even if it’s only online)
Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams, think outside of the box, and say OUT LOUD who you really are, and what you really want to do. It may not be mainstream, it might be questioned, but with billions of people in this world—and the world more connected than ever via the online space—there IS a market for it and you will see results if you’re fully YOU and moving forward with a heart of service.
Thanks for your insight, Brianne!
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