Stephanie Karlovits, owner and president, EPIC Fitness + Lifestyle

2017 Forty Under 40 recipient
Stephanie Karlovits

Age: 32

Birthplace: Middleton, N.S.

Company: A holistic fitness facility specializing in functional personal training.

Education: Bachelor of arts honours degree in psychology, Carleton University (2008); fitness and health management diploma, International Sports Science Association (2010)

Charitable involvement: Dream Mountains Foundation

Biggest biz achievement: My biggest business achievements, besides opening my business in 2012, have been making the business profitable within seven months, doubling gross revenues in two years, buying out two partners and paying back a $250,000 startup loan in four years, making the business debt-free.

Biggest obstacle: Saving the business after almost going bankrupt in 2014. I went through a divorce after a short marriage and my ex-husband was tied to the business. I had to find a way to gain control of the business, deal with my personal emotions and save the business at the same time. I was able to gain majority control, keep 100 per cent of my staff and clients and double profits in 24 months. It was the most difficult time of my adult life, but I wouldn't change it for anything. It was the catalyst to the most amazing years of my life so far.

Biggest influence: Without a shadow of a doubt, my mother. She has taught me the importance of self-reliance and independence. She has also shown me the freedom that comes with education. She and I came from very humble beginnings. She gave birth to me at age 20, and I had the privilege of witnessing her go from working at McDonald’s with no education and living in a trailer with me in rural Nova Scotia to completing a science degree at Queen's University, two master's degrees shortly after and then buying a home for us. She is one tough woman who also knows how to have one hell of a good time.

Biggest lesson learned: All decisions have to be made with a “hell yes.” Early on, I kept people in my business whom I should have let go and I did events and agreed to things that I wasn't all that jazzed about. Of course, all of these things did not work out in the end. They wasted energy, time and, of course, distracted me from what really mattered. Now, I ask myself the question, "Am I a ‘hell yes’ about this person, thing, decision, partnership or system?" If the answer is no, I don't do it. It has kept me focused, the flow of business is easier and I don't waste a lot of time debating things. I know what to do.

First job: Delivering papers in Kingston at eight years old.

Advice I’d give the younger me: I would give my younger self a really big hug and say to her, "You are one tough cookie, just keep your chin up, your life will be everything you want it to be. Just keep moving forward."

What’s left to do: Well, I think Mr. Justin Trudeau and Sophie Gregoire need to start training with me soon. Other than that, I estimate I have 70 years worth of things to create, see and do. I can't wait to see what's in store.

Favourite pastime: Hiking

I’m currently reading: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (for the third time)

Favourite movie: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Favourite song: Juicy by The Notorious B.I.G.

Favourite local pro sports team: Ottawa RedBlacks

Favourite local summer event: Canada Day

Preferred social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

Twitter handle: @stephkarlovits