Back in fifth grade in Londonberry, N.H., when Katrina Scott first became interested in fitness, she had no idea health and wellness would become the focus of her career. At the time, the 2021 SI Swimsuit Rookie of the Year just knew she loved the sense of empowerment she felt while working out. That initial interest turned into a gig as a fitness instructor at Keene State College in New Hampshire, where she saw how women came together through these sweat sessions. And it was that magical combination of self-empowerment and community that would lead Scott to co-found the online fitness platform Tone It Up, become a New York Times bestselling author, launch a podcast, and create the lifestyle platform called Live Beautifully. Here the 38-year-old entrepreneur shares the biggest lessons in her journey and her advice to other female founders.
Did you always know that you wanted to get into fitness?
“I grew up heavier than most kids, and I was teased for my weight. I felt like I couldn’t wear the same things that other girls were wearing in class. I felt a little bit like an outsider. So, I asked my parents in the fifth grade if they could help me because I wanted to start exercising. They were a little taken back but really wanted to empower me. So my dad converted our basement into a home gym. And he went all out for me because they saw a spark for the first time. I started to discover a little bit of who I was. And through fitness, I was able to build up my confidence and figure out who I was as a young girl. I realized I not only want to do this for myself, but I want to do this for a career one day.”
Did you realize at the time you wanted that fitness career to be about female empowerment?
“Yes. I feel I’ve always been a girl’s girl. You achieve more when you come together and show that everybody has their superpower and help women see that.”
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How many businesses have you started now?
“Funny that you should ask that because I got into buying website domains very early on. As soon as I got into that, I started a fitness website on campus. From there, I focused on Tone It Up, and I also founded Live Beautifully. LiveBeautifully.com is my online journal and a place for women to connect through my podcast around business branding and discovering your creative brilliance. Outside of health and wellness, I really love helping women find what they can do with their passion and turn it into their purpose.”
What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned from building your brands?
“There’s never going to be enough time in the day. So, shut down your computer, turn off your phone, sit down for dinner, and either be present with yourself or with your family. The No. 1 regret that I have as an entrepreneur is that I didn’t do that enough, especially in my 20s. And now, as a mom, I realize that out of all the roles I’ve had—you know, CEO, founder, personal trainer—being a mother is the most important and most incredible role that I’ve ever had, and it comes with the most responsibility. And that means being present, being connected.”
“There were so many times that I probably should have disconnected and connected to my own life and husband. I used to sleep with my laptop just in case our website crashed. There has to be a balance between your life and your mental health. Disconnecting and connecting with your own life will inspire you to do greater things in your career. But your career isn’t absolutely everything.”
What changes would you like to see for women in the future?
“I didn’t consider myself a feminist for years because I didn’t know what exactly that meant. But within the last couple of years I’ve realized feminism is the belief in full social, economic, political equality for women. And that’s equality across the board: equal pay and equal opportunity. I’ve realized that in my personal life, I’m very much a feminist, and I want to see equal opportunities for women.”
“Big picture, I also realized that one in four pregnancies are lost, and not enough women talk about that with each other. Through the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit community, I felt I wasn’t alone in that struggle. But women aren’t talking about it because we’re told that we did something wrong, and that we can't work as hard if we’re also moms, and that our bodies should bounce back. There are just so many things that women don’t talk about, and all of that needs to be in the past. We need to know that creating life is not easy, and we should be able to talk about all those struggles together and with men and our partners, and we should not be ashamed.”
Beginning on International Women’s Day (March 8), the Pay With Change initiative will be front and center on SI Swim channels through daily spotlights on the women, brands and properties making a concerted effort to fight for women’s equality.