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Profile Story

From Accountant to Fitness Entrepreneur: Finding her Passion

Valerie Cook

Athens, GEORGIA (March 3, 2016)–The gym is relatively quiet in between classes, except for the laughter of her kids as Caroline Ward takes a breather during her hectic schedule.

As a mother of three, Ward already has a lot on her plate. On top of being a full-time mom, she owns and operates TransFit, a fitness studio in Athens. She doesn’t have a lot of free time between having a family and running a business, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

A little over six weeks ago the doors to TransFit opened in its new location on South Milledge, after seven years operating out of Ward’s basement.

Ward, a former University of Georgia graduate and Gym Dog, has always been devoted to sports and fitness. Suzanne Yoculan, former Head Gym Dogs coach during Ward’s time at UGA, remembers her as a dedicated athlete. Ward stood out through her willingness to help her teammates succeed and the way she came into the gym everyday with a great attitude.

“I can remember her making cakes for her teammates’ birthdays. That’s the kind of teammate she was,” Yoculan recalls.

However, after graduation she struggled to find the right career path where she was meant to be. At UGA, she majored in accounting and became a certified public accountant. She then went back to school and earned her master’s degree in Public Administration.

Ward first started her career in the accounting profession from the advice of her dad, who assured her that there would always be a job market for accountants.

“At that time, that’s what my dad told me to do and so that’s what I did,” she said of her decision to pursue accounting.

After five years working as an accountant, Ward began to feel that something was missing from her life. She admits that she never felt fulfilled while practicing accounting. It came to her like a dream—she was being called down a different path.

“I needed to do what I loved to do, not just do something because somebody told me to do it.”

It was then that she realized she needed to focus on what she loved—fitness. As a former college athlete, it can be difficult to transition into the work force and not have that routine of mandatory exercise that is required of college athletes.

This is not uncommon. In fact, Dr. Douglas Kleiber, an expert in sports and psychology, co-authored an article concerning the exit of college athletes from their sport and the depression that can follow. He advises athletes to identify other sources of meaning in life to help with the transition after college.

Ward has found her source of meaning through helping others reach their fitness goals. She views her business as more than a gym. She believes that getting to know her clients is the key to how she can help change their lifestyles and make a real impact.

“It’s just realizing that you’re not just a number, and I feel like that’s how TransFit is different, we form a relationship with each client.”

The relationships that develop between trainers and clients are what make Ward’s approach to fitness unique. She talks with her clients to develop the right routine to meet their fitness goals.

Katie Woodall has been with Ward from the beginning of the business. Woodall was one of her first clients and has since become a certified nutrition consultant for TransFit.

She credits Ward with changing her life, adding, “Caroline’s influence and encouragement to be my best has continued since then.”

Woodall describes Ward as being “the real deal.” The most important thing to Ward is that she continues to encourage and inspire women through fitness.

A difficult aspect of creating a business from scratch has been the challenge of balancing her home life and work life. She strives to be the best mom and the best wife while pursuing her goal of being an entrepreneur; she is still trying to find that balance.

Through TransFit, Ward has found her passion and continues to be active in the local fitness community. In addition to helping her clients of TransFit, she regularly teaches yoga to the current Gym Dog team and the UGA baseball team.

“I’m still really involved in UGA athletics, I love that, you know I was an athlete, that’s my heart.”