Welcome to You Got This, news.com.au’s weekly fitness series featuring stories and ideas from real women who’ve experienced it all.
A Melbourne mother who has been through some of the hardest moments imaginable has turned her pain into a six-figure business, now launching an app as a big new step.
Danni Duncan had a travel business but when Covid struck, and borders closed, the business folded. Her steady income suddenly vanished.
“I literally collapsed on the floor. I was like, ‘What the hell am I going to do? And I was like, ‘Well, I’ve got to do something’. And my first thing was like, let’s just go to a workout because that always makes me feel better to start with,” Danni told news.com.au.
But, that wasn’t the only thing that had suddenly turned Danni’s life upside down.
The mother-of-three, over the last three years, has lost both her family’s cats. Her husband, Chris’s, father passed away and border closures meant the family couldn’t say goodbye. One of the family’s twins ended up in hospital with Covid, separating the twins for the first time ever.
“A few weeks after losing our second cat, I was in a horrible car crash with my mother and my daughter Harper,” she said.
“We got hit on a highway going 100km an hour and the car ended up on its side. I knew it was happening, but I knew it was outside my control.
“It would have only been a split second but it felt slowed down.”
Miraculously, no one in the family suffered longlasting physical injuries but, a handful of days later Danni found out she was pregnant.
“We didn’t think we could get pregnant because we struggled to conceive the twins,” she said. However Danni, who had previously suffered a miscarriage, discovered she had lost the baby at seven weeks.
The loss sparked something within her. She wanted a fourth child. Once again, Danni fell pregnant and was terrified until her seven week scan.
“Chris had tears streaming down his face at the scan and we were like, ‘oh my god, it’s okay’,” she said.
“We were leaving for Europe two weeks later, and I was going to have my 12 weeks and when I got back when I would’ve been 14 weeks.
“We didn’t know everything was going to be okay but my belly was growing and it felt like my other pregnancies.”
But, in the back of her mind, Danni couldn’t shake the thought something was wrong.
At the end of her family’s holiday, they boarded a plane from the UK to fly back home to Australia via Singapore, but the unthinkable happened – Danni began to miscarry on the flight.
“I got rushed to hospital in Singapore and miscarried our baby in a hospital room by myself. I woke up on my birthday the next day, which was devastating and traumatic.”
Danni’s mum rushed to be by her side, with Chris remaining in Singapore to look after their three children. She said, in that moment, she thought about the amount of gratitude she had for her other three children.
It was out of this series of traumatic experiences that Danni’s mantra – I can do hard things – was born.
“I’m very open about stuff like this because we all go through this and so many just hide away from it. I find solace and calm in talking it out. It makes me feel better. It makes me feel seen, it makes me feel validated,” she said.
Danni said there were still bad days, but she speaks about it so that others knew they weren’t alone and could take courage from it. She chooses to share because it makes people understand her, and it helps her relate to her clients.
“The mantra was born because I’ve found that every time I’ve done something that scares me or that’s hard and pushed through it, especially the last couple of years, I’ve gotten stronger from it,” she said.
During all of this, Danni was slowly but surely working on building her fitness brand.
The ex-ballet dancer, who danced with the Australian Ballet School before performing in England, had previously taught ballet classes. Then, she completed her Certificate Three in fitness as well as Nutrition Coaching certificate.
“I started doing live workouts on Instagram during lockdown and people following along because they wanted to keep moving and feel good. I built up quite a following of people following me on Instagram during the live workout so I decided to move back to a subscription based platform on Facebook,” Danni said.
“I was like ‘This is a little side hustle for lockdown, which is good’. That’s how the Figure Babes started. We got people to move all through, lockdown and it continued. I turned up four days a week, to do live workouts and gave them challenges. And then other coaches came on board.”
Over three years, Danni worked hard on the business and it began to turn over six figures.
She has coached more than 500 people, brought out two recipe books, multiple meal plans and a resistance band range.
Last year, she decided it was finally time to turn it into an app, so she started meeting with a designer and worked on what she wanted it to be.
“There’s so many quick challenges out there where you’re told to eat 1200 calories, workout five times a week and do all these things that aren’t sustainable,” she said.
“But if you don’t look after your mind, change your mindset and your relationship with your body and food, then none of that actually matters. It just becomes this vicious cycle of rinse and repeat.
“I really wanted it to be a place where people came in nourish their body and their mind, working on their mental health as well as their physical health. There are lots of yummy recipes and no restrictions. There is also a mindset component. I want it to be that one stop shop where people came for that whole holistic experience.”
This holistic approach was important because if the underlying wasn’t addressed, there was no point. Looking back, Danni never thought three years ago when she lost her business this is where she would be.
“Every time something bad has happened, there is always something good to come out of it,” she said.
“Even if it’s just a lesson, and you know, it’s okay to have an adult tantrum and yell at the world. But it’s how you come out of that and how you use it and what you learned from it.
“I always say everything that happens is just another chapter in your story. And you’d hate for your story to be boring, right?”
Fit by the Figure officially launched last week, with it being available on your device’s application store.
Originally published as How fitness lover turned past into brand new fitness application