In 2020, Courtney Johnson created FitWell Escapes with the purpose of connecting like-minded women who wanted to spend more time exploring the outdoors.
“I’ve always been an advocate for the outdoors, and wanted to meet friends I could explore with,” she says.
After moving to Phoenix in 2015 for grad school at Arizona State University, she realized outdoor opportunities were all around her. “I think Phoenix is a great location with local hikes — it also serves as the perfect neighboring state, and acts as a gateway to Northern Arizona with Sedona, Flagstaff and tons of national parks just a quick drive away.”
As a parks and recreation professional, Johnson spent her time researching the fitness tourism industry while in graduate school.
“Hosting retreats and bringing people together has been on my mind for a few years now,” she mentions.
Moving gave her insight into how difficult it can be to make new friends in a new city.
“Phoenix really is the perfect place for something like FitWell Escapes,” Johnson says. “I’ve loved to see how far the company has come with various events, and creating connections. Visiting cool destinations is just an added bonus.”
In the future, she hopes to expand her company to various states.
“My goal is to have representatives in Southern California, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico,” she explains. “Ideally, we would continue to impact lives and connect women everywhere. Then we could come together to host larger fitness retreats.”
Johnson feels like FitWell Escapes is her passion project.
“I love fitness, wellness, the outdoors, traveling, and bringing groups together. I used to be an Event Manager for the Phoenix Convention Center, and have used the professional skills I learned there at FitWell.”
She’s proud of what she’s accomplished in the last year, and can’t wait for what’s to come.
“My favorite events include Peaks and Picnics, Emerald Cove Kayaking, Papago Park Charity Yoga / Namaste for Earth Day and the Desert Dream Retreat in Joshua Tree,” she says. “I’m really excited for the upcoming Mindful in Malibu retreat. I think it will be our best retreat yet.”
A standout event for her company is Peaks and Picnics — where women hike first, and later experience a picnic pop-up at a nearby park.
“It’s great to get to know each other, snack on a yummy charcuterie board, and see a community come together after a difficult hike.”
Another fun experience was Yoga at Papago Park in Tempe.
“It focused on giving back to the community. We offered free yoga classes to our members and provided financial support to a local charity,” she says. “Namaste for Earth Day also gave us an opportunity to give back. It was a trash-pick up combined with a charity yoga class. These events are full of good vibes, and good people.”
Johnson’s happy to have found a passion in FitWell Escapes.
“I just love exploring and creating community. I never want someone to feel left out or like they don’t belong,” she says.
And she understands how difficult it can be to find supportive friends.
“I love helping women be the best version of themselves,” she says. “I always say you are the result of the 5 people you surround yourself with the most.”
Besides being outdoors, Courtney enjoys exploring new restaurants — her favorite in the valley is True Food Kitchen.
“It’s healthy with a good vibe and has a few locations throughout the Valley,” she mentions. “Farm and Craft in Old Town, Scottsdale is another one of my go-to spots. I can hang out anywhere as long as the food is good.”
She reflects on her experience creating FitWell Escapes, and recalls that she never had a desire to be an entrepreneur.
“I believe you don’t have to choose,” she says. I have a rewarding full time job that I plan on keeping. FitWell Escapes is my passion and hobby.”
She has plenty of other things to keep her busy, too — running, reading, camping, and hanging out with her cat KitKat.
“I’ve never been motivated or fueled by money. I think you have the most success when you lead with your heart,” she says. “It’s totally possible to start your own business while working full-time. It has to align with your schedule and lifestyle.”