Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Joshua Fry, owner of OCR Academy, located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

OCR Academy is where you put the fun back into functional fitness. Imagine if Cross Fit met Spartan Race, and somehow a baby was made? That would be our Obstacle Fit Program. We have a strength and conditioning class that combines traditional lifts like Squats, bench presses, and Deadlifts with Obstacles found in today’s top OCR Races. Some days we don’t even touch the obstacles and just focus on the lifts. Think of it like tuning up your sports car, so you can really test out what you’re capable of on our course on the Bootcamp days.

Our OFK program is designed to teach kids how to use their muscles in a fun and dynamic way. Our goal is to teach them how to do proper squats, push-ups, and pull-ups so that they can with confidence overcome not only our physical obstacles but also any other obstacles that might come their way as they navigate being a human today’s world. Do you have a ninja in your family? A lifter, runner, climber? Then OCR Academy Open Gym is the place to be. We open our two bay doors to families to come to play on our course. You will have access to our: Weight Training section, Cardio Machines, treadmill, AD bikes, Concept Rowers and Ski Ergs As well as our Ninja/Obstacle Course that includes 10,12 and 14f ninja warped walls, over 200 feet of Monkey Bars, Rigs, and Multi-Grip hanging obstacles, and of course our Row of Walls that start at 4f all the way to our 12f slip ramp wall that finishes with a jump into our crash Matt. Once done, enjoy a cold beverage or snack at our Cafe.

Tell us about yourself

I was raised as a foster child who believed he was worth just 20$ a day, had no full-time support team at home, a high school dropout, a boozehound, and a pill-popping criminal who spent time in Innes Detention Centre. At my absolute lowest, I contemplated suicide. I was lost and had no sense of purpose.

Fast forward to 2009 when I found fitness. Yes, it is corny, but in my personal experience, the combination of a healthy diet and healthy living gave me the tools to transform myself from a 210lb – 25% body fat to 175lbs and 13% body fat. No formal training, no education, just a simple mindset. "I love myself, I love this life, and I want to change." Anything that is fueled by anger or hate usually doesn't last. I had to change my mindset towards myself and my life. I had to change some of the life traps and develop the discipline to match my newfound passion for fitness.

I discovered my purpose. What I found was Obstacle Course Racing (OCR), in particular Spartan Race. "It's funny; this fitness thing brought me places I would never have gone when I was on the sauce. Places like New York, Texas, for OCR races, I never got the high school or college march break trips as I couldn't afford them." I started off as a racer, then a volunteer, and eventually an employee for the Eastern Canadian Spartan franchise.

Traveling all over Eastern Canada, building the obstacle course all while doing market research. After my time with the Spartan brand, he developed discipline, and I decided that the fitness game needed to change. People wanted a new way to get in shape. After every race, I would speak to racers, asking how they liked it; almost all of their responses were, "I love this race, but I wish there were somewhere I could go train." That's when the OCRA dream began; I didn't want to be a capitalist; I tried to practice the principle of reciprocity; I wanted to be an educator. I wanted to take something like fitness and health, which can be very difficult for most, and make it so people can understand it and make it fun. I wanted to inspire change; I wanted to help those who are in their darkest days to learn that they can overcome life's challenges one obstacle at a time. I believe that we are all a reflection of those we surround ourselves with and that we either win or learn; we never lose.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Surviving six years. Surviving 1st-time business owner, failed accounting, toxic business relationship, tornadoes, fires, COVID.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Being your own boss, struggling to take mental breaks, bringing work home.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Get a good accountant who knows your business. Remember that the 13% you charge on top of each service does not belong to you. Design your business like it is a franchise, have a system for everything. Hire fast, fire just as quickly, people lie on interviews, and above all else, trust your gut.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Read the purple cow before you start your own business. Do not be afraid to be different or break the rules. Follow the law, but break the rules.

Where can people find you and your business?

OCR Academy Ottawa
OCR Academy is Ottawa’s first and only obstacle course training and fitness centre. We build fit kids and healthy adults. ALL ages and ALL fitness levels welcome.

If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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