Kelli Coleman opened her gym, Goals Not Dreams, in April 2023, but her fitness journey dates back a decade. “Before I became a trainer, I was morbidly obese,” Kelli said. “I really didn’t know what to do or who to turn to for support.”
Kelli was inspired to create a space for others like her who were seeking comfort, safety, and community. “Being a black, queer, and fat woman doesn’t really leave many safe spaces available in the gym world to be a part of,” Kelli said.
Goals Not Dreams offers personal training, semi-private training, online programming, and nutrition coaching to members. At Goals Not Dreams, the main goal of training is strengthening, not weight loss.
“We put community first and everything else second,” Kelli said. “We know each member by name, and everyone gets to take up space however they need to.” Goals Not Dreams hosts at least one event each month to further foster community.
Though Goals Not Dreams has grown quickly and successfully, it has not been without challenges. “The main challenge we have found is finding capital to really hit the ground like we would like,” Kelli said. In 2023, Kelli received an A4CB small business loan, which helped with staffing costs and operational equipment such as computers, a security system, and cameras. “So grateful to have the help of A4CB,” Kelli said.
Kelli employs a tight-knit team of eight. This year, Kelli opened a second location in Austin, Texas, where she will build the same sense of community she has fostered in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood.