Working at a desk job was the catalyst that helped Cari Draft find a new career.
Draft graduated from Grand Valley in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in advertising and public relations. She worked as a graphic designer until her son, Austin, was born, then did freelance work from her home until deciding it was time for something different.
"Graphic design morphed into fitness because I was craving movement and exercise," Draft said.
Draft found her next passion by drawing on her background as a fitness enthusiast, and became a certified personal trainer. She established her own business, EcoTrek Fitness, after attending a continuing education conference for personal trainers at the Nike headquarters in Oregon.
"People kept talking about the running groups they formed; this was before running groups were really big," she said.
Draft took that seed of an idea and mixed in the beauty of Michigan's natural resources to form EcoTrek Fitness in 2006. She invited 12 women to exercise in the fresh air, using resistance bands, running and hiking along trails and climbing Lakeshore dunes. EcoTrek runs year-round, regardless of the weather.
She worked with the same group for a year, adding new locations and challenges. It grew to a 75-minute workout designed to burn about 500-800 calories. It also grew widely popular. "People were driving in from Grand Rapids for sessions," she said.
Draft realized it was time to expand. EcoTrek now has 12 trainers who work with groups in West Michigan, Traverse City, Kalamazoo, Lansing and other cities.
Two years ago, Draft expanded her business and added a line of nutrition bars, EcoTrek bars. She bought a discontinued line of bars from a company, and changed the recipe to make them more nutritious. The bars are available in 350 stores, including all Meijer locations.
Draft still handles the marketing and public relations needed for her business, and said she draws on other aspects of her Grand Valley education daily.
"My days at GVSU provided the foundation for me to learn how to deal with people, how to knock on doors and run a business," she said.
Page last modified September 13, 2013