She Protected the President's Life Before She Opened a Fitness Center. Here's How She Deals With Imposter Syndrome. She Coleman owns a location of The Camp Transformation Center, and her journey through multiple male-dominated industries has taught her a lot about strength.

By Madeline Garfinkle

This story appears in the March 2023 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Courtesy of The Camp Transformation Center

Shea Coleman is no stranger to new situations. She joined the military out of high school and was regularly outnumbered by men on her teams. That included her stint doing airfield security during the Obama administration, protecting high-level officials as they flew in and out.

When she left the military in 2014, she pursued what seemed like it would be familiar territory: She became a physical fitness trainer at The Camp Transformation Center, which at the time was a small fitness program chain designed to help people lose weight and improve their health. Then the company grew and started to franchise — and Coleman stepped out of her comfort zone to become one of its first franchisees. "I was a little nervous," she says, because she had no prior business experience. But by relying on her military training and building her self-confidence, she and a business partner now own two locations.

What major lesson did you take from working presidential security?

Teamwork. When we would travel, we were on small teams and had to lean on each other and work through different conflicts. The rest of the team on the aircraft had to help and support each other through the mission.

Related: Is Franchising Right For You? Ask Yourself These 9 Questions to Find Out.

How did you make the mental transition to franchising?

Being in the military definitely helped me prepare — especially working security, which is even more male-dominant. Leading a team is hard, but I think it's all about earning respect and valuing each person. Even though you're in a leadership role, you need to learn the ins and outs of what you're doing, and guidelines and procedures. Then people see you leading from the front. You have to work hard and let people see your hard work. Earning that respect has helped me as a female, all in all.

What was it like being a business owner for the first time?

Nerve-racking. I needed to build the confidence in myself, having never run or owned a business before. I had to delegate and get help with things like taxes and bookkeeping. But The Camp did a great job with the training programs. They taught everything over a two-week course at the corporate locations. That really helped.

Related: 4 Tactics to Transform Obstacles into Opportunities

What advice do you have for other women when they feel like an outsider in a new situation?

Remember you are worthy. Sometimes our confidence is low or is not there. Maybe that's just me, but sometimes I had to struggle to think, like, Am I worthy of doing something like this? Am I strong enough? But I just have to remind myself: I am strong enough. I am worthy of this. This is something that I can do, and just push towards it, no matter what people think or even what you're thinking. Just go for it.

Did you have an instance when it was particularly hard to remind yourself of that?

Early in my training career, it was hard to come in as a female trainer. There were a lot more men on the team. It's a little harder on females to get respect there. I always had to take that negativity out of my head and just focus on the clients and creating the best experience possible for them. I noticed that when I did that, everything was okay. I just needed to not think of what others thought or compare myself and just push forward.

Related: How to Be A Wealthy Franchisee

Wavy Line
Madeline Garfinkle

Entrepreneur Staff

News Writer

Madeline Garfinkle is a News Writer at She is a graduate from Syracuse University, and received an MFA from Columbia University. 

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