Creating purpose from passion: Rochelle Palmer’s mission to empower women through fitness and health

In a world where health, wellness, and fitness are becoming increasingly top-of-mind, Durham College’s (DC) Fitness and Health Promotion program stands out as a perfect opportunity for individuals like Rochelle Palmer. Rochelle’s journey, from completing the Early Childhood Education (ECE) program at DC to becoming a successful entrepreneur in the health and fitness industry and now, a new founder, showcases the true power of following your heart through education.

Rochelle’s story and commitment to helping others lead healthier lives began in 2018 when she embarked on her own fitness journey while taking DC’s ECE program. She discovered Herbalife, a company whose products not only helped her lose post-pregnancy weight, but also ignited her passion for health and wellness.

“I realized that my journey and experience could help other people get healthy,” says Rochelle. “I was connecting with moms all over the world who were building their confidence and feeling good.”

Although her new passion to help women emerged halfway through the ECE program, Palmer continued her studies and graduated to set an example for her children. Her experience helping others with their health goals transformed her own life as it paved the way for her future education.

After four successful years with Herbalife, Rochelle felt a desire to expand her knowledge further. Despite feeling hesitant at first, she decided to pursue another diploma.

“Going back to school kind of felt like taking a step backwards, and that’s also when my postpartum depression started,” she explains. After enrolling in DC’s Fitness and Health Promotion program, she felt a sense of comfort and support during a challenging time.  “It seemed like a good option because I knew that I would learn a lot and be able to apply this knowledge once I started to feel better.”

During her time at DC, Rochelle’s entrepreneurial spirit has flourished. Her idea for her business, EmpowHer, had been on her mind since 2019 after being inspired by her clients’ requests for fitness training and group classes. So, she decided to take action and begin planning to make it a reality. Her idea for EmpowHer was validated and celebrated last month when Rochelle won first prize during a DC pitch competition, hosted by the college’s entrepreneurial resource hub, FastStart.

“My journey has literally led me to this moment and the FastStart program,” she says.

Rochelle’s goals for her business are ambitious yet rooted in her commitment to community and female empowerment. She envisions her business as a fusion of health and fitness, offering nutritious meal options alongside fun and inclusive fitness programs. A unique aspect of her vision is having on-site counseling services, providing women with a safe space to prioritize their mental and emotional well-being.

“I’d also like to have daycare in the building as mothers miss events all the time due to lack of support,” she says. “My long-term goal is to open multiple locations in different communities.”

Rochelle is planning to launch her business in summer 2025, after graduating.

Reflecting on her experience at DC so far, Rochelle encourages aspiring entrepreneurs and fitness enthusiasts to consider DC’s Fitness and Health Promotion program.

“I think anyone who has the desire to use fitness to help others should take this program,” she says. “Coming in, I thought it would be all about exercising, but it turns out this program digs deeper and teaches you the skills you need to run a health and fitness business, too. There are so many layers to this program, I think everyone could benefit from it.”

Are you ready to turn your passion for fitness into a rewarding career? DC’s Fitness and Health Promotion program might just be the perfect fit for you. From communication skills to wellness principles, you’ll learn what it takes to succeed in this popular industry.