November marked a significant anniversary for Oakdale businesswoman Colleen O’Connell.

It was ten years ago that O’Connell first stepped into the now popular downtown Curves/Jenny Craig location and got to work. The business at 113 N. Third Ave., Oakdale, was not just a new location for the longstanding Oakdale business but a fresh start with O’Connell at the helm.

“There was just a small amount of members left, I think maybe 75,” she said of when she acquired the business from the previous owner, “so when I first opened my doors I think I had 15 women who worked out in one day.”

Curves Oakdale was first opened 19 years ago. This year, however, marks more than a decade of business for the health and fitness enthusiast. It also marks the first year the franchise has been recognized for its contributions by the parent corporation.

Earlier this month O’Connell was awarded 2019 Curves North America Franchisee of the Year, while attending a conference in Waco, Texas.

“I was literally just stunned,” she said of hearing her name announced during the ceremony. “I was looking at all these great owners, all who work hard, all who affect change in their community, they’ve got big businesses and I’m small.”

The franchise owner shared it was an unimaginable surprise. She noted that during the 2018 conference a Hawaii trip caught her attention and at the start of the new year, recognized she might be a contender for that trip. System updates companywide, however, slowly made it more challenging for O’Connell to track the progress. So as she sat at the conference a few weeks back, the Hawaii trip was what she anticipated. An honor such as Franchisee of the Year was far off her radar.

Upon stepping onto the stage amidst the cheers from her peers, O’Connell was presented with the award as well as a list of accomplishments for the year which earned her the distinguished honor. The business owner shared she feels she just checked off all the boxes throughout the year, an act which happened somewhat organically, as she shared her love not only for the business, but the community in which she serves.

Curves/Jenny Craig Oakdale now has a membership of close to 350. It’s a membership list which has not only grown since she reopened the doors 10 years ago, but has a healthy retention. The business became a dual brand location in 2014. A merge which O’Connell shared was not a requirement, yet she felt was a nice complement to the existing Curves business.

As testimony to the success of the business, the studio was outfitted with the newest Curves equipment this spring.

“It’s sleeker and ergonomic and it just has a great feel,” O’Connell said of the new equipment.

She also began to focus on non-scale victories with the Curves clients, utilizing social media to share the stories of success.

“That was really a big important piece. That was really thrilling,” she said of the social media platform. “We have so many success stories, but a lot of us don’t want to toot our own horn.”

Ten years of business in Oakdale, has also found O’Connell becoming active in community events, sharing that reaching out and being involved with the community as important not only to her, but to her clients. She noted the interaction with the community at varying events as an opportunity to change lives.

“I do everything I can,” she said.

“Everything” which includes canned food drives for community sharing, participation in farmers market and other local events as well as Oakdale’s annual Relay For Life event. Some might say it’s O’Connell’s passion for the business, as well as drive which is pivotal to the location success and while she might not deny that, she also feels it’s the business model of 30 minute workouts which keep clients coming back.

“I think most of my membership want the flexibility to just pop in and out without having a planned time,” she said, noting that classes are hosted twice a day as well. “They might have a time frame around that they come, but the flexibility works for them.”

Her passion for the business, however, has placed her in a position where she is working a bit more than she would like. The success of the business now allows her the ability to build her staff a bit so that she can pursue a bit more life balance in the coming year.

“The pieces that I’m doing I’m really enjoying,” she shared. “I really help change women’s lives. That is really what it’s about. I’m a real success seeker. I see things happy. I’m happy when I come in.”

Her happiness in coming to work and her passion for helping others has now brought the national accolades as well.

“It really is a lifetime achievement that I wasn’t expecting,” O’Connell said.