Igniting a Passion in Others. Meet Molly Flaherty of M/Body

Photography by Katie Finnerty of Katie Finnerty Photography

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
I am Molly Flaherty, the owner and founder of M/Body, Rochester’s newest and most unique fitness/wellness studio.  We gathered over 30 of Rochester’s most amazing fitness, wellness trainers and instructors and opened a place unlike anything else in the Rochester community.  We figured there were enough “big box” or “pretty people” fitness joints. We wanted something that welcomed everyone. Our mantra is : “Come as you are", it doesn’t matter if you have this season’s monogrammed Lulus or crappy secondhand sneakers, everyone is welcome. All you need is a desire to make a change and we will push you to your limits. 

What are you passionate about? What makes you tick?  
I am passionate about igniting the passion in others. My background is in journalism, public relations and development (for area not-for-profts). I have been a fitness trainer/instructor on the side since my freshman year in college. But I always had other primary professions (including Mom to seven amazing human beings) before going full-time into fitness 6 years ago. The common thread has ALWAYS been marrying up people and ignite the fuel in their fires. It was only when I opened M/Body that I married up all that I have been doing into the culmination of all I hoped for.

How did you get started? What were some of the difficulities you face?
I dipped my foot in by searching for properties “just in case” I ever really did attempt to go out on my own.  Once I started looking at spaces in the city…I was a goner. I knew this is what I needed to do.
What were some of the difficulties you faced in starting?  Ummmm….no money, a completely risky business plan based on what works for people but what not be the best “business plan” for a fitness center. Managing the time and guilt associated with leaving my kids to manage themselves for a good chunk of time while I got up and running. I never want to play the victim card, but try doing a HUGE build out as a woman in this area’s construction/management scenario. Oh, and I had a hip replacement 2 months before opening...

What is your biggest regret?  
Never a regret in anything in my life. Everything happens for a reason, as cliche as that is.  I bemoan time spent away from my children, but I don’t regret even that simply because I was raised the same way. My children are self-relant, independent and will never consider themselves “victims”. It’s how I was raised as one of seven children and I am proud to see my own children go through similar challenges I faced putting myself through college (my kids have to as well!), navigating the responsibility of caring for younger siblings and sharing common space with a boatload of siblings. Even if they don’t appreciate it now, I trust they will in the future...

What is your best advice to someone just starting out?  What do you wish someone had said to you?
Have a plan. Have clarity. Have passion. Combine all of those and then surround yourself with people that share that plan, clarity and passion. Know who has your back BEFORE you start out. And then ride the tide with those people!! Find the people that know the true secret in life…yes, we all deserve balance and self-care. BUT FIRST YOU HAVE TO WORK YOUR @SS OFF TO EARN THAT!!!!
What advice do you wish someone had said to you? It gets easier. Someday, somewhere.  

Lettering by Michelle Cavigliano of My Zoetrope

How do you prevent burnout? How do you recharge?
I am surrounded by truly the most incredible energy at M/Body. My instructors and team keep me motivated EVERY day that I walk through our doors. I see breast cancer survivors in barre class and amputees taking boxing classes. I train a number of clients with Parkinsons. My Energy Ambassador/Maintenance Specialist is a young gentleman with Downs Syndrome from School of the Holy Childhood who is working his first job ever at M/Body and comes in EVERY SHIFT with the widest smile and a high five for everyone. My boxing instructor, Saadiq, developed a program for autistic teens. My sister lost 100 pounds in one year training here and is living a whole new life. Jill is training a stroke survivor. We developed an internship with an amazing young woman from the Rochester Young Women’s College Prep school. We have donated over $30,000 to local charities in our 19 months since opening. And my daughters help me every week to develop cool new playlists. Burnout….REALLY??!
I recharge by doing yoga (the one class I am not certified to teach, so I simply get to be a participant), watching my kids’ sporting events and riding in a car ANYWHERE with my husband. And a night out with my amazing two sisters is the greatest medicine ever. Family is and always has been my home base.  

What is the most challenging part of running your business?  
Balancing my responsibility to the clients I truly know and love and the team that has been the life and breath of M/Body since opening with my responsibility and time with my family at home.  

What is your favorite part of what you do?  
Are you kidding??? Everything. In my near-30 years of fitness experience, I have gained unique insight into what motivates people to push their limits. I’ve been humbled and awestruck by the power of the human spirit and I walk through my doors everyday. I always say… I want people to want what we have to give here at M/Body. But I don’t want them to need us. It’s not what we say or do for our people… it’s what they think and do for themselves. I’m just giving them the space to figure it out...

Name some local creatives/business owners that you really admire.  
I love how Elaine and John Delmonte have remained true to their local ties…embracing local artists and providers in developing their “empire” as well as always challenging themselves physically and spiritually with new venture.  

Sue Amalfi of Sooz Salon is one of those women who walks the walk.  She works incredibly hard and has earned the loyalty of her people by proving herself to them every single day.  

I adore Mark Siwiec from Nothnagle for his dedication to the Rochester community in every way imaginable, philanthropically and professionally.  

Ardis Mangione Lindley from Straigh-A Coaching has more energy in her pinkie than I have in my whole body.  And Meg Burkhard, who founded Mary’s Place for area refugees, is an inspiration in overcoming imaginable obstacles personally and professionally to do great things for our community and beyond.  

And, most importantly, my husband.  He has taught me everything I know now about how to never give up when starting a business. I hear his voice whispering in my ear literally every day, “Failure is not an option, Mol. You can do this…”