Sweat Equity, Heather O’Neill

Founded by fitness and wellness guru, Heather O’Neill, Sweat Equity sets itself apart in a growing industry through its vision of being a “health and wellness amusement park.” The unique sauna studio offers a diverse range of services, including full-spectrum infrared modalities, cryotherapy, contrast therapies, somadome  meditation pods, and IV vitamin infusions. The journey of Sweat Equity has included major challenges, and with the support of LiftFund, their vision of empowering individuals to choose joy and prioritize self-care has become a reality. 
Before the inception of Sweat Equity, O’Neill worked in the fitness industry, specializing in personal training and group fitness instruction. However, an injury led her to discover the transformative benefits of cryotherapy, inspiring the launch of her first entrepreneurial project, CryoFit Alamo Heights. The success of CryoFit, coupled with the supply and demand challenges the business faced, inspired the birth of Sweat Equity—Heather recognized an opportunity to expand CryoFit’s offerings with more space, new saunas, and new services ultimately creating a health and wellness haven for the community via Sweat Equity. 

Opening its doors just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Sweat Equity faced significant hurdles.  

“It was quite a whirlwind. I exhausted all my marketing money to open Sweat Equity, and then we had to close,” shared Heather. 

The initial success of Sweat Equity had been affected, and the uphill battle to regain momentum became a daunting task. However, Heather’s determination and resilience propelled her forward, searching for solutions to sustain and grow the business. 

In the midst of financial hardships and a scarce support from traditional banks, Heather learned about LiftFund through a friend and client. She reached out to LiftFund for support. While other avenues seemed to go silent during the pandemic, LiftFund listened to her challenges and understood the importance of her business. 

“I kept getting rejected, but LiftFund was so impactful in the way that they were working with me—if I ever needed a hand, if I needed something, they helped. LiftFund got on the phone with me and they heard me, they listened. I have so much respect and appreciation for LiftFund.” 

Through the City of San Antonio Zero Percent Loan Program, LiftFund  provided the lifeline that Sweat Equity needed to move froward. The funds were utilized strategically, focusing on restructuring their membership model, marketing initiatives and restructuring employee arrangements. By reallocating resources Sweat Equity witnessed critical growth. 

The profound impact of the COSA 0% loan program enabled Sweat Equity to stabilize, normalize operations, and maintain financial viability. “We used some of the funds to increase our marketing strategies with a new membership model that made more sense in a time of inflation [and] we saw an increase in about 28 to 30% memberships within the first six weeks!” 

Looking ahead, Heather envisions an expansion of Sweat Equity, spreading the message of choosing joy and prioritizing self-care to a wider audience. With a focus on enhancing the well-being of individuals, the business aims to continue offering innovative modalities and empowering individuals to take charge of their health. The future holds promise for Sweat Equity, as it aspires to positively impact more lives and become a beacon of inspiration in the health and wellness industry.