Neighborhood resident Tricia Merritt always gave 110 percent to every job, even the ones she didn’t like. Why not, she thought, put that effort into her own business?

“I wanted to work for myself rather than for someone else so that I could reap the benefits of all my hard work,” Merritt says. “I also absolutely love the business, which makes the long hours seem not nearly as long.”

Merritt joined with two long-time Lakewood residents to open The Little Gym in Richardson in 1995. This year, she and her partners moved closer to home by opening another Little Gym at 410 Hillside Village.

Both gyms offer non-competitive fitness (such as gymnastics and karate) for youngsters 12 months to 12 years.

“We teach kids that fitness and fun go hand-in-hand,” Merritt says. “We provide a safe environment where kids discover the joy of music, movement, fitness and fun.

“Parents feel really good about bringing their kids to The Little Gym where they use up some of that excess energy.”

Q: Someday I’m determined to:

A: Update my scuba diving certification and head to Tahiti!

Q: My favorite quote is:

A: Success is more of a function of consistent common sense than it is of genius.

Q: I would love to have five minutes alone with:

A: George Clooney

Q: I’ve never understood why everyone was so crazy about:

A: The Titanic.

Q: My definition of “success” is:

A: Balancing a rewarding career with a rewarding personal life.

Q: I wish President Clinton would:

A: Make quality childcare for working parents one of his top priorities.

Q: The hardest part of running a business is:

A: Trying to be a great boss and role model for the staff while doing all the other things that go along with owning your own business.

Q: If I won the lottery, I would:

A: Spoil my parents, brothers and sisters; travel, invest and open more Little Gyms!

Q: People I admire are:

A: Hardworking, honest and funny!

Q: I love what I do because:

A: It makes a positive impact on children’s lives.

Q: My advice to anyone trying to start a business is:

A: Don’t give up, give it some time. Don’t expect immediate success.

Q: I’m not afraid to:

A: Take a chance.

Q: If I could meet any famous person it would be:

A: Gandhi.

Q: I don’t believe in:

A: Success without a lot of hard work.

Q: Businesses succeed when:

A: You have a fantastic product or service, know your stuff, work hard, have great partners and surround yourself with a knowledgeable and dedicated staff.