Starting Up: Verona-based athletic-wear startup WodBottom wants women to look and feel their strongest

Shelley K. Mesch | Wisconsin State Journal May 22, 2020

With fun, colorful patterns and tongue-in-cheek inspirational messaging, Verona-based athletic-wear startup WodBottom makes clothing for women who want to feel their strongest.

Showcasing shorts for weightlifting that have “room for the butt and thighs,” 5-year-old online retailer WodBottom is looking to grow, recently graduating from the incubator program gBETA, part of Gener8tor, and securing $250,000 in private investment.

Emily Ruyle, who founded the company with her husband Than Ruyle, said she wants women to feel good about their bodies and what they’re wearing. She said she knows how easy it is for women to feel down about themselves, having spent most of her life covering her arms or legs for what she called “silly” reasons — worrying whether her legs looked too big or if she wasn’t tan enough.

Working out by weightlifting or doing CrossFit helped her body image through building confidence, and now WodBottom is making clothing for women demonstrating that same confidence.

“Part of our purpose and what we want to put out to the world is this bigger culture of body positivity and confidence to wear what you want to wear and feel good doing it,” Ruyle said.

The name WodBottom comes from an acronym used by many CrossFit athletes, WOD, meaning workout of the day. As for the second half of the name — working out can just make your butt look better, Ruyle said.

“It certainly was foreshadowing to what we would do,” Ruyle said. “We did not start thinking that we would be making bottoms as our core product.”

The focus on tight, body-forming shorts came from customer-demand, Ruyle said. Early on, while selling clothing at a CrossFit event, the shorts the company brought along were best sellers.

WodBottom’s designs range from solid colors with the WodBottom logo — a barbell with an upside down heart in it — to busy patterns, including pastel-colored pancakes or tacos and tequila bottles. One of the more popular patterns includes the “unirex,” a Tyrannosaurus rex with a unicorn horn and flowing mane lifting weights.A roller derby player wears a pair of WodBottom's shorts during a bout. Shorts with "room for the butt and thighs" are WodBottom's focus.  David Dyte

“We recognized that women in the CrossFit and weightlifting community really like to express themselves,” Ruyle said. “They feel good about their bodies, and they want to show their personalities on their butts.”

Ruyle said the designs generally come from something Ruyle and her family finds funny — oftentimes puns, like “Thunderwear” shorts with lightning bolts. Others are messages of inspiration, which also include humor, such as the tank top reading: “It’s OK to fall apart sometimes; tacos fall apart and we still love them.”

The company also helps women in another way. Some proceeds from each month are donated to Domestic Abuse Intervention Services in Madison — which helps women and men experiencing abuse at home — an effort Ruyle said was inspired by her own past growing up in an abusive household.


Emily Ruyle, who co-founded WodBottom with her husband, Than Ruyle, says she wants women to feel good about their bodies and what they're wearing.