This is Peter with Fringe Sport and I'm chatting today with David Stevens from Invoke Fitness and Wellness. David runs Invoke from about the center of Columbus, Ohio. David, what did I miss in that super short intro? Tell us a little more about yourself.
David Stevens: Hi my name is David. I'm 45 years old, and basically my community that I help out is a very small community that we work out of our garage. It's basically just my neighbor and people that I have been working with in other gyms for the last ten years.
I love it, so I'm curious you know, are you looking to keep it at that size? Are you looking to grow? What are you doing because a lot of times I talk with people who have started in a garage and grow to something bigger, is that something that you're looking for?
David Stevens: We have talked about it. At one time we had a storefront, a small little storefront, and I worked there but the landlord got a little greedy, where he went from basically $1,700 a month to around $3,500 a month so we ended up wanting to resign our lease. The majority of my clients said, "Let's just go to your garage." So that's what we stuck with. Now with that, we've always talked about it. If something opened up in this area where I live within, we would give it some consideration, and we've also talked about possibly growing our garage because our community really likes, it's very convenient for everybody. Like my neighbors just walk over during their scheduled time that we work out.
Got it. So that's really interesting, so how did you start framing your neighbors? Walk us through that a little bit.
David Stevens: Okay, so I used to teach martial arts. I did that for almost eight years. From that, I kinda got burned out a little bit, so I did a little bit more on the fitness aspect of it, training at a little local gym here. The prices I had to charge for people just to make a living out of that at the gym I did not like anymore. I hate charging someone $80 just to train them for 40 minutes. That's not what I'm about, so that's when I did it out of my driveway at first before we even had a garage. When we moved into the garage I said this would be a great set up. We started it. My neighbors had no problem with it. I thought there might have been. However, and they just started walking over, can we join you? That's how it all started.
I love it, and you mentioned coming out of the martial arts background, so a lot of our customers at Fringe have transitioned form martial arts to fitness or at least have a strong connection with martial arts. So what martial art were you in, and can you talk us through that transition a little bit?
David Stevens: I was in both karate and tae kwon do. I stayed with tae kwon do for a little bit because I also teach it at our community college here in Columbus. I stick with that, but from my preparation I kept the tae kwon do at the college level. Martial arts isn't for everybody. I wanted to add something where I could help people out. You see it all the time at the beginning of the year everybody's gung-ho to work out and then things change. I just try to keep things interesting so that they can keep that all year round to make a bigger impact in their life by training them in the physical fitness than martial arts.
I love it. One thing that you mentioned just there was that martial arts isn't for everybody. Would you say that fitness is for everybody?
David Stevens: It's not for everybody. I think about the top 20 fitness trends that are out there you know, like yoga. Yoga's not for me, but it's actually in the top seven of the fitness trends. My daughter loves yoga, I mean I wouldn't say loves yoga, but she loves the aspect of yoga for her mobility than she does Olympic weightlifting. I believe there is something out there for everybody, and sometimes that's why I got into the tools that I've used, like when I use the steel mace we're not going all out with the steel mace because you can get hurt with that really easily. So it's kinda slow. We implement the stretching at the end with it, and so I like to take different parts of different fitness trends and try to incorporate it into our classes.
I love it. So you were talking about that a little bit, tell us a little bit about your programming methodology or how do you approach training with your clients?
David Stevens: Okay, so when I do my group atmosphere, not everybody has a full hour, and I understand that. Basically what I would do is when they come here, for the first half hour we will focus on constructing. We have basically we like to go head to toe. We don't stick with just shoulders, ankles, hips, we try to hit the whole body because sometimes the last second I have to change the workout up because there was something that usually normally on Tuesdays or Thursdays I usually have maybe eight people come. Last Thursday we had four people come so we had to change the workout, so we did it as a partner workout because we didn't have enough room. Usually within that first half hour that's when I get mobility, they work on some strength or a new technique. The second half hour is basically you know your HIIT programs, your circuits. Full out, sometimes we throw in an AMRAP wrap in there, but when it comes to the summer then it's a little bit different because I have my whole driveway. we do pints, we do everything.
I love it. Talk us through a little bit how you acquired your first few clients. I mean you had mentioned coming from a martial arts background, but how did you get your first three clients, and then how did you build from there?
David Stevens: So what I did was those parent's followed me when I left. The studio actually shut down out of the blue. Everybody showed up there on a Monday, and the guy decided that he no longer wanted to have a facility. I kept in touch with some of them because I did have a driveway and during the nights in Columbus you never know, I mean we have bipolar weather. One day it's 60 degrees, next day it's 20 degrees. So what I would actually do is send out a text to everybody saying, "We have a workout today." So I kept them within the loop. Then so they followed me there. Then when we moved into this house that we have here about six years ago, we had the garage, so I mean we went through a polar vortex here where it was ten degrees below zero and everybody still showed up to workout, and it just built on from there. They would tell somebody else. They would bring a family member. I had more of my neighbors come. Their kids got older so now they're coming. So it just spread by word of mouth.
I love it. How do you describe your culture within your gym?
David Stevens: We are a family and it got brought out last week when one of our members had just lost his mother to Alzheimer's, and to have everybody just show up. I mean some people changed their plans. Thursday's usually a slow night for us because of all the stuff that goes on within Columbus. Everybody dropped what they were doing just to be there for him and do a special workout for his mother. If someone is having a birthday party, everybody tries to do something. We see each other even outside of the garage, what we always call the Garage Grind, we see each other outside of that. We go get dinner together. We noticed that we have become more of a family than just people who will just train together. Any of them here, like when we take off for some of our Olympic weightlifting competitions for my daughter, they'll still run the class, one of the guys, but they want my other daughter, my littlest one who's 11 years old, they let her bark out the commands. They accept her as you know kind of like one of theirs.
I love to hear that. Cool. What else would you like to add?
David Stevens: It's something that I would love to see more people start doing is having that garage gym, and it's more of, if you've noticed, I mean I would love like for my daughter to start her own revolution. I like to see more communities get involved, and it doesn't even have to be there. Even daily walks, community walks. I love to see the fitness community start embracing things like that a little bit more.
Are you involved at all in the GoRuck community, because just what you said now is very interesting to me because I'm a little bit involved in GoRuck. One of the things that they're trying to do is get more people rucking together. A ruck at its most basic level could be like a weighted walk basically.
David Stevens:: Oh no, I've heard about it. I think I've heard of mostly from the people that do crossfit, they talk about it. My daughter goes to a crossfit gym on Sundays to fine tune her Olympic weightlifting, and when she's there a lot of them will talk about the GoRuck. I just haven't looked into yet.
Got it. It was just interesting to me with what you were saying about you know more people kind of getting together and doing kind of community oriented things. That's pretty interesting and awesome. Cool. Well, David, so you had mentioned before that the best way for people to find you is at invokefitnessandwellness.com and again you're based in Columbus, Ohio.
David Stevens:: Yes.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with our audience?
David Stevens: No, that's it.
Awesome, well this has been a pleasure David, and thanks for spending a little bit of time with us, and thanks for sharing of your philosophies on you know fitness and life.
David Stevens: Thank you so much.