Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Denzel Allen, Owner of Strength Den MV LLC., located in Stinson Beach, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is a private fitness facility focused on strength located in Mill Valley, California. We offer personal training done in a semi-private setting. This means that we coach up to four people at a time every hour. Each individual has their own personalized training program that is meant to meet them where they are at and help guide them to where they want to go. The semi-private setting allows for a more social setting where everyone can be motivated by others working towards their goals, as well as have a sense of community. We also offer small group classes where everyone in the room is doing the same workout, all with the goal of becoming stronger. We believe strength and health cannot be uncoupled; a truly strong person is a healthy person. Strong not just in body but in mind and soul as well.
Our customers are any and everybody interested in becoming stronger. Mainly, we focus on the working professional who might already have a family and understands the value of prioritizing their own health and wants to start to practice what they believe, or maybe they have watched a loved one struggle with old age, and they don't want that to be them. Either way, priority one has to be a want to become a stronger version of themselves. This is a long-term journey that doesn't have a destination. Along the journey, people will experience the fat loss they are looking for, the ability to enjoy activities as they get older, and the ability to bounce back from sports injuries faster than their counterparts who do not strength train, among many other awesome side effects. Our customers understand delaying gratification to choose the more sustainable and healthier route to reach their goals.
Tell us about yourself
What first got me into strength from a health standpoint and not from a performance standpoint was during my internship in college at Advantage Personal Training in Mystic, CT. I was able to watch people in their 60s and 70s strength train in order to be able to enjoy the activities they liked doing, to be able to keep up with their grandchildren and to be self-reliant. At the time, I was playing collegiate football and was able to lift a lot and perform well on the field, but I did not feel good. My body hurt. I could barely touch my toes. To be able to see people who were 3x my age enjoy life, be mobile and feel good was eye-opening for me. It let me know there was another way. I became obsessed with finding modalities, principles, and techniques that help enhance strength in a way that makes the individual feel better and, as a cool outcome, often perform better as well. This led me to tools such as kettlebells, Indian clubs, and other mobility training practices. This led me to principles such as always having control of the weight and leaving reps in the bank. Also, think of working out as a practice. You are practicing movements.
While in New York, I was able to work at Soho Strength Lab and was able to see broadway performers, Interior designers, and other people in the prime of their careers prioritize their health and have an awesome return on the investment. Once I moved out to California, I knew I wanted to create a place where people could go and have a sense of community, build strength/health for themselves, and be able to continue to thrive in their lives outside of the gym.
What motivates me each and every day to do what I do is the understanding that I have that the skills that I have and what we teach are needed in our current society. Strength training is preventative health care. I believe our job is to be forever students and to share what we've learned through our experiences with the world. The business I have created allows me to do my part and to be able to see the change being made in the world. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a Strengthden'er discovering the power of strength and falling in love with the process.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is making it through the covid lockdowns and continuing to serve my community through it. Gyms were locked down for a while, and we had to switch to zoom sessions for a while. I lent out a lot of my equipment to my clients so they could continue to train at home. Then, once we were allowed to meet outdoors, we started to do park sessions. The park sessions were disrupted when the fires came, and the air became unbearable to breathe, which made us go back to zoom during that time. Then, we moved back to our brick-and-mortar location, which had a big garage door on it. We were not able to be inside the space, but we had a big tent set up that gave us a little bit of cover from the elements and allowed us to have easier access to more equipment. We kept rolling with the punches as the punches came flying in. We were able to weather the storm and continue to add value and light to our clients through one of the darkest times we've experienced in our lifetime. I am extremely proud of that accomplishment.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things that come with being a business owner is finding the help you need. Coming to terms with the fact that you cannot do it all yourself and that you do need help is a big step. Yet that is just the beginning. Finding the help you need once you've admitted that you need help can be tricky. A good mindset to keep is that nothing is permanent. You are not stuck with any decision that you make. This can make the process feel less daunting.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
The top 3 tips I'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today is to start with why and why you want to create the business. Tip two would be to not do it all by yourself; lean on your community for help. The 3rd tip is to be a lifelong student; the moment you think you know, you cease to grow, and that'll lead to stagnation and missed opportunity.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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