Looking for Guidance
In 2019, we decided to find a business mentor. The growth in the gym was stalled, and a lot of the people who were interested in getting fit were turned off by the CrossFit name on the door. They had either been hurt at another box, or they had watched the games on ESPN and were terrified that we were going to make them do those insane movements!
After a lot of back and forth deliberation, and an initial consultation, we made the leap.
They claimed that we would see growth in our business in 6 weeks!
We did this through 6-week challenges. Each client would commit to weekly workouts, nutrition tracking and check-ins and at the end of the 6 weeks, they would have lost 5% of their body fat.
We only offered 4 challenges.
We finished our last challenge in March 2020 right before we were ordered to shut our doors and stop operating the business. Being forced to close the gym felt like we were abandoning our members and I couldn’t do that.
We loaned out dumbbells, kettlebells, med balls and jump ropes to members who wanted to continue their fitness from home. I uploaded daily workouts to YouTube (which you can still find on our channel – Penance Gym). All of these workouts were easy enough to do from a distance with the borrowed equipment.
We were shut down for the longest six weeks of my life.
I was desperate not to lose my dream. But it gave me the time I needed to really look at what we were doing and the future I really wanted for Penance.
The restrictions we had to follow when we reopened on May 1st helped us drop the challenge-style model almost immediately. We met a lot of awesome people that way, and gained some amazing members.
That volume-based program works for some gyms and some adults, but it wasn’t right for us.
One of the blessings for us (and something that I believe helped save Penance during our shut down) is the fact that we prioritize personal relationships with our members. We take an interest in their lives, not just their workouts. And the challenge-style on-ramp we’d used put too high a priority on the outcome over the individual. That’s not who we are.
But we still needed to do something.
Enter Active Life
I’d been following Dr. Sean Pastuch and Active Life Professional on Instagram for a while and was incredibly drawn to his message. They focus on two main things – providing coaches with the opportunity to learn what they need to create professional careers, and addressing (and fixing!) the underlying cause of pain for their clients.
As someone who’s solution-based by nature, this filled the gap I felt we needed to provide a better quality of life to our members. Too many were living in pain unnecessarily!
Since we signed up with them, we’ve been absolutely blown away. The constant education, support, and encouragement have been exactly what we needed. Their focus on the individual health and wellness of our entire clientele has helped us make some decisions that would have previously been very difficult for us.
I knew in order to really effect necessary change, we were going to have to shed a lot of the old ways that we did things. While we officially stayed affiliated with CrossFit, the name came off the door. (Literally.) And we’ve officially changed our name to Penance Gym. We still offer multi-modal group fitness classes (like CrossFit) as a fitness option, but we focus on making functional fitness translate into real world activities.
The other major change is our new Intro program . We no longer “test” people into classes or worse – throw them right in! Everyone starts with a consultation and personal training. We create the opportunity to discover your goals, what you’ve tried in the past, what’s been holding you back, and if you have any injuries or limitations that require attention before allowing you into group classes.
Group classes are no longer our only fitness option. We train clients privately through personal training, and we also provide Remote Coaching to clients whose schedules don’t allow them to get into the gym during our open hours. We’ve even expanded our Penance Athletics program to include Middle School students. That way we can help lay the foundation for proper training early. We want to help as many people as possible – both young and young-at-heart – to enjoy physical activity and remain as pain and injury free as possible!
It feels AMAZING to be able to help people that I care about live a better life than they even thought was possible.
What I love the most about what we’re doing is that I feel like I’ve fully returned to my roots. I know who we are, who we are not, what we offer, and what we’re here to do. I love that I am not only living my dream, but I am providing REAL solutions to my current and future members, while laying a foundation of success for my staff.
I know that as we continue to learn and progress ourselves, we will continue to make the changes that keep us true to our mission. And working with a company who puts PEOPLE FIRST has shown me that we can continue to provide solutions well into the future.
Along the Way
We had 2 other key pieces come into play over the time frame that is covered in this part of Penance History.
First, the huge bright spot that came for us out of the 2020 Lockdown – Our full-time Coach, Wyde Edwards III! Wyde was actually scheduled to perform his U of M internship at a school in the Fall of 2020. But due to the pandemic, it became necessary for him to search elsewhere and we were lucky enough to catch his eye!
This guy is a natural born Coach, and I am beyond excited to see what the future holds for him!
Secondly, my passion for training developing team-sports athletes was re-sparked when 1 of my former athletes asked me to help prepare him for College Football. This has led to the development of Penance Athletics – an individualized approach to the physical preparation and athletic development of young athletes!
This brought me back to being able to focus on where I started, the development of young athletes – helping them to build a strong and stable foundation to build their athletic future and even their long-term journey with their health and wellness!