It would be an understatement to say Danielle Gray loves gymnastics. From childhood, the sport has been ingrained in her. Gray grew in Manhattan Beach as a biracial child raised by a single mother. She competed in the sport both competitively and non-competitively, from age four years old. When it came time for her to hang up her leotard, Gray was left wondering where she would go. She graduated from the University of Southern California hoping to find inspiration in the entertainment public relations industry, but she found herself missing the sport that she loved.
The Beginning Of “Train Like A Gymnast”
Gray returned to the gymnastics world, opening up her company, “Train Like A Gymnast.” Here she provided a space to help adults get into the best shape of their lives, both physically and mentally, by trying or returning to gymnastics-based conditioning. “The concept for TLAG first started in 2016 when I was working my full-time desk job in online marketing, part-time gymnastics coaching, and personal training,” she said. “I noticed that I kept forgetting to pick up my checks at the gymnastics gym because I forgot I got paid to coach and realized that it was probably my passion that I should follow.” Shortly after, she turned down a promotion and dove headfirst into the fitness world without a strategy but with passion.
TAG began as a three-month program with an e-book manual. It has evolved into an online and in-person membership program, workshops, destination retreats, and their newest development, an app! Gray is on a mission to keep people, particularly women, active for their entire lives and show them that they can stay in shape by using their own incredible minds and bodies.
How “Train Like A Gymnast” Disrupts The Fitness Industry
Gray’s company is already disrupting the fitness industry as one of the first to introduce gymnastics-based conditioning to the general public. She made sure that TLAG was breaking the stereotype that gymnastics is only for kids. “We are crushing the stigma that gymnastics training has to be abusive or extreme, she explained. “We are helping so many adults who did gymnastics when they were younger or those who always wanted to do gymnastics become open to the idea of starting or returning to gymnastics to get stronger and more flexible.”
Additionally, Gray is also taking a holistic, multidimensional approach by including not just physical fitness and nutritional guidelines but also mental training and life skills to help people succeed in as many areas of their life as possible: physical fitness, cognitive fitness, emotional fitness, financial fitness, and more to come.
Gray has implemented changes she hopes will become the norm, disrupting the industry. “I would love to see the continuation of emphasis on performance and ability instead of unrealistic, unattainable physiques,” she said. “I always tell clients (who are primarily former athletes) when they were doing their sport when they were younger, they weren’t in it to have a six-pack or defined arms. They did the sport because they enjoyed it, they wanted to be better, they wanted to advance and do more.” Gray feels like the passion of the sport got lost when body image came into the play. She believes that when you focus on the performance and what your body can do, those aesthetics are just positive side effects.
Gray wants the fitness industry to show how people are training and having those tough conversations about consistency. Being a “forever athlete” gives a level of mental toughness. Gray hits hard on this point by sharing her visions on podcasts and interviews, training with her clients and community, and leading by example.
How Gray Helps Aspiring Fitness Entrepreneurs
Gray hopes to help aspiring fitness entrepreneurs disrupt the industry as well. “As an entrepreneur, we naturally have tons of ideas but sometimes lack the resources or organization to execute them all successfully,” she said. “And although it may be tough to slow down to speed up, it’s important to establish one organically successful staple product or service that you offer in the fitness industry that sets you apart.” Gray believes that creating one successful product or service is the key to success and then diversifies. Once you have an offering solidified that your clients and customers associate with you, you can add in additional offers to avoid confusing your audience or creating a thought paralyzation with too many choices.
As an entrepreneur, it’s also necessary to make sure that you solve a problem with a big enough marketplace. Gray has found that when you conduct 15 to 30 minute recorded informational market research calls (to create systems and data for future staff) with your ideal clients, you can ask questions about what they need and struggle with. You make a product or service based on those needs, and you’re bound to succeed by hearing it straight from the source.
She also understands that while you likely want to help everyone, sometimes this mentality leads you to help no one. Once you solidify an ideal client, find a community of similar people who love what you have to offer, nurture them, ask them for written and video testimonials (as these are more credible). Essentially, the more you can have them rave about you, the better. Gray believes that by focusing on these people, other people will self filter and decide if you can help them or not.
“It’s important not just to talk the talk, but walk the walk,” she said. One of Gray’s mottos, she likes to be a person of their word. “Clients and customers need to know about you, like you for who you are, and trust that you are genuine. Do not lie, do not cheat, do not take advantage of your clients.” When you know your product or service works, show up authentically so people can look up to support you.
Gray understands that what works for her clients might not work for everyone. While she was putting together her business, she’d try not to compare herself to others who were further along within their process. “Just because you see someone else successfully doing something a certain way does not necessarily mean if you copy their method that you will have the same results,” she explained. “You do not have the same resources, knowledge, structure, or support that anyone else does. Be unique. “
“Train Like A Gymnast” In The Future
Within the next five to ten years, Gray has big plans for TLAG. She believes their app will continue to grow and change lives, leading to their retreats selling out. She hopes to bring on and train staff in leading workshops around the country and possibly the world. “I want to inspire a movement with Train Like A Gymnast across the globe,” she said. “I envision meetups with thousands of people, primarily female, in a convention center or stadium-type venue across the world either led by me or staff members where we show people how they can do incredible things with their minds and bodies.” Gray vision is to show people working out doesn’t have to be conventional. You can use just your body to become strong and even have fun along the way.
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