15 Jan Lowcountry Strength: The Very Beginning
By: Will Kuenzel
What gym rat hasn’t had the dream of one day owning their own gym? I know I did. Currently, I’m in a very lucky spot. The MMA studio and I share space. We have a wonderful relationship and it works. However, it wasn’t always like this.
After I transitioned out of the corporate world and began my career as a personal trainer, I was forced to train at the same place I worked. Nothing could be worse than to be mid-set and mid-workout to have a potential client come up and ask questions. 45 minutes later and after explaining what it is I do, why what I do works and that no, you won’t get “bulky” lifting weights, I’m left with nothing because they just wanted free advice. Stuck with trying to regain focus to finish the workout, but now I’m out of time and have to get back to clients. My workouts became haphazard and sporadic. I had just started powerlifting and was excited to start but pissed that every workout wasn’t what I wanted.
I made the decision to start procuring my own equipment and start training out of my garage. I ordered a bar and a rack. Lowcountry Strength was born in my garage. As I started buying more plate weight and other odds and ends locally, I got to the point where I could finally leave the commercial gym where I worked, get home and get everything done that I wanted. I trained like this for over a year. By myself, secluded and happily getting it done. Slowly, a couple folks here and there would want to train with me at the house. As time passed we had about 5 to 6 guys that would show up on a regular basis. It was getting to be a bit much as while they were great training partners, I wouldn’t always want them sweaty and dirty running to my bathroom. We were also running out of room. I was going to need more equipment and more space.
Being a multiply lifter, it was imperative that at some point I get a monolift. Well, while we had a couple guys that would train with us on the regular, there were only three of us that were reliable and consistent. This was a couple years before we started seeing spotting straps or chains. My end goal was to eventually move out of the commercial gym permanently and do all my personal training either in a studio or my own gym. This brought on the decision to buy a monorack. Safety and versatility were my biggest concerns. The monorack has a chin up option and I bought the dip handles to go with it. Being that the monorack stood over 9feet high and my garage was only 8feet I was left looking for some commercial space when my wife was not okay with the idea of me cutting a hole in our bedroom floor so that I could have my big rack. The bed would have hidden it but she still said no. Go figure, right?
Through clients and friends, I found a 20x25foot warehouse that had a bathroom. I don’t remember the exact cost but with each of us pitching in $40 a month, we could afford it. I found more plate weight and we built platforms. Lowcountry Strength was growing. All the while, I’m still doing my personal training out of a commercial gym. My little warehouse space was not quite yet somewhere that I felt comfortable taking clients. Eventually, I found a couple clients that would meet me there a couple times a week. This started to cut down on my driving and left more time for training, both myself and clients.
After a year in the warehouse space, as my lease was coming up, an acquaintance who owned a small MMA studio approached me about joining forces. Through friends we knew about each other but had never spent a lot of time together. We sat down and over the course of a couple different lunch meetings hashed out some details. He was moving into 16,000 square foot facility. I would have a place for my equipment and more. It was an amazing opportunity for us both. I moved out of the commercial gym, and was fortunate enough that almost all of my clients went with me.
What started as one power rack in my garage has now transformed into a full fledge gym with 2 monolifts, 3 power racks, 2 benches, and all the bars, plates and specialty stuff you’d need to do anything! All of which, I own. Not leasing it. Not renting it. Own it. It gives a bit more satisfaction when walking into a place to call it yours. After fighting for years with gym managers about appropriate equipment, or dangerous areas, I now have control. The equipment I have is what I’ve selected. It’s safe and some of the best on the market. This wasn’t something that I just jumped into. It has been a slow but steady progression. From the beginnings in my garage to an area where I am now has been almost 10 years. For the first 7 years I spent splitting my time between my home/warehouse gym and a commercial gym. I built my clientele from the ground up and my gym the same way. Finally, just a little over 3 years ago, I left the normal commercial gym for the MMA/LCS gym that I’m in full time now. It never would have happened if I wasn’t patient. It never would have happened if I didn’t have a wonderful client base and a huge support system around me.
With all the variety of equipment I’ve collected, Lowcountry Strength has powerlifters (raw and equipped), strongman, Highland games, MMA, football, baseball, golf, etc., all who come and train with us. It’s as basic as it gets, but the basics have always worked and will always work. Both with the necessary equipment and the 10/20/Life philosophy, we’ve been able to produce some amazing results with clients and athletes.