17 Sep Lowcountry Strength’s Beginnings
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. I found most of my plate weight locally. Shipping was the killer with most of that heavy stuff. When my rack finally did arrive, I noticed that it came from Columbia, South Carolina. I’m in Charleston and only about 2 hours away. I made a mental note to find out where it was coming from and hopefully be able to save on shipping costs later if I could order straight from the manufacturer.
Lowcountry Strength was born in my garage. Finally I could 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.
I started looking for cheap warehouse space and I found out that the manufacturer of my equipment was Williams Strength in Columbia, SC. I called them up. Being a multiply lifter, I needed a monolift. Walking out my squats in full multiply gear was not fun. The salesman that I talked to was also named Will. Will and I talked specs, money, what I wanted versus what I needed and could afford. My wife was giving me the green light to use some money to get things rolling. As luck would have it, they were selling their monorack prototype to build a bigger a one. It’s a freaking monolift inside of a power rack. It’s a full size mono built inside an oversized power rack! It’s a thing a beauty! The ceiling of my garage was 8feet and it’s almost 9feet tall. So since my wife wasn’t crazy about the idea of my cutting a hole in the garage ceiling into the master bedroom floor I had to find somewhere else to go.
Through clients and friends, I found a 20x25feet 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 know have control. The equipment I have is what I’ve selected. Most of it from Williams Strength. If I need anything new, they’re the folks I’m going to. They’ve always come through and the equipment is outstanding. You can’t convince me to go anywhere else for the things I’ll put in my gym.
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 and athletes.