“Blood, sweat, tears, and all sorts of gross stuff”

Joel McCauley is the owner and founder of Freedom Fit Gym, a fitness and training gym in Ashland, Virginia (outside of Richmond). They serve working professionals, athletes, and anyone looking to make a change in their fitness and health. Joel opened Freedom Fit Gym in 2015 in an old warehouse, and has grown it through two expansions, more services, more staff, and many happy clients.

Don’t panic. It’s super easy to feel like the universe is taking your dream away from you. If you panic too much, you make impulsive decisions, and those could be bad decisions.

Joel McCauleyFounder & Owner of Freedom Fit Gym

Transcription

Joe Quattrone (00:00):

We’d like to reward our building while flying listeners with a discount to Stork an annual membership where we deliver content and resources on new topics directly to your inbox weekly from social media marketing tactics to broader business, best practices. We have two plus years of content available. You will also get access to the Sasha group through our private Facebook community. Usually $300 per year. We’re offering a 20% discount for BWF listeners. Reach out to stork@thesashagroup.com to sign up.

Katie Hankinson (00:33):

Welcome to building while flying at Sasha group podcast, where we interview business leaders about how they tackle challenges, stay resilient and navigate ever-changing skies.

Joe Quattrone (00:44):

Thanks everyone for joining the building while flying podcast. I’m your host for today, Joe Quattrone the head of the education division at the Sasha group. And I’m here today with Joel McCauley. Joel, you are the owner and proprietor of freedom fit gym in Ashland, Virginia. Can you say hello to the audience for real quick?

Joel McCauley (01:07):

Hello. All <laugh> nice to be here.

Joe Quattrone (01:10):

Yeah. And, um, Joel, just so you know, like on the building while flying podcast, we really like to dive into stories of entrepreneurs, uh, that have had lots of, uh, obstacles to overcome, uh, big, broad journeys and, uh, and really figure out what’s made them the entrepreneur that they are today and how ch uh, change and how change is thrown at them has really, um, impacted them as humans and as, uh, business leaders. So can you give the audience a sense of, of what you do for a living and how you really got there? Tell us about the journey that got you to opening up this gym and, and where it’s come to date.

Joel McCauley (01:49):

All right. Uh, the, the short of it is I was that, uh, short, skinny kid that, uh, if you couldn’t get taller,

Joe Quattrone (01:58):

You might as well. I was the opposite. I was the short fat kid. <laugh>

Joel McCauley (02:01):

All right. So you can kind of get the motivator here. Uh, I was that, you know, I was always athletic, but it doesn’t matter when there’s a behemoth next to you who you could, should just own everything you do in sports. So, uh, I was that short skinny kid and I had a, uh, influential camp counselor and he was a bodybuilder and just the coolest cat around. Mm. And, um, that’s where some of my self-esteem started to improve when I decided I’m gonna go do that workout thing that, that guy’s doing. And, um, I was in a little rec center, uh, not too far from where I grew up. And, uh, it was filled with a bunch of people who just wanted to be there and they wanted to help each other. And it was a really cool vibe and they embraced me and kind of took me under their wing. It was a bunch of bunch of just everyday old heads. And, um, I really wanted that. And, uh, so I kind of went the gym rat route and, uh, everybody was so supportive until finally I said, that was 14. I was like, I’m gonna have a gym.

Joe Quattrone (03:07):

When you were 14 years old, you had that vision that you were gonna have a gym <laugh>

Joel McCauley (03:10):

Oh man. 14 years old. I was, I was dead set. We’re gonna have a gym. I didn’t know what it would look like. I didn’t know who I would appeal to. I didn’t know any of that, but the one constant was I wanna own gym

Joe Quattrone (03:24):

Now. And at that time, you’re you had entrepreneurs in the family, right?

Joel McCauley (03:29):

Oh, lots of them. They’re all over the place.

Joe Quattrone (03:31):

Tell us about, uh, what kinds of entrepreneurs you had in your family and how that impacted that decision making.

Joel McCauley (03:37):

So my, uh, my grandfather and my great grandparents, they, uh, classic immigrant story, uh, they actually, uh, survived. The Holocaust, came to, uh, came to America and did the American dream thing. They had an auto parts business and it really took off and they do really well. And then, uh, between the cultural way that they started their family and put their value system in their family. And, uh, you know, my dad marrying into the family, it just seems that everybody that found their way into this group were entrepreneurial and spirit. So you gotta,

Joe Quattrone (04:18):

You gotta earn your keep <laugh>. Huh? You gotta earn your keep right now.

Joel McCauley (04:21):

Oh, that’s yeah. You gotta have some skin in the game. So it was, you know, it was an auto parts business and an airport and an RV, uh, rental business and, uh, contracting and mechanics and body work and airbrushing, and it’s just such a wide range of, of business types. So that was a major influence growing up.

Joe Quattrone (04:44):

That’s incredible. So you’re 14, you decide you wanna own and open a gym. Uh, but then you have to go through, I assume, high school and college, and, um, obviously get trained on how to train people. So tell us, walk us through kind of the pro the next eight to 15 years and how you got to the next evolution of this gym.

Joel McCauley (05:05):

Perfect. So I was always hurt in sport and, uh, I played baseball growing up. I always had arm issues lower back. What

Joe Quattrone (05:15):

Position were you a pitcher?

Joel McCauley (05:18):

I played outfield and then moved into the infield at second base. And then in high school, when joining the varsity team, that was not very competitive. I was one of the more experienced ones. So they put me anywhere that was important, cuz they could trust that I’d get the job done. So I pitched a little bit, I played shortstop third base. It was, I was all over the place. Gotcha. And um, you know, sports performance would dictate, Hey, you need to prepare a person for the demand of that sport. Well, that, wasn’t a thing. Uh, when I was in high school and my high school definitely didn’t have any, that was not a resource for them, so right. I just of bro it out and did my gym rat thing, but that’s not the same as sports conditioning. So I was just always hurt. And uh, I went to, I was referred to a sports medicine doctor and when I went, they had all these team pictures in all of the clinical offices of the, uh, the swim team, the Olympic swim team and tennis plays or so on and so forth. And I was like, man, it would be super cool to be the team doctor for the Olympics. And that pushed me to say, you know, maybe this gym rat thing, isn’t gonna be completely, uh, the right direction. I want to go to med school. So I went to, uh, I went to Virginia tech was enrolled in the, uh, human nutrition foods and exercise program, which was a nice shoe into pre-med med school, et cetera. Right. And, um, did really awfully <laugh>.

Joe Quattrone (06:51):

Wow. Okay.

Joel McCauley (06:51):

I did terribly my first year. And so, um, that, that dream kind of fizzled out a little bit and uh, it still appealed. I still wanted to be in that sector. Right. I wanna work with badly. I wanna, you know, be in that fitness sphere, I wanna be in that health sphere, what rendition that looked like. I wasn’t sure. But um, I ended up getting a English degree. Uh, okay. And from there, uh, was I got my personal training certification, one of many that was available at the time. Um, and then from there graduated with no plan and uh, went into personal training and then the ball started rolling, started my own thing. Uh, got some different certification and then he started my business in 2015 and then just showed up to work and swung the bat every day and tried to earn my job.

Joe Quattrone (07:48):

And I, I read somewhere in a bio about their, the opening of the gym was a little bit of a magical coming together of a couple forces. You had a couple different uncles that were influential in the opening of your gym. Uh, tell us about the uncles.

Joel McCauley (08:02):

So <laugh> so, uh, my, my RV uncle, right? My RV uncle, I spent every summer with him from the time I was 13, 14, 15, all the way, all the way through college, uh, weekends, I would just do odd jobs for him. He’s he’s a hustler you were getting to everything you could think of. If it wasn’t RVs, it was selling cars. If it wasn’t that it was picking up scrap metal for salvage parts. Uh, I mean I could just go on and on about all the stories, if there was nothing to do, you know that adage, uh, if, if there’s nothing to do sweep, right. So I

Joe Quattrone (08:38):

Would, I feel like your uncle needs a TikTok account, man. Like this,

Joel McCauley (08:41):

He is show people. I tell you what, uh, I don’t know if TikTok and handling, but <laugh>, it’s, uh, it’s that school of hard not type of, uh, business where you just show up every day and, and you just put your nose down and hustle, hustle, hustle. So, um, that was very influential. And then, uh, I started personal training and I was moonlighting working with him part-time and he, uh, he was in a handshake lease, uh, in a old warehouse where he started his business and he was gonna get out of it. It was an overflow junk lot for him. Uh, he had built another property down the street. He wanted to get out, why spend the money on it? He didn’t need it anymore. And you know, when you have that visionary entrepreneur spirit, you look at a piece of coal and you’re like, how do we, how do we turn this thing into a diamond mm-hmm <affirmative>? And so my eyes got all big. And uh, I said, you know, you’ve always, you’ve known forever that I’ve wanted to have a gym. And I think this was the place to start. So don’t get outta

Joe Quattrone (09:39):

That. Well, and, and I think around the time there was a lot of different, um, forms of fitness that were coming about that were just starting to use warehouses as well. Uh, what were some of the, the fitness, um, you know, kind of regimens out there that were inspiring you to, to go warehouse with your first property?

Joel McCauley (09:58):

So, you know, uh, being a boutique training facility that has that warehouse look could not have occurred prior to CrossFit, CrossFit, glamorized, that type of fitness. And so despite some of my disagreements with the program design of CrossFit, it is just without them, I couldn’t have a business like I’ve got right now and

Joe Quattrone (10:22):

They right. Cause they’ve made it cool for people to show up to a warehouse and, you know, throw tires around and stuff like that.

Joel McCauley (10:28):

Yep. And no AC it’s hot, it’s sweaty, but it also made, uh, barbell training and strength training for women, more appealing. Somehow CrossFit was able to tap into that market in a different way. And that is huge because strength training is a major paradigm in our training business. And the largest consumer of fitness is female is the female population. So without CrossFit businesses, like mine could not thrive. And so I have to thank that section of the industry for allowing places like mine to even exist.

Joe Quattrone (11:06):

Right. Okay. So now that’s, that’s 2015, you’ve opened up and now you’re coming up to 2022 right now. So you’ve been in business for a little over six years. Um, tell us about, you know, how has it been going? Has it been, uh, a viable success in that market? Um, what are some of the, the things that you’re, you’re keeping you up at night? Um, let’s just tell about a quick status check on how things are

Joel McCauley (11:32):

<laugh>, uh, lucky. Okay. So lucky for me, I’ve always been able to sleep well. Uh, no matter what’s going on. So nothing’s kept me up at night per se, but I will say that, uh, it’s been not a easy seven, almost seven years. I mean, it’s been no, no one goes into business and it’s easy. Right, right. Uh, but you know, people who, you know, they go into business, they have only themselves to be responsible for and their expectations and their intrinsic motivators and so on, you know, they can make whatever decisions they want, whatever risks they want. Uh, you know, it all falls on them. But over the course of these last, almost seven years, uh, I’ve also, you know, met the woman of my dreams and had three kids and expanded the business twice. And it’s been just an absolute whirlwind going from the guy with one foot in one foot out, you know, low risk proposition.

Joel McCauley (12:27):

He’s young, you know, give this thing a year or two, if it doesn’t work out, he can always pick up the pieces and move on in his mid twenties. And he’s fine. But, you know, uh, I was able to skip that part <laugh> and put all the risk associated with, you know, trying to make something from nothing while also having people depending on you, uh, for your day to day, not just financially, but also your availability and yeah. And such a non-traditional type of business with, uh, it’s not a nine to five, it’s, you know, the six to tens and the four to eights and it’s the six, seven days a week. Uh, it’s been, it’s been an experience to say the least.

Joe Quattrone (13:08):

Right. And so you said you expanded your business out twice. What did that look like? What did that entail? Uh, is it, was it franchising or did you just build out the actual square footage, add more stuff, add more programming what’d you do to expand?

Joel McCauley (13:21):

So, uh, my first facility was really, it was just this gross warehouse. Uh, there was large enough for you to be able to do, uh, mechanic work on large RVs. So it might have been 900 square feet, maybe 600 square feet, usable space, sweaty, gross blown insulation. It was a metal warehouse. So within a field. So if it was hot outside, there would be standing water on the floor from the humidity. Uh, it didn’t have sewage. So I had a RV as a bathroom, an office, uh, which as you can imagine, you know, those sewer tanks get full on those things and you have to go clean it out. So, uh, I definitely put blood, sweat, tears, and all sorts of gross stuff into getting it off the ground. And after about a year, uh, it, or after about six to nine months, it was going nowhere fast.

Joel McCauley (14:16):

And, uh, my wife was my then partner, uh, was soon to graduate, start life, get the salary job, start life fast, you know, family house, et cetera. And I was going nowhere fast. So I said, okay, well, let’s go interview for some stuff. And, uh, we’ll do this in the evenings. Well, nothing happened nobody bit. I didn’t get a job anywhere. And, uh, but somehow the universe threw a bunch of clients at me. And, uh, the three months leading into the end of our first year, uh, we had something going, you know, I was doing 8, 9, 10 sessions a day, five, six days a week. Things were moving along. And, uh, I said, all right, well, there’s no way to scale and grow in this place. It’s pretty gross. Uh, women aren’t gonna want to come to this place and not have a bathroom. So, uh, saw a new construction down the street, talked to the leasing agent.

Joel McCauley (15:14):

They asked me for two years of financials and I told them, you’re not gonna get that. Uh, so why don’t I talk to the landlord and see if we can do a, you know, good faith handshake deal. And luckily, uh, he’s just an awesome guy, blue collar. I mean, when I got there, he was on the, uh, he was still on the tractor digging holes in his own property when he had other people doing it for him. So he’s just, just salt to the earth guy. And, uh, he believed in what I said I could do and let me in. And so I moved after that first year, uh, couldn’t afford double rent. So 30 days of training clients and moving and build outs and, uh, flooring and all, everything you could think of. I was sleeping three, four hours a night, right. So anyways, crazy off a month lost like 10 pounds.

Joel McCauley (16:01):

Didn’t skip a beat. Didn’t miss any sessions built a new place, started it up. The second I left the keys to the first place, had the keys to the second place, kept on going. And, uh, after that, you know, we were doing the one on one thing, pretty consistently training couples. And then, uh, it got a little bit bigger than me ended up hiring somebody in 2018. And that’s when things really started to be more of just a guy in a warehouse. And now, okay, we’re looking like this is not self-employment. This is a business. Right. And, uh, and that’s where it started to really pick up. People started getting interesting. We started to refine the business model, uh, to make it more niche. And from there, uh, we just continue to get known in the community and roll a little bit more. And, um, I could go on leading into the second expansion, but you look like you’re ready to

Joe Quattrone (16:58):

No, I’m wrestling with like how you go from, like, it seems like you had a two year runway to run straight into a buzz all with COVID <laugh>. So how big did you get this business before COVID hit? And then what was the impact that when COVID came?

Joel McCauley (17:13):

Oh man. So we’re, you know, we’re not the biggest business. We’re not, you know, it’s, it’s starting to become something, right. Uh, there’s a foothold there it’s consistent. We’ve got the data to say that we’re not going anywhere. Uh, but you know, that first expansion was just to make it nicer and more appealing. And then mm-hmm, <affirmative> for the three years leading into the decision to expand a second time, we hadn’t hit the ceiling. I didn’t have enough staff. We were not filled to the brim, which is the most, that’s what you should be doing. You should be filled before you decide to expand. But I read at the time it was 2019. It was a bunch of hoopla about what was gonna happen with the election, what was gonna be a recession or not. Right. And a lot of fitness business people that I keep I follow were talking about can your business, can your fitness business, survive a recession.

Joel McCauley (18:09):

And I was convinced that it could not, you know, we’re a middle price point middle of the road, seemingly luxury item. Uh, and we were not various price points, various different types of services that if stuff hit the fan people, weren’t gonna just say, Hey, we’re gonna head out. Maybe we’ll be back in a year or two. So the whole plan to expand the third time was more, more of a survival attempt, right? We were, we were really capitalizing on only one service and I knew I needed at least one or two other services of various price points to be able to be stickier, so to speak. And, uh, so that was the major motivator to expand. The third time was this needs to become a well oiled machine. We need to have better systems in place, different price points, different age groups, uh, different services with different types of consumers. So that if stuff hits the fan, all of our eggs, aren’t in one basket,

Joe Quattrone (19:06):

Right. You’re diversified and you can handle stuff. So, so what actually did, did you do what happened when COVID hit? I know gyms were impacted like very hard. Like how did you guys survive that,

Joel McCauley (19:18):

Uh, don’t panic. That’s the first one. Uh, it’s super easy to feel like the universe is taking your dream away from you. Uh, and that’s, you know, I experienced those feelings, but if you panic too much, you make impulse or decisions and they could be the bad decisions. So mm-hmm, <affirmative> um, we were able to recoup just, or regroup rather, you know, shut everything down, sit down and talk about it. And, uh, we were able to take a look at the language of all the ordinances, what we could do, what we couldn’t do. And we got creative, you know, we didn’t just count out of this. We wanted to stay as safe as possible. We also didn’t want to, uh, be negligent with complete closures. And so we were able to not do indoor fitness that was not allowed, that was unsafe, but outdoor fitness was acceptable.

Joel McCauley (20:17):

We had the ability to, you know, it’s sometimes not what, you know, it’s who, you know, I had the resources to be able to get, uh, some equipment outside. Uh, we pretty much packed all of our most used equipment into an enclosed trailer that we locked behind the building. Uh, and every day we’d wow. Undo that trailer and we’d set up a whole gym outside. Oh my gosh. And it was all in the sun, you know, if it rained, it rained and we couldn’t go train, but if it was out, if it was sunny, right. And people wanted to come out and they felt safe, we had, you know, it was under the UV light. It was, we had disinfect. I used more disinfectant in those first six months. I have never used so much disinfectant. It’s unbelievable. So we were disinfecting everything, interest session, post session.

Joel McCauley (21:03):

We, we, we, instead of having sessions back to back, we, uh, we kept race periods in between sessions so we could clean everything up. Uh, but that’s what we were able to do. One of my, and then my other coach at the time super was successful, really clever guy. Uh, he was influe. He was really just, he was so great. He was able to piece together a, uh, remote athletic program for high schoolers. And they, they didn’t have any fitness. They didn’t have any performance. Everybody was still not knowing what was happening, but athletes, they have a short career. They have a short window of time to get that scholarship so they couldn’t get outta shape. So, uh, he put together a remote program and that helped us out a lot. And, you know, seeing the writing on the wall, applying for the, uh, the E IDL funds, not wasting any time on that, all of these things were really impactful and helped us really, you know, talk to the landlord, get, uh, let’s make a deal about this rent because business just tanked mm-hmm <affirmative> um, all of those things were useful discussions. And, you know,

Joe Quattrone (22:16):

So you got to defer some payments. You got to still keep some customers coming in and you I’m, I’m assuming you were able to suspend some of your, uh, accounts in terms of like, instead of people ditching, you you’d say, Hey, don’t pay me. You can pay me when you pick up your activity or whatever.

Joel McCauley (22:33):

So unlike, uh, the recurring membership model at open gyms, we, we technically go month to month. So right. And because we see people buy appointments, uh, we were able to work with people when it came to, if they didn’t feel safe coming in, you know, you can’t pay for what you don’t get. Uh, but we weren’t indebted to people for a recurring membership that they, you know, had a contract where our end of the deal, we had to pay the money or owe the money that got really nasty in the fitness industry. Uh, some places did better by their clients and their members than others. Uh, they were, they did the right thing, other places who’s to say, what was the right thing when stuff hits the fan, but you wanna treat your clients and members. Right. And so we, uh, we’re very forgiving. We’ve got a great month to month policy people stay with us for the long term because of it. So it was a really good, we were able to have conversations about what is this thing gonna look like, and can we keep accountable to each other? And what’s fair. And, um, people, you know, some people left and they didn’t come back and that’s okay. Some people stayed, uh, but we really came together. We banded together, kept ourselves sane, cuz it was easy to get locked up in the house and uh, lose your mind a little bit.

Joe Quattrone (23:58):

Now it seems like as we’re kind of tailing towards the end of the show here, um, it seems like you’ve got some pretty exciting opportunities brewing. You’re working with my Alma mater VCU. You’ve got, it looks like an internship program going on for the exercise science program there. Yeah. Tell us a little bit about that and what, what do you think that’s gonna do for your business in the, the next, uh, chapter that you write?

Joel McCauley (24:20):

It’s a great question. Uh, the internship started as a way to continue to build legitimacy for our business. Uh, you know, freedom fit is in an industry that is admired by controversy and uh, you know, whispers of unprofessionalism and so on. And we want to show up every day to show the world that fitness is a profession. It’s a honorable profession, it’s a clean profession and it is a useful one that is ideally a liaison amongst, uh, what would be considered, you know, all of these medical practitioners, physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons, uh, et cetera. So to do that, being affiliated with a local university and their exercise science program was a huge first step to build more of that legitimacy and to create trust in the community. Uh, and over time, you know, I developed a curriculum in the internship and it became a little bit of a passion project because a lot of fitness had a lack of oversight and we can effectively work in conjunction with the university to provide a great mentorship opportunity to professionals who will grow into physical therapy or sports medicine or athletic training, or they’ll stay in coaching.

Joel McCauley (25:37):

And that is the only way to raise the bar in this industry is to continue to push that envelope of what you demand out of their professionals, the education level, the material level, the professionalism level. So bringing these interns in is good for me is good for them. I learn to manage people because I don’t have any formal management experience. It’s only been the small business, you know, yell out the door at the person to get things done, kind of thing. And you know, management in itself is a skill. So having these interns here has been good for me professionally. It’s been good for them to get mentorship in such a way that they might not get in fitness. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, uh, to take their formal 2d, so to speak, uh, information that they get out of all their textbooks and make it 3d in action.

Joel McCauley (26:25):

Right? And so, uh, that has become and morphed into a change in my expectations. Uh, I recently brought on of my interns for the first time ever to be coaches at our facility. And that was a huge shift for me to relinquish some of that control, uh, and allow, uh, this to occur. And it’s been a lifesaver. So moving forward, I want to continue to push this internship program to be a destination internship program with other exercise science, uh, programs at other schools. We had, you know, we had a guy at, uh, Lynchburg come in. So the point is that if we continue to attract talent and we continue to grow people into better professionals in this field, it will also then come back our way when we need to hire new staff, stay the staff rotation, bring on new staff from our internship program. We can keep it in house instead of me having to go out and interview random people that I have no rapport with.

Joe Quattrone (27:28):

Gotcha. Awesome. Well, I think that’s about it for today, but if people are interested in following your story beyond this podcast, how can they get ahold of you? What’s your website and what’s your preferred social media handles.

Joel McCauley (27:42):

Thanks for asking, uh, freedomfitgym.com is our website. It’s just showed a little information about our programs. And as far as following us goes, we’re on Facebook and Instagram. There are, those are our two most used, uh, platforms, Facebook, uh, dot com slash freedom, fit gym VA. And, uh, on Instagram, it’s just freedom fit gym, and you can follow us and see the kind of cool things we’re doing. The badass stuff we’re doing, where people we’ve got people in their fifties, sixties, seventies, doing some really awesome stuff that they never thought they could do. So if that fits you, come look at it.

Joe Quattrone (28:20):

Nice. Thank you for listening in everybody, uh, on the building while flying podcast and joining us on our quest, as we learned more about Joel and freedom fit, Jim, um, until next time I’m Joe Quattrone your host. Thanks. Bye.

Katie Hankinson (28:39):

Thanks for joining us for building while flying today. I hope you learned as much as we did. We’ll meet you right back here next time for another flight.

Mickey Cloud (28:50):

If you’d like to hear more about how business owners and brands are navigating these times tune into the next episode. And if you’re so kind, please rate and review us, plus we’d love feedback. So let us know what you think, what you’d like us to dig into next on building while flying across brands, businesses, marketing, and more

Katie Hankinson (29:05):

Original music by Fulton street music group.

Welcome to Building While Flying!

This weekly podcast is brought to you by Sasha Group. We’re the consultancy meets agency arm of the VaynerX family of companies. We help ambitious companies build strong brands that flex with the times through strategy, branding media and marketing.

In ever-changing times, businesses and brands have to shift and adapt. And across all sectors, there is an air of experimentation. Business owners are trying new things out in the wild;  building the plane while flying.

Our pilots, Katie Hankinson and Mickey Cloud, will be talking to a diverse range of business leaders and founders. They’ll explore how these guests tackle various challenges while staying resilient and committed to growth. Through these real-life examples of strategies put into practice, we hope to inspire you to experiment and develop your own strategies as we all navigate these uncertain times together.

The Journey From Injured Athlete to Gym Owner

Joel McCauley is the owner and founder of Freedom Fit Gym, a fitness and training gym in Ashland, Virginia (outside of Richmond). They serve working professionals, athletes, and anyone looking to make a change in their fitness and health. Joel opened Freedom Fit Gym in 2015 in an old warehouse, and has grown it through two expansions, more services, more staff, and many happy clients. 

Joel joins the Building While Flying podcast this week with Joe Quattrone, SVP at The Sasha Group, to share his journey from frequently injured high school athlete to gym owner and certified strength & conditioning specialist, and all-around entrepreneur and hustler.

In their conversation, Joel and Joe discuss:

  • A family history of entrepreneurship 
  • Knowing when to expand
  • Influence of “warehouse fitness” 
  • Survival tactics during the pandemic
  • Developing an internship program
  • …and more!

New York, NY
Chattanooga, TN
Los Angeles, CA