Today we’d like to introduce you to Danielle Gray.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Danielle. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I began gymnastics when I was four years old and quickly progressed through the class program and began competing on the Junior Olympic team. I trained and competed averaging 20 hours a week until age 15. I took a break from gymnastics and ventured into acting and dancing.
After pursuing that for a few years, I realized how much I missed the sport I grew up with. I revisited the world of gymnastics by earning my judging credentials and coaching for the gym at which I used to train, working for my former coach.
Once I began college at the University of Southern California, I dedicated one to two units per semester to a physical education course to motivate myself to stay active with a busy schedule. I knew it had to be scheduled into my courses, or else I wouldn’t make the time for it. Those classes ranged from yoga to stress management, to self-defense and MMA, to physical conditioning and weight training.
During my junior year, I discovered the world of pole and aerial arts. This developed my upper body strength, which I had never fully developed when I was a competitive gymnast. I trained recreationally for a few years and then decided to compete in 2015 and placed at both regional and national competitions. That earned me the opportunity to become a professional athlete in the sport of pole fitness. Training in all of these athletic backgrounds gave me a well-rounded approach to how I believe physical fitness should be approached and I want to share with a global community.
Since then, I have wanted to reach thousands of women through the sport I love. I have left multiple corporate jobs which have each furthered me towards my ultimate outcome. I felt myself getting more and more sedentary with a desk job even though I loved my coworkers, the company, and my steady income. But I knew I was destined for more. I left to pursue fitness full time because I knew it was my passion. I would forget paychecks in my locker from coaching gymnastics because I wasn’t working for the pay. I was doing it because I enjoyed it.
When I started working for Equinox as a personal trainer, I loved the hustle. I loved being surrounded by successful individuals, networking, learning more than I could have imagined a corporate gym would teach me. I helped a ton of clients, but still, something was missing. I was helping others live their dreams by still being an employee. I wanted to help my clients more throughout their day instead of only seeing them for 1-3 hours per week. So, I felt the internal battle starting and after many months of thought, I decided to leave corporate personal training too to focus on reaching as many people as I could worldwide. In the past year, I have already helped over 100 women improve their lives!
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It definitely has not been a smooth road and I have encountered many struggles. This photo dictates my life:
From the outside, a lot of things seem like the must have been handed to me on a silver platter, but they weren’t. While I can attribute a lot of my success to the support of the people around me, I want to toot my own horn for a second. Everything I am doing in my life right now, I built by myself. My vision is just that, mine. I have an incredible support network that helps make this possible and I wouldn’t be nearly as far along as I am without them. However, I was the decision maker, and the closest people around me want me to succeed and help fuel the fire that keeps me going.
Specific challenges and obstacles I have overcome start in childhood. Yes, I grew up in Manhattan Beach and went to the same elementary school as my mother did. I am an only child and grew up with a single mother. My grandparents bought the house we lived in back in 1961 for $17,000. We weren’t rich like a lot of my classmates’ families, we just ended up in an incredible place. I preoccupied myself a lot since my mom worked two jobs. This is when I learned to dream, build, create, and keep myself busy.
And even though my mom, aunt, uncle, and grandfather all went to USC, I didn’t get into the school easily. (No, I didn’t pay my way in like some people can) I started preparing for college back in 7th grade, CollegeBoard.com was practically my browser homepage. Out of high school, I was rejected. I was accepted to back up schools, but none of them spoke to me quite as USC did. It was in my blood to be the third generation Trojan. I went to Santa Monica College, used their Articulation Agreement, and transferred into USC after one year. But wait! I still didn’t get in right away. I was accepted to the school, but not for my desired major. Since it is a private university, I appealed their decision and was granted my request. I commuted for the next two years and lived on campus my final year, absorbing and learning everything I could.
Starting a business hasn’t been easy either! Does this story ever have a happy ending? Yes, and I’m writing it. I started my concept for Train Like A Gymnast in 2016 while I was still working at my online marketing desk job. The first attempt at making a PDF workout guide was a complete flop. I spent over $1,000 making it and sold maybe $100 worth of downloads. Expensive mistake. I didn’t have strategies or systems in place. I started training at Equinox which left me no time to focus on TLAG. Fast forward a few years, and I’m changing women’s lives, making this dream of mine happen, and growing my business.
Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
Train Like A Gymnast has many facets to it but focuses on one thing: Encouraging women to operate at their full potential to do things they never imagined. By doing this, they improve their lives in all areas all through the fundamentals learned through the sport of gymnastics.
Train Like A Gymnast itself is virtual at home training program that is based on the strength and conditioning I did as a gymnast growing up and competing. The workouts in the app also add a mixture of different types of exercises I picked up over the years from yoga, mixed martial arts, weight training, and more. The community aspect is through social media, Facebook mainly, connecting our team across the globe. While we don’t just focus on the physical aspect of fitness, we have a Registered Dietician on our team who provides consulting as well and an online course with personal development tools for continuing education.
Train Like A Gymnast also recently launched Season 1 of the 10.0 Podcast which delves into deep conversations about behavior, mental state, physical training, personal growth, success, and more from gymnasts and gymnastics enthusiasts. If you’re looking for motivation, education, inspiration, or simply a good athletic story, this is the podcast for you!
I am most proud of our clients’ progress. When I started implementing the new structure of Train Like A Gymnast, I was never expecting women to drop 20+ lbs from doing our program. I am incredibly proud of their work ethics, their participation and dedication to themselves and the program, and for wholeheartedly embracing what it means to train like a gymnast.
I merely wanted to share my love of gymnastics with other women and show them that they can do these things that they see girls do on TV. It’s not just for Olympians. I want to show women that they can do the same strength and conditioning as gymnasts do. And who knows, maybe by learning the foundational basics, it could set them up for the confidence to learn actual gymnastics skills too! That’s the goal. Girls who say, “I could never do that,” “I don’t have the upper body strength,” or “Wow, she’s strong” can be the ones DOING amazing things and FEELING like Superwoman.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
My perseverance is definitely the characteristic of mine to which I attribute most of my success. I don’t see failure as an option. I continue to look for different ways to progress. Nos only get you closer to a yes, if you never ask, the answer is always no, just because they didn’t answer doesn’t mean it’s a no, and since that didn’t work, how can I make it work? I test, adjust, and retry constantly with everything I attempt.
- Website: www.trainlikeagymnast.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/dgtrainlikeagymnast and www.instagram.com/daniellegrayfit
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/trainlikeagymnast and https://www.facebook.com/daniellegrayfit
Photographers: Tyren Mills, Will MacNeil, Erik Umphery, Jay Reilly, Franz Steiner