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Meet Melinda Hughes of The Strength Shoppe in Pasadena and Echo Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melinda Hughes.

Melinda, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
At 24, I moved from Ohio to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career and worked as a bartender and waitress at several restaurants and bars. During long hours on set, I put myself through a holistic nutrition program online. At the time, I had a difficult relationship with food; I had previously battled eating disorders. I wanted to learn about food so I could redefine my relationship to it. I discovered slow-cadence strength training at this time, and the science behind this particular type of weight training fit with what I had learned about the body in my studies. The first time I tried slow strength training, I was hooked. I immediately felt the difference in how deeply this form of exercise works the muscles. I trained 20 minutes every week for two years. My body looked fantastic, and my knee and back pain had disappeared. I was strong, and it felt good! I was happy.

When the recession hit, the restaurant I worked at during that time closed its doors and survival jobs were difficult to find. I reluctantly stopped the workout sessions with my trainer. In the following few months, I gained weight and felt my health decline. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for work, but I did know I had to find a way back to my weekly 20 minute workouts. I worked 6 jobs during that time to afford my living expenses and my slow weight training workout sessions. One day I looked at my trainer and said, “Wow, you have a really great job. Every 30 minutes you get to chat with one of your clients and then guide them through this workout that really helps them.” What a positive and happy and relatively stress-free way to spend life…. I wanted to do that! I loved the idea of giving the gift of this workout to other people. Not to mention the nutrition knowledge I had gleaned from studying on set. I could really help people! And that contribution to my community would make me feel good. I got lucky. My trainer offered to mentor me if I could afford the certification program, and the next day I landed a modeling gig that made that possible.

For the next year, I simultaneously shadowed my mentor and worked my 6 jobs. Shortly after becoming an instructor, my mentor went on maternity leave and left me in her place at her business. I loved it. In 2011, I opened The Strength Shoppe in Pasadena. I put my car up as collateral for a small loan and used credit cards to finance my new business. I risked everything I had. It was worth it. I love the creativity involved in owning my own business. Designing brochures, creating a brand, brainstorming new ways to deliver more to clients. The flexibility in my schedule as a business owner has allowed me to pursue my passion of stand-up comedy. I perform in clubs and write sketches for my YouTube comedy channel. I even produced a short film in 2015!

I love people. The relationships I have through my business are very valuable to me. I love learning about new people when they first come to see me and watching people grow as they learn about themselves and teach me about myself. I think the exchange at The Strength Shoppe goes far beyond a workout. Over the years, I have hired four trainers to work with me. I love working with my trainers. I could not have asked for a better team. They are compassionate and kind and always give their everything to making The Strength Shoppe a nice place to be. This year, I have decided to expand The Strength Shoppe. We have just opened our new, second location in Echo Park. I am excited to discover what this new chapter will bring.

Has it been a smooth road?
I definitely think some things fell into place easily to make it possible for me to do what I have done. Opening my second location has shown me just how lucky I was the first time around. Not to say opening in Pasadena wasn’t hard work, but I have certainly met more challenges (ok, different challenges) opening my second location in Echo Park. And in other ways, Echo Park was easier to open because of the lessons I learned opening the first shoppe in Pasadena. Some challenges I have faced have been exciting, and I have relished the opportunity to learn or to discover something new. Other times I have felt lost, hopeless, and confused. On more than one occasion, I have reached the end of my ability to do something, and with exhaustion, have surrendered. In these moments when I have accepted my failure, when I am sitting in defeat disappointed that I wasn’t able to make it happen, someone or something steps in and helps me. I don’t know how to explain it, but every time I have reached the end of what I had to give, some wonderful gift is given to me that gives me the strength to keep going or miraculously fixes the unfixable problem for me. I believe that if I always act with integrity, I will always be ok. As long as I can go to bed at night knowing that I did right by myself and others, I feel good about my choices and I know I will be ok in the end. With this view, obstacles and challenges become just another way of saying “opportunities.” Opportunities to learn and to grow. Opportunities to change for the better.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
The Strength Shoppe specializes in high-intensity strength training, commonly referred to as SuperSlow®, Power of Ten, Body by Science, or Slow Burn. High-intensity strength training is a safer, more effective, more efficient form of exercise. The complete total body workout lasts only 20 minutes once a week. Through compound movements on specialized equipment, the maximum benefits desired from exercise are achieved in minimal time.

We exercise to muscle failure. Exercise to the intensity of muscle failure will thoroughly exhaust the muscle and create a stimulus to which the body must adapt. Our program is customized specifically for each client by a professionally trained and certified specialist and will include nutritional protocol and recovery advisements. Our program requires adequate nutrition and a sufficient recovery period for the body’s muscles to overcompensate for this intense exertion and become stronger. Most weight training programs do not offer the body this increased stimulus and thus do not require such a rest period.

The truly wonderful aspect about our workout is that anyone can do it. Slow-cadence strength training was originally developed as a means of physical therapy for 80-90-year-old patients with debilitating cases of osteoporosis. It’s safe. We work with all types of people with all sorts of physical limitations- hip replacements, knee replacements, diabetes, high blood pressure, injuries, triple bypass surgeries, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, arthritis, fibromyalgia, etc. You name it, we can work with it. Whether you are a professional athlete or suffering from a debilitating condition such as osteoporosis, whether your goal is to lose weight or lower your blood pressure, this workout will help you achieve your goals. And because it’s only 20 minutes once a week, chances are you’ll be able to stick with it and adapt it as part of your lifestyle.

This slow technique is more meditative than most forms of exercise. It takes a lot of focus to push your body to muscle failure. A lot of fear surrounds muscle failure. Well, failure in general. When a client first learns the technique, a certain amount of panic and emotional discomfort is normal. But I think by pushing your body to muscle failure, it teaches you that it’s ok to push yourself to the edge. It’s ok to do something you fear. Because when you do something you fear, you survive and you come out stronger. This is what we do with our clients and this is what sets us apart. It’s more than a workout. I watch people grow and become stronger and more confident versions of themselves. I am most proud of this aspect. I have chosen a nurturing team to lead people to these places. We are there with you. You are not alone. This is what we sell at The Strength Shoppe. Strength.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I love Los Angeles. Say what you will about the traffic and whatever else everybody complains about in regards to LA, but Los Angeles is a city full of dreamers. People wanting to make the world a better place. People from different backgrounds who bring their varied experiences together to support their community. The people I have met in Los Angeles want to do good. We may all struggle with our fears and insecurities in a more obvious way than the rest of the country or world, but at the end of the day, we are good people. I think trying a 20-minute workout requires an open mind. I think LA is a city full of people willing to try new things. It’s the perfect place for a workout that’s “outside the box.” I am certainly not the first slow-cadence facility to open in LA, and I won’t be the last. I hope more people find this type of training as it is something I truly believe can help everyone.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Taili Song Roth
Melinda Hughes
Zach Lewis
Cameron McCormick
Diana Hufford
Melinda Hughes

3 Comments

  1. Carolyn Henderson

    May 9, 2017 at 18:11

    Awesome facilities and trainers! After years of sciatic nerve pain, my daughter, Melinda Hughes, convinced me to do this training. Daughter knows best! I no longer have that horrible pain nor those maddening “Charlie Horse” leg cramps at night. I live in Ohio and do slow training at a facility here that my daughter found for me. But in LA I workout with her. She is the best and we are proud to share this news!

  2. Lawrence Neal

    October 1, 2017 at 15:22

    Great interview – very interesting. Love your attitude. Would love to learn more about specific examples of “something or someone” that has helped in a time of need. I suppose I’ll have to wait till you’re on my podcast 😀

  3. Marilyn Sundin

    October 24, 2017 at 17:55

    Dear Melinda,
    I am so impressed with The Strength Shoppe!
    Do you know of a facility near Granville which has this equipment?
    I could use it, for sure–especially now that I’m retired. It’s too easy to get lazy.
    Love, Marilyn

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