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Meet Scott Sonderman of I Defy Fitness in Long Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Scott Sonderman.

Scott, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up in St. Louis, MO as an athlete. I went to the University of Missouri (Mizzou) and got my degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition. From there I went to a highly accredited school called Washington University- St. Louis where I got my doctorate in Physical Therapy.

After graduating, I moved to California landing in Santa Monica and Culver City working at clinics in Santa Monica and Mid Wilshire over the next five years. During that time I took a ton of continuing education trying to learn everything I could about the body, different ways to engage and move, and different therapy/healing techniques.

Through these classes, I had the chance to network and create relationships with personal trainers, massage therapists, and chiropractors. I was invited to treat at multiple gyms to work with some of the clients that had intensive medical/injury histories and get them moving and educate on what their training should look like.

This gave me the idea to combine my physical therapy and exercise knowledge into a fitness studio. I have been a gym rat ever since I played basketball and love being apart of fitness, so it just made sense. From there, I basically went all in on the idea and started figuring out where I wanted to go.

Ever since I visited Long Beach, I was a fan of the energy. It was laid back but still had a ton going on and just made sense for me to head that way. So I looked for a place in Long Beach, and that’s where I am today.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Definitely wasn’t a smooth road. Starting my career in a completely new city with no friends was definitely a challenge. As probably anyone who moves to LA would tell you, it takes a few years to get adjusted to everything out here. It also takes a while to get to know all the different areas of LA and what speaks to you the most. Each neighborhood has it’s own feel and energy, and it really does take a while to figure out which one you flow with the best.

Doing therapy had many challenges along the way. Everything from challenges with insurance payouts changing so the amount of people I had to see in a day increased, and it is decreasing the amount of time I could spend with patients. There are also a lot of politics in the medical field between insurance, doctors, other health care professionals, etc. Like any profession, there are positives and negatives that you have to work with and try and improve.

Opening a business has definitely been the biggest challenge in my life. Everything from finding a space, to getting the city to approve it, to building it out myself (with some friends), and once that’s done actually managing, running, and getting business. I moved to Long Beach without any clientele, so I definitely was starting from ground zero. It was a very slow start and scary. I had to learn a lot about marketing, sales, and business management in a hurry. These were things that I had previously never done, and it has taken a lot of work and commitment to improve those things.

Please tell us about I Defy Fitness.
I Defy Fitness is a fitness studio in Long Beach. I specialize in Warrior Fitness. I take everyday people and teach them to use a warrior’s mindset and awareness through an integrative fitness system that works mobility, stability, strength, and cardio while focusing on body control.

We start at the basics and then from the basics can move in dynamic ways and add in weighted weapons such as the steel mace and steel club. We also use kettlebells, battle ropes, sandbags, medicine balls, suspension training, and bodyweight training.

The best thing about the approach is the system works to your individual ability level. If you have never moved your body for fitness before, there is a starting point for you, if you’re an elite athlete there is a level for you, if you’re anywhere in between, there are also great starting points for you. Once we determine your starting point, then we work on making you better and progressing you along.

Another thing that sets I Defy Fitness apart from others is that it has my knowledge and experience from physical therapy. It has influenced the way the exercises are taught, put together, and expands the degree to which I can help people at all levels.

I’m proud to see my people succeed. I have clients whose ages range from 14-78 all working through the same system. It’s been very cool to see everyone able to participate in the same class but doing the right exercise for their ability level and everyone can improve together.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Well, many times we learn by mistakes. This question depends on whether you mean start my life or my business over. If we simplify and start my business over, there would be a bunch of things I would do differently. As a rookie business owner, I’ve made a ton of mistakes.

I still make plenty of mistakes as I’m always learning, but everything from choosing my space size and contract negotiation to build out to marketing strategy. I would do almost everything different so that it could have been much better right off the bat. Live, learn, and grow.


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