In part one of “How to Open a Warehouse Gym,”you learned of my struggles as a student of fitness, a personal trainer, and an employee of a mega-sized “health club,” where most worthy trainers are treated like cogs in the big malfunctioning machine of the fake fitness facade. After my departure from the marauding mess called “Lifestyle’s Family Fitness” with zero clients, a new mortgage, over $10,000 in debt, and my wife and two-year-old daughter to support, I was broke, lost, and confused about how I was going to get paid to do what I loved most—training athletes.

What made matters worse was that on my last day at the “health club,” the only asset I had to my name—my 1989 Lincoln Towncar—blew up! Fortunately, my father had the 1987 Ford Econoline family van that he used to lug me and my three brothers and sisters around Long Island in several years back sitting in his driveway. He had no intentions of ever using it again, and with only 70,000 miles on it, he knew that no one would ever pay what it was still worth. Little did either of us know that it would come to be worth over $300,000 to me over the next four years.

With the look of pride that only a father could have for his rebellious son, my dad handed me the keys to the only car that he had ever paid full price for—the old-school family van. With a broken heart, my seedling family, and an old van, I started my first real journey into entrepreneurship.

My first plan of advancement was to find a local, family owned gym where I could start to rebuild my personal training clientele. The first place I trained at was in a yoga studio, but that quickly ended because “yogis” are typically passive and quiet people (who also lack meat in their diets). It seemed I was just too loud and rambunctious of a carnivore to share space with them. So I was *shushed* the hell out of there in less than a month.

Next, I took my small, personal training business to a local chiropractor’s clinic. This worked out quite well for about seven months until one day I showed up at the office and the doors were bolted shut! It turned out that Dr. Crackmyback hadn’t been paying his rent and had us all kicked out. I should have taken notice when the landlord threw a “For Sale” sign up on the front door. I guess I was just too focused on correcting my clients’ form to see anything else.

Finally, I found a gym in downtown St. Petersburg owned by a female bodybuilder with an attitude worse than mine. The gym didn’t have many members, and she liked it that way. Most people seemed to piss her off. I sheepishly approached her one day and proposed to pay her $500 per month to train all of my clients at her gym. Surprisingly, she accepted my offer, turned her back to me, and continued her 1000-rep dumbbell lateral raise routine.

It was at this small, barely surviving, half bodybuilding, half “cocaine station” gym that I had begun to get my “feet under me” and achieve some level of stability. The owner (let’s call her “Cara”) was polite enough to me and my clients and seemed to accommodate most of my needs. She and I both had strong personalities (and lots of testosterone), so for the most part we aimed to avoid each other. I kept my mouth shut and went home when I wasn’t training, and she put her iPod on to avoid any useless conversation.

For about two years, my personal training business grew from earning me about $2,000 per month to just over $10,000 per month. It was at this time that one of my male clients asked me, “Elliott, you have such an amazing athletic background. Why aren’t you training athletes?” This question stuck me like a dagger to my heart.

The truth was that I wasn’t training athletes because I knew it would piss “Cara” off if I had a bunch of teenagers in there throwing around medicine balls. I was stifling my dream so I didn’t piss someone else off! This is the most insidious reason why most people never succeed, and I understood that this was exactly what I was doing.

With the idea of my dream rekindled, a semi-sustainable personal training business, and my 1987 Econoline van, I ventured outdoors to begin my new business, which I called “Strength Camp.”

Stay tuned for part three where you’ll learn exactly how I turned my van into a cash machine on wheels and finally gave myself the chance to do exactly what I loved to do—and got paid very well for it too!