Today it is out privilege to bring you an interview with Gymnastics, Calisthenics and Aerial Movement Specialist, Danielle Gray. We discuss Danielle’s approach to training, the experiences that have helped shape her outlook on life, her perspective on the evolving nature of goal setting, plus much more…
What types of movement do you specialize in?
My specialties are gymnastics, calisthenics, and aerial movement. My primary sport was gymnastics from ages 4 to 15. After retiring from gymnastics, I discovered pole fitness, calisthenics, and other forms of circus arts. While I can typically pick up other sports fairly quickly, these styles of training are most familiar and natural to me.
How did your passion for these disciplines begin and develop?
When I was 4, my mom put me into recreational gymnastics, and I loved it. Growing up, I tumbled around the house, flipped off of sofas, used street curbs as balance beams, watched reruns of the Olympics, and taught my own gymnastics classes during recess. I was noticed by the owner of the gym I was doing rec classes at and invited to pre team. I advanced a level within a year and joined the Junior Olympic team. I competed until I was a sophomore in high school, when my career ended fairly abruptly. I still kept the sport close to my heart despite not being competitive anymore.
My junior year of college, my friend invited me to a pole fitness class. I loved it, she wasn’t about it. That was the beginning of a new passion of mine. Within 2 years, I was competing at a national level which earned me a professional division title by 2016. During this season of my life, I was working full time, training pole on Mondays, training acrobatics and parkour on Tuesdays, and going to Muscle Beach at Santa Monica on Sundays to train on the bars.
What does your weekly training routine consist of?
That season of my life was definitely my peak tor intensity of training outside of competitive gymnastics. Nowadays, since I’m primarily a business owner, I spent a lot of time behind a computer, so I have to learn how to manage my time and prioritize my training. During my best weeks and when quarantine isn’t in effect, I typically train at a gymnastics gym once a week, do a pole workout once a week, film some video content for my social media platforms, and stretch and hand balance randomly. Not as intense as it used to be, but I’m no longer competitive and train simply for the enjoyment of it and to help others.
How have you transformed your passion into a business? What advice would you give to anyone trying to do the same?
I realized that I felt most in flow and most alive when I was around gymnastics. Time didn’t exist, I was so engrossed in either doing it, watching it, or coaching it. The thought hit me when I used to forget to pick up my pay checks at the gym after coaching. I said, “If I’m forgetting that I get paid to do this, I’m onto something here.”
It was at that time that I became a certified personal trainer and thought long and hard about being offered a promotion at work which I ultimately turned down. Why did I turn down a $10,000 pay bump? Because I knew if I said yes, I would be committing to a career path that I wasn’t entirely invested in. Sure, it provided security and allowed me disposable income to take classes I loved, but my heart wasn’t in it. I stressed about people I had never met and wondered, “If I’m able to help grow these other businesses and help their dreams come true, why couldn’t I do the same for myself?”
I encourage you to take a look at the things you currently do in your life, your skill set, what you love, and figure out how you could help solve a problem that exists in the world with those things. It takes a lot of creativity and resourcefulness, but the only thing stopping you from going after it is you.
Your friends and family may warn against taking risk. It’s up to you to choose to believe them. You may hear horror stories about the entrepreneur life. It’s up to you to lean into the fear and have faith that you will succeed. Try to prove yourself wrong with every limiting belief that surfaces. If you let that belief that doesn’t serve you make the decisions, you will never move forward. How would the best, most resourceful, most positive version of yourself handle any challenging situation?
Are there any people, books, or experiences that you would be willing to share with us, that have really helped shape your mentality?
Unleash the Power Within with Tony Robbins was life changing. I now describe my life as pre and post UPW. I resonate with how he teaches, and I thrive in immersive environments. Get in the rooms with people who share the same values and want to grow personally and professionally.
Books that have been game changers are:
The Four Agreements (by Don Miguel Ruiz)
The Untethered Soul (by Michael Alan Singer)
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari (by Robin Sharma)
Daring Greatly (by Brené Brown)
Have your current goals been fixed for a long time or have they evolved and changed as time has passed?
My goals are constantly evolving. Sure, I have specific goals in mind that have stayed pretty consistent over time, however, with life experiences, comes a different understanding of the world as well as different values. The best thing I would recommend is to define and categorize your desires, so you don’t get pulled in the opposite direction for the wrong reasons.
- What dreams motivate you?
- How do you want to feel?
- What does success look like to you?
- Who would be affected if you achieved your goals?
What advice would you give to someone who is demotivated or doesn’t know where to start with getting into sport and fitness?
Nothing changes if nothing changes.
If you aren’t satisfied with where you’re currently at, you need to take messy action. Not just something small. It’s got to be big massive change to disrupt your everyday patterns. Invest in a trainer, commit to something long term, get an accountability partner, sign up for classes at a studio. You need to invest a resource that you value so that you do it and stay consistent. If it’s something small like watching YouTube videos or buying a $20 guide, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll stick with it for a week and drop off.
We don’t pay attention to what we don’t pay for. But you can bet if you invest $200-$1000 per month on something, you’re going to take advantage of it to get your money’s worth. Try to stick with it longer than 30 days. You’ll truly start to see the change around month three.
Think about the cumulative effect of sitting working at a desk for 40 hours a week and working out for 3 hours a week. Are you going to be the fittest person in any room with that ratio? Definitely not. What we do, we become. Our future selves are a result of what our current selves do. Choose wisely.
Are there any specific principles that you try and live by and why?
I have a Personal Brand DNA Guide that my team and I refer to frequently to keep my voice consistent. Here are the principles I have listed in my guide for what I stand for and why
- Change happens outside of your comfort zone.
- The toughest moments in our lives become part of our unique stories and personal growth.
- Nothing changes if nothing changes.
- For exactly the reasons I listed above. Change will only happen when the pain of remaining the same outweighs the pain of change.
- Treat yourself like your own best friend.
- We hear our own voices the most. Make sure your thoughts lift you up.
- “Success without fulfilment is the ultimate failure.” (Tony Robbins)
- Without a clear vision of success or acknowledgment of success, you will never be satisfied. That doesn’t mean settling. It means never feeling good enough. It means seeking an impossible goal. Perfection does not exist. That’s why it’s so important to define what success looks like for you in as much detail as possible and become more and more aware so you can actually step back and say, “wow, this is it.” And then level up after you celebrate.
- There’s always a way.
- We don’t lack time, money, or energy. Most of us tend to lack the resourcefulness it takes to make time, earn money, and create
- You can do anything if you absolutely want to.
- If you want something bad enough, you will always figure it out.
- You will find truth if you replace “cant’s” with “wont’s”
- If you say, “I can’t do something like that,” try changing it to “I won’t do something like that,” and see what truths expose themselves. It’s incredible.
- The best investment you can make is in yourself.
- For any business owner, their business is a direct reflection of themselves. If a CEO of a business does not work on themselves to continue growing, learning, and expanding, how can they expect their business to level up? How can they expect their employees to feel motivated to come to work and believe in the company vision? When you invest in yourself, you add more tools to your arsenal to be able to serve from a full cup. Each investment adds water to your cup to continue to pour into others. If you don’t refill your cup, eventually your cup will be empty.
- I give you permission to believe in yourself.
- Sometimes, all it takes is validation from someone who has been where we want to be, whose opinion we value to tell us we’re doing the right thing. We’re on the right path.
- If you never ask, the answer is always no. There’s no shame in asking for help.
- Never make assumptions! Unless you get a hard no, you don’t know the answer. If you ask for help or ask for an answer to something, you’ll get it. Think about when others ask you for help? Are you embarrassed for them because they needed help? Or do you think how much courage it took them to ask for help? Let your thoughts and beliefs serve you.
What are your goals and plans for the future?
My main goal is to continue to grow Train Like A Gymnast and allow it to be the go-to platform for any former gymnast, cheerleader, dancer or gymnastics enthusiast to work on their fitness holistically. From learning from the best in the industry, to doing emotional intelligence work, the goal is for each person in our community to become a better version of themselves simply because they were a part of our team.
I plan to share this style of bodyweight training far and wide through workshops, virtual trainings, media appearances, and much more over the next few years.