On June 26th, 2017, 70 people showed up at the old red barn on Haskell Road in Batavia to celebrate a new beginning. Grown from a class of 8 people using a space at a local school, the fitness class that had begun as just a dream and vision now had its own dedicated space to grow and flourish. Just like brand new parents, Amanda and Scott spent those first months tirelessly pouring into and caring for their baby. The summer brought the heat to the concrete floors and unfinished walls as dancers began to regularly show up and fall in love with this whirlwind that was fast taking on a life of its own. As friendships grew and goals were being reached it became clear that this community was unlike any other there had ever been and, as such, needed its own name to set it apart. In November of 2017, the Grind2Fit brand was officially released and the world was forever changed.
Ok, so maybe the launch wasn’t quite that dramatic but it certainly was a dream come true and the realization of a lot of long hot and sweaty hours put in by the staff and owners of the business. That round symbol that is now so familiar to all who enter those barn doors offered a fuller picture of the dream behind the little dance fitness class that was now beginning to crawl around and gain momentum. Grind2Fit celebrated its first ever Friendsgiving and danced its way through its first Barn Christmas. Cruising into 2018, the Barn seemed unstoppable. Of course, how you view “unstoppable” can be affected by your perception. New instructors, new classes, new flooring, new routines, and new rules all created their own situations and challenges that required flexibility, ingenuity and adaptability to keep things flowing and moving steadily. This baby was on the move and clearly testing out its limits!
As Winter melted into Spring, Grind2Fit began to find its own stride. Cooking shows and Craft parties gave a larger voice to the community. New Grind Merchandise began to roll out, including car decals, allowing members to begin sharing the Grind love beyond just endlessly talking about, posting about, and daydreaming about the beloved class. Now, at least when we danced out in public we could just point to the emblem for explanation. And, as if the love affair with Grind wasn’t enough, 90 minutes classes proved that some of us were obsessed to the point of not being well. Sweat poured from bodies crazy enough to show up and take part in the supersized Grind2Fit evening. With all that movement it was also necessary to start working in some stretching to keep everyone limber enough to still dance in their car on the way home.
As the summer sun of 2018 started to roll blindingly in through the doors on the right side of the barn, the heart of the community was beating strongly even as real life was pouring in around everyone. As the one-year anniversary drew close it was evident that every single individual that had contributed to growing and building Grind2Fit had been changed and grown in many ways. Staff and members alike all carried their own stories of experiences and changes that affected their lives both inside and outside the fitness community. The Barn had its shares of goodbyes and hellos and was beginning to lose a bit of its “brand new” look. Floors and walls were finished, the stage had a fancy new border and a new metal sign boldly hung where once a banner had flapped. Not to mention, the class took its face into the public and made its presence known by shaking hula skirts at the first ever Beast of the East Fork.
Members of Grind know we love to celebrate and Grind2Fit’s 1st anniversary was certainly no exception. On June 26th, 2018 a class party rolled this beast into its second year of life by launching a brand-new heart rate monitoring system to the community. While there is no real way to measure the passion and commitment so evident in this community, the new devices allowed everyone to see in real time how hard their hearts were working and how many calories were being burned during classes. A new weekly Top 10 was launched to celebrate members who consistently showed up and worked their literal booties off.
Grind2Fit was no longer content to just stay inside our crib. In July of 2018, the show was taken on the road and spent a long hot week hanging out at the county fair. Calories were consumed. Animals were seen. Confetti was thrown. And really, it is quite possible that anyone who participated might have become a tad more feral.
In August the general public got another taste of the uncontrollable and more than slightly wild Grind Tribe as the one year old community toddled its way into Athleta in Kenwood Mall and literally shook the floor and rattled the windows with its presence. Grind packed the store from wall to wall and shimmied and shook for 45 sweaty minutes. The vibe of the community was heavily evident as, despite the limited floor space and crowded room, everyone danced and smiled together as a team.
As the summer party winded down, Grind2Fit also found a way to give back to the community by changing calories burned into contributions by members donating over 750 pounds of food to a local non-profit organization, La Soupe after reaching a 350,000 community wide calorie burn goal. There was certainly no doubt that the Barn had become about something far more than just calories and crunches. Grind2Fit had clearly become a place where lives are touched and people reach to become more.
Moving into the Fall of 2018, the face of Grind2Fit began to look like its parents had finally slept through the night. ;D An established routine was in place and everyone was securely strapped in. It was clear that the intensity level had taken a step up and a ninety-day challenge of 25,000 calories was launched. October saw the Grind2Fit community reach a million calories burned and another opportunity to give back had us wearing pink on Thursdays as a donation to the American Cancer Society was collected. We also celebrated our sweet Sydney’s engagement and the beautiful Courtney’s first class as a lead instructor! November brought the second Friendsgiving with a night of fun, food, family and friendship!
The cold breeze of winter blew in as the fast hustle to the bathroom began to pick up the pace as we scuttled along the walk waving a fast hello to Scotty D pushing a shovel to clear the path. As we all shook our jingle bells to burn off those calories from extra pie and candied yams, we also filled the area beneath the Grind Tree to donate gifts to Empower Youth and help make Christmas for some local children a little brighter.
Grind2Fit approached 2019 in a far different way than it had approached 2018. The dance party and fitness fun continued but 2018 had taught us all to grow beyond what we thought we were capable of. It had pushed us to reach beyond the ends of ourselves and expand outside of the limits we had in our minds. It had forced us to dig deep and find the rich soil that could help nourish us. It had caused us to seek out the sun and find ways to grow in darkness. The trip around the sun had taught us that we could be strong. We were more than ball changes and twerking. We were also burpees and pushups. We were grit. We were gold.
And little by little, day by day, the first six months of 2019 has turned that wobbly uncertain toddler into a steady and confident 2-year-old that is ready and poised to take on the world. The community has drawn in closer to one another and works to celebrate and uplift each other like a second family. Somewhere along the journey, I think most of us realized that physical fitness was only one aspect of healthy living benefitted from our time at the Barn. The life-giving energy found in the love and friendships that have been formed from doing life together and getting to know the others around us that are also seeking to improve and better their lives has become vital to our daily lives. The Barn has taken up residence in many of our hearts as a place of our own and a place of safety and comfort. As wonderful as that is, the most natural development of growth and maturity is to carry that love of healthy living beyond our safe spaces.
Nowhere has the vitality now carried in this tribe been more evident than in two of our biggest community events this year, Paint Night and Beast of the East Fork. It has become obvious wherever we go that our community brings its own presence and is a force to be reckoned with. From a group sing along to “Baby Got Back” to standing out as the largest team tearing our way through obstacles at East Fork Lake.
While we love to share the gift of the Grind with the outside world, we certainly still like to rattle the roof of the Barn as well. Remember celebrating our beloved Magic Mike in March as we rocked out our socks in honor of World Down Syndrome Day? Or when the Easter Bunny put a little Rapper’s Delight into our Easter celebration by hopping on the stage? (We’ve received word that his ear is completely mended! Whew!) And we can’t possibly fail to mention the most recent event when all the party animals showed up for a special Grind Goes Wild Dance Party. We are honestly still trying to clean up all the hair the wild goats left behind.
It has been a journey like any others from that first class in June of 2017. Every face and every heart have had their role to play in the path that has been taken and the experiences we all shared in. Although many things have changed and grown, the fact that this is something special has not. It is something known to many of the hearts that have been a part of these two trips around the sun. We have all grown together and learned so much about ourselves, our bodies, our lives and our friends. The exciting thing is that it is only the beginning. There is lots of room to stretch and grow and find new horizons and experiences beyond the things we currently are imagining.
Still, the real work of the tribe is found in that strong dedication of showing up night after night and sweating and putting in the work together. Those big special events and celebrations are made special because of all that effort being put in on the everyday nights and the average mornings. Those fun highs are fabulous, but they are only so fabulous because we slogged through the tough lows together, as a tribe. As we look back across the past two years it is easy to see it as a giant blur that all bleeds together. We know there were highs and we know there were lows but somehow, beyond those moments when we thought we wouldn’t make it through we somehow did. Those 2 years were traversed and just like our dances it was sometimes done with absolute grace and beauty and sometimes done in a ridiculously hot mess. Regardless of how, we’ve made it and we are all stronger for it. None of us that have travelled this road are the same as we were on June 26, 2017 and many of us will be forever changed by what we have gone through and accomplished.
Thank you to all who have joined in for part or all the ride these past two years. You are an important part of who we are today and who we are becoming tomorrow! If you haven’t joined us yet, we hope you’ll hop on board from the trip that is going to take this crazy two-year-old roaring to its third birthday. It is sure to be an experience you won’t forget. We know we won’t.