Yes, South End Grind is a part of a gym known as Urban MVMNT—which you may know as CrossFit SouthEnd or as Charlotte's Best Boot Camp—and to Ride or Die Spin Studio.
So, what's the story behind all of these businesses? How do they go together, and how did they end up in one space here on Clanton? We spoke to owners Stuart Brauer and Zoe Brauer to find out!
To me, Urban MVMNT is a centralized, synergistic hub for local startup entrepreneurs. We're trying to bring people together with coffee, group fitness, bootcamp, spin, physical therapy, and massage. We don't want this to be a place that they just come to for coffee, or just for working out. We want them to feel like they can do work and work out here, and for it to be somewhere that they feel welcome and like they can build a community.
I also really wanted to be a part of the South End frontier as it moves further south. This area is booming with young, active people who are entrepreneurial in spirit, and we want to provide a space for them to feel like they come get shit done, both from a health perspective and a professional perspective.
I believe in the group fitness methodology, but we realize that the name "CrossFit" or "bootcamp" makes a gym seem more exclusive. You'd never think when you hear CrossFit, "Oh, there's somewhere I can work before, during, and after pregnancy." But here, you can. We're trying to make the experience less intimidating and more welcoming for all levels of athletes.
I moved here in 2010 and all I had was a pick-up truck and thousands of dollars of training equipment. I would go to apartment complexes and say, "I have all of this equipment and a team of personal trainers. I'll work with you and your residents on a fitness program." It was a mobile, one-on-one personal training program, and it grew quickly! But I knew that group fitness classes were going to win over one-on-one fitness programs. I rode that grind for four or five months, then we moved to a rented brick-and-mortar location near Uptown for five years. But I knew I wanted to own something in the South End area. I wanted to be able to play a role in the long term legacy of the neighborhood. This area is primed to be great for any business that sets up here, but particularly for young people seeking fitness and community.
We want this to be a friendly, community-oriented space that people come to to form relationships in addition to checking fitness off of their to-do lists. We want people to meet their roommates, their best friends, and their husbands in our space. Really, we want them to keep coming back for that sense of community.
A spin studio is something my wife Zoe wanted to do before we even met. At this point, I have the clients and the space, and she had been thinking about this idea for six years, so putting the two together just made sense. We're aiming to offer early morning, lunchtime, and evening classes, as well as weekend classes, because we know that people have all kinds of different schedules and we want to be here to meet those needs. We're not trying to upset your lifestyle, we're trying to integrate ourselves into it to make it as easy as possible for you to find fitness classes and relationships you like, and that you want to come back again and again for.
I always say, "I'm not in the fitness business, I'm in the people business." The owner of South End Grind, Freddie Nordhoff, started out as an intern for us a few years ago. Then he joined our staff. Then he became one of our trainers. But in addition to being an awesome trainer, he was truly passionate about coffee. He came here from Seattle, so it's almost funny that he ended up in the coffee business.
Selfishly, we hated losing one of our best coaches. But we knew we wanted Freddie to go all in on his coffee business, because that's what he was truly passionate about. He trained under the guys at Pure Intentions for a long time before we opened. Now, he's got his own business where he gets to do what he loves, and what he happens to be phenomenal at.
Fitness and caffeine are synergistic. There aren't tons of coffee shops in this area, so it made sense to us to add that to our space. We always conceptualized that people would come in here, get coffee, and stick around to do work... but it's still amazing to see them actually doing it. They're coming here, getting some coffee and getting work done, and then they're learning about personal fitness through both Urban MVMNT and Ride or Die. We wanted this to be a co-op working space, so coffee was a no-brainer.
Options. Spin, group fitness, bootcamp... The organizations here (Urban MVMNT and Ride or Die) are independent, but we're still bringing people together for these different fitness options to show them that there are a variety of ways that you can find a healthy routine. When you walk in the front door of any other functional fitness gym, it looks exactly like you'd expect. This is different. I want people to be able to walk in and survey their options and choose how they want to work out that day.
We want to give people options for different things: group fitness, one-on-one coaching, nutrition coaching, all kinds of stuff to help them find healthy choices that work for their needs. As our demographic and markets change, we want to be able to mold ourselves to that to fit all people's lifestyle. We want to open the doors to everybody. Pregnant people, people recovering from surgery, overweight people, first-time athletes... Whoever comes in that door, they're all welcome here.
The community in the Lower South End area is still being developed. Our goal is to be involved in everything that's happening in the South End neighborhood. Beyond us and Red Clay, there's not a ton over here. I want to grow this street and have it be just as happening as everything around here. We do sweat socials one Friday a month, where we encourage people to go next door to Red Clay when they're done working out so they can hang out and get to know each other. Even though Ride or Die and Urban MVMNT are separate organizations, we work together for Bridal Challenges or "Look Good Naked" Challenges where we work together to give people a more community-based workout routine.
It will be the people who come to Urban MVMNT and Ride or Die that let South End know we're here. We just want to help them connect to one another and live a healthy lifestyle. It's easy for community to happen in this kind of space.
Whether it's somewhere to work quietly, somewhere for good coffee, somewhere to try out a group fitness class, somewhere to test out a spin class - whatever part of that interests them, I'd love them to come check us out. If I could look five years into the future, I think I'd see other fitness facilities trying to recreate this co-op working space concept. Multi-use spaces in these awesome buildings are what has made South End, South End. I think you'll start seeing a lot of people going this route in the future. We're trying to make it more common to find these pockets of community, where people can come together. If that sounds like something you're interested in, we hope you'll stop by.