Every month, I want to highlight different local businesses. We can all learn from each other, and what better way to do that than to share each other's story.
This month, I want to showcase a business called Iron Allies Fitness, with owners Taylor Empey and Cori Sterling. They have been in business for several years now, and are located in South Salt Lake. I had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing Taylor to find out why he started his own business, what it stands for, and how to help those who are just starting their business flourish and succeed.
Taylor grew up in Kaysville, Utah, and went to Davis High. Around the age of 20, Taylor started getting into fitness. He was living a life where smoking, partying, and other things were consuming him and decided to leave that behind to pursue a healthier lifestyle. He found his love for fitness after doing martial arts for some time. His new fitness journey changed his life. Taylor said, "fitness sparked this whole movement for me, and taking care of myself and well being. The way it made me feel was amazing, I wanted others to feel that too." Taylor eventually got certified and worked for a local gym as a trainer for quite some time. After a while, he decided to branch off and create his own business. That's where he met Cori, a school teacher at the time wanting to get back into the fitness world. Cori and Taylor started running group classes, with only 4 clients to start with. As the word got out, clientele grew and they invested in moving into the location they are at now. They both run classes of about 14 people and have a successful program. They make sure that no matter what body type you have, or where you're at in your fitness journey, you feel included. I can attest to that as an interviewer and photographer reaching out to them. Taylor and Cori were both so kind and receptive and made sure I felt welcomed into their gym and their business.
As part of the interview process, I wanted to ask a few questions about their business and their core beliefs. I also wanted to know how they are vulnerable and authentic, and why that's been making a difference in their company. Here are the questions and responses:
Why did you choose the name "Iron Allies Fitness" for your business?
- We wanted to pick an inclusive word. That people have different backgrounds but come together for a main purpose.
I noticed you have a pride flag on your Instagram profile. What does that represent and stand for within your business?
- I wanted to be an advocate in the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ individuals feel pressure to look a certain way, and some get weird vibes from other trainers. I enjoy helping people build up their confidence. It's cool to watch them transform physically and emotionally.
What does authenticity means to you?
- Authenticity means being true to yourself. Not putting up a facade to get the desired outcome. People have bullshit detectors. We try to use minimal editing in our videos and photos. We show all kinds of body types and composition results. I think being transparent is another way to be authentic. It's about being true to your mission statement and core values. Does our business have integrity? Do we follow through with what we say? Are we leading by example? Are we fostering teamwork? Are we infecting other people with passion? Our mission statement is to provide a safe space for people to be confident, fulfilled and the best version of themselves.
What does vulnerability look like to you?
- People in business always putting their best foot forward. I put pictures and stuff that are not showing a perfect lifestyle. I show that I drink, eat recesses, my face puffs up, etc. There's a way to show your physique that is not neurotic. It's easier to be more vulnerable when other people find a connection with me or a point of vulnerability. It's also vulnerable to open up your own business. We weren't good with finances at first. I knew sales and marketing, but not a whole lot. Taking on a large business adventure is being vulnerable within itself because this thing matters to me so much. You have to be vulnerable to expose yourself to people who turn you down, reject you, or have other business partners who steal your clients, etc. It's a lot more vulnerable experience than most people think.
Last but not least, what are some tips for those who are just starting a business and need some direction?
- Business is going to take exponentially more than you realize. You truly have to love what you do to stay in it long term. It really does come down to pushing yourself and not quitting, just never let up. You truly have to believe in it and never entertain the thought of quitting.
For those looking for a gym to go to in the Salt Lake area, I would highly recommend Iron Allies Fitness. I love everything they stand for and fully support their business. Taylor and Cori are two very energetic, kind, and inviting individuals. Interviewing them and hearing their story was an honor and a pleasure. Not to mention, they were fun to photograph! Stay tuned for next month's feature of a different, yet related local business.