written by: Zanne Lamb-Hunt
Danny Farrar was born in Southern Virginia. He earned his A.A. Degree at Frederick Community College and is a Member of the Board for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Frederick County.
He’s the President and Co-Founder of Platoon 22, a 501(c) created to combat veteran suicides. He rides with the Desert Knights, a veteran’s motorcycle club, and serves as the President of one of the local chapters.
Danny is also the CEO and Founder of SOLDIERFIT — a unique fitness program operated by 60+ employees currently serving about 3000+ members in locations in D.C. and Maryland.
What makes SOLDIERFIT so unique? Let’s start with these 10 differences —
1. Personal Empowerment — through physical fitness AND character building.
2. Challenges — for the body AND the mind.
3. EVERYONE is welcome — kids, mothers, law enforcement, athletes – EVERYONE!
4. Core, Cardio and Strength Training — ALL in one place!
5. Experienced Certified Instructors — energizing, motivating and guiding through UNIQUE, safe workouts.
6. All levels — In ONE program!
7. You WILL Reach your goal — one workout at a time.
8. UNLIMITED Access for Members — Over 300 Classes Each Month!
9. The Strength of COMMUNITY — knowing that you can count on that person to your left or to your right.
10. AFFORDABILITY – Get 3X the services for 1/3 the price of any comparable program.
The Early Path Was Far From Smooth
Danny was adopted when he was two years old. It wasn’t an ideal environment. He confides that he was molested as a child and his siblings were “into drugs, getting locked up, breaking laws and the whole nine yards.”
He enlisted into the military right out of high school. Six months later, his adoptive mother died from breast cancer. “My brother killed himself six months after that. That was the last time I went home.”
Danny was in the Army on 9/11. “I was about five minutes away from the Pentagon when the plane hit. I was charged with taking the first team from the Army in to remove remains.”
Once he was out of the Army, he couldn’t find work and ended up homeless. He went into the Reserves and they asked for volunteers to go overseas two months later.
He did a combat tour in Iraq 2005-2006. “I did over 700 convoy missions. I came back from that and joined the Montgomery County Fire Dept.”
At the same time, he started DDT Fitness. “We weren’t very creative back in the days. It was Danny, Dave and Troy. Troy quit two weeks after we became an LLC.”
Support And Encouragement From Master Mike Moses
Danny is a big MMA fan and recalls one fight he had in particular. “The guy lied about his record and he beat me from pillar to post. I ended up coming back to win the fight.”
Master Mike Moses of Evolve Academy invited him to bring his program into his facility. “He opens his doors to me, doesn’t charge me a dime for rent and gives me a book called Rich Dad Poor Dad.”
Danny found inspiration in a quote. “If you have to go to work to make money, you don’t have a business — you have a job.”
“I’d been working 7 days a week for four years. So, I quit all my one-on-ones, switched to group classes. That was January of 2011 and the rest was history. We were off to the races!”
SOLDIERFIT Is So Much More Than A Gym
Danny believes, “It has never been about who looks the best.”
He continues, “Our mantra is — you’re more than a workout. Working out only takes you so far.”
“It might improve the outside of you,” he said, “but if you don’t have something more than a superficial goal, it doesn’t grow you as a person.
“Do you feel like you belong to something larger than yourself? Do you feel like you make a positive contribution to the community in which you live? That’s where happiness comes from.”
Danny leaves nobody out of the loop. “We’re here for everybody. I don’t care if you can outrun me to the street corner. It doesn’t make you a better human being. Working out isn’t the point.
“A pushup is a pushup is a pushup. Our goal is to develop character, first and foremost.”
The Start Of Revolutionary SOLDIERFIT
“Honestly, I had an epiphany! I had been in the gym business ever since I got out of the military as a personal trainer.”
Then he realized something about the “big box gyms” — “the bulk of the membership that comes there are either getting on the cardio equipment or they’re taking the classes. And I realized they charge a relatively low monthly rate.”
Danny notes, “One thing Cross Fit has done is they have really conditioned the market to pay a higher rate.” He also notes that a lot of people probably can’t afford it.
“If a gym can get by with a low monthly rate but they have all this overhead and the bulk of the people are taking classes, why can’t there be a company that exists to take the classes?
The average boot camp class is going to be outside. It’s going to be at 5:30 in the morning. Rain. Snow. Sunshine. Whatever. And, it’s going to charge anywhere from $150-300 per month.” Why can’t we do it and charge a low monthly rate? And, that’s what we did.
“The truth of the matter is that we really did revolutionize. There’s nobody out there doing what we’re doing right now. The company just exploded.
“When we got to the point where we’d grown enough membership base and we were too big for Evolve — we needed to get our own space — the first place we looked at happened to be split in two different sections. Gym and gym membership.
“We offer 3x the services at one-third the price of anybody that’s comparable to us and what we do. That’s how SOLDIERFIT came to be.”
The Biggest Challenge As An Entrepreneur
“In a lot of ways, the initial success is the easy part. Once you get a little bit of success, people are expecting that success to continue. You still have to take risks to grow.
“We’re opening a new location in Gaithersburg. Well, we just got hit with a $30,000 bill that we weren’t expecting to fireproof and soundproof the place.
“So, it’s how do you handle those unforeseen costs that’s going to come from growing.”
What Would Danny Tell Himself If He Could Go Back In Time?
“You’re not stupid.”
He confides, “I really went through a lot of my life thinking I was stupid. I didn’t have any faith in myself. I didn’t have a title. I hadn’t completed college. I didn’t think I was anything special.
“I cost myself a lot of years just because I didn’t believe in myself.”
Making A Difference In The Lives Of Many
“We have over 60 employees. But 98% of our staff started off as members. I still think one of the greatest compliments you can be paid as a business owner is when somebody wants to work with you.”
In the case of Carly Lederer, interviewed previously by Frederick Advice Givers in Podcast #046, Danny watched her mature and grow to the point where she now runs the entire Operations. “I take a great deal and sense of pride in that..”
Danny also spends most of his free time helping non-profits. “More so than a business person, more so than anything else, I’m a philanthropist.”
He adds, “I thought I was a soldier. I thought I was a firefighter. I thought I was a personal trainer. I thought I was an entrepreneur. But, I like to try to help people. I really do like to try to make a difference.
“I’ve been at the bottom and I know what it feels like to be there.”
Danny Shares A Deep Quote
“We drink deeply from a well not of our own creation.”
He shares, “I’m a capitalist but I really do think the average person, if left to their own devices, does the right thing.”
Then he points out, “We have far too many people trying to tell us that the world is a bad, dark and evil place and that everyone is cynical. I don’t believe that. It gets the ratings but it’s not the truth.
“The truth is that the average person wants to help the people that help them and they want to continue to pay it forward.”
Are you ready for a whole new definition of fitness? Looking for a gym where you’ll feel like you actually belong? Do you want more workout options at an affordable price? How about setting a goal to improve your body, mind and character all at the same time?
Start building a better you at Danny Farrar’s SOLDIERFIT today.
soldierfitfranchise.com (to learn about Franchise opportunities)
Contents Provided by Frederick Advice Givers Podcast Episode #063: Eric Verdi Interviews Danny Farrar