Inside these walls, beat the heart of champions

7 years ago, I opened a gym to lift heavy shit and bang screw with my friends… but now it’s time to turn the lights off, one last time. But before we get to the sad eyes and tears, you should know that my heart is so incredibly full today. Because, I genuinely, could not have asked for a better ride when this started. I thought I’d be coaching CrossFit Oso and the Arlington Barbell team for the rest of my life.

But man, oh man, does God and the Universe love to do its own thing. A little more than a half decade later, we’ve done more as a community than most gyms do in an entire lifetime. We have treasure chests full of medals, podium finishes, IPL & IPF Championships, USAPL & USPA Gold medals, a grip of Arnold Strongman invites, Pro Cards and have sent team after team to compete at Nationals.

I think there’s a couple of CrossFit comp banners and a USAW medal in there somewhere too. We even helped train and sponsor the Grand Prairie Maverick Rugby Club – but I digress. We’ve seen athletes come back from gruesome injuries to step on the podium again and even taught a guy to walk with no assistance.

I’ve comforted athletes through heartbreak and hardship. I’ve seen members find themselves in a squat rack in the corner of the room at 8pm on a Friday night in December or at the midway point of a Deadlift. I’ve walked, trained and competed with actual giants among men and broken bread with some of the best mortals to walk this planet.

My contact list on my phone reads like the citation of page of the most complete strength training book ever written – names like Chad Wesley Smith, Kalle Beck, Mark Rippetoe, Andrew Triana, Nick Hadge, Leifa Ingalls, Martins Licis, Chris Burke, Bryan Barrett, Quinn Henoch and countless others litter my screen.

We’ve partnered with everyone from Anderson Powerlifting to Girls Who Powerlift, Fleo to SBD, Cerberus to Musick Metal Works, Doughnuts and Deadlifts to Depth Before Dishonor and everyone in between. We created the Greenhorn Throwdown and the Southern Barbelle Classic.

We’re the host of the Ronnie Coleman Strongman Classic and Texas Strongest Man. We’ve done events between Houston and Oklahoma City and as far West Abilene. And when I started this gym, I had 13 barbells, 12 kettlebells, 10 floor mats, maybe 2,000lbs in weights and one dog. We all shared the same three platforms, six squat racks and one door opening and today it’s a 5,000 sqft of the sweetest toys, sickest coaches, sweatiest asses this side of the Mississippi – and two dogs.

We were the only strength training facility with the equipment for Powerlifting, Strongman, Weightlifting and General Fitness around and that’s what I loved about us. We were a niche of a niche – but that slice of the pie, it was heaven.

I want to say a special thank you to the members that have stuck with me from the beginning, the ones that never waivered in the face of adversity, the ones that understood the beauty of this place and never took it for granted. Thank you to Robert Livingston, my first powerlifter, Gregg Wong, my first strongman athlete and Trevor Kidwell – though I never coached you directly, I like to think you learned a thing or two about training, coaching and running a business.

For those of you still sticking around the industry, if I can leave you with one piece of advice that I learned a few years back – stop operating from a place of scarcity. If you’re basing your decisions from the mentality that there’s not enough resources, or potential clients or even time then you’ll always think small, look small and be small.

Reach out to each other, help each other and learn to co-exist outside of your bubble. J.Cole has a great lyric that has kept me focused on me and mine and maybe it’ll do something for you as well – “Always gon’ be a whip that’s better than the the one you gotAlways gon’ be some clothes that’s fresher than the one’s you rockAlways gon’ be a bitch that’s badder out there on the toursBut you ain’t never gon’ be happy till you love yours “As for me, I’m going to take a little sabbatical.

It’s been a long, long time since I had a free weekend. I don’t even know what I’m going to do with free time to be honest. I plan on continuing to coach remotely through Dopamine Strength and spend as much time as possible with Clover as she’ll be turning fifteen this year and it’s time to buy a K9 Sportspack. If anyone wants to sponsor Clover’s G-Wagon then I’m sure she’d appreciate it. I’m thinking about thinking about starting to train again but for health and fitness, maybe make a return in a couple of years as a *adjusts glasses* middleweight masters strongman – but honestly, I miss rugby more.

I’ll be selling off all the gym equipment, supplies and every nut bolt and screw not taped down later this month.

A price list and directions for securing and paying for equipment will be up in the next couple of days. So I say this to you today, do not be sad that the ride is over, understand that this place will live forever. In your hearts and minds and for as long as you dry those gym t shirts correctly.

Looking back, I could not have even known to ask for this amazing of a season when this started. The successes we’ve experienced, the goals we’ve accomplished, the pain, the discomfort, the growth – every high and every low, it was all worth it so that I can stand here today and say thank you for being part of this journey.

With love and compassion – Danny Rivera

Arlington Strength & Conditioning Est. 2013 Inside these walls, beat the hearts of champions.