Every business has its own stories, but our business has an incredibly unique one, and it all started before we (Lacee and I) ever met. Follow along and try to keep up and I will explain the details. Before I officially start I am going to say we are tougher than most will ever know!
I guess you could say the dream of Full Circle Strength Systems started for both of us around the same time, but we were in different states, still going to college. For me it 2005 and I was being recruited to join a traveling strength team that inspired people with feats of strength, mostly strongman style; that is how I initially got into strongman. I declined the job as I felt something else was in store for me and my future. Skip ahead to 2007 and I was about to graduate from Dickinson State University and was looking ahead and thinking of starting my own garage gym as most gyms did not have the equipment I wanted. I started with a set of old Hampton bumper plates and a cheap bar from Scheels, which the plates are still in the gym today, and always will be, that was the start of my garage gym.
Roughly the same time (‘07/’08), Lacee was in between undergrad and chiropractic school and thinking the same idea as most gyms did not have what she wanted. Her brother TJ, whom most of you know, had a 57 lb 8” log built for her and that was the start to her gym and is still being used in our gym today! With that log she started to train for her first competition, during that time there had been maybe 3 meets a year with women’s divisions! We had met about a year later in 2009, where I also met TJ, at my first strongman meet in Chicago.
So as crazy as it sounds, Lacee and I lost track for 2 years and met back up ironically at a strongman meet TJ was hosting in Iowa in March of 2011. We’ve stayed in touch since thenJ! Fast forward 8 months and we were engaged. Lacee moved to Williston in January 2012. So, at this point I was on my second garage gym, and Lacee moved up with her own garage gym as well. We moved into my dad’s shop and were able to take a corner of it to ourselves with our own access. This gym was a 40’ x 40’ and we called that our headquarters for 3 years. We even had a Full Circle banner in it which is still on the wall of the gym today. During these 3 years we had talked about making the gym a business located in town, but we had a few obstacles in the way. Obstacles such as a head on collision with a semi, a full ceiling collapsed in on Lacee’s chiropractic business destroying everything, a house fire, trying to start a family, and many more moments in life that cost time and money pushing the dream of a gym business off.
So, during the slow economy of 2015, we were driving around and stumbled upon a small building behind McDonald’s that looked promising. Well, we rolled the dice and took it! We were called crazy and turned down by multiple banks until we found one that would back our idea. We were able to start in July of 2015, two days after we got back from competing in Kyrgyzstan for Team USA MAS Wrestling. It was not an easy start as the economy was slow and our idea of a gym was foreign to most people. We were not 24-hour accessible yet and for the first year and a half we would stay at the gym from 6am to 10pm daily! We had a business, and a dream to chase, we stuck it out even though some days we thought we would not make it, and I was still working a 2nd job. We finally caught a break, well not quite, but we saw a light at the end of the tunnel and made the gym 24-hour accessible, rearranged the equipment, put in a vending machine, and implemented a few more ideas to help gain members. This worked and worked well enough to stay in business along with pushing our events to get noticed. As things were starting to go in our direction we got hit by a possible raise in rent although a steady increase in memberships we were backed against the wall with the fire code!
We stayed in this location as long as we could while looking for a new space. We looked at roughly 8 buildings until we finally stopped and looked at this old abandoned mechanic building on the side of the highway with 4’ tall weeds and boarded up windows. We reluctantly called around and found the number to the owner of the building, he agreed to show us even though he was about to leave towards his cabin in Arizona the next day. We walked in and honestly most of you would have said, “hell no!”…we said, “We’ll take it!” We signed a lease on June 1st and began remodeling the next day, thankfully for the help from a lot of good people we cleaned it up. (This place was a dump and took an army just to clean it out!) We gutted the old mechanic shop to make it one of the best gyms ever and the new home of Full Circle Strength Systems. This remodel project had its ups and downs; and to make it more fun we literally sold our home and downsized to make more cash flow for the building improvements. We made decisions necessary to expand our business because we knew something good was going to come of this new location. We moved into our new (much smaller) home about the same time as the gym remodel! The gym remodel was extremely extensive and actually a huge ambition; that remodel was a story on its own, but we opened the first week of August and we have been in this location for three and a half years now.
Since we started one thing has stayed the same and that is our vision. We continue to stick to our plan and have equipment for all areas of strength training and keep things basic. As people change their plans or move on we keep moving forward with our goals and we stay in our lane. So, in a nutshell, Full Circle Strength Systems, started from scratch and was built on (not to sound too cliche here) blood, sweat, and tears. We have been in business five and a half years, have held 23 events including strongman, powerlifting, and seminars, and have met some of the most amazing people and have shared some insane stories along the way. We genuinely believe with the members we have, strength aside, we are the #strongestgyminND #teamFCSS #FullCircleStrengthSystems.