Finding Home with Danny Soul
8 months ago
It goes without saying that there is a deep insecurity felt for those who do not have a place where they belong. Not everyone is given the luxury of finding and knowing where they belong, and many people lose the drive to continue making efforts to find it. However, those who do find it can attest to knowing the journey was worth it. Our ‘home’ can be among certain people, in a certain line of work, or even perhaps in a mental space. Danny Soul is one who could claim to have found his home in all three of those places. Beyond that, he knows confidently he is where he belongs.
Indie Music, Drugs, and Chaos
Danny Soul had a love for independent music and culture, finding himself drawn to such things as hardcore, metal music, and graffiti. He dropped out of high school his second year of tenth grade, and from the age of 12 until he was 21, his life was chaotic. He had been involved with drugs, alcohol, fights, and getting into conflicts with the law. The world of health and fitness had never been on his radar, despite his current involvement in the industry. He felt the world of fitness was dominated by jocks, and they were the sort he always had conflict with growing up. There was just never any interest in what the culture seemed to cater to. In February of 2006, Danny finally got sober. It was his tenth treatment center, and despite what others have claimed to experience, Soul never had any epiphany moment in the treatment centers. However, he was introduced to what would become an active part of his life.
A Resonating Culture
The same year that Danny got sober, he attended a fitness boot camp that struck his interest. He had a roommate at the treatment center who gave him certain tips and guidance with different workouts as well. Between the two, he eventually formed his own workouts and after purchasing equipment, started his own little gym out of his garage which he shared with others in his shoes. After a friend had shown him a CrossFit website, Danny got his first look at something he thought could be for him. This ultimately led to Danny’s first experience in a Crossfit Gym. “That’s how the journey started,” he explains. In 2007, Danny first walked into a CrossFit Gym. Everything was messy, rough around the edges, and chaotic. “The culture resonated,” explains Danny. The CrossFit gyms he recalls reminded him almost of tattoo shops, and he felt compared to the obscure bands no one knew of. At the time, he would chase down people who wore anything CrossFit, knowing he could immediately connect with them. It gave him a sort of community that felt very personal and gave him a sense of belonging.
A Gym Not for Everyone
Danny went on to open his own gym, CrossFit Soul in Miami, FL, and there he took his music tastes, interests, and love for the earlier years of CrossFit, and applied them to his own business. His gym requires a bit more independence from the interns who are more like apprentices, accompanied by friendly hazing. All his efforts are to make sure those coming in want to be a part of what he has made. After closing for three months during COVID, he had made changes to the programming and structure of his gym, which many people did not like. However, Danny was continuously trying to create the atmosphere he wanted in his business, and with a reliable team and plenty of members, he pushed forward. He recognizes fully that his gym and training is not for everyone. “I have a powerlifting, olympic weightlifting, personal training, CrossFit competition, and general population gym.” He expects changes and inconsistency to come up in his gym, in line with his vision for the chaos he loved of the old school CrossFit gyms. And though it is not for everyone, it is much more than a gym for Danny.
Realizing What You Have
Despite his love for the gym, Danny had at a point in time been given an opportunity to work as a Program Director for Wodapalooza. He believes part of the reason he had been offered the job was because his gym produced the most athletes who were top tier in their performance. He was recognized as knowledgeable and having the potential to succeed in the role. Leaving the gym in the hands of his team, he did the job for an entire cycle. During that time, he learned much about how much he was tied to the gym. He had become depressed, gained weight, developed anxiety, was stressed out, and realized he hated not being home—in his gym. Danny realized the corporate job was not for him and he “…[doesn’t] like money enough to chase it.” Being separated from his gym was emotional and challenging. So, he only did the job for one cycle. He returned to his gym after that. His love for what he has created gave him community and connections such as Wodapalooza and with brands like BUBS Naturals. It’s given him work that he loves. It’s also given him a place that feels very much familiar and his own. In an interview, Danny explains why he was so grateful to have found CrossFit when he did. “If I walked into most CrossFit gyms now, I probably wouldn’t have found my home.” He continues to provide to the crowd he knows, loving his work and the people he has surrounded himself with.