‘I want them to feel part of something’: Inside Reign Fitness, Kenmore’s newest gym

The business recently relocated to the city.

Working out can present a multitude of challenges. Besides the exercise it requires, it can also be difficult to figure out how to navigate equipment, discover effective routines, find gyms that nurture one’s fitness ambitions and more.

Reign Fitness, a personal training business that recently opened the doors of a new Kenmore location, seeks to change this. Founded by fitness coaches Willie Davies and James Robbins, the gym offers a myriad of personal training services catered specifically to clients’ needs.

“We want this to be a safe space where everybody can come in and feel confident,” Davies said.

The Shoreline-raised Davies and Robbins have been friends (or “brothers in arms, if you will” as Davies says) since they were 10 years old. Though they had always gotten along, Davies said their relationship especially grew in high school through baseball, a sport that helped kickstart fairly concurrent “fitness journeys,” according to the co-owners.

Robbins pursued the sport professionally after graduating. In 2009, he was drafted by the Detroit Tigers and remained with the team for the next seven years.

Davies played baseball for two years while attending Central Washington University. But he was ultimately more focused on personal training, which led him to receive an exercise science degree. He began his fitness career in 2014, personal training at small, semi-private exercise facilities and managing corporate gyms in the process.

Eventually, Robbins’ “passion and drive” switched to the fitness side of things. Davies said conversations around what would become Reign Fitness between the two came “right away” after his college graduation. Robbins was recently accepted into the University of Washington Bothell and will be studying business there.

In November 2016, the friends began casually chatting about potentially starting a personal training business. A few months later, their talks turned serious.

In July 2017, their application for a business license was approved. In September 2017, Davies and Robbins opened Reign Fitness in Lynnwood, which comprised an 860-square-foot location next to a baseball field.

Though the co-owners were able to make the size and location work, sometimes its limitations were clear.

“There were times where we would have a team of 20 athletes…and Willie and I would be back to back in the middle,” Robbins recalled.

A new start

Davies and Robbins stayed at the Lynnwood location until April. The move to Kenmore happened soon after. The trainers have been at the current location at 6134 NE Bothell Way for about three and a half months.

The move, according to Davies, is the “best decision [they’ve] ever made.”

The size of the facility is dramatically larger at 1,800 square feet. Davies and Robbins are much closer to where they grew up. And the Bothell-Kenmore area, as noted by Davies, is growing.

The city of Kenmore marked the gym’s opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 17. Davies expected only about 30 or 40 people to appear, so he was pleasantly surprised that around 60 community members — including the mayor — showed up.

“It was a really good time to get people in the door,” he said. “I know from my standpoint I’m very thankful to have people here and supporting us and having our backs.”

“It was great starting those conversations,” Robbins added.

There isn’t anything in Kenmore quite like Reign Fitness, Davies noted.

“Everything is personalized,” he said. Davies added that Reign Fitness strictly trains, and that, although some components of the gym were in part influenced by Northcore Performance Training, a Sho reline gym Robbins used to work with, it hasn’t been modeled after any one fitness-oriented business in particular.

Davies and Robbins make it a priority to ensure Reign Fitness is not only attentive to the fitness goals of its clients but also serve as a safe space for them.

“It’s not about coming here and throwing a bunch of weight around,” Davies said.

Before a client starts training with Reign Fitness, they receive a free assessment. This typically includes a small and “generic” workout, mobility testing, injury evaluation and fitness goals. This allows for Davies and Robbins to individualize the way they work with a client.

The business owners noted that prospective clients are in no way obligated to stick with Reign Fitness. There is a free trial period in the beginning during which customers can get a feel for the enterprise.

Davies said most clients wind up continuing. The rapport that builds and the educational foundation driving the training process are appealing. At Reign Fitness, nutrition and lifestyle are often factored into how sessions are laid out as well.

“There’s a true understanding of what you’re doing and why you’re doing something,” Robbins said. He noted that a common problem people face when working out with a trainer is that they don’t always know why they’re performing a certain task.

“We break it down for them in a way they can understand so they have full confidence in everything they do in here, and then have full confidence going somewhere else and going through a workout,” he said.

“Once people understand like, ‘It’s not somebody that’s going to make me do this drill sergeant thing. I’m actually going to learn,’ they like that,” Davies said. “That allows them to build value. Then you’re most likely to see them do stuff outside this gym, which is going to yield more results.”

Loving what they do

Robbins and Davies work with a wide range of clients. Robbins noted that they’ve joined forces with everyone from the 85-year-old grandmother of Davies’ girlfriend to large sports teams. For them, the benefits of personal training have all to do with seeing fitness positively impact people from all walks of life, even if the payoffs seem small.

“When a client succeeds, honestly, that’s what makes me happy,” Davies said.

He cited a specific instance of a client being able to fit their wedding ring on their finger for the first time in 10 years after training as being especially rewarding.

“Hearing that makes my day,” he said.

For Robbins, it’s all about “that moment when people make that transition.”

“Everybody comes in to work out because they think this is what they should do, or this is what healthy is supposed to be, or maybe, ‘My parents told me I have to do this,’” he said. “Whatever it may be, if they stick with it long enough, there’s that moment where that ‘click’ happens. It might be putting that wedding ring on, it might be dropping a pant size, it might be making a big jump in weights.”

Robbins and Davies said that even if Reign Fitness were to increase in size and reach — Davies envisions someday being at a larger location, with four to five employees — it’s important to them to maintain the relationship-building and personalization that make Reign Fitness unique.

“I think that having that sole focus of the relationships, attention to detail and that community sense is going to be really important for us, even as we get bigger,” Robbins said. “The people we bring on board, everyone who steps in that door, I want them to feel part of something.”

For more information about Reign Fitness, visit www.trainreign.com.

Peterson/staff photo                                Exterior of Reign Fitness. Blake

Peterson/staff photo Exterior of Reign Fitness. Blake