Ben Davis saw something he wanted to fix: He wanted to make coaching accessible to people who wouldn’t normally be able to pay for it.
“The coaching profession in general, and I mean fitness coaching, life coaching, business coaching, is a bit of an unfair profession, in that people with the means to gain access to it are the ones who receive great coaching and mentorship,” he said.
“Successful people in all walks of life, you’ll find have had really good coaching for many years. And then there are thousands and thousands of other people who never have access to good quality coaching,” he added.
Davis then became determined to find a solution: “How can I bring the best fitness to people who don’t have access?” he asked himself.
The first step was to open a gym in the right area. He chose a diverse area of Atlanta that could serve a lower income community.
Today, his gym, Noble Clay Fitness, which is also a non-profit, registered charity, does exactly this.
“Where we’re located, just southwest of us, like a block away, the household income is about US $23,000. And then just to the northeast of us, you’ve got most people making $100,000,” he said.
“There’s also a huge racial divide here. There are systems that have been in place for decades that have caused certain neighbourhoods not to have access to good quality coaching,” he added.
Fifty percent of Davis’ members pay full price—$297 per month—while the other 50 percent pay subsidized rates based on their income level.
“Kind of like a YMCA but with functional fitness,” he said.
“We have a membership for under $40,000 household income level, between 40 and $70,000, and then above $74,000 is full price. So our gym is a mix of people who are making $100,000 a year to as low as $6,000 a year. And then a few are multi-millionaires,” he added.
The second step was to figure out how to develop great coaches. The answer was immediately clear to him.
After meeting OPEX Founder James FitzGerald in 2009, Davis went through the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP) in 2011. Shortly after that, he broke off from the CrossFit community and embraced the OPEX individual program design model.
And when he opened Noble Clay, Davis reached out to FitzGerald about a possible partnership.
The result: OPEX sponsors Davis’ coaches, of which he has four, by putting them through the CCP.
“It has been incredible to have them support us,” he said. “Right away I knew James was pursuing what he does with integrity. He’s one of the top guys in the world, maybe even the top, so it’s the best education I could give my coaches.”
Though Noble Clay isn’t an OPEX-licensed gym, all of his coaches are CCP educated, and he runs his gym exactly like an OPEX gym in terms of delivering the assessment, individual design, and lifestyle consult pieces.
This has allowed Davis and his coaches to deliver the best possible fitness to his clients, he said.
“Fitness for the individual. We’re able to individualize our clients’ fitness and that’s exactly what people need,” he added.
His next step: To grow the Noble Clay brand to reach more people.
“Philadelphia is the next hope. One of our board members is the strength and conditioning coach for the Philadelphia Eagles, so we’re thinking Philadelphia next,” Davis said.
He added: “We want to grow like OPEX. The ultimate vision is to scale the model to other cities where there’s a division and injustices going on, to provide more people in more cities access to the best coaching possible.”