How One Gym Built a Community With True Grit

Members of True Grit Fit

In 2014, Mike Tedford and his wife Letitia had always talked about opening a gym but never made the moves. Then, they physically moved from California to Florida and found out Letitia was pregnant—and they knew it was now or never. They took a leap of faith and started True Grit Fit, a non-competitive fitness bootcamp studio, in Tampa, Florida. After being open for only a little over three years, True Grit Fit has now expanded to a second location and was named the BOLD Business of the Year in 2016 and 2017.

The secret to their success? An incredible community built around their business.

The real power of this community came to light when the gym was hit by a city zoning ordinance. Unaware that they weren’t compliant, True Grit Fit had to act fast to build their case for appeal—or else they’d be shut down. That’s where the community came in. Nearly 100 members of the True Grit family showed up to the hearing to tell the board what the gym meant to them. With such overwhelming heartfelt support, the city had no choice but to side with them and grant a positive ruling.

Mike looks at what they’ve created as something unlike any fitness community he’s ever seen: one that’s so involved and so open to welcoming new members. He says, “the community that we’ve brought together is amazing. It gives me goosebumps when I see the friendships that have been made through our program.” But this sense of community doesn’t stop inside the gym—True Grit Fit is passionate about helping their broader community, too.

Giving back is an essential part of who they are and what they stand for. Mike believes that “when you are part of a community, and that community embraces your business in a way that allows you to succeed, you have a moral responsibility to try and give back to programs that work to make a positive impact on people who need a helping hand.” And True Grit Fit stays true to these words.

As the head of powerlifting for the Special Olympics, Mike has opened his time and his gym for training. His gym members even team up with the Special Olympics team members at Saturday morning bootcamps to assist and encourage them. True Grit Fit also hosts monthly events and workouts for different causes, from military non-profits and food pantries to other local groups. Each event raises around $1500–$2000, and usually sells out within three days to the point where they need to add another.

Mike, Letitia, and the rest of the True Grit Fit team are passionate about challenging their clients to adapt a healthier lifestyle and to get involved in as many projects as possible to improve their community. Their goal for the future? To continue expanding and have every new location be veteran or first responder-owned facilities.

True Grit Fit truly embodies what it means to be BOLD by making a lasting impact and changing lives—both in their gyms and in their surrounding communities.

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