Maplewood resident Erick Graves harnessed his passion for helping people reach their full potential when he opened his Springfield Avenue fitness studio Body By Struggle.
While that handle might sound unusual for a wellness center, it pays homage to Graves’ nickname “Struggle” — a moniker he earned, as the name implies, the hard way.
“People always ask me: How did I get the name ‘Struggle?'” Graves explains on his website. “The name was given to me by my older brother. He said I was always an underdog and fought my way through any kind of struggle.”
No stranger to taking on challenges and overcoming them, Graves uses his positive momentum to help his members discover that they possess strength and power they may have otherwise never recognized.
“I don’t consider myself a personal trainer, I am a ‘personal transformer,'” Graves says. “I have been into fitness for over 25 years. For five years, I have been certified by way of ACE. I have studied various martial arts ranging from karate, boxing, wrestling, and my favorite, WuShu Kung Fu/Northern Shaolin.”
What separates his method — which incorporates boot and body camps, weight training, kickboxing and combat cardio — from others, Graves says, is placing the emphasis on the mind-body connection through precision of language.
“My approach is to help people control their thoughts to control their actions,” he says. “At Body By Struggle, we don’t use words like’ try’ or ‘maybe.’ These words all speak the possibility of failure. We aim to just, ‘do it!’ We are very careful on how we use words and phrases at Body By Struggle.”
Rather than saying, “This exercise is killing me,” or “It feels like my muscles are going to fall apart,” Graves prefers “empowering statements” such as, ‘These exercises will strengthen my body and help me achieve my goal. These exercises will help my muscles stay strong. With strong and healthy muscles, I can run around with the kids and really enjoy our family time together!”
The fitness enthusiast says simply by changing an individual’s mental relationship to exercise one can find purpose, which in turn increases the drive to continue the pursuit of fitness.
“My goal is to help people find their purpose and allow them to continue to give me the opportunity to be a part of their fitness journey,” Graves says. “I don’t believe in forcing people into long, yearly contracts, so membership is on a month-to-month basis. All are welcomed.”
To that end, Body By Struggle customizes workouts to each individual. Graves notes he serves everyone from “new mothers trying to lose their baby weight to your grandmother trying to lose the walker and everyone in between.”
Taking a “we’re-all-in-this-together” approach, Graves prefers to consider those he trains “team members” rather than “clients.”
“Each team member’s body will respond to the workouts in different ways,” he says. “We have to work together to find your individual code to unlock your ‘Rosetta Stone of fitness.’ Once we find out how your body responds to a particular diet and exercise regimen, that’s when we can tailor a workout and fitness regime that works for you.”
So far the response to his philosophy has been phenomenal, Graves reports.
“To have team members invite you to be a part of their personal lives, by way of birthday parties, kids sports activities, or family events, this type of feedback keeps me motivated to bring back the latest fitness has to offer to my team. Eighty-five percent of our team members have been with us since we first opened up.”