Jamie Warren

“I had to go all the way to India to hear about Iron Tribe Fitness.”

It was on a mission trip in 2009 that Forrest Walden first told me about an intense (and fun) approach to group training for maximum results.

Being into exercise and in decent physical shape, I was intrigued. He described a group of guys and some of their wives who were working out in his garage. I had done one-on-one personal training, weight training and cardio with a buddy at various big box gyms. I had even done solo weight training and running. He invited me to try it out once we returned home.

My first experience was a hero workout with a bunch of cleans, kettle bell swings and burpees. There were about a dozen of us on a Saturday afternoon in Forrest’s garage and driveway. I remember one of the women in the group there that day motivating all of us in the middle of the workout. Forrest’s wife, Mendy yelled, “Come on, guys. Someone died for this. Let’s pick it up!”

What was this? What cult had I joined? I didn’t even finish the workout but was reduced to a nauseated fetal position in the back yard. I got home and assumed my horizontal position on the floor. My wife walked over to me with a battery of questions about what happened and when was I going to get up and help with the kids. Her last comment was, “If this is how these workouts will affect you, I can’t get behind this. You need to man up or doing something that’s easier.” Wow.

So, why did I go back to the garage the next week? To prove to my wife that I could take it? Maybe. To prove to myself that I could finish a workout? Partially. I think the real reason was that it was… fun. I had never had more fun working that hard physically. Like most people, I played sports as kid but had not found a consistent outlet for physical competition in my adult life. There was something about a group of peers there all working as hard as we could to beat our own records and each other’s times. I’m of average build, strength and weight. No one has ever describe me as “ripped” or even “really strong.” I was a good athlete but not a varsity player of anything.

When my body adjusted to the intensity, I noticed I started to improve. I got faster and could throw more weight around. It didn’t take long for me to get hooked on this new intense group training. My skeptical wife eventually visited the garage as well. Being a competitive athlete for much of her high school and college years (and a later a middle school teacher and coach), she soon fell in love with this.

Fast forward to February 2010. We joined the first Iron Tribe Fitness location when it opened in Homewood with the badge,”OG” (abbreviation for original garagesters). We soon found a groove with my wife working out at the 5:45 AM workout, and I worked out in the afternoons before coming home from work. I even went back through 101 to make sure I had all the movements correctly.

We soon realized that the Paleo nutrition was the fuel that this vehicle called “Iron Tribe” needed to run efficiently. So, we started eating more proteins, fibrous vegetables, nuts and fruit. We started decreasing starches, dairy and sugars–except on cheat days. Despite the occasional setback with an injury or several days of eating poorly, this pattern became a habit for our family. Our kids mostly eat Paleo during the week now, and my oldest son has even tried Iron Tribe Kids.

Personally, I’m in the best shape of my life as I’m about to turn 40. People are shocked when I tell them my age. I run faster, lift more and push harder than I ever did in my 20s. The victories in the gym have influenced my attitudes and energy professionally and as a husband and father. I truly believe God has used Iron Tribe Fitness as refining force in my life. He’s using this in part to transform me on the inside as it improves me on the outside.

“I love Iron Tribe Fitness, so much, I’ve changed my career to be a part of something bigger.”

In May 2011, I met two energetic guys named Eli Martorana and Maxwell Jones. Eli had a business plan for opening a group training gym in Nashville, TN. Among my family and friends, I had become known as an “Iron Triber.” It was a good plan and was geared toward the experience at ITF. Eli asked a small group of business people to invest in the gym. After experiencing this change in my life, I enthusiastically agreed. Eli would manage the business, Maxwell would be the head coach and the investment group would help with various functions according to our collective expertise: marketing, finance, accounting, etc. After six months, we were still looking for the right location for the Nashville gym. It was then that I learned that ITF was going to franchise its model. The timing was perfect. We had already formed the legal entity, executed partnership agreements and contributed the initial capital.

I was a believer in the power of ITF to change people’s lives–not just their bodies. I didn’t know how solid the business model was. After walking through the process of qualification, due diligence and Discovery Day, our group decided to open our gym as a franchisee of ITF. We were the second franchisee to commit. If we execute the system with discipline and passion, I have no doubt our group will achieve all we want with this business.

Nashville is such a perfect market for this fitness experience. Our first Iron Tribe location was opened in Belle Meade in Early 2013. We now own 4 locations in the Nashville area with 4 more on the way in the coming years.

I believe in what we’re doing so much, I’ve even sold my previous business, a branding agency, so that I can fully commit my time and focus to help growing our locations in Nashville.

While it’s taken quite a while to get to this point with our group, I feel we’re only starting a fantastic journey. If you’re in Nashville, please drop in and work out with us!