We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelvon Yancey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelvon, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I started Zone Fitness Training back in 2012. I made the decision to start a fitness training business because I needed a way to free myself from working for the big box gyms (LA Fitness, 24hr. Fitness, etc.). At the time, I was working for 24hr. Fitness and it wasn’t the best place for me to be to grow as a fitness professional. This was mainly for two reasons: I thought the prices they charged for personal training were too expensive and I didn’t feel like I was getting a fair cut from those prices, especially as the person doing all of the work. I majored in Exercise Science in college. So, I’ve always been passionate about helping people improve themselves and their health. Working for 24hr. Fitness was making me lose that passion because it was putting me out of reach of the people that needed my help the most. So, starting Zone Fitness Training was geared towards making my fitness training accessible to everyone.
After 5 years of building up Zone Fitness Training, I started ZFT Run Club on Juneteenth weekend of 2017. At this time I was gaining interest in distance running, but was having a hard time finding other black people that had that same interest. The more and more I searched, I came to the realization that black people were scarcely being represented in the world of distance running. With my interest in distance running growing and discovering the lack of black representation, I made the decision to start a black run club. Since I already had a fitness training business established, I decided to name the run club after my fitness training business; ZFT = Zone Fitness Training. The purpose of starting ZFT Run Club was to help black people discover the benefits of distance running and show them that it can be fun to do with the right community of people.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
The quality that I feel sets me apart from others, is my passion. I’m very passionate about helping people better themselves and Zone Fitness Training and ZFT Run Club allow me to do that through fitness. That passion gives me the energy to show up to 4am training sessions, work 12-15hr days, and continue to develop my craft. Seeing my people achieve and exceed their goals gave me the motivation I needed to keep pushing when times got tough over the years. I definitely wouldn’t have made it through the ups and downs of starting and building a business had it not been for my passion. I’ve learned that working in your purpose provides fulfillment, but that fulfillment doesn’t come fast or easy. Fortunately, working in your purpose will also provide you with the passion you need to weather the storm and ultimately experience that fulfillment!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is a hard question for me because I’m not really in these streets. The way I would pull this off is by asking my clients and run club members where to go. It’s kind of sad how far removed I am from knowing where all the moves and hot spots are. One place I do make sure to take people when they come in town is The Breakfast Klub, because that food is bussin’…….to me at least!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First and foremost, I have to give honor to God for even giving me the vision, passion and courage to take the leap to start Zone Fitness Training and ZFT Run Club. It has been a long 9yrs. of grinding, starting over, being uncertain, and all the other obstacles that come with starting and building a business. I thank God for giving me the resilience to stick with it and overcome those obstacles. A fitness training business or a run club is nothing without its clients/members. With that, I would like to thank anybody that has ever purchased a fitness training session or come out to a run. My training clients and run club members are more responsible for the success of Zone Fitness Training and ZFT Run Club than I could ever be. They are huge supporters and recruiters and I truly appreciate them for that.
I also want to thank my run club executive board for all of the work they put in the keep the run club running smoothly. They provide a lot of their time, energy, ideas, advice, resources, etc., which has contributed to the run club being able to provide an amazing experience for our members. They definitely deserve credit for the tremendous growth we’ve experienced over the past 4yrs.
Lastly, I want to thank Theo Murdaugh and our Dallas chapter for picking up the ZFT torch and carrying it into the DFW area. Theo took on the responsibility of starting a chapter of ZFT Run Club in Dallas in 2020. Him and his executive board have really grown that chapter into something to be proud of. Our Dallas chapter has allowed ZFT Run Club to expand our reach and build up the representation of black people in the world of distance running even more.
Instagram: @ZFTRunClub_Houston @ZFTRunClub_Dallas @ZoneFitnessTraining
Facebook: Zone Fitness Training
Other: TikTok; @ZFTRunClub_Houston @ZFTRunClub_Dallas