Making it Work: Part One

By: Vanessa Araiza Email
By: Vanessa Araiza Email

Going to work every day and loving what you do is something we all yearn for in a profession.

However, getting to that point can be challenging.

If you would asked Steve "Hammer" Cunningham what he would be doing 10 years ago, personal trainer wouldn't have been the first thing that came to mind.

He said, "I didn't even know what a personal trainer was until I came to Dothan. I was just in the gym helping people."

Coming from a rural town in Barbour County, Cunningham worked as a firefighter, working out as a hobby.

It wasn't until he was asked to train someone that he considered turning it into a money maker.

From that point on he took on personal training at a local gym.

However, one unfortunate event would change his path.

"My gym caught on fire,” he said. “I went to work that morning; there was a fire and I was like, ‘oh, I have the day off’, but then I realized I don't have a job."

With nowhere to hold his "Hammertime" classes, Cunningham took things to his home.

Time and time again he was told to open his own gym.

Through the persistence of one of his clients, Laura Barnard, he took on a feat he had never considered.

"She started putting business plans together and we started looking and I was like, okay, maybe we can do this,” he explains.

Thus, Synergy Health and Fitness Gym was born.

However, it didn't come without its challenges.

"You get ready to open a gym and you think once the lights come on we can roll. But it was like you had to wait on this inspector to come and make sure the water faucet is setting up right and the sink is setting up right in the business," Cunningham continued.

Opening a gym in the heart of a recession wasn't encouraging either.

"I believe that I had something to offer the people and they would come. So what the numbers said, no you can't do this, you gotta’ be careful."

But Cunningham says it's the people who come in and reassure him his decision was the right one to make.

"I had a lady tell me today, she said she's taking chemo. She's probably 60 years old, so she's taking chemo but she hasn't missed a workout. She says I can still climb those five stairs at the hospital. That's what keeps me coming."

Just recently, Cunningham made a workout video right here in Dothan.

Moms, teachers, and everyday people were in it.

It’s due to come out in the next few weeks.


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