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Southern California Edit

Grit Story: Gary Williams

Today’s Grit Story is twofold. First, we’re here to celebrate one of our most dedicated and consistent riders: Gary Williams Jr.. There was zero grace period between Gary’s first ride at Grit and him becoming a full-throttle addict. One set of bounces and he was looking to buy a package of classes. He’s rides across the schedule, goes to all different instructors, and gives 1000% in every class.

Beyond the Saddle Room, Gary’s philanthropic contributions to our various charities and karma rides are just as full-throttle and dedicated as his final sprints. When it came time for the Gritty Up 2017, Gary was one of the first to go, all out, with a corporate sponsorship from his company UPS.

We are so grateful to share Gary’s Grit Story:

Please tell us some nitty-gritty about Gary.

 I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley;  Burbank to be exact. It’s certainly a different lifestyle then what we all enjoy down here in Newport Beach. I have two younger, twin sisters, Ashley and Michelle, and parents Gary and Cheryl, who live down in Dana Point.

My partner in crime is a one year old Labrador Retriever, “Traeger,” yes like after the BBQ grill. One of my passions in life is cooking, most notably good BBQ, so to my close friends the name doesn’t surprise them; to others after they give me the blank stare, I have to explain.

My second passion in life is racing,  specifically off-road desert racing. I have competed in many Baja 500 and Baja 1000’s over the years and Mexico holds a special place in my heart.  My real job is Franchise Development for The UPS Store Franchisee, I oversee the Southern California Market with roughly 290+ locations.

Please tell us a bit about your UPS stores and the cool history of the family business and its growth. 

My parent’s Mailboxes Etc/UPS Store Franchise story is certainly an interesting one. Neither one of my parents went to college, and at the time they were both in the music business, Mom was a singer and Dad was a drummer. They met one night in Vegas playing shows at the Plaza Hotel….. forty-one years later their love story is one to be emulated.

They both quit the music business. Dad starting out, Mom working at Jack in the Box and waitressing at the Beverly Hills Hotel; humble beginnings to say the least.

In 1980, a crazy idea to compete against the Post Office peaked my Dads interest and Herb Goffstein, the founder of Mailboxes Etc. took a liking to my Dad’s work ethic and the rest is history.

Today there are over 4,500 UPS Stores across the country. Currently my sisters and I oversee the Southern California market, roughly 290+ locations. My parents seriously need to write a book about their experiences, for two kids with no education who simply wanted a better life, it is truly a story of living the American dream.

What brought you to Grit Cycle?

Luck. It’s as simple as that. I had recently met Brittany Cammarata and we became instant friends. She mentioned I try Grit with her one day and I took her up on it, and I was hooked. I owe a lot to her for this crazy journey.

Do you remember your first class at Grit? What was that like?

Oh do I ever. It was Matt Bourne’s infamous 10:45am class. Looking back on it, for someone who had never taken a spin class before, Britt certainly wanted to throw me into the fire. When I first walked up, it was clear this was a close group, I was a bit intimidated until I walk in. Dani was actually the first one to come up and chat and immediately put my mind at ease. This was a rad group of people and I wanted in.  Within 20 seconds of the first song I was frantically looking around trying to keep up with whatever these moves were. I’m sure it was pure comedy. Once class ended I knew two things for certain: that it was THE best workout I had ever had, and I wanted more, a lot more.

What about Grit kept you coming back?

It’s interesting, at first my main motivation for continuing to go was to learn the workouts and finish a class, I think I spent more time sitting down in the beginning than riding, and for a Type A personality that was simply unacceptable.   Then things changed. I have had some of the most rewarding conversation in my life sitting on that deck after class, there is just something about it. I found comfort in knowing that although we all have our own story, our motivation for walking into that spin room is the same….Today my motivation is to push those around me and I can certainly count on them returning the favor, I’ve been yelled at more times than I can count haha.

Describe how your life {physically, mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, professionally, etc} has been affected by your time spent at Grit.

To say that going to Grit Cycle everyday is life changing would be an understatement. Certainly getting in shape is a motivation, however, it goes well beyond that. Starting my mornings off at Grit has provided a perfect way for me to get focused on the day, and is the perfect stress reliever. At the same time when I first started going to Grit I was in probably the most challenging times I had ever experienced in life. Grit provided me a sanctuary, a place where I could come to without fear of judgment, and whatever life was throwing at me simply didn’t matter once those doors closed. It’s amazing what you can take out on those bikes.  I owe a lot to where I am in life and getting back on my feet to Grit.

Have other people in your life noticed these changes? What are their thoughts?

At first it was more questioning than anything, as in how can you post on social media everyday about a “spin class” It’s amazing how passionate this community is and we all want to show it. Then has time went on, I got back in shape, and Grit provided a happiness I never had before, and it’s contagious. I’ve been fortunate to persuade a few friends to try a class out, and over time the outcome is the same…they are hooked.

What advice would you give to a first-timer coming to Grit, who’s a little unsure about the whole experience?

It’s tough because I think that for someone who hasn’t been here, you read the stories, you see the pictures and it’s easy to assume that all of this is simply too good to be true, and in the world we live in today it should be. I personally cannot think of another place where everyone was as welcoming and accepting as Grit. The hardest part will be walking up and ramp for the first time, from there you will never look back.

What or Who is your biggest inspiration or motivation?

 I’ve never been one to idolize others, I don’t have a favorite sports team, or author or music artist, but it’s amazing the amount of motivation my parents have given me through their story. I think that there’s a certain beauty to anyone who tackles life head on and succeeds against all odds.  You see it everyday at Grit. The stories you hear and see of others and their struggles, yet they continue to get up and fight against it and succeed. It’s in those people who I find the greatest motivation.

Do you have a mantra that inspires you?

Is this when I use google to find a deeply inspiring meme with a cool background photo? All kidding aside I think for me it’s a constant reminder that you truly create your own luck in life. Nobody is just lucky. It’s through hard work and recognizing those small opportunities that the world gives you, and taking advantage of them that luck is created.

Do you have a class or ride that has been your most memorable or favorite?

For me that’s impossible to answer, each ride brings on a new challenge. I love trying different instructors as they each bring their own style to class.  Lately I have been digging Kaitlyn’s 7am class, that women is  incredible. Then there’s Dani’s Sunday church service which, unfortunately I cannot write about in a public forum, what happens at Sunday service stays at Sunday Service.

What is your favorite song to ride to and why?

Rage by Hyper Crush, and quite honestly I couldn’t even tell you why, there’s just something about it. All I know is those poor people whoever is in front of me during that song, because they are getting an awful concert they didn’t ask for.

What was your “aha” moment, experience, ride, situation where you realized Grit was more than a spin class for you?

This one is easy to remember. Dani asked my to ride her podium for the first time and I literally did not sleep the night before. There’s something sacred about that podium. But halfway through that class there was a moment where everything seemed to just slow down and I looked out and with everyone moving together to the music. At that moment I realized just how special this community is to me, this group had literally changed my life. Dani lit a fire in me that day that I have carried with me ever since.

You have been so generous with your philanthropy to all of Grit’s charities with your participation and donations to our Karma Rides, etc. why is philanthropy so important to you + UPS?

Giving back and connecting with the local community has always been important to The UPS Store family. All too often people assume that its “Corporate UPS,” but the reality is each store is individually owned and operated, and these owners are eager to give back to their local community.

What encouraged you to become a sponsor for the upcoming 2017 Gritty UP?

Ever since I joined Grit I have heard about the Gritty Up, everybody in the community talks about it. Most importantly, the impact that this event makes on cancer research and the local community it was hard for us not to be involved in such a great event.

What do you hope to accomplish from the Gritty Up sponsorship?

I’m hoping we can bring more corporate sponsors to the event and make the biggest impact possible for the John Wayne Cancer Foundation. Additionally, I also want to encourage everyone to visit their locally owned UPS Store and see how they can assist you in your small business needs.

Gary you are one of a kind and we at Grit Cycle are so grateful for you presence and charity to all of our many causes. Thank you for your time, loyalty, inspiration, and extraoridinary generosity.


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