We had the good fortune of connecting with Claudia Knowles and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Claudia, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
My husband and I met over 5 years ago. When we met, he already owned a landscaping, construction company that is still doing well today. I was working 2 jobs to make ends meet and was so tired. After a few months of us dating, he asked me, “What do you really want to do?” “I want to open up a gym.” Little to my surprise, he was already looking for a place to open up a small gym. The hardest part was finding the right location. One day my nephew reaches out to me and tells me that his old karate school had closed and it was up for rent. We decided to look at it, only 1900 sq feet but we decided to take it. We had a few obstacles, such as Hurricane Irma in which delayed our opening. We opened in October of 2017. We did not want to be like the typical commercial gym so we decided to get specialized equipment, Monolifts, competitive benches and deadlift platforms with the bars meant for those specific lifts. Our bars are 65lb Squat bars, 55Lb Bench bars and 45Lb deadlift bars, but we also have other bars to accommodate all types of lifters.
My husband and I are Powerlifters. Shawn has been lifting since he was 16 years old, I played mostly organized sports like Women’s Professional Football for Women and would go to the gym just to stay in shape. When Shawn introduced me to Powerlifting, I thought I would not be able to do it since I had a few injuries. Well, here I am now, at 48 years old and have powerlifting records and On August 21, 2021, I will be lifting against 29 of the strongest women of 2020 at the WPO at the Embassy Suites Hilton In Fort Lauderdale. This is a huge honor as only a few get invited.
Opening the gym was meant for us to share our knowledge of fitness. Currently, my husband and I have 5000 sq foot gym in Fort Lauderdale, Iron Compound Gym. We coach and provide programs to powerlifters or just to anyone who wants to be healthier and stronger. My passion is to consistently help others achieve all of their personal fitness goals.
What should our readers know about your business?
My husband, Shawn Knowles and I are proud owners of Iron Compound Gym In Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I have always had a dream to open up a gym that was different from most commercial gyms. A place that anyone would feel comfortable to train. An environment where all could have fun and meet all of their fitness goals. We are an opened access gym with plenty of fun toys to play with, we have Boot Camp classes on Saturday mornings, we have a separate section with all of our specialized Powerlifting equipment. Our bars are specialized for that specific lift, 45lb Deadlift bars, 55lb Bench bars and 65lb Squat bars. We do have other bars available. We have all the equipment needed for everyone. We started out really small in Davie, Florida with only about 1900 square feet of space and now we are in Fort Lauderdale for over 1 year now, with over 5000 Square feet of space.
One of the most challenges we faced was back in March of 2020 when COVID hit and we had to close the gym down for a few months. We had just opened our new place in the beginning of February. Thankfully, we were able to stay in business and we are doing great. With the support of our members/clients, family and friends, we have been able to conquer some crazy obstacles.
My husband and I are the State Chair for the State of Florida for the American Powerlifitng Federation. We currently host APF/AAPF competitions in our gym about every 2 months and June 11-13 of this year, we are hosting the APF Nationals at the Embassy Suites Hilton in Fort Lauderdale. We will have over 150 powerlifters attending from all over the country and we are very proud and excited.
Not only do we own a gym, but we also run a small landscaping, construction company. So we are two very busy people just making a living.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There is always something to do in Florida. The keys are one of my favorite places to go. There are many great restaurants to choose from, hard to pick just one. There are so many excursions to choose from as well. Everyone loves to go to the southern most point where you can take some great pictures. The sunsets are amazing. Enjoying a cocktail, sitting on the beach while the sun sets is amazing and so relaxing. As you are driving down to Key West, there are so many places where you can stop off to enjoy great seafood, for the seafood lovers and even do some shopping.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I met my husband, Shawn, a little over 5 years ago. During that time, I was working many hours just to make ends meet. After a few months of dating, and seeing how tired I was and aggravated at my current situation, he sat me down and asked me “What would make me happy?” (besides him of course). “I would love to own a gym. I want to help others achieve their fitness goals, help others get healthier, teach the basics of proper lifting, have a place that people can workout comfortably. I want the best gym in South Florida.”
Shawn heard me and within 2 years of us dating, that dream became a reality. With Shawn already owning a Landscaping Construction company, he still made time to research areas. In October 2017, we opened a small gym in Davie, Florida. In February 2020, we expanded to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to a warehouse, over 5000 sq ft called Iron Compound Gym. Currently, we both are partners in life and we own 2 businesses. My husband works so hard each and every day so our lives can progress for the better and look forward to an amazing future. I can not thank him enough for all that he has done.
Facebook: Iron Compound Gym