We had the good fortune of connecting with Christopher Hallock and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christopher, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I opened Incremental Strength in August 2021 to introduce people in my community to the benefits of resistance training with barbells and weights. Learning the fundamental barbell movements and how to effectively structure a resistance training program has truly changed my life, and I want to share that gift with others.
I’m the kind of person who needs to do something active nearly every day to feel satisfied and productive. After graduating from college in 2009, I was fortunate to have found a remote job in the healthcare industry with a flexible schedule. This allowed me to relocate to Colorado where I was able to carve out time for running, cycling, hiking, and swimming, which the observant reader may have noticed are all endurance activities. At the time, I had a very basic understanding of resistance training; while I did incorporate some dumbbell movements into my routine, weights were never the star of the show.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, a friend helped me rediscover barbell resistance training by sharing the names of a few respected professionals in the industry who were putting out high quality content. What we were doing in the high school weight room years ago doesn’t begin to compare to the practical application of evidence-based exercise science taking place today!
Feeling inspired, I set about purchasing some equipment to build up my own home gym. Things escalated quickly. I went from having only a set of dumbbells, a stationary bike, and a yoga mat in the corner of the garage to a proper weight room filled entirely with premium equipment.
When I wasn’t shopping for barbells and weights, I was seeking out optimal ways to design my own training program. I found myself spending more time learning about strength training strategies, and it was so exciting to see them actually working! It felt so much more satisfying to keep adding weight to the bar than it was to complete a long bike ride, like I was accumulating results over time instead of sporadically getting some exercise in. My mind was blown.
All of this was going on during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading me to reflect on my life, relationships, and career. This brought clarity to what was truly important to me, and so I decided to take a leap and become certified as a personal trainer, turning my new passion into a new business: Incremental Strength Personal Training LLC in Grand Junction, Colorado.
I think a lot of people view weightlifting as an activity only for athletes, so I want to raise awareness in my local area about the benefits of strength training for everyone. There’s so much more to it than building muscle to achieve a certain physique. What’s great about performing these particular functional movements with weights is that it trains our bodies to move exactly how they will in the real world, but in a safe and structured environment with progressively heavier loads. This leads to regular activities of daily living feeling easier and becoming more resilient to injury while performing everyday tasks like carrying a heavy bag of dog food into the house.
We live in an era where technology defines our culture, requiring us to always be “connected”: work, school, leisure, dating, friendship—there’s an app for everything! It’s so easy to neglect our physical selves when we’re living in a digital world. My vision for Incremental Strength is to meet with fellow Coloradans face-to-face on a regular basis to build relationships and implement evidence-based training methods to help them achieve their goals. It feels so incredible to positively impact people’s lives that I would do this for free if I could pay all my bills—but I can’t! So please get in touch and purchase some sessions!
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I own and operate a private gym in Grand Junction, Colorado that delivers one-on-one personal training with an emphasis on getting stronger. There are many different approaches to resistance training using barbells and weights. I choose to implement progressive overloading techniques derived from powerlifting as opposed to Olympic weightlifting or CrossFit because I believe powerlifting is the most effective and safest way for regular people to get stronger without requiring any prior experience in athletics. Incremental Strength stands out as the only strength-focused private gym in my area offering quality equipment and climate control for year-round training. However, the real challenge is competing with the huge online fitness industry selling apps, gimmicks, supplements, and dreams of a “better you” through huge marketing campaigns. I’m a little old-fashioned in my belief that seeing people several times a week in person to build a real relationship is preferable over a digital personal training business model. There’s probably more money to be made online, but I think the one-on-one in person connection delivers a better experience for my customers and is more fun for me as well.
What are you most proud of or excited about?
I’m most excited about helping people discover a better quality of life through barbell resistance training! There’s a segment of the population that doesn’t like to exercise because it feels like work. I want to introduce those people to the satisfaction of hitting new PRs (personal records) on a regular basis and the self-confidence that comes with this kind of measurable progress. Prioritizing strength over other metrics for progress results in a better relationship with exercise. Instead of hyper-focusing on your least favorite physical feature or burning a certain number of calories, I highlight the importance of gradual performance increases as measured by weight on the bar (and more often than not, your physique will naturally improve alongside those strength gains!). This creates a positive feedback loop of good habits realized by attending all your scheduled sessions in a week, as opposed to a punishment ritual to be inflicted several times a week.
How did you get to where you are today business-wise?
My career for the last decade has involved working as an independent contractor, so being familiar with the tax system and other aspects of owning my own business has made starting Incremental Strength much less intimidating. However, steady work was provided to me for the last decade, so it has been a challenge adapting to a business model which relies on acquiring my own customer base.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Grand Junction, Colorado has a ton of outdoor activities and good restaurants! You absolutely cannot visit Grand Junction without driving through the Colorado National Monument. There are a bunch of trailheads and scenic overlooks in the park to get out and stretch your legs. If you enter on the east side and drive all the way through, you will end up in Fruita where you have to go to Hot Tomato for some amazing pizza. Fruita is also home to world-class mountain biking if you’re a thrill-seeker. After a day of hiking and biking, hit up Monumental Beer Works or The Ale House for a drink and dinner. For summer visitors, it’s fun to rent a kayak or paddle board and float down the Colorado River. The summer in Grand Junction also means farmers markets and food trucks! If you’re in the mood for shopping, Main Street in Downtown Grand Junction is the place to go with lots of small boutiques, antique shops, and cafes. You can’t visit the Grand Valley without spending a day in Palisade tasting wine at the multitude of wineries and vineyards in the area. For a change of scenery, hike around the mountains and lakes on the Grand Mesa. In the winter, check out Powderhorn Mountain Resort for skiing and snowboarding. There is no shortage of things to do here in the Grand Valley!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The list of small businesses in the fitness space that have influenced me includes Stronger by Science, Barbell Logic, Barbell Medicine, Untamed Strength, and Starting Strength. I’m a fan of the YouTube content put out by Jeff Nippard, Brandon Campbell Diamond (aka Basement Brandon), and Cooper Mitchell (aka Coop) from Garage Gym Reviews. I’d also like to give a shoutout to some strong women that I follow on Instagram: Niki Sims and Jessica Buettner!