We had the good fortune of connecting with James Mills and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi James, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I think the biggest factor of our success at Synapse Strength and Movement is that we approach fitness with a long-term view. Consistency always beats intensity and that is how the gym operates. I’m not very interested in the short term. I am not looking to grow the business as fast as I can to sell it. I’m not interested in crash dieting and crazy workouts for 6 weeks to lose the weight I’ve gained from the stress of this past year dealing with shutdowns and Covid. I want to put in the work to build something that really matters in the long run (a thriving business and a strong resilient body) with the knowledge that there will be ups and downs. In the vernacular of Game Stop meme-stock mania, “I’ve got diamond hands!”
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?
It feels like a lifetime ago that I was a professional ballet dancer. In fact, next year I will have retired from that profession for the same amount of time I was in it! Dance was this incredible gift of blending athleticism with analytical precision and creative expression while balancing individual achievement with cohesive teamwork. Though I am more fond of the experience now than I was doing it (it wasn’t an easy job), I simply love the performing arts and am so grateful for the experience.
I specifically hated teaching ballet throughout my career. So becoming a strength coach was never on the radar. I fell into it when I rehabbed from an injury with the amazing physical therapist and strength coach, Dr. Kelly Starrett. Kelly altered my life course by offering me a new framework to approach physicality outside of the ballet studio, which in turn amplified the work in the studio. Three years of studying with Kelly led me to want to help others in the same way, which began my journey to opening Synapse Strength and Movement. There is a law degree and a few years as an attorney sprinkled into this story as well, but that’s way less interesting! Synapse Strength and Movement is an amazing community of professionals putting in the reps to keep themselves feeling strong and flexible, despite the hours of sitting in front of computers, so they can be at ease playing on the ground with their kids and fully utilizing the Colorado outdoors.
For my part, I have a highly developed eye for movement, honed by thousands of hours in the ballet studio, which really sets my coaching apart. I never want my members to be lost in the weeds of details, but those details do matter, and working on them while searching for the flow-state of strength and balance quickly coalesces into feeling awesome and strong.
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?
A week-long visit from a friend entails getting into the mountains. It doesn’t matter what we do as long as there is time spent walking in the trees, sitting on granite, carving up a ski slope, or cold plunging in a river. It’s the draw to Colorado for all of us, right? We would also explore the food and spirit culture. A favorite craft brewery such as Cerebral Brewing, dinner at some trending restaurant or the incredible Hop Alley would definitely take up an evening or three. We’d also visit the iconic Red Rocks and likely tour the Denver Art Museum or Botanical Gardens. There is so much more to do, but these are some standards when our friends visit.
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?
First of all my amazing, accomplished wife endlessly supports my work building Synapse. When I get down she’s there encouraging me and, when necessary, telling me to stop sulking and get on with it! I also have to thank Lara Buelow. Lara is an extremely skilled life coach specializing in helping people through career transitions. I was struggling with a lack of direction and realized I needed help so I reached out. With Lara’s assistance, I waded through layers of personal and cultural expectations to realize building my dream gym was the path forward for me. She then helped me through the process of chunking the large task of “opening a gym” into amuse-bouche-sized steps I could tackle over time. Thanks, Lara!!!!!
Quinn Wharton is the photographer for the featured image. All the others were in-house shots by staff.