© Liberation Barbell. Co-owners Lacy J. Davis (left) and Christina Cabrales (right).
This December, Res Nova Law shines its Small Business Spotlight on Portland, Oregon's Liberation Barbell, a queer- and woman-of-color-owned lifting gym focusing on strength gains and empowerment instead of weight loss, viewed through a lens of body positivity and anti-oppression. Liberation Barbell opened its doors in September 2017, and is run by the two badass women pictured above—Lacy J. Davis and Christina Cabrales. We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Christina to learn more about the gym's unique philosophy, lessons learned from business ownership, and the importance of upholding fierce feminist values in the weight-lifting world.
“Liberation Barbell is a celebration of diversity, body and fat positivity, empowerment and strength over looks. We are founded on the idea that physical fitness should be accessible to any body regardless of age, race, ability, gender identity, sexuality, current health, or size. ”
— Liberation Barbell
© Liberation Barbell.
Creating Meaningful Partnerships:
Lacy and Christina knew from the start, that in order to build a successful business, you have to build a solid team first. And that's exactly what they've done with Liberation Barbell. The two co-owners come from very different backgrounds and each bring unique and complementary skillsets. Lacy brings her expertise as a personal trainer, health coach, public speaker, and owner of two successful small businesses (i.e., Super Strength Health and the Rise and Resist podcast). She's also the co-author of an illustrated memoir called Ink in Water—a real and raw look at how Lacy "kicked anorexia's ass and embraced body positivity." Christina, on the other hand, brings a wealth of experience in restaurants, finance, program, and project management, and has the people skills and follow-through get work done. Christina does all the number-crunching and behind-the-scenes magic to keep Liberation Barbell organized, running smoothly, and community-focused. Part of that behind-the-scenes magic includes staying true to their mission by working exclusively with women and queer advisors, attorneys, designers, contractors, and accountants.
Marketing & Maintaining Momentum:
When Lacy's personal training waitlist became full, she realized that Portland demanded a body positive fitness space beyond what she could offer with one-on-one sessions only. But before she and Christina could create the physical training space they knew would be necessary to accommodate everyone, the two co-owners recognized that they faced a huge challenge: getting the startup capital to fund it. So, in 2016, Liberation Barbell launched a successful Indiegogo campaign, raising a total of $25,245 from 330 backers who all believed in their mission. And that's only on Indiegogo—other members of the community showed their support for Liberation Barbell by making individual donations, too. But this overwhelming support didn't happen on its own. Through their Indiegogo campaign, Christina learned that a having strong marketing plan and implementation were key to not only sparking the public's interest in the very beginning, but also maintaining and building that interest as time goes on. Hustle, market, hustle, market!
“‘Body positive' means we emphasize strength gains over weight loss. It means we empower those who have a damaged relationship with food, exercise, and body image. ”
— Liberation Barbell
© Liberation Barbell.
No "Bro Vibes":
In the four months since Liberation Barbell has opened its doors, Lacy and Christina have been delivering fitness fun and expertise to their clientele, exactly as promised. All are welcome in their space, whether you're queer, trans, non-binary, or just a shy beginner. Liberation Barbell is for anyone who's ever felt body shamed, insecure, or out-of-place in a regular gym that focuses on looks and weight loss instead of embracing diversity. The only caveat? No "bro vibes"! That means you can check your ego and ideas ingrained by diet culture at the door. Once inside, you can enjoy a bright, clean, and open space; small classes with individualized attention; no mirrors in the lifting space (you won't need them due to expert guidance from the trainers); gender-neutral changing rooms and a gender-neutral bathroom; and an inviting community of lifters who want to help each other succeed. Liberation Barbell also encourages their members to ask others for their pronouns in order to maintain the safe space they've worked so hard to create.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Christina! We're so stoked about all Liberation Barbell has accomplished, and we're thrilled to have you as one of our clients.
You can visit Liberation Barbell in inner East Portland, at 8030 SE Harold Street, Unit D.
And, you can check out their 2018 class schedule here.
Res Nova Law is an intellectual property and business law firm based in beautiful Portland, Oregon, serving innovative companies and entrepreneurs across the Pacific Northwest. We're your go-to lawyers for businesses of all types and in every stage of business growth. Our legal services include business formation, contract drafting, intellectual property advising and litigation, business advising and litigation, and more. We also offer outside counsel plans for businesses with ongoing legal needs.