October 10, 2010, was the day I legally became a business owner. That was the day I officially filed CrossFit Naples as an LLC.

This is embarrassing to admit, but sometimes, I will park my car in the parking lot of the first location where I opened my gym and reflect on all the great memories as well as the difficulties I faced as a new business owner. I couldn’t have imagined then that I would be running a gym full-time almost nine years later.

You might be surprised to hear this, but I never aspired to be a gym owner. My journey from former athlete to business owner began as a suggestion from my high school wrestling coach. After returning home from the military, I was struggling to find a career path that I was passionate about. I had no college degree, no work “experience”, and nothing to show for the last 5 years of my life. After telling him what I was going through, he encouraged me to apply as a high school wrestling coach. He believed that coaching would help me connect back to my roots toward a sport that I loved and was so passionate about as a teen. And he was right! Becoming a coach was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

My journey from an athlete to coach, to full-time gym owner, took much longer than I expected, was harder than I imagined, and more gratifying than any other thing I have experienced in my life.

Now instead of being considered a coach for the sport of Wrestling, my title is coach of a Strength & Conditioning program. Inside our little 2,500sq/ft warehouse we call a gym, there isn’t a day that goes by that I enter the gym and don’t sit parked in my truck for a few seconds and feel so grateful for what I get to do every day for a living.

The most important lesson that I’ve learned so far through this journey is that real happiness doesn’t come from getting everything we want on our time, it comes from sharing what we have with other people when we have something to give.

You might be surprised to hear this, but I never aspired to be a gym owner.

Gandi understood this so well when he said, “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” And for that, I want to thank each and every one of you who have come into my gym and allowed us to help you in one way or another. We can’t help everyone, but we CAN and WILL always try to help someone willing to put in the work.

Your Coach & Mentor,

Mario Ashley, MBA
Owner of Naples Strength & Conditioning