We had the good fortune of connecting with Sergio Calderon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sergio, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I always knew that I wanted to work with people to help them be the healthiest version of themselves. While I wasn’t sure how that would look, I had a passion for helping people. I began my schooling by majoring in kinesiology. At the time, I worked at a physical therapy clinic. Unfortunately, during my time in college, I had an accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury along with several broken bones throughout my body. This re-routed my life completely. In one night, my goals changed to fighting for my life, finding the strength to overcome the physical and mental limitations that I now faced, learning to walk, talk, and live a functional life again. After many months of therapy of all kinds, I began to see myself again. I was able to think about the dreams that I once had and found ways to pursue them. I knew now, more than ever, that I wanted to help people. I had a new sense of compassion and understanding after living with so many limitations. After that, I enrolled back into school. I received my bachelor’s in kinesiology shortly after. I worked with the community through many different facets when I was finally introduced into the field that I’m currently in. I worked as a coach with the special needs population at another local gym. In my time there, I was able to really grow as a person and as a coach. I furthered my experience and truly fell in love with working with the public in this capacity. I had known for years that I wanted to open my own gym. In fact, I knew what the name would be shortly after my accident. When life finally led me to a place that I could make that dream a reality, Valiant Fitness was born. To be Valiant means to show courage and determination, which is a trait that I see in my clients every single day
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 provide Functional Training for the Neurotypical and neurodivergent community. The majority of my students are diagnosed on the autism spectrum, but I do work with other diagnosis such as Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome. I am most proud of being able to provide a program for individuals that are typically seen to not have the capability to do things because of their diagnosis. It is my core belief to meet my students where they are at. I understand some of their challenges, and we do our work by building on their neurological and physical skills. Neurological skills are built through practice and Physical skills are built through different strength training principles. What makes Valiant Fitness successful is how we program. The components of our program provide simple and predictable communication. A typical session begins by going over the movements we will be working on. The movements will be written on a whiteboard and can be scaled or modified so that every student feels the appropriate muscle contraction intended without needing to overcompensate and use the wrong muscles. After we go over the movements, we get to work. We start with a warm-up, then move to either a neurological or physical skill, and lastly, we move to the WOD (workout of the day). I believe that my care and investment in my students is what sets me apart. I truly care about the well-being of each and every one of my students. I think that this is a highly needed resource in our community, and it is my goal to be able to offer this service to anyone who needs it.
No, it has not been an easy transition. There have been many roadblocks and detours along the way. Not just with my personal journey, but also with opening the gym itself. The biggest challenge has been the timing. When I opened the gym, I was unemployed and in the middle of a pandemic. While the restrictions of operations and even closures made things extremely challenging, we found a way. The commitment that my clients showed to their health and wellness was so inspiring and pushed me to find ways to continue to operate safely.
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?
Some of the best places I have come across in the city are the mom and pop places. When you want to share some of the best experiences whether it deals with food/drink/hang outs, I tend to stay on the local places. There are a few breweries that have become a hit whether its in the city or outside of it. Some of the places I like to eat at are Moo’s Craft Barbecue, Howlin’ Ray’s, Maggiano’s Little Italy. I prefer going to Breweries now, so San Fernando Brewing Company. Lincoln Beer Company, Brewery Draconum. Places to see given the closures of some places, I would recommend doing hikes. Getting glimpses of the city can be done at Runyon Canyon Park, Griffith Park, Topanga State Park.
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?
It might sound a bit cliché, but dedication would have to be to my wife. She has encouraged me to always step outside of my comfort and supported me to make my dream come true. I must do a shoutout to all of my students/parents that have trusted my work throughout the process.