Lauren had tried everything when it comes to weight loss. But the pounds would’t budge. She knew she needed to make a drastic change. That’s when she called Iron Tribe Belmont.

Through months of hard work and encouragement from fellow Tribe members, Lauren has undergone a complete transformation. Having a community is integral to succeeding — especially on those days when stepping inside a gym seems daunting. Through becoming a part of a gym that is more than four walls with some workout equipment, Lauren has found a life-changing experience at ITF Belmont.

Hear Lauren’s Inspiring Story

Hi, my name is Lauren Binkley, and I am an athlete at Iron Tribe Belmont in Nashville, Tennessee. It seems crazy to nominate myself for an “Athlete of the Year” contest (or to even mention athlete close to my name!), but I am so passionate about what Iron Tribe has done in my life and the lives of others that I feel compelled to share my story.

In June 2014, I was at the lowest point of my life, both mentally and physically. I was almost 30, and had been fighting a losing battle with my weight and depression since I was a child. I was so discouraged, and had almost resigned myself to the fact that I would always be an obese person. Honestly, I was very close to just giving up.

As a final attempt to find something that would work, I called and made an appointment for a consultation at Iron Tribe Belmont. I drove by regularly and was curious about it, but just knew it was something else at which I would fail like the many weight loss and exercise programs I had tried before. I was so fearful that I cancelled my appointment twice! I somehow forced myself to come in, and was convinced to just give 101 a chance. It was so encouraging that my coach did not flinch despite my size, obvious lack of physical ability, or tears in that initial meeting.

When I started 101, I weighed 299.8 pounds. Though I was young, I was literally dying inside my own body. I could not run 200 meters, do more than one sit-up, or jump rope without getting tangled up! I even had to do burpees to a bench because I had so much trouble getting down to and up from the floor. The thought of even getting on the pull-up bar was a faraway dream. Despite all of this, not one Iron Tribe coach was discouraged or even the least bit doubtful. They worked with me and modified workouts to meet my needs, all while challenging me to do more each class. They never gave up even though I was so fearful and unbelieving that I spent a lot of time getting in my own way.

After 101, I was encouraged by my small progress, but I was also terrified. I had so far to go on my journey to be healthy. I still couldn’t do many things in the gym exactly right, and worried about getting in “real” classes and slowing everyone else (all the “real” athletes) down. I soon found out that the “tribe” wasn’t just a cliché or a name, but a real support system. I was cheered on and supported by each athlete and coach, and never made to feel that I was too big, too slow, or in the way. I learned that I was a real athlete somewhere deep inside, and that what mattered is that I showed up every day willing to try.

This trend continued, and my Iron Tribe family became my biggest support. To say my life began changing one workout at a time is not an understatement. I not only lost weight and became stronger, but also began to believe that I was worth it! I was consistently amazed at things I could do that had once seemed impossible or that I had failed at many times before. Though many of these accomplishments were small athletic feats, they were celebrated by my tribe as if they were huge!

The past year and a half has not always been easy, but it has always been worth it. There were bumps in the road where the impact of a lifetime of obesity made it difficult for me to believe my body could keep going. There were times I wanted to give up and times when the investment felt too great for my kindergarten teacher salary. Every time I wanted to give up, I committed to one more day. Those days have turned into weeks and months and years with the support of my community at Iron Tribe.

I could easily write 250,000 words about the moments over the past year and a half where an Iron Tribe athlete or coach has encouraged me through their words or actions. I could tell you about the journal I have that is full of moments, words, and experiences where my Iron Tribe family has supported me and believed for me when I couldn’t or didn’t. I could tell you about the coaches who ran meters with me over and over or the friends that have worked out with me even though they had long been finished and I was approaching the time cap. I could tell you about the anonymous friend who gave money to my account one month when I needed it, or about the superior athlete who once told me he saw an athlete in me. Iron Tribe’s core values are lived out every day by the owners, coaches and athletes at my gym and, as a result, and what I can tell you for sure is that my life was not only changed, but saved.

I have lost almost 70 pounds, 38+ inches, and several sizes. Though these things are vitally important and been transformational, what is most significant is what I have gained. For the first time in my life, I believe I am an athlete and that I deserve to be healthy and happy. I have gained confidence, developed amazing friendships, and have the ability to do things I once believed were impossible. I have grown closer to God and realized that taking care of myself helps me to love others better.

I am submitting my story because I believe that was has happened in my life is representative of what Iron Tribe does in the lives of all of us. I can be an “Athlete of the Year” because we all can achieve that at Iron Tribe. It looks different for each person, but is the same at the core as we celebrate each other’s successes and support each other’s dreams, no matter how big or small they may be. I am proud to call myself an Iron Tribe athlete. Thank you for letting me share my story.


Lauren is one of many members of the Tribe who has witnessed a life-changing transformation through the program’s 45-minute, hiit-style workouts. Here are some more insiring stories:

Larry Canada: Beating Cancer was just the beginning

Amy Surasky: More than just a mom

Laura Davis: It’s never too late to live happily ever after

James Laurie: A father-daughter fitness story

Caleb Parr: You don’t have to get fit alone