By Cori Mekkelson
The first SoldierFit boot camp class hasn’t begun. It’s quiet, but four people are typing on their laptops, trying to get work done. As the typing continues, Danny Farrar walks out and says to me, “Let’s get started, I want to help you get an A++.”
When some in Frederick hear the name Danny Farrar they might think of health and wellness, and a successful businessman. The CEO and founder of SoldierFit may seem to have everything anyone could want in life, but he didn’t start out this way. Due to Danny Farrar’s success, he has been interviewed many times in the past, but no one has asked him about family.
Farrar playfully stutters trying to find words, and then shares that family doesn’t have to be blood. To him, you can find or choose your family.
“I don’t look at family as blood like everybody else does. I grew up not knowing what a niece, nephew or cousin was. I didn’t have any of that growing up,” said Farrar.
Farrar didn’t know his biological family, and says he didn’t fit into his adoptive family and felt unwanted. He felt no one wanted him. Holidays were never a big event in his life either, for example, birthdays and Christmas were not celebrated.
“I didn’t have a family for so long, friends became family and the people in my club became my family. I had the privilege to choose my family. It dramatically changed when I met my wife Jen and had my first child, River, and now its come full circle,” Farrar said.
Farrar’s eyes light up when asked about his one year old daughter, River. When River smiles and first greets him in the morning is when he feels true love and meaning of family, he says.
“When Jen (my wife) had to go back to work, it snuck up on me, I woke up one morning and she told me I had River to take care of that morning since she had to go back to work. I wasn’t prepared for it. I went in to change River that morning; she’s always been a happy morning baby. When she looked up at me, she giggled and smiled and for me. That’s when it flipped – this is my little thing,” Farrar said.
Farrar adds that being a father has become a new and wonderful journey for him, and he’s actually considered another baby. Fatherhood may have been hard and different in the beginning, but now Farrar finds the smallest things his little girl does to be outstanding.
“She (River) has this new thing where she can tell you where her belly is, I don’t know why, but I find that absolutely amazing,” he said.
Since Farrar has his own business and a growing family, he has to make sacrifices to achieve his goals.
“There’s some days I’ll leave the house at 5a.m. and won’t be back in the house until 11p.m. I don’t have too many of those days, but in order to chase the things we want to be able to do, we have to have some of those days,” Farrar says.
Farrar says he believes family comes in different forms, adding that friends, clubs, and other people can become the family a person forms. He tries to cultivate a family atmosphere at SoldierFit.
One of the trainers at SoldierFit, Mandy Mechler McWilliams, has been a part of the family for roughly three years. Two gym members, Karen and Paul Mekkelson, have been a part of the family for three and four years, respectively.
“I can always count on someone in the cadre (peers) to help me out when I need it,” McWilliams says. “We look out for each other and have each other’s back. Same goes for the “troops” (gym members), I love to see people work together so that everyone can achieve their goals.”
Other two gym members agree. “It’s definitely an extension of community, so I guess I could call that family,” Karen said. You get to know the “troops” and the trainers; everyone supports one another like a family. SoldierFit also organizes community events to where you can volunteer and participate.”
The second member, Paul, comments, “Yes, I do consider SoldierFit a part of my family. It’s something my wife and I can do together. Some people go out on dates, we work out. I’ve met some really special people that I think have changed the way we think of other people. That’s something family does.”
Farrar believes he created a family with SoldierFit.
“People don’t just come for the workout, but they stay at SoldierFit because of the people they meet and look at them as their family,” he said. “SoldierFit in a lot of ways is the Island of Misfit Toys, and I’m one of the biggest misfits.”