Why I rebranded

Welcome to my blog – this is the space I’ll be using to collect my written work as I challenge myself to write on the topics that interest me.

When I began my entrepreneurial journey in 2016, I wanted to choose a name for my business that truly reflected my values. Inspired by one of my favourite essays “On the Wildness of Children“, I named my business “Feral”, short for “Feral Strength & Conditioning”. This is the name worn by my athletes on their shirts, and what I’ve been operating under since I started this business.

The essay is worth a read in its entirety, but the ethos of Feral comes from my belief that fitness & self-defence are vehicles to build freedom, strengthening ourselves & our communities for real social change. Feral is about building the strength to break through the cages – self-imposed & otherwise – that hold us back from living our lives to the fullest we’re capable of.

In 2018, I had the privilege of moving my gym from the garage at my home to a full commercial space in Chinatown. I started the “Vancouver Strength Collective”, to create a real community – both for coaches & for those traditionally excluded from fitness & self-defence instruction. We’ve built a vibrant school together, leveraging the impact our shared platform can provide for the most marginalized in the community. I have the privilege of working & training alongside some of the most honourable friends I’ve ever met.

2020 is an important year for our community. We’re growing our school with new promotion, memberships, equipment, renovations, and corporate programming. I’m excited to work alongside the students we’re mentoring as the collective grows stronger together.

And I recognize that just as our community is changing, I too must change.

I started Feral to build a shared platform of solidarity: one in which we bonded, shared resources, and built power together in order to serve others. Feral has always been deeply tied to me, expressing my identity, imagery, beliefs, and values, and has never been tied to a specific “business” or “space”. I started Feral at CRAB park in the Downtown Eastside, transitioning to a garage as I became financially sustainable. Athletes braved an urban garage gym to train with me and study my methods, and I’m forever thankful of the brave souls who trained with me at 5am daily in the Winter.

Starting the Vancouver Strength Collective changed that. I transformed from “coach who has a garage” to “gym owner who also coaches”. I earn my salary coaching, but spend more time managing business cashflow, systems development, youth outreach, and leadership of the community – the polar opposite of how my days looked when I started the business. Our gym has transformed from my individual coaching practice to a refuge in the community and a home for coaches and athletes of all walks of life.

As I move into 2020, I want to re-envision my practice. One in which I can truly inhabit my role as the leader of the Vancouver Strength Collective, and one in which I can continue to develop my skills & intentions as an individual – Conlan. Just me.

Vancouver Strength Collective has become the platform I’ve always dreamed about, one intimately tied to a safe & inclusive training space and home to coaches & athletes from far and wide. I’m so excited to see it grow and to build a strong community organization that truly serves those that call it home.

Moving forward as Conlan Mansfield, and retiring the name Feral, will allow me to focus my energy on developing Vancouver Strength Collective as a robust business: one that serves its coaches and members, delivering world-class training in a safe & inclusive environment.

In addition to developing Vancouver Strength Collective, I believe that this change will allow me to enter 2020 with a professional identity that captures my values in a way that Feral no longer can. While fitness & self-defence will always occupy the core of my work, I want to develop myself beyond just my coaching & physical practice. My intention is to cultivate a professional identity that allows me to truly express myself in every aspect of my life, integrating my writing, consulting, and workshops as central to my identity in the new year.

I’m grateful for your support & I look forward to entering 2020 as friends & as athletes.

And I’ll always be Feral – in body, mind, and spirit.

CM

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